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My Review of… Rotator Cuff Surgery

18 Jan

I mentioned a few months ago that I was having rotator cuff surgery.  So my surgery was on Dec 5.  I honestly thought I’d have a lot more use of my right arm, but it was completely useless.  Thus, my complete and total absence from this