Friday, April 30, 2010

Challenge 2, The Rules

Tomorrow is the first day of Unplugged- my second challenge of the year. For the entire month of May, I will be disconnecting myself from the TV, computer, and iPod. There are, of course, a few exceptions and rules which I am now going to list.

  • Starting May 1st, I will be turning off all of my electronics. My laptop, TV, blu-ray player, and iPod will all be shut down until June 1st.
  • If I wish to listen to music, it cannot be with headphones. It must be in a CD player, playing aloud so that I can hear everything else going on around me.
  • If I need something off the internet, such as a recipe or to check my email, I will ask my family members to do this for me.
  • I will read at least one book a week, and keep track of my reading with the new book journal I just bought.
  • I will cook dinner more, keeping track of the recipes in my new recipe journal.
  • I will scrapbook at least 6 new pages for my scrapbook.
  • To keep this blog from going stagnant, guest bloggers will be posting for May. I plan on asking them to either post their own opinions on books and movies, or recipes, or to post updates on my progress with this challenge.
  • I will try not to cheat!
  • Work- my job requires me to use a computer; therefore, I must use the computer while I am there. But I will stay off the internet, and read during my breaks.
  • Grad School application steps- I have to finish up some very important steps for my graduate school application, and some of these steps require internet/computer usage.
  • Emergencies- if a situation arises where it is absolutely necessary to use my computer or TV, I will then use it, but only for that reason.
  • Others- as in other people. If I am invited over to someone's house and they are watching TV, I'm not going to ask them to turn it off. After all, they didn't sign up for this challenge.
And those are the rules and exceptions for the month of May. Good-bye for now!

Challenge 1, The End

Today is the final day of Script Frenzy, and as with NaNoWriMo, I did not complete my mission of reaching 100 pages. But I take heart in the latest email from the good people at Script Frenzy. As they said, I may not have reached my goal, but I did write more pages than I would have otherwise written. And it was good to get some of those ideas down on paper. I plan on working on the script during this next month's challenge- Unplugged- when I will have plenty of free time.

I don't see this challenge as a failure. I see it as a starting point. After thinking about and imagining this story since I was 16, I have finally begun putting it into words. That is reward enough to me.

I heart this movie!

Title: The Blind Side
Format: DVD/Netflix
Category: Drama/Inspirational/Football/Christian
Rating: A

Description (from "The Blind Side" depicts the story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential. At the same time, Oher's presence in the Touhys' lives leads them to some insightful self-discoveries of their own. Living in his new environment, the teen faces a completely different set of challenges to overcome. As a football player and student, Oher works hard and, with the help of his coaches and adopted family, becomes an All-American offensive left tackle.

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Such an amazing movie! Great dialogue, talented actors, and a compelling story. I cannot wait to buy this for myself. Sandra Bullock definitely deserved her Oscar; my mom didn't even realize it was her because she's so used to the Sandra Bullock of While You Were Sleeping. Her character in this is now my favorite of all the characters she's ever portrayed. Her costars were wonderful too. Tim McGraw was great, and I'm so glad he decided to do another football movie after Friday Night Lights, especially since he has a much nicer character in this movie. The other star of this film, Quinton Aaron, was also amazing. He played the part of the shy and out-of-place gentle giant so well. I hope he gets a lot more movie roles. And not to be forgotten-- the youngest Tuohy, played by Jae Head, stole every single scene.

Another reason I loved this movie was for its take on Christianity. It is always refreshing to see a movie that doesn't portray Christians as crazy and legalistic. The Tuohys are strong in their faith and not afraid to speak out about the wrongs they see amongst their friends, even if it means losing popularity. They're a tight-knit family that tries to share Christian love with all the people around them. Most of the teachers at the Christian school are understanding and willing to work with Michael to help him succeed.

