Saturday, March 29, 2014

Short Term 12 : My Review

The film Short Term 12 has all the qualities of the perfect indie: great story, an excellent script, and a terrific ensemble cast headed by the soon to be extremely well known Brie Larson. The movie centers around Grace (Larson), a counselor at a foster care facility who is extremely good at her job. She takes a loving but firm approach with her charges, and it's quite obvious that they respect her despite their sometimes insolent attitudes. Grace is also juggling a relationship with Mason a fellow counselor and the father of the baby she is carrying. Even though Grace seemingly has it together on the outside, a newcomer to the facility by the name of Jayden brings up things from her past that Grace would rather not deal with, but has to if she can ever think of having a future with Mason.

Larson does an excellent job as Grace and was well deserving of the award recognition she received over the past several months. In a less crowded field, Larson possibly could have received an Oscar nod as well, but unfortunately she did not. Larson did however land a coveted spot on the cover of the Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair with the likes of Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Lupita Nyongo, and Jared Leto. She has also appeared in the films Don Juan, 21 Jump Street, and The Spectacular Now.

Another one to watch is Keith Stanfield who plays eighteen year old Marcus, a kid from an abusive background who has aged out of the system. His performance will break your heart and he along with Kaitlyn Dever who plays Jayden are two talents to keep an eye on.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: I've Never Been To Vegas but My Luggage Has

There are a lot of "how to survive the single life" books on the market, but Mandy Hale has written one that is not only written from a Christian perspective, but also written from a standpoint that all women despite their religious beliefs can relate to.

I’ve Never Been To Vegas but My Luggage Has is the second book from Mandy who is the creator of The Single Woman blog and the author of the book of the same name. I first became acquainted with Mandy through Twitter and quickly became a follower. What attracted me to her Tweets were the positivity and wisdom they exude. Mandy‘s unabashed honesty and straight shooter style is appreciated in a world where books for single Christians stick to the mantra of “pray and wait for your husband” or “this is the season where you should strictly be focused on the Lord”. They never speak to those that may struggle with wanting what they want in their timing not God’s. Not to knock those books, but Mandy is very frank about the mistakes she’s made with guys: falling for Mr. E, someone who repeatedly broke her heart; living out of wedlock with a physically abusive boyfriend; and struggling with depression and anxiety. I don’t want to give away too much of this wonderful book but if you are a single woman of any age and race please pick up this gem of a book, read Mandy’s blog, , check her out on You Tube, and follow her on social media. For those that need a little encouragement and perspective on this single journey, Mandy will provide it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Zoe Saldana To Play Eartha Kitt In Biopic

After all the fuss in regards to Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone in a biopic, I was psyched to learn she's been picked to play the late singer, actress , and activist Eartha Kitt. From what I've learned about Ms. Kitt, this role is tailor made for a ballsy actress like Saldana who is reportedly a big fan of the late legend.

I did my research on Ms. Kitt, and I must say she lived a very colorful life, a life tailor made for the big screen. Kitt grew up biracial and was born on a cotton plantation. She became a huge international star when she was blacklisted in America after voicing her opinions on the Vietnam War to Lady Bird Johnson. After bringing Johnson to tears at a luncheon , the then First Lady fled the room she was that upset. Ms. Kitt was also a linguist (she spoke in 4 languages and sang in 7).

This sounds like the perfect vehicle for someone like Taylor Hackford to direct who did a phenomenal job with Ray.

The Single Mom's Club: My Review

The two words Tyler Perry leave a bad taste in movie critics mouths. Even though the majority of his movies have done good box office and his series and plays are successes, Perry cannot seem to catch a break or any praise for his work. Well his latest is no exception. The Single Moms Club is Tyler’s tribute to all the single moms out there doing their thing, and it boasted a cast that includes Nia Long, Cocoa Brown, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Zulay Hunao, and Amy Smart . The ladies all portray single mothers from varying rungs of the economic ladder who are placed together due to their kids’ misbehavior,  and in the process become sounding boards for one another.  Of course the ladies do not all click instantaneously, but when they do they decide to form a club where one of the ladies looks after the kids while the other ladies go out for a girl’s night.  Hence The Single Mom’s Club is born.

