Monday, February 3, 2014

The Bijou Metro Theatre

I would like to take a moment and draw focus to The Bijou Metro theatre located in downtown Eugene, OR. I recently had the pleasure of visiting this theatre in order to catch their showing of Sabrina (1954), directed by Billy Wilder and featuring Audrey Hepburn, Hunphrey Bogart, and William Holden. Audrey Hepburn is my favorite actress and I was really grateful to be able to watch one of her films on the big screen. Sabrina is one in a series of films the Bijou Metro has shown celebrating the work of director Billy Wilder. Like its predecessor, the Bijou "Classic" Art Cinema located on E 13th, the Bijou Metro is intimate and charming. While some may gripe, I really enjoyed the smaller theatre size. The location is fantastic. It is situated within easy walking distance of Eugene favorites such as Voodoo Doughnuts, Off the Waffle, Sizzle Pie, and Townshend's Tea House. The Bijou Metro has been on my Eugene bucket list for some time and it didn't disappoint. These cinemas are labeled as "Art Cinemas" for a reason--you won't find the latest aliens meet zombies meet superheroes (not that those aren't great in their own way) flick here. Go experience the Bijou Metro (and the Bijou Classic) and relish being a part of local culture while watching some wonderful films. 

(Photo cred: Myself)

Here is one of my favorite clips from Sabrina: Audrey Hepburn singing "La vie en Rose" to Humphrey Bogart.

Happy February and namaste. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Winter Movie Reviews...

I love movies. I love watching movies, reading about movies, and talking about movies. I tend to be a little over-enthusiastic at times and I still whole-heartedly believe in the magic of the cinema. Over the winter holiday I went to see four movies that as a whole I was pleased with--three of which my sister and I saw all in one day and had a grand time doing so. I will do my absolute best not to divulge any life-changing spoilers and I sincerely recommend going to see all of these films.

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

Big surprise, right? Before I start, for everyone who has read the book by J.R.R. Tolkien (I reread it before seeing this movie) the movie definitely...strays from the book. Quite a bit. Even more so than the first movie. However, I still managed to enjoy this movie immensely. It follows the basic outline of the book's storyline and adds quite a few interesting diversions. The entire film is both visually and audibly stimulating and the action scenes (of which there are many) are well-done and exciting. There is one scene towards the end that I found a bit unbelievable, but since I said no spoilers, that's all I will say and the viewers can decide for themselves. The cast is excellent (something which I will probably be repeating for every movie reviewed today) and Orlando Bloom reprises his role as Legolas from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I'm sure many viewers will have differing opinions regarding his presence in the film. Personally, I didn't mind too much, and that's not because I'm a girl and I find him attractive. Well, that's not the sole reason anyways. For those who are not familiar with the books and their legacy and have only seen the movies, his being in the film will probably do more to tie in The Hobbit films with The Lord of the Rings films. To those who become highly agitated when movies do not follow their literary counterparts verbatim, I say: deal with it. It's an all-to-common, albeit unfortunate, occurrence and try to keep an open mind. Three movies are being made out of a roughly 320-page book. There's bound to be differences and additions. Go see it. Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of Smaug is worth it.

*SPOILER ALERT* This song, "I See Fire" by Ed Sheeran, plays during the closing credits. Enjoy.

2. Frozen: 

I thought this Disney movie (as I think about most Disney movies) was delightful. I saw this with my sister, and as the movie centers around two sisters, it turned out to be a good choice. It was created by the same people who made Tangled, and supposedly in one of the scenes you can catch a glimpse of Rapunzel, but my sister and I both completely missed it. All of the usual Disney magic is intact and the film boasts some great talent, with theatre and screen alums such as Idina Menzel (Elsa), Kristen Bell (Anna), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff), and Josh Gad (Olaf) lending their voices to the characters. The film is visually striking (especially all scenes involving Elsa's ice palace) and the musical sequences are lovely. My favorite songs in the film are "For the First Time in Forever" sung by Elsa and Anna and "Let It Go" sung by Elsa. "Let It Go" is probably my favorite scene in the whole movie because visually, it's beautiful, and the song is pretty powerful. Another version of "Let It Go" is sung by Demi Lovato and plays during the credits. Olaf, the lovable snowman, is easily a favorite and a scene-stealer, but for my part, I also really enjoyed Sven the reindeer. Despite its frigid title (you knew this line was coming) this is a true Disney movie that leaves you feeling warm and happy when it ends. If you enjoy winter, Disney, musicals, or all three, go see this movie. Below is one of the trailers.

3. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty:

This might be a bit lengthy. I love this film. My sister and I agreed that it is perfection. Remember how I mentioned before that I can be a little over-enthusiastic? This may be one of those times. Ben Stiller (who is also the director) is excellent as Walter Mitty, a worker at LIFE Magazine who fantasizes about adventures and romance to escape his as-yet unfulfilled life. The cast, including Kristin Wiig, Kathryn Hahn, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine, Sean Penn, and Patton Oswalt, among many others, works together wonderfully. It was filmed on-location in New York City, Los Angeles, and Iceland, and some of the scenes are truly breathtaking. One of the aspects of this film that I really enjoyed is that Walter Mitty is working at LIFE Magazine during the time of the magazine's transition to an online-only format, a transition that actually occurred. The magazine's final print issue was April 20, 2007. The film is based loosely on James Thurber's 1939 short story of the same title and I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of elements from the short story and the details of LIFE magazine's transition. I won't say too much more to avoid the risk of spoilers except that this film is powerful and heartfelt with humorous moments and a terrific soundtrack (which I will discussing in a future post). I heard from several people that they felt the beginning of the film went by too slowly but I didn't think so. The film progresses with purpose--if scenes go by in what seems to be a slow manner, I believe that is how it is meant to be. Go see this film (it's rated PG so kids can go too), check out the soundtrack and do read the short story. It's funny. 

My favorite trailer:

4. Saving Mr. Banks

To keep things simple (since I have been a bit wordy in the above reviews) I think this Disney film is great. With both Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks in starring roles, how could it not be? In my opinion, this film is first and foremost about the difficult childhood of P.L. Travers, the rather particular author of the Mary Poppins books, and secondly about Walt Disney's efforts to turn Mary Poppins into the musical we know today. This film gave me an entirely new perspective on Travers and the making of Mary Poppins. I am currently halfway through a biography on Walt Disney so his character is more familiar to me. The rest of the cast is superb as well, featuring Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, and Jason Shwartzman. Heartfelt, triumphant, and at times funny and sad, Saving Mr. Banks was again, great, although now I'm reconsidering the use of that adjective because it doesn't seem to quite fit what I'm trying to convey. There were moments in which I was brought close to tears but despite that I left the theatre incredibly pleased that I saw this film. Cheers to everyone involved. 

The bio of Walt Disney that I'm currently reading is called: Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler. It is by no means a quick read and I am only halfway through, but it is engaging and interesting. 

This is a fun remake of the Jungle Book's "I Wanna Be Like You" that has been stuck in my head for days. Sung by Robbie Williams and Olly Murs. Enjoy. 

Happy New Year and Namaste!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cookies, cookies, cookies!

This year, my roommate and I decided to bake cookies to give out to our friends before everyone went home for the holidays. For weeks we've been browsing Pinterest for holiday ideas and sending them to each other, and so we decided this would be a perfect time to give some of the baking ideas a try. Baking is much more enjoyable with friends and so last week two of our friends came over to help. Our cookie party was epic. We spent a little over 3 hours decorating dozens of cookies of different varieties and had a lot of fun in the process!

We made two dozen sugar cookies using Betty Crocker's sugar cookie mix. For the Santa cookies, we dyed part of the dough red (using Wilton gel icing dye--the best in my opinion) and just rolled the dough into the shapes we needed. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be! The regular sugar cookies are pretty self-explanatory. We rolled out the dough (coating everything in flour) and used cookie cutters to cut the dough. For the frosting, we made buttercream frosting. It is super easy to make and so good!

All you need is:
- 1/2 C of Crisco
- 1/2 C of butter
- 4 C of confectioner's sugar
- splash of vanilla extract
- 2 Tb of milk

This is obviously not a recipe to choose if you are dieting. When the butter is softened, cream the butter, vanilla extract, and Crisco together with a mixer. I say use a "splash" of vanilla because it's a preference of mine--I really like vanilla. The recipe calls for a teaspoon. After that, slowly begin adding in the confectioner's sugar and keep the mixer going on low while you add in the sugar. When you are done, it should have a whipped texture and taste very sweet. Add in the milk, mix it slightly, and you're done! To dye the frosting, we used various colors of Wilton gel icing.