The movie wasn't perfect. There was swearing and sexual references, and one pretty violent scene. So it's not an appropriate film for the whole family. But it is definitely worth watching, and owning. A

Monday, April 26, 2010

What a disappointment

Title: Planet 51
Format: DVD/Netflix
Category: Family/Science Fiction/Animated
Rating: D

I'm not writing much of a review on this movie because frankly, it doesn't deserve one.

Description (from American astronaut Captain Charles "Chuck" Baker lands on Planet 51 thinking he's the first person to step foot on it. To his surprise, he finds that this planet is inhabited by little green people who are happily living in a white picket fence world, and whose only fear is that it will be overrun by alien Chuck!

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This movie was so disappointing. I was expecting something I could watch with my little sister, and instead ended up watching this by myself because there was just too much innuendo. I'm so sick of movies that are promoted as family-friendly, when they only mean some of the family. Besides the innuendo, the dialogue left much to be desired, especially Chuck's. And his character was incredibly cheesy and dumb. I know they wanted it to be "silly," but it came off annoying. This whole movie could have been made better. D

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Challenge 1, Day 22

I have fallen very behind in my script... really behind. But that doesn't mean I didn't accomplish anything lately. I finally wrote to my profs, asking for letters of recommendation. I set a goal/deadline for my statement of purpose essay. I finished five scrapbook pages, which I will scan and post later, at Christine's scrapbooking party. I helped my sister with her homework, as well as tried some yummy new recipes from Food Network. I watched Glee and Castle, and spent quality time with my family and with my friends. So I did a lot since my last update, just not on my script.

In case you want to try making some of the delicious food I made this past weekend, here are the links to their recipes at Food Network's website:
The perfect follow-up is a fruit salad- I used blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries- with some whipped cream.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mixed feelings

On Tuesday night, the first episode of Glee: Season 2 aired, and rather than feeling really excited for this season, I feel a bit apprehensive, disappointed, intrigued, and only a little excited.

My reasons are:
  • I had been really looking forward to the Finn/Rachel relationship drama, and within the first 10 minutes, that's over, and this new love interest Jesse just sweeps in without warning.
  • Then there was the Mr. Schuester/Emma/Vocal-Adrenaline-leader tension that really turned me off. I mean, Idina Menzel was the perfect choice as the competition with an agenda, but Will's a doofus for chasing her when he's got Emma. Once again, a long-awaited relationship has been put on hold for the sake of melodrama.
  • Sue Sylvester was her usual evil self; she almost never fails to disappoint. Her Madonna music video was hilarious.
  • Terri just refuses to go away. Only instead of scheming to keep Will, she's planning on getting rid of Emma. I found her plotting and fake pregnancy storyline very annoying in season 1, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing what devious plans she has in store for Emma.
  • The whole episode felt so rushed, as well as jammed with new plot ideas. And they haven't even introduced all of the new storylines they're planning. I felt like this episode was just a segue from season 1 to the real season 2. This episode felt like it was a mini season, like season 1.5.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Challenge 1, Day 5

I have always wondered why the people at NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy scheduled their challenges in months with big family holidays. NaNoWriMo clashes with Thanksgiving in November, and Script Frenzy with Easter in April. So I've fallen a little behind because we spent Saturday with my grandparents (Dad's side), and of course, nothing was going to get done on Easter itself. The one good thing is that I did write a little on Saturday, maybe a page and a half. That was a handwritten page-and-a-half, so it will probably only equal a page in Word. Luckily, there are no more holidays for the rest of the month, which means I can get back on track with my script.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Craziness Update

I think I may have finally caught up on all of my reviews! It's possible there are a few movies or TV shows I've missed, but at least I finished the crazy list of 26 movies/shows. Now it is time to, as they say at Script Frenzy, "Stop Watching. Start Writing." TTYL!