Is the movie perfect? No.  There were a couple of scenes that made me cringe because they were either badly executed or the dialogue seemed corny to me, but all in all I enjoyed the movie.  I was surprised that the opening weekend boasted weak numbers, but despite the lackluster box office, OWN is bringing the series version of the film to the small screen with an entirely new cast.  I just hope the revamped cast will have the audience believing in the power of friendship and girl power as much as the movie cast did.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Oscars 2014 : My Recap

As a moviegoer I always watch the Oscars, but this year it felt different. A lot of it has to do with having seen a lot of the movies nominated, the whirlwind known as Lupita,  a tight Best Actor and Best Picture race, and all things Jared Leto.

The movies that came out last year were unbelievably good. 12 Years A Slave took me on a journey that was depressing and dark, but it was a story that needed to be told. Is it a movie I would want to see again? A few months ago, I would have said no, but now I would change that to a maybe. I feared that the Academy's demographic would not see the film or would find it too graphic and in your face to award it Best Picture. They did not give the honor of Best Director to Steve McQueen, but the film did win the highest honor of the night which was well deserved and for Best Adapted Screenplay. Giving the Best Picture Award to American Hustle would have been a joke because let's face it even though the cast was stellar, the story was a miss. Gravity was a beautiful film, but it did not carry the emotional weight of 12 Years and these two films were 12 Years biggest competition during awards season.

The Best Supporting Actress category had me on edge due to the juggernaut known as Jennifer Lawrence. Yes Lupita won the majority of awards going into the Oscars, but Jennifer won some major ones as well including the BAFTA and Golden Globe. Lovely Lupita did win though, and I was beyond happy. She is a class act and her performance in 12 Years was mind blowing. Lupita has what it takes to go far, and I hope that casting directors are taking note of what she can bring to a film. With her beauty I would also like to see Lupita land a contract with a cosmetics company or design house which would boost her brand even more.

Cate Blanchett's win for Blue Jasmine was not surprising because her performance in that film was fabulous. I highly recommend that you rent Blue Jasmine if you have not seen it. Jasmine is not the most likable character, but Cate did an amazing job as did Sally Hawkins who plays Jasmine's sister Ginger in the movie. Sally was also nominated for her performance.

I do feel like a major slacker because I still have not seen Dallas Buyer's Club which is the movie that won Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto their first Oscars. I have been a big fan of Matt's ever since A Time To Kill,  and I love that he is getting recognized as a character actor after going the rom com route. Now I am not knocking rom coms, but most have no depth. There are very few exceptions (When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman) that do, but most are fluffy and cute. Matt's over being fluffy and cute, and that's fine with me. If you can do more, do it. If you are limited as an actor, stick to what you know. 

Jared Leto on the other hand is one of those guys I had heard of, but never really paid much attention to. Basically all I knew about him was that he was once engaged to Cameron Diaz and was on that show My So Called Life. Now that Jared has won the Oscar, here's hoping he is not going to take another 6 year break from acting. Not only is he a talented actor and musician, but gorgeous and seemingly humble and together. Plus any guy who would go the lengths he goes to for parts (gaining over 60 lbs for Chapter 27 and losing 40 for DBH) is an actor worth respecting. I can't wait to see what he does next!

I cannot finish my post without giving a shout out to P!nk and Pharrell who both performed on the show last night and Ellen DeGeneres who gets my vote as Best Host. Anyone who would order pizza for the audience and take a selfie with the celebs is someone whom the producers should want to host the Oscars again next year. She made what was a very long evening into an enjoyable experience. Good job Ellen!

The selfie that broke records