This is a small sample, but I think they turned out pretty well! :)

To make the reindeer cookies we used Betty Crocker's peanut-butter cookie mix and added in peanut butter chips and chocolate chips. The antlers and eyes were done using black (and sparkly) icing gel and we used cinnamon candies for the noses. I think these cookies were my favorite!!

I neglected to take pictures of the mint chocolate chip cookies I made, but here's a quick run-down:

- 1 packet of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix (follow directions on bag)
- 1/4-1/2 tsp of mint extract
- 6-8 drops of green food dye (I recommend 8)
- 1 cup of milk chocolate chips
-1 cups of creme-de-menthe chips

We rolled out the dough and used the cookie cutters on these as well, but many of them lost their shape while baking. However, they tasted good, and that's what matters!

I'm very grateful for my friends and an excellent night filled with talk, laughter, Christmas music, and cookies! Here's another of my holiday favorites:


Saturday, December 7, 2013

My Holiday Season Watch List

It has not been difficult to get into the holiday spirit this year. Christmas music has been playing constantly in my apartment, the decorations are up, and we just experienced a glorious (and rather lengthy) snowfall. It's a season of red cups from Starbucks, twinkling lights, family, baking, and, of course, hordes of Christmas movies. So, without further ado, I'd like to present (in no particular order) my top 7 favorite Christmas movies. Yes, the number is 7 and not 10. Sue me.

1. White Christmas (1954)

What can I say? I'm a sucker for the classics and this one doesn't disappoint. Starring Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen, this timeless film is full of pleasant moments, jazzy musical numbers, and a perfect ending.

2. Home Alone (1990)

This John Hughes-written film is a must-see holiday classic. Macaulay Culkin shines as the young kid whose family forgot him at home when they left on vacation. Hijinks ensue as he must figure out how to take care of himself and deal with a couple of shady characters in the process. It's sweet, funny, and great for family viewing. 

3. Elf (2003)

Speaking of a great family movie, Elf is simply perfect. In my opinion, Will Ferrell delivers one of his best performances as Buddy the Elf, who leaves the North Pole in search of his birth father (James Caan) in New York. It is fun-filled and heart-warming with a fantastic cast and probably some of the most quotable lines in holiday movie history. Personally, I'm unable to refrain from watching this one more than once during the season--it's just so entertaining. Oh, and the soundtrack is excellent as well. 

4. Christmas Vacation (1989)

This one is a favorite in my family and we watch it every Christmas without fail. It's a dysfunctional-family holiday romp and Chevy Chase's physical comedy really delivers. From uptight neighbors to crazy family members and everything in between, this film has what it takes to keep you laughing--and possibly think a little better about your own family. Note: The clip below contains "strong" language. 

5. Love Actually (2003)

This is one of the best ensemble romantic comedies out there. To make it even better, it takes place in Britain during the holiday season. Every story fits together with such seamless perfection that you are left smiling and content by the end of the film. The cast is STELLAR, featuring (but not limited to): Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Liam Neeson, and Hugh Grant. See the full cast list here, or better yet, go watch it. It's current available on Netflix Instant Watch. Keep the little ones away though; it's rated R for a reason. 

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

I am, of course, a huge fan of the original animated version of Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but this live-action version starring Jim Carrey as The Grinch is a winner as well. Carrey is excellent as the Christmas-hating grump of Whoville and in this version, we get a more in-depth storyline and discover why the Grinch is the way he is. The film features a young Taylor Momson as the adorable Cindy Lou Who, along with Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, and Molly Shannon, among others. 

7. Eloise at Christmastime (2003)

This movie is just adorable, and my sister and I look forward to watching it every year. I love the character of Eloise (played by Sofia Vassilieva) simply because she is so fun and has a lot of heart. The little pranks she pulls around the Plaza (her home) are entertaining. Add Julie Andrews as Nanny, a little romance, and some Disney Christmas magic and you've got a sweet movie perfect for the whole family.

There they are, my top 7 favorite Christmas movies. There are many other great films centered around the holiday season, but this list took a surprising amount of time to put compile so limiting it to 7 seemed like the best option. I will be posting more soon, but for now, I'm going to leave off with one of my favorite Christmas songs: 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New Beginnings

Hello and welcome!

Like so, so many others before me, I have undertaken to start a blog that will be filled with posts about anything and everything I hold near and dear. 2013 has been a long and somewhat bumpy year and as it draws to a close, I have chosen to forge a new path for a better and more positive life. It's time to seize new experiences and opportunities for learning. Enjoy the journey. 

Also, I'm currently obsessed with this song: