Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 | Year in Review



It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Pretty sure that's from a book. Tale of Two Cities?

Wherever the quote may come from it definitely rings true this year. Like every year, this one had its ups, its downs, its excitement, its defeats, its joys, its panics, and its everything-in-between. But perhaps this year felt more stressed and harder than years of the past. Perhaps I will venture to say this year hit me a little harder, had more struggles. Of course it had its awesome moments too, times of adventure and excitement, and great time with family. But this year also had moments that tested my will, my ability to cope, and my strength. And while I haven't yet figured everything out, these moments of stress have taught me anout myself and have challenged me to look deep and question some things and make some important descion said about my future. I'm ready for 2015 to be over, and very excited to see what 2016 has in store!

But before we turn the calendar page (which reminds me: note to self - order new 2016 calendar for work), how about a quick run down of 2015? The good ... The bad ... The everything (or at least everything I'm willing to put in print). Links to some of the posts included ... 
  • Made some more great memories with my awesome family, both abroad and at home. 
  • Spent 10 days roadtripping around Spain and going to some of my favorite places as well as exploring new places. 
  • Visited my family in Romania. 
  • Got to visit Istanbul - a city I've been anxious to visit for soooooo long! Mosques, the bazar, the waterways, the food!
  • Visited Colorado twice and got to take in the fresh air and mountains, and see my oldest friend marry an amazing guy that's perfect for her!
  • Went to Seattle to spend Christmas with some great friends, and got to explore a bit of Seattle/the Pacific Northwest while there. 
  • Celebrated with my friends as they took on all sorts of new adventures - marriage, engagements, babies, birthdays ...
  • Celebrated my own 30th birthday!
  • Saw lots and lots of great movies (and some not so great movies). 
  • Went to New York City and finally got to check off a bunch of the tourist things to do in the city. 
  • Got a new tattoo. "Just breathe" on the inside of my right bicep. That makes three total tattoos. 
  • Explored the twin cities and partook in fun activities - the loppet, various art fairs, hiking at Taylor's falls, apple picking, red bull crashed ice, the all night art party, the ice castles ...
  • Started seeing a great guy, which fizzled out. But it was fun while it lasted! 
  • Lost a bunch of weight (again) and felt great that I was able to do it - felt confident and strong. 
  • But then gained it (and then some) back and haven't been able to get back on track. 
  • Challenged myself to do Whole30 and managed to do it for 50 days! No sugar, pop, alcohol, dairy, grains ...
  • Got into yoga at CorePower and am really enjoying it ... and am doing pretty well in C2. 
  • Got a bike and started biking around the great Minneapolis trails. 
  • Continued volunteering at the Walker Art Center
  • Felt appreciated ...
  • Felt scarred and anxious ... 
  • Felt overwhelmed ...
  • Made some mistakes that I regret. 
  • Said some things I wish i wouldn't have. 
  • Didn't do some things that I regret not doing.
There were many great moments and many good "things" that happened, and those cant be taken away. But there were many feelings and emotions in between that cast a shadow on some of the year. But I'm moving through them, learning, growing. 

So thanks 2015, I've learned a lot. 

Let's get 2016 going strong!


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Golden Globe Nominations

Better late then never ....

Golden Globe nominations are out and I cannot wait for awards season to start!


I would say that it has been a pretty good season for the movies, though maybe not as good overall as some of the past. But all in all, some really great films came out this year! I have seen a lot of them (of course), but still have a few to go before I can feel confident in my picks for the winners! Below are the nominations ... but no predictions yet. I've marked (for myself) which I have still to see before awards season!

Big films I have yet to see:

  • Mad Max (I'll rent it sometime this week probably)
  • The Revenant (it hasn't come out yet in Minneapolis ... not my fault)
  • Room (I'll hopefully see it sometime this week)
  • Brooklyn (might need to wait for DVD at this point)
  • Hateful Eight (I'll see it this week)
  • Trumbo (might need to wait for DVD at this point)
  • Lady in the Van (might need to wait for DVD at this point)
  • Grandma (might need to wait for DVD at this point)
  • Youth (might need to wait for DVD at this point)
  • Danny Collins (probably won't see it ...)
  • Animated films (probably won't see them ...)

BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
CAROL
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
THE REVENANT
ROOM
SPOTLIGHT

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
CATE BLANCHETT - CAROL
BRIE LARSON - ROOM
ROONEY MARA - CAROL
SAOIRSE RONAN - BROOKLYN
ALICIA VIKANDER - THE DANISH GIRL

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
BRYAN CRANSTON - TRUMBO
LEONARDO DICAPRIO - THE REVENANT
MICHAEL FASSBENDER - STEVE JOBS
EDDIE REDMAYNE - THE DANISH GIRL
WILL SMITH - CONCUSSION

BEST MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
THE BIG SHORT
JOY
THE MARTIAN
SPY
TRAINWRECK

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
JENNIFER LAWRENCE - JOY
MELISSA MCCARTHY - SPY
AMY SCHUMER - TRAINWRECK
MAGGIE SMITH - THE LADY IN THE VAN
LILY TOMLIN - GRANDMA

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY
CHRISTIAN BALE - THE BIG SHORT
STEVE CARELL - THE BIG SHORT
MATT DAMON - THE MARTIAN
AL PACINO - DANNY COLLINS
MARK RUFFALO - INFINITELY POLAR BEAR

BEST MOTION PICTURE – ANIMATED
ANOMALISA
THE GOOD DINOSAUR
INSIDE OUT
THE PEANUTS MOVIE
SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN ANY MOTION PICTURE
JANE FONDA - YOUTH
JENNIFER JASON LEIGH - THE HATEFUL EIGHT
HELEN MIRREN - TRUMBO
ALICIA VIKANDER - EX MACHINA
KATE WINSLET - STEVE JOBS

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN ANY MOTION PICTURE
PAUL DANO - LOVE & MERCY
IDRIS ELBA - BEASTS OF NO NATION
MARK RYLANCE - BRIDGE OF SPIES
MICHAEL SHANNON - 99 HOMES
SYLVESTER STALLONE - CREED

BEST DIRECTOR – MOTION PICTURE
TODD HAYNES - CAROL
ALEJANDRO G. IÑÁRRITU - THE REVENANT
TOM MCCARTHY - SPOTLIGHT
GEORGE MILLER - MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
RIDLEY SCOTT - THE MARTIAN

BEST SCREENPLAY – MOTION PICTURE
EMMA DONOGHUE - ROOM
TOM MCCARTHY,  JOSH SINGER - SPOTLIGHT
CHARLES RANDOLPH, ADAM MCKAY - THE BIG SHORT
AARON SORKIN - STEVE JOBS
QUENTIN TARANTINO - THE HATEFUL EIGHT

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – MOTION PICTURE
CARTER BURWELL - CAROL
ALEXANDRE DESPLAT - THE DANISH GIRL
ENNIO MORRICONE - THE HATEFUL EIGHT
DANIEL PEMBERTON - STEVE JOBS
RYUICHI SAKAMOTO, ALVA NOTO - THE REVENANT

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – MOTION PICTURE
“LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO” — FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
“ONE KIND OF LOVE” — LOVE & MERCY
“SEE YOU AGAIN” — FURIOUS 7
“SIMPLE SONG #3” — YOUTH
“WRITING'S ON THE WALL” — SPECTRE

Movie Review | Carol

  

A wonderful film, truly. I can 100% understand why the film is nominated for so many Golden Globes - including Best Film (Drama) and Best Actress (both Mara and Blanchett) and Best Director. Because ... it definitely deserves all of those nominations. 

The story in itself is touching and beautiful. It is so well told and beautiful executed by the actors, director, costume designers ... everyone involved. And at the center are these two amazing charter actors. Cate Blanchett is the absolute epitome of sophistication, elegance, and knowledge of who she is and what she wants. And Rooney Mara is the perfect opposite (yet compliment) with her shy naivete and insecurity, yet hidden depth and understanding.

Carol is quietly powerful. It pulls you along minute by minute and draws you in with beautiful shots and a beautiful story that asks some important questions and brings up important topics. 

All in all, a great film that I would highly recommend (though if you aren't as movie obsesses as I am, i would say this one is OK to wait for rental since you don't gain much by seeing it on the big screen). 



Now and Then | The Pacific Beach 5 Years Apart

Same place, 5 years apart. Top: 2010. Bottom: 2015. Up in the Pacific Northwest about 45 minutes north of Ocean Shores. Such a beautiful area! And some amazing driftwood (obvi). 


How Cute Are My Parents?

Sooooo cute.

Mom and Dad in Istanbul at the Blue Mosque. November 2015. #TurkeyForTurkeyDay

Life ... According to my Desktop Photos

I have a tendency to work on some photos and then save to my desktop because I'm too lazy to properly file them. The originals are there ... properly saved and organized. But then there are all these random photos on my desktop! Thought it might be fun to share some of the randomness. 

