Movie Review: Furious 7

Furious-7

Judging from the box office numbers (read: $$$$$), I am the last person to see this movie. I saw it last weekend and it was everything and more than I expected. I’ve had my share of celebrity crushes with the latest being Paul Walker. When I heard about his death, I was really saddened. It seemed unreal. So, it was really hard for me to see this latest film of the Fast & Furious franchise knowing it was his last. I’m so glad I finally did see Furious 7 because I feel like the cast and crew did a great job with finishing the movie for Paul.

I have been a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise since the beginning. I love the cast and the action. Most of the regular members are in Furious 7 and they did not disappoint. There is racing (obvi), flying cars and lots of ass-kicking. There is drama, comedy and all-around furious action. Basically, there is a bit of everything for everyone in this film. Including tears. Oh, there were tears. I knew they would come and pretty intensely.

Here’s the thing, we all know how Paul’s life ends. I will not be spoiling it for anyone, but I think the ending for Brian was appropriate. You can tell there was a lot of love between the real-life actors and their film alter egos (Vin Diesel named his daughter after Paul). If you are a fan of the Furious franchise, you will not disappointed. If this is your first Furious movie, you will not be disappointed if your intent is to be entertained. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie and look forward to the next installment.

Are you a Fast & Furious fan? Have you seen the movie? What did you think of it?

Here are all the movies in the franchise if you feel like binge-watching:

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{The Fast & the Furious – 2001}

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{2 Fast 2 Furious – 2003}

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{The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift – 2006}

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{Fast & Furious – 2009}

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{Fast Five – 2011}

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{Fast & Furious 6 – 2013}

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{Furious 7 – 2015}

{All photos via IMDB}

Movie Review: The Skeleton Twins

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I watched The Skeleton Twins recently and would really recommend it. It stars Kristin Wiig and Bill Heder, who each did a wonderful job with their characters. The movie touches on a subject that I feel we are still not open about (at least here in the US), mental illness and particularly, depression. There is a certain sense of shame and guilt that comes with this subject which I hope will change in the future.

If you didn’t know, Bill and Kristin are Saturday Night Live alums, so there are definitely moments of uproarious laughter. However, the subject matter is very serious and the actors play their roles with much depth and compassion. Because of this, it is easy to empathize with them.

There are many plots throughout (ranging from extra-marital affairs, unrequited love, sexual orientation and a dog named Marley ;)) and the payoffs come at the end. Bill and Kristin’s characters evolve and change throughout the movie. They realize that, after being apart for 10 years, they really do need each other and learn to face their problems outside of trying to end their lives. Their relationship is strengthened by helping each other through their weaknesses. It was a very touching movie with great performances.

Have you seen The Skeleton Twins? What did you think of it? Are you from a different country? If so, is there a stigma where you come from when it comes to mental illness or is it openly discussed?

*Photo via IMDB*

Movie Review: Cinderella 2015

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I watched the new Cinderella film last weekend and can I just say that I have a totally new girl crush on Lily James? I’ve never seen Downton Abby, so I had not seen her in anything else. She was absolutely charming in the movie.

I just want to say first and foremost that movies or any other forms of entertainment are just that to me, entertainment. I do not look to them to teach me any lessons and when I have kids, I would not want them to learn their life lessons from media that is meant to entertain.  When I judge a movie, I judge it solely on whether or not it did it’s job: entertain me. Ok. I think I’ve got my point across.

My expectations for the film were simple: would it flow well and would I enjoy the actors in their roles? Yes and yes. I knew Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter would be exceptional because they are Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter, two of my favorite actresses. However, I did not know any of the others and I felt they all did a really great job. I loved the costumes and scenery and all the other magical and mystical fairy dust scattered throughout the movie.

We all know the fairytale, right? Ideal family who goes through hard times when girl loses her mother and father and has to live with her evil step-mother and step-sisters. She is relegated to being their housemaid and treated unfairly until her fairy godmother comes to her rescue. She goes to a ball, the prince is smitten with her and she has to leave in a rush before the magic goes away. In the interim, she loses a shoe, the prince searches the entire town to find the girl who fits the shoe. He finds her and they live happily ever after.

This movie is a bit different in that the prince first met Cinderella while she was in her housemaid element, dirty dress and unkempt hair. They have a few words and he is smitten with her. They meet again at the ball and he falls even deeper for her as she does for him.

His desperate attempt to find her is both comical and absurd. Let’s face it, even in their small village, surely there was more than one woman who would have fit the shoe. Yet, there was only one woman who looked like her and instead of searching for the woman, they were searching for the woman who fit the shoe. But, then again, this is Disney and this is a fairytale so it’s not meant to resemble real life.

In the end, Cinderella and the prince meet again and before Cinderella tries on the shoe (which, at this point was kind of moot), she tells the prince she is who she is. Of course, we all know what happens next.

What do you think of fairy tales?

*** Another note, while I consider movies a form of entertainment, I do enjoy watching movies that are “think pieces” like Birdman and have a fun time dissecting them.***

How to Live 12 Years in 166 Minutes

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I don’t know what took me so long (considering I had it on my list a long time ago), but I finally got around to seeing Boyhood and I loved it as much as I thought I would (if not more). I’m so glad I didn’t wait 12 years to see it. It is truly a moving masterpiece of a film by Richard Linklater.

I fell in love with the characters, especially Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). The movie goes through the everyday life of this family in a span of twelve consecutive years and is centered around the younger child, Mason Jr. I am always up for a coming-of-age movie, but this was such a treat to actually see the characters come-of-age in the span of twelve real years. And, the entire family comes-of-age throughout the movie.

It can be deceiving because of it’s mundane actions (school drop-offs, sibling rivalry, homework), but there is so much depth to the film as well as the characters. From the moment you meet them, you are rooting for this family and go through their ups and downs as if they were your own (and, perhaps you have had similar experiences).

There is something about the way Rick (as the actors have referred to him in interviews) captures the moments and characters that want you to continue to care for them long after the movie has ended and keep you longing to want the relationship to go on. He’s found a formula to forge a very special bond between the audience and his characters. I would love if somehow they picked this up in a few years. Either way, you should pick up a copy or watch it online if you haven’t done so. There is so much truth and beauty to experience in this film. It’s pure magic.

The 7 Best Red Carpet Styles from the 2015 Oscars

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Another year. Another wrap-up of Hollywood’s golden moment – The Oscars. I think Neil Patrick Harris did really well with the opening song. I loved Lady Gaga’s tribute to The Sound of Music and it was really great to see Julie Andrews. I LOVE The Sound of Music and watched it a gazillion times when I was a kid (and even as an adult).

There were definite hits and misses with the red carpet styles. And, it’s no surprise Elie Saab made my list twice this year —- he is just on point with the glamour and glitz. Some trends to note:

Statement Necklaces

Black

White / Cream

Black and White

Red

Nude

What did you think of last night’s looks? What were your favorites? Here are my favorite looks from last night.

Jennifer Lopez, in Elie Saab Haute Couture

Jennifer Lopez in Elie Saab Haute Couture – An Elie Saab creation always gets my attention.  They are so stunning and glamorous. And, is it just me, or does JLo get better every year? I loved her entire look.

Lupita Nyong'o, in custom Calvin Klein Collection

Lupita Nyong’o in Calvin Klein Collection – Lupita looked stunning in this artfully-crafted pearls gown in the color-of-the-moment white.

Cate Blanchett, in Maison Margiela

Cate Blanchett in Maison Margiela – I loved this rock-n-roll-meets-glamour-girl-meets-hippy-chick look Cate sported last night. And I especially love the bold turquoise necklace.