Fun for the WHOLE Family

Title: How to Train Your Dragon
Format: Movie theater, 2-D
Date Seen: March 26, 2010 (opening night)
Category: Animated/Fantasy/Family
Rating: A+

Finally, a family film that's for the whole family. The problem with family films today is that the ones trying to reach out to an older audience do so by adding innuendo or references that you just hope flies over the kids' heads. Or the movie is so ridiculously childish and saccharine sweet that it alienates audiences older than 7 or 8. This movie isn't childish, saccharine sweet, or full of off-color jokes. It's just right for the whole family.

Description (from Set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild dragons, and based on the book by Cressida Cowell, this action comedy tells the story of Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn't exactly fit in with his tribe's longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccup's world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.

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I was so thankful we didn't see this movie in 3-D. Mostly because I get headaches from prolonged 3-D media and because the tickets were $3 more than the 2-D tickets, but also because the 3-D special effects would have been the main focus of the experience, rather than the story. Watc
hing in 2-D allowed the movie itself--the characters, the dialogue, the plot-- to shine.

I loved thi
s movie because it was such a fun, family-friendly film. There is only one off-color joke in the entire film. And it doesn't even need that. I saw this movie with a group of friends, all of us in our twenties, and we all loved it. It didn't need innuendos to keep us entertained; it wasn't too young or too sappy either. It's also great because this is one movie I'm going to be able to take my little sister to without having to worry about covering her eyes or ears.

The story in this film is great too, because it's such a classic theme-- the theme of a boy and his dog; except here it's a boy and his dragon. And the dragon is so adorable! I want to take him home with me!

So if you're looking for a film to see with your family, or to see with friends, or to see on your own, this movie is a great fit for anyone. A+

Recharging a Classic: Take 2

Title: Sherlock Holmes
Format: Movie theater
Date Seen: Sometime in January
Category: Mystery/Action adventure/Thriller/Adaptation
Rating: A+

Like Star Trek, this movie worried me, as I love the old Basil Rathbone movies and the Jeremy Brett TV series. But this interpretation of Holmes differed so much from the originals that there was no means of comparison. This movie stands completely on its own.

Description (from Barnes & Noble): Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous super-sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, gets an update with this adaptation of Lionel Wigram's comic book series by writer/director Guy Ritchie starring Robert Downey Jr. as the titular detective, with Jude Law stepping into the shoes of his sidekick, Dr. Watson. Heading up the rest of the cast are Mark Strong as the film's villain, Blackwood, and Rachel McAdams portraying the love interest, Irene Adler.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After leaving the movie theater, my brother, sister, and I were so excited about this film that we could not wait to tell our dad about it. He's the main Sherlock Holmes fan in the family, and thanks to his love of the series and resulting franchise, the rest of us are now hooked too.

The number one reason this movie is amazing is the cast. Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Mark Strong, Rachel McAdams-- all of them gave spectacular performances. Mark Strong is the epitome of evil. All other movie villains should take notes from him, not just for his portrayal of Lord Blackwood, but also for his roles as Nick in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and as Septimus in Stardust. He plays his roles so well, it's no surprise that he's currently Hollywood's first choice for the bad-guy roles. Jude Law and Rachel McAdams are consistently good actors, and in this movie, they are both excellent. Jude Law's portrayal of a Dr. Watson who is neither an idiot or an oaf is such a breath of fresh air. I love Nigel Bruce's bumbling, but Law's witty and heroic role was a much-needed change. My only complaint about Rachel McAdams, a.k.a Irene Adler, is that she wasn't in the movie enough. I hope that in the sequel (scheduled for release in 2011) she will have a much bigger part.

And then of course, there's Robert Downey Jr. in the starring role. He's the antithesis of Basil Rathbone with just a hint of Jeremy Brett. Coarse, quick-tempered, sharp-tongued, and at the same time, a dependent puppy dog who would do anything not to lose his faithful sidekick. This version of Holmes isn't refined, polite, upper class. Robert Downey Jr. plays him perfectly too. I feel that his acting now, as well as his looks, are so much improved since he grew up and got off the drugs.