Iceland. 2010.
Cadiz, Spain. 2015.
Minnesota (time unknown)
Singapore. 2005 (I think ... maybe 2007).
Minnesota. Year unknown. 
Singapore. 2013 (for my birthday!).
Barcelona, Spain. 2015.
Minnesota. TC 10K. 2013.
Bern, Switzerland. 2014.
Cadiz, Spain. 2015.
Paris. 2013.
Budapest. 2014.
Los Angeles. 2014.
Romania. 1987 (?).
Chicago. 1995.
Malaysia. 2007.
Minnesota. North Shore. 2014.

Oh Christmas Tree


My family may skip Halloween and Thanksgiving each year, but for as long as I can remember, Christmas has been our thing! My mom and I love decorating and we always did it together when I was younger. Real tree, lots of decorations, the works.

Since I moved into my own flat 7 years ago, I have kept up this tradition of Christmas and every year has gotten progressively bigger and bigger with more decorations. Thank goodness for a massive storage unit in the basement, or I would be in serious trouble!

I know a lot of single people my own age who don’t bother with a tree or decorations. My response to that: what’s wrong with you?!?!?

For me it all starts with the tree. Real … of course. Usually 7-8 feet. I tried a 10 foot tree two years ago … that didn’t end well. It was just too big and it fell over. Ooops. Anyway, the tree gets decorated with all unique ornaments; all in red, white or silver. Those are the only colors on my tree. And white pearl lights. So pretty and classic.

The rest of the flat also gets the Christmas spirit, not just the tree. And that’s not even my only three … I have two others! These are fake for the sake of ease. One little one at the entryway and another 4 foot one in my bedroom (because I want to see a tree when I’m reading before bed). Plus lots of other christmasy things all over the apartment! Bowls filled with silver globes, glass trees, wood santas, doves on the windows, and so much more.

This year’s new addition: I bought 25 feet of real pine garland at Costco ($15 … hey!) and framed the barn doors to my bedroom as well as the massive mirror in my entry way. And both have ornaments hanging from the garland. So pretty!




Walker Art Center | Why I Volunteer

Look whose photo and quote is featured on the Walker Art Center website. Me! 


In 1995, when I was 10 years old, my parents took me on a road trip to Chicago, Niagara Falls, Boston, and Maine. In Chicago, we went to the Art Institute of Chicago to see a special exhibition of Monet. It was called "Claude Monet: 1840-1926". That's when I fell in love with art. I stared at those water lilies and poppy fields for hours. I was hooked.

Since then, I've visited major museums all around the world. I know the MIA here in Minneapolis inside and out. And I event got an Art History degree while completing my business degree majors in undergrad ... just because I wanted to. Each semester I took one Art History course ... and it was wonderful to do that with business and learn something so different. I took everything from a course entirely dedicated to the art of Picasso to Art of the Far East. 

Since undergrad, my love of art and art history has mostly been about visiting museums and enjoying the art therein. About a year ago though, I wanted to do more. So, I started volunteering at the Walker Art Center. It was the most versatile volunteer program at the museums, and I need that given I work full time and am finishing up my MBA part time ... and want to have a life somewhere in between. 

Throughout the year I volunteer whenever there are special events and for whatever may come up. December is the busiest month as I volunteer to do usher shifts for the British Arrow Awards (look for a separate post on that later). I take tickets, help guests, and do whatever the Walker needs me to do. Back in December I volunteered for an After Hours party. That's where the above photo was taken. 

I was honored when the Walker asked me to provide a quote so they could feature it with the photo on "why I volunteer". The above pretty much sums it up ... I love art! And I want to be around others who love art as much as I do! And help them enjoy it.

When I finish up school, I would like to get more involved with volunteering and hopefully start getting involved at the MIA as well. 




Christmas 2015

Merry merry Christmas from my family to yours!


My family is as close as they get, and that is something that really comes through at the holidays. It's just the three of us ... always has been. The rest of my family is abroad, and I'm an only child. And on top of that, I've always been really close to my parents. They are my friends as well as my mom and dad. Cliche ... but oh so true.

Christmas is usually a pretty tame and typical affair for us. We travel a lot during the year, but not at Christmas. Instead, my mom cooks up some traditional Romanian goodies, we open presents Christmas Eve, do our Christmas puzzle (mom and I) while the three of us watch Christmas movies (Love Actually, Home Alone, White Christmas). Christmas Day is all about sleeping in, eating more Romanian food and going to a movie. Family, fun, and lots of food!

But this year, instead of our typical Christmas we headed out to the beautiful Pacific Northwest for Christmas with some friends. They are the best of friends ... I won't get into the story, but they are pretty darn amazing people! And they were nice enough to invite us and host us for 4 days over Christmas.
So what did we do this Christmas? We ...
  • Took a quick walk through the Public Market 
  • Ate some yummy savory piroshky at the Piroshky Piroshky Bakery
  • Had some Starbucks ... because ... Seattle
  • Watched some fish get thrown around
  • Ate some amazing seafood
  • Enjoyed delicious turkey, potatoes and all the trimmings ... very traditional!
  • Saw The Big Short (for the second time ...)
  • Read a lot
  • Dominated some Candy Crush
  • Spent lots of quality time with friends and family
  • Got made fun of by said friends and family ... all in good fun ...
  • Drove to Ocean Shores and got to enjoy some fresh ocean air 
  • Walked along the beach
  • Posed with some amazing driftwood
  • Ate more great food
  • Went to bed early (shocking) and slept a fair amount ...
So that was my Christmas. How was yours?

Hope yours was just as enjoyable full of awesome family time, great memories, and relaxation!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Movie Review | Spotlight [IN THEATER]


There is a reason everyone is talking about how good Spotlight is. Because it is.

Spotlight reminds you why we tell stories. Why we right books, make movies, have journalists, all of it. It reminds you what good movies, and good stories, do. They change you. And they change the world. Whether it be my providing a good laugh or by truly making a difference, good stories have purpose.

Spotlight is the story of … a story. I knew a bit about the story being told, but not all the details. Everything about the original story that the Spotlight reporters at the Boston Globe told as well as the retelling of their story via this awesome movie are just great. Everything. The story is gripping, from beginning to end. It seems so hard to separate the work the journalists did with the retelling in the movie – so I am struggling a bit with my words here.

The acting is amazing. Flawless. A great cast that does a very credible job of recreating real people that took on an incredible challenge. I didn’t know the reporters before the film, but after reading some of the articles about production, I have a great deal of respect for the actors who took such pains to really understand and properly portray their real-life characters. Down to the accents and other details. Amazing. All of the actors did a great job, but I think one that stood out to me was Mark Ruffalo. He has come such a long way in recent years and has just had some amazing character-drive roles (i.e. Foxcatcher). Then there is Stanley Tucci. He is such an amazing and versatile actor, but sometimes I immediately take him to “comedic genius in cooky roles” (i.e. Devil Wears Prada, Hunger Games, Easy A). Films like this remind me of his amazing ability to play pretty much any character, including drama. Keaton and McAdams are great of course. And Live Schreiber’s character is very interesting. Watching him on screen always left me wanting more. He was so soft-spoken and restrained, but everything he said was perfectly on-point.

The story itself is amazing. Here is a small group of reporters who undertook an amazing task and overcame many challenges to tell a story that needed to be told. Who gave a voice to those who had been silenced. Who shined a light on an entire institution that many had put blind faith in. The movie does an excellent job of giving its viewers Journalism 101 and explaining how investigative pieces like this come to life and all the red tape and politics that are involved. And it is the ultimate tale of tenacity and dedication, sometimes with great personal sacrifice.

Every detail is accounted for with amazing accuracy – from the facts of the story to accents of the actors to the 2001 sets and props – it’s all perfect. As the film went on, I noticed churches everywhere. A really well executed visual cue to show that the Catholic church is everywhere in Boston, literally hovering over the community at every corner. It was shocking to hear that there are 1,500 Priests in Boston.  

Overall, great journalism, great movie making. A compelling story that makes you sit up and do something.

And a definite front runner for upcoming awards season (yay!).

Love Actually ... is the best movie


It seems like everywhere you turn this time of year people are either a) watching Love Actually, or b) commenting on Love Actually.

I love when my newsfeed as an article titled “why Love Actually is actually the WORST holiday movie ever” directly followed by one called “top 10 reasons Love Actually really is the best movie ever”. Thank you internet.

I am in the LOVE IT camp. I cannot remember when I first saw it or what made me fall in love with it, but I did. And now, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without it. I probably watch that movie at least a dozen times during the holiday season. It is ALWAYS what I put in while decorating my flat. And then I just put it in at other points for background while doing things. This year’s count to date: 2.

So, what do I love about Love Actually?
  • Ummm … everything

That was easy.

But seriously, I just like all the stories so much. And it is such a perfect hodgepodge of great actors! And I like how not all the storylines end up perfectly perfect (sorry Laura Linney and Emma Thompson), because that’s real life. And every scene feels like a perfect “one liner” that is just perfect and memorable on its own, but even better when all put together.

In addition to Love Actually, there are three other DVDs that go on repeat during December: Home Alone, The Holiday, White Christmas. I am not a fan of Elf, or Christmas Vacation, or It’s a Wonderful Life, or a Christmas Story. These 4 DVDs are my go to. I also usually find myself rewatching the Harry Potter movies at this time of year since they feel Christmasy (they all have great Christmas scenes!).

Monday, December 7, 2015

Movie Review | A Little Chaos [DVD]
















I watched this film on the flight home from Istanbul. I had never heard of it before, but it seemed like something I’d enjoy. My mom watched it on the flight to Europe and suggested it actually.

Overall, a nice little film. It won’t win any Oscars and it won’t make you roll in the aisle laughing. But it is a lovely story, shot beautifully and great for a Friday night DVD rental.

A Little Chaos tells the story of the construction of one of the smaller gardens at the Palace of Versailles. Kate Winslet plays Madame de Barra, a woman (shocking!) who is chosen to design and construct the garden. The movie looks at class barriers and gender issues as well as telling a good ol’ love story between Barra and the court’s landscape architect – Andre Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts ). And did I mention that Alan Rickman wrote, directed AND starred in the film as his royal highness, King Louis XIV. Yup. Not that first time that he and Winslet are together in a period piece. Sense & Sensibility … sigh (time for a re-watch I think).

If you are looking for a nice little period costume drama, this fits the bill.

Monday, November 30, 2015

#TurkeyForTurkeyDay

Back in good ol' MSP after a week-long trip to Romania and Turkey. That's right ... #TurkeyForTurkeyDay. Get it? See what I did there? 

The trip started out as me really wanting to go to Istanbul, then my parents decided to come to and we made it into a family vaca. then some family friends came too ... the more the merrier! Then, my mom and I decided to stop in Romania before Turkey for a few days to visit family.

Crazy travel. That's how we role.

The trip was overall pretty darn good! But there were a few speed bumps. Mom got food poisoning on the last day in Romania so we had to postpone our departure to Istanbul by half a day, so we lost a day in Istanbul. But it worked out ok. And there was a lot of rain ... A LOT! We never had sun ... it was cloudy and rainy pretty much the whole time.

Saw a lot, had some good laughs, ate a lot (too much) good food, and saw some amazing things! Another great trip in the books. I'll share more photos and stories soon. But for now, a quick collage. 
Left to right, row by row (first row = Romania, other three rows = Turkey): in Romania with my favorite dessert, yummy lunch appetizers at my grandma's house, the five floor walk-up at my aunt's house, with my other grandma, outside the Blue Mosque, inside the Blue Mosque with my mom, the floor of Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, inside Hagia Sofia, Süleymaniye Mosque, inside the Süleymaniye Mosque, mom and I at the entrance to the Grand Bazaar, tea break and planning our route, my parents and I with our matching Fjallraven Kaken backpacks, the cats of Istanbul, floor of random Mosque. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Turn the Volume Up | Music I've Forgotten How Much I Love

Push & Pull 
[Nikka Costa]

Mirrorball
[Everything but the Girl]

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye 
[David Gray]

Brighter Discontent 
[The Submarines]

Flip side
[Everything but the Girl]

The Show 
[Lenka]

Let's Get Lost 
[Beck and Bat for Lashes]

All This Time 
[Bliss]

Do You Want it All?
[Two Door Cinema Club]

Overkill 
[D:Fuse & Hiratzka]

Yo Amare 
[Eros Ramazzotti]

Consequences
[The Notwist] 

I Am What I Am 
[Ocean Lab]

Sandman 
[Kristy McGee]

Universal Traveler 
[Air]

Don't Forget Me 
[Way Out West]

No Fear of Heights
[Katie Melua]

Such Great Heights
[The Postal Service]

How Come You Don't Want Me Now
[Tegan & Sara]

Book of Love 
[Peter Gabriel]

Dirty Laundry 
[Bitter:Sweet]

Phoenix 
[Martina Topley-Bird]

Young Folks
[Peter Bjorn and John]

Kissing 
[Bliss]

The Heart Remains A Child
[Everything but the Girl]

Breathe 
[Telepopmusik]

Forever Young 
[Youth Group]

Unfinished Symphony 
[Massive Attack]

What If I 
[Kristy Thirsk]

Stereo Love 
[Edward Maya ft. Vika Jigulina]

Deliver Me 
[Sarah Brightman]

Edge of the Ocean 
[Ivy]

Dream Machine
[Mark Farina]