Emma Stone, in Elie Saab Haute Couture

Emma Stone in Elie Saab Haute Couture – Another gorgeous Elie Saab creation on the radiant Emma Stone. Chartreuse works so well on her and makes her eyes really pop. The dress is a nice balance of sexy and classy with large doses of glamour.

Gwyneth Paltrow, in Ralph & Russo

Gwyneth Paltrow in Ralph & Russo – Gwyneth’s dress spoke volumes without saying a word – from the sophisticated silhouette to the edgy one arm sleeve to the strategically placed gigantic fabric floral concoction and down to the pale pink color.

Meryl Streep, in Lanvin

Meryl Streep in Lanvin – Meryl’s look is simply classy and glamorous without being over-done or under-dressed. I think the tuxedo jacket gives her look an extra oomph (not that the 3-times Oscar winner and bazillion-times Oscar nominated Meryl needed it).

Scarlett Johansson, in Atelier Versace

Scarlett Johansson in Atelier Versace – I liked that Scarlet went with an unexpected color. The cut of the dress really works well on her frame and the color looks amazing on her. Her hair is refreshing and so is the mis-matched earrings combo. Of course, the statement necklace was absolutely gorgeous.

{All photos from Style.com}

8 Awesome Alternative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

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I’ve had my fair share of Valentine’s Day dates. From the sweet and simple (dinner) to the sublime (Paris). These days, my preferred way to celebrate is to not celebrate…with the masses. One year we went with my parents to a teeny, tiny family restaurant (with absolutely delicious food). No, it wasn’t romantic, but a memory I will cherish.

This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday, the holy grail of date nights. So, prepare to fight the crowds and find yourselves in not-so-romantic situations if you plan to venture out. Or, how about instead of eating an over-priced meal and being herded in and rushed out like a pack of animals, why not do something different? And, why not do it on a different day? Here are some alternative date ideas in celebration of love.

8 Awesome Alternative Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

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{Noma in Copenhagen was voted the world’s #1 restaurant}

1. Book dinner at a nice restaurant on a different day. I hate being rushed during my meals, especially when I am dining at a nice restaurant. If you book at an off-hour during an off-day, you will get better service and better food.

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{A couple that paints together, stays together.}

2. Find a project to work on together. Are you into art? Wood-working? You can use this time to connect and create something together.

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{And…a couple that cooks together, stays together.}

3. Sign up for a cooking class for a cuisine neither of you has tried before (or, at least, has not tried cooking before). You will learn something new, prepare a meal for each other and lots of laughs are sure to ensue when venturing into new territory.

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{Take a trip down memory lane.}

4. Go down memory lane. Whether you have a long history or have been together for only a short period of time, why not make a list of things you used to do and go out and do them? Maybe you had your first date at a coffee shop or you used to bowl together or just sit in the car and listen to music together. Whatever it is, bring nostalgia back. Bonus: Take lots of pictures and do it again in the future to see how you’ve changed (maybe every year or every 5 years or so).

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{A romantic dinner for two at home.}

5. Make a list of your favorite foods and make a date of it. Go grocery shopping together and cook at home. Light some candles, put on some music and relish in the comfort of your home and away from the crowds. (If neither of you cooks, you can always hire someone to cook at home for you.)

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{The best spas according to Conde Nast Traveller.)

6. Take a day off work during the week (if permissible) and do a spa day together. Get massages, take a dip in the spas, sit in the sauna and relax.

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{Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago.}

7. Venture into a new neighborhood and plan a day out of it. Check out an art gallery, visit a monument, walk around, go to a local coffee shop, eat at some small business restaurants and see a show or musician. And, take lots of pictures.

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{River North neighborhood of Chicago.}

8. Or, why not tour your own neighborhood? Make a list of things you have not seen, heard or done and go see, hear and do them! You’ll be surprised at the gems you’ll find hiding in your own backyard!

Bonus: If you want to keep it really simple, why not stay home, order pizza and watch a movie? And, write love letters to each other. On paper. With a pen!