The movie was so exciting, and kept me on the edge of my seat. The final revelation or should I say how-he-did-it scene that is quintessential to any Sherlock Holmes adaptation was just perfect. And because this adaptation was so very different from the originals, I never felt compelled to compare it with them. I just loved it! When the sequel comes out, I will be there opening night. A+

50 Word Review 29

Title: The Proposal
Category: Romantic Comedy
Rating: B

I actually liked this movie, despite some of the extremely embarrassing and awkward moments. It was really nice to have Sandra Bullock doing romantic comedies again, rather than cop flicks. Ryan Reynolds was also in his element, as he's mainly a comedic actor. And Betty White constantly stole the scene. B

50 Word Review 28

Title: Mr. Wrong
Category: Comedy/Romantic comedy
Medium: Netflix
Rating: B+

Surprisingly, I enjoyed this movie. I'm not a fan of Ellen; I think she's pretty annoying. But she was great here. I will never look at Bill Pullman the same way ever again though. He probably had fun with this character, but I preferred him in While You Were Sleeping. B+

50 Word Review 27

Title: Last Holiday
Category: Romantic comedy
Medium: Netflix
Rating: A

A heartwarming movie with an amazing ending. The perfect combo! And to make it even better, the main character is a Christian woman, who isn't cliched or whose faith isn't mocked. The movie was fun and sweet and romantic with minimal embarrassing moments, everything a romantic comedy ought to be. A

50 Word Review 26

Title: Adam
Category: Drama/Romance
Medium: Netflix
Rating: D

What a disappointing and frustrating ending! If you like unromantic or bittersweet conclusions, then this is the movie for you. If you like movies where the girl dumps the guy in the end, leaving him crushed, you'll like this. If you liked 500 Days of Summer, you should love this. D

50 Word Review 25

Title: Die Hard 2: Die Harder
Category: Action/Thriller
Medium: Netflix
Rating: D

The first movie was a lot of swearing and relatively little violence. The sequel has slightly less swearing and a lot more violence. I think I prefer the first to this one. Many of the fighting scenes were too hard to watch. There was just too much gore for me. D

50 Word Review 24

Title: He's Just Not That Into You
Category: Romantic comedy
Medium: Netflix
Rating: A-

I loved some of the characters' stories, and despised one or two others'. The Alex and Gigi storyline was my favorite, followed closely by the Neil and Beth one. I really hated the Ben, Anna, Janine triangle. Good movie, but I didn't agree with all of the advice it gave. A-

50 Word Review 23

Title: Serious Moonlight
Category: Drama/Romance
Medium: Netflix
Rating: B-

Great premise, great actors, great ending. Terrible language. This movie would have been so much more enjoyable if I had been able to watch it without muting it every few seconds or worrying my little sister might hear it. I really hate it when a good movie has excessive swearing. B-

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Challenge 1, Day 1

Today was the first day of my first challenge-- Script Frenzy. I have the month of April to write 100 pages of script. It doesn't sound as hard as NaNoWriMo, but it is. Mostly because I am constantly self-editing. Nitpicking at each and every little flaw I see, real or imagined. But today is only day one, and I am already doing better on this challenge than I did last November.

And why is that? Because I've actually written something! During NaNoWriMo, I majorly failed at reaching the 50,000 word goal. As a matter of fact, I only reached about 1000 words in each of the stories I started. Those 1000 words weren't written in the first day or even the first week either. I didn't really start writing until the end of the month so the project was doomed from the beginning.

Script Frenzy is going much better. I have already written three pages of my very first script, and that was while I was watching Sherlock Holmes, the Robert Downey, Jr. version. I feel so accomplished. Now, let's hope that I can stick with it, and not get sidetracked or distracted by my crazy inner-editor.

Recharging a Classic

Title: Star Trek
Format: Netflix
Category: Science fiction/Action adventure
Rating: A+

A remake that didn't suck?! How shocking!