No Ordinary Morning 
[Chicane]

Paris 
[Delerium & Aude]

Empty Streets 
[Late Night Alumni]

Mad World
[Gary Jukes]

Dream 
[Priscilla Ahn]

Puddle of Grace 
[Amy Jo Johnson]

Say What You Want 
[Texas]


Sunday, November 15, 2015

#PrayForParis | November 13, 2015


I am sad. Confused. Angry. Scared. Shocked. Broken. Tired. The events of the evening of Friday, November 13, 2015 in Paris are devastating. They make my heart ache. I am so saddened by the fact that this is the world we live in. That some people can have so little care for other's lives just to prove their own point. So many lives ruined. So many innocent lives. I cannot begin to understand the type of hatred and pure evil that lies in the hearts of some people. 

I was most recently in Paris almost two years ago to the day. I was visiting the City of Lights for Thanksgiving with my family. The Louvre. A boat cruise on the Seine. The Eiffel Tower. A little bit of everything on a short visit. This wasn't my first visit to Paris. And it won't be my last. I refuse for it to be. We will not be intimidated by these action. We will be stronger because of them. 

#PrayForParis



Monday, November 9, 2015

Movie Review | Spectre [IN THEATER]


If you've been following along, you know I love movies. Like ... LOVE. 

And within the realm of movies I love, Bond has a very special place in my heart. I remember when I was young watching the movies on TV during marathons. I grew up in the age of Pierce Brosnon as Bond, but looking back on it, he was meh. The movies were more flash and gadgets than good cinema. But the classic Connery films and Moore ... oh man. Eventually I owned all the DVDs. And I get ridiculously excited about a new Bond film. Especially with Daniel Craig. His Bond is is just so ... him. It's his own twist, a darker more real Bond. One who doesn't need all the gadgets to be the best. He is a Bond in a different era. The Cold War is over. As they last few movies have alluded to, Bond today is a different character in the context of our current world and environment. 

And now, for my review of Specre. NOTE: spoilers ahead!!!!!

Overall, it was a solid Bond movie. In the contest of Craig's Bond films, I would say it was better than Quantum, but not as good as Skyfall or Casino Royale. But honestly, Skyfall set such a high bar that it does seem hard to beat it. But it was still a really good, solid Bond installment. Classic Bond and I enjoyed every minute of watching it with a huge smile on my face and lots of "oooooo" and "ahhhh" and "yeah!". 

I actually saw it twice - Thursday night and Friday night. Because ... Bond. And because Thursday was a screening and it wasn't in IMAX, and of course I had to see it in IMAX. 

In honor of 007, I thought I would compile my thoughts into 007 things/buckets/observations about the film.
  1. The Good Guys - Craig is amazing as Bond. Duh. He was always good, from the start, but it really seems like he has matured into Bond and owns the character now. He has really taken this iconic man and made him more. Then there are all the other characters in this film. Of course M, Moneypenny, Q ... all great. I also must comment on the fact that it seems like Bond gets more help than usual from the above folks as he goes about his business, especially towards the end. 
  2. The Bad Guys - First thing that came to mind when I saw Andrew Scott as C was "Sherlock crossover!!!". Then I calmed down and thought "he clearly has to be a bad guy because I just cannot think of him as anything other than that". (If you don't follow BBC's Sherlock, he is the main bad guy there). Then there was Dave Bautista as Hinx. Awesome bad guy. He has (literally) one line ... "shit". His character is reminiscent of the iconic Bond henchmen Jaws and Oddjob - awesome! Then there is Christoph Waltz. I love him in general. And he makes a very elegant bad guy, very much a Bond villain for a modern world. 
  3. The Settings  - Rome ... Austria ... London ... Morocco ... Mexico City. Beautiful! There were actually many settings and scenes that felt very reminiscent of other Bond films/segments. The health spa on top of the snowy alps (a-la Piz Gloria in On Her Majesty's Secret Service or the ski scene in The Spy Who Loved Me). The bad guy's evil lair in the middle of a deserted area (a-la the hollowed out volcano evil lair in You Only Live Twice). The busy street festival (a-la Carnival in Brazil in Moonraker). The fight on the train (a-la the fight on the train in From Russia with Love). Dinner on the train with the Bond girl (a-la dinner with Vesper Lind in Casino Royale). The tracking device implanted in Bond (a-la the tracking device he gets in Casino Royale). Chase sequence on the River Thames (a-la boat chase on the Thames in Die Another Day). 
  4. The Props - Cars cars cars. I'll just focus on the special only-for-this-movie DB10 concept car that Aston Martin made. I nearly cried when it went into the river! Also really loved getting a glimpse into Bond's apartment. I think that is only the second or third time in the Bond franchise we have seen inside his home, and it just felt so right for Bond. Well done! Q's layer ... of course. M's office ... of course. And everything else ... from his suits to this watches to his sunglasses and "i'm dressed for the Alps" outdoor gear. 
  5. The Opening Sequence - I really enjoyed the Mexico City Day of the Dead opening ... great! The continuous shot following Bond and his lady-friend down the street and into the hotel and all the way over to when he points the gun to the bad guy across the street is beautifully done and a feast for the eyes. I'm pretty sure I've never seen that continuous shot approach in a Bond film before, so it was a nice new take. And Craig's casualness as he scales the rooftops in his (perfectly fitted) suit, then falls down the wall so perfectly onto the couch. Ha. 
  6. The Opening Credits - No Bond film is complete without a killer opening credits sequence and song. I will admit that neither was my favorite in the history of Bond, but they were both good. The song grew on me upon the second listening/viewing. It's hard to come after Adele ... 
  7. The Details - Any true Bond aficionado will love all the little details and gems hidden (in plain sight) throughout. The bulldog with the Union Jack on Bond's coffee table in his apartment - what M left him in her will. The DB10 has buttons marked with Dymo Tape, harkening back to the labels on the car in 1964's Goldfinger. The evil henchman reminiscent of Jaws or Oddjob. The cars themselves - all showing off the decades long relationships with the likes of Aston Martin, Jaguar, etc. 
Again, overall I would say it was a solid Bond installment. Classic Bond and perfectly good. Great even! It's hard to beat Skyfall which was just so awesome. One of my only complaints is that it felt like it lacked some originality in plot and sequences (see point 4 above), but ... I mean ... after 24 movies it is a little hard to be super original. And to be honest ... Bond doesn't have to be original. Bond is about the classic story and classic format. Stick with it for success.

One of my favorite things about Spectre (and, actually, Craigs' previous Bonds too) is the approach the film makers take to putting Bond's role in the context of the changing environment of the world. They speak to the fact that technology has changed the playing field - look what can be done with computers and drones. But M (new M and old M) argue very nicely about the need for someone pull the trigger ... or, more importantly, NOT pull the trigger. Also, the question of surveillance and government oversight for the safety of the people ... where does it stop? All good questions. 

Also, I like how it seems like there is a nice little arc going on in Craig's for Bond films - they come together nicely and stand alone independently very well (as Bond films should), but they were really well when enjoyed together to catch the connections. I am curious where they will take it for Craig's 5th film. 

Speaking of 5th ... WHEN?!!??!?!?! 

On a side note, I was reading up on some Spectre trivia and noted that this is the first film for Craig since 2012's Skyfall. CRAZY!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Now and Then | 4 Years Apart

Left: November 2011. Right: November 2015. 

Facebook's handy little "on this day" feature brought up the photo on the left above today. I had just gotten my hair colored this lovely deep red ... 4 years ago. And it was so long! And I hadn't yet discovered brow pencil/powder, or the magic of eyeliner. Kind of crazy. 

While I'm not so sure about the color, I do really like the length. Thinking it might be time to grow it out again. Maybe. Yup. Maybe.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sweat It Out | CorePower Yoga


I got into yoga last spring as a way to reduce stress and work on becoming more centered and clearing my mind. It worked pretty well and after only 6 weeks I was feeling pretty good. Then I left for Europe for 2 weeks and then summer was here and it was all about being outside (and working ... a lot ... I had a rough summer). 

But two weeks ago I got back into yoga. I have a Black Tag membership at CorePower because I really like their C2 class and enjoy the culture and atmosphere. I like how my membership works at any location, and although I have tried a few different studios around Minneapolis, my first and favorite is Downtown. I really like Molly Mc and Kaitlyn. In the two weeks I've been back at it I've been to 10 class and am pretty proud of myself. I like the heat, the sweat, the focus, the results. It feels great to sweat out everything. All the negative thoughts, the "what ifs", the day that passed, the day ahead. 

The only thing that makes me mad is paying for parking at the Downtown location. Sigh. $2 every time I want to take a class. 

The other thing that I find challenging about yoga is going home afterwards. I get sweaty. Really really sweaty. You could ring my clothes out and water would just be everywhere. But I don't want to shower and change at CorePower, I want to do that at home. So instead, I have to just get my sweaty self into my car. And it's gross. I'm gross. For now it's ok because it's still not to cool out so I just throw a sweatshirt on and I can make it home. But I'm a bit concerned for when real winter comes and I will have to don a real coat. I won't want to put a $400 J Crew wool coat over my seat covered body. So ... I guess that means carrying another coat for this purpose with me. 