Description (from MSN): Mission: Impossible III director and Alias creator J.J. Abrams resurrects the classic science fiction franchise created by Gene Roddenberry with this feature film that embraces the rich history of the influential television and film series while also exploring some uncharted territory. Heroes star Zachary Quinto assumes the role of the Federation Starfleet lieutenant and Vulcan made famous in the original series by Leonard Nimoy (who also appears in an older incarnation of his original role), Spock, with Anton Yelchin stepping into the role of USS Enterprise navigator Pavel Chekov, Zoe Saldana assuming the role of communications officer Uhura, Simon Pegg keeping the ship in top shape as chief engineer Montgomery Scott (aka "Scotty"), and Eric Bana tormenting the benevolent space explorers as the villainous Nero. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle co-star John Cho also boards the Enterprise as Hikaru Sulu, with Chris Pine and Karl Urban assuming the legendary roles of Captain Kirk and Leonard "Bones" McCoy, respectively.

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I'll admit I was a little worried when I heard that they were making a new Star Trek movie with all new actors. Then, I was a little more worried when I heard it was supposed to be a prequel. And then I was really concerned when I heard it was going to be taking its own spin on the original series' crew. What a relief to discover that they not only stuck with the original characters' personalities, they also figured out a way to appease the die-hard Trekkies' fears of ruining their beloved saga. And they did it with just two words-- alternate universe.

By stating that the crew had now found themselves in an alternate universe, the director allowed the original crew to have completely new adventures without it interfering with the original story. After all, the original Spock doesn't lose his memories when he arrives in this alternate past. This of course means sequels galore for J.J. Abrams.

Besides being very true to the Enterprise's crew, this movie was action-packed, exciting, and funny, with just a touch of romance. My favorite scenes involve either Scotty being... well, Scotty, or the scenes where McCoy and Kirk interact. They fire one-liners and play off each other perfectly.

Perhaps the only things I have to complain about, and they're not enough to detract from my A+ rating, are the romance between Spock and Uhura, and the very rude, crude language used by Kirk in the beginning of the movie. Fortunately, Kirk cleans up his language, and the weird romance is just touched on, rather than dwelled on. Despite these two things, my Trekkie heart fell in love with this movie, and I greatly look forward to the sequel. A+

50 Word Review 22

Title: Die Hard
Category: Action/Thriller
Medium: Netflix
Rating: B+

Really good movie, but I wish Bruce Willis didn't say the F-word so much. I probably would have preferred watching this on TV, where they mute or change the swear words. The rest of the movie is awesome. Suspenseful, lots of action, and great actors like Willis, and Alan Rickman. B+

50 Word Review 21

Title: Mesmer
Category: Drama
Medium: Netflix
Rating: F

This movie made no sense. It had no real plot, an unhappy ending, and a secondary storyline that was just gross and uncalled for. With his voice, Alan Rickman's the perfect choice for playing a hypnotist. But I'm so disappointed in him for taking this part. Such a terrible movie. F

50 Word Review 20

Title: 9
Category: Science fiction/Animated
Medium: Netflix
Rating: C-

Confusing. When the movie starts, it just throws you into this new world with barely any preparation, and it never really answers your questions. The premise was cool, but the movie was jumpy, and the dialogue stinted and awkward. The animation was amazing, but wasn't enough to redeem the movie. C-

50 Word Review 19

Title: Reign of Fire
Category: Science fiction/Action
Medium: Netflix
Rating: B+

Good movie for the most part. Matthew McConaughey annoyed me though. Gerard Butler should have had a bigger part. Christian Bale was excellent. The special effects, especially the dragons, were well done. Loved the Star Wars tribute. Would have given it an A, but McC's performance marred the overall experience. B+

50 Word Review 18

Title: Julie & Julia
Category: Biography/Drama/Romance
Medium: Netflix
Rating: A-

I really liked this movie. Switching between the two women's lives kept the action moving, and it never seemed jerky or sudden. Meryl Streep did such an amazing job as Julia Child. This movie also appealed to me because I love to cook, eat good food, and watch Food Network. A