Airplane Etiquette

This right here. This is what makes me so mad. The bins are extra deep and even have a nice diagram on how to make the most of the space. But look at how these people have put their bags? Just flopped down the long way taking up as much room as possible. Come on!

I've had a fair amount of flights lately and I thought it was time for a post about airplane etiquette. This topic has been done to death it seems lately, complete with a great instagram account that is all about passenger shaming ... usually well deserved. People do some seriously disgusting and weird things on planes.

But rather than focus on passengers behaviors once they are seated, I would like to take a moment to vent about carry on luggage. Therefore, here is an open letter to my fellow passengers:


Dear fellow passengers of whatever Delta flight I will be with you on;

I understand that the new checked baggage policies piss you off and that you don't think you should have to pay $30 to check your bag. Therefore, I understand that you want wanted to get a big carry-on roller bag to bring on with you to save some cash. Ok ... sure. But here is the thing - YOUR BAG IS ANNOYING AND YOUR LACK OF SKILL AT STORING SAID BAG IN THE OVERHEAD BINS IS ALSO ANNOYING.

First, the bag itself. Could it get any bigger? Seriously, did they have bigger ones at the store? You're extra large bags makes the flight crew look at everyone's bag more critically and makes them force people to check. Well guess what? I cannot check my carry-on. Because unlike you who just has clothes and such that you don't want to pay to check, I have cameras and other electronic equipment that I cannot check. But because of you and your oversized bags, my reasonably sized bag is at risk. So thanks for that.

Then, once you actually get your bag on the plan, you are terrible at properly storing it. SERIOUSLY! Delta has even been kind enough to give us deeper bins now that can accommodate bags on their narrow sides. And they even have helpful little diagrams that show how you should flip your bag on its side. With that, you can fit a lot more bags up in the bins which is just great! 

But NO. No. Why would you follow the diagram so as many people as possible can get their bins up there? That's just plain old silly. No. Instead, you just lay your bag down haphazardly however you want. So a bin that could hold 4 or 5 bags instead has 2. And then the flight attendent comes around and instead of encouraging peopel to arrange them better or doing it themselves, they just close the bins.

AND THEN ... then there is the guy who decides putting his bag back at row 35 when he is sitting in row 18 is smart. Because that's great. When we are all ready to get off the plane, he is making is way backwards to get his bag. Seriously? 

So thank you. Thank you for being ridiculous. Just look at the diagram and and we will all be happier. Or at least I will.

Kind regards,
iuli


This is NOT that hard people!

Again. NOT. THAT. HARD. Turn the bags on their sides and let other's use the space too!

Move Review | Our Brand Is Crisis [THEATER]


Second movie I saw in theaters this weekend.

Second movie that disappointed me this weekend. 

Another great cast. Another seemingly great story. From the folks that brought us Argo. And yet, just like Burnt this movie too just didn't deliver.

All of the funny/good parts are the bits and pieces you saw in the trailer. And the rest of the movie is just rather random bits of strangeness woven together. From a weird drunk night to a weird silver mask to an ending that I am still trying to figure out ... I just didn't get it. And, it wasn't even entertaining. If a movie isn't good good, then it should at least be fun to watch. This wasn't. 

So, that's all I really have to say. It was boring and disappointing and confusing.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Movie Review | Burnt [THEATER]


I had such hopes for this film - it just seemed like a great combination. Great actors, seemingly good story, good looking food.

Unfortunately, the film just didn't deliver. Disappointing. That's the word I would use. It wasn't completely terrible ... but it definitely wasn't good. It was just bad. Disappointing and bad. Or, to use kitchen terms ... undercooked? Lacking in flavor? They could have added some seasoning? Ok ... I'm done.

But seriously, there was just something about it that didn't work. There were moments of intense drama, moments of romance, and comedy. But they just didn't come together in a cohesive way. I don't think it even knew what it was. And there were just so many random story lines that emerged from the woodwork at times. Ex girlfriends. Drug dealers. Rivals. Best friends with secret crushes. Best friends with secret scores to settle. I just couldn't keep up.

So that's that. Too bad really ... the cast had such potential for a great story.

I will say ... it definitely makes me want to go eat right now though. Something with lots of butter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Back in Time | Japan 2013


Looking for some photos on my computer led me to these gems from my Japan trip summer 2013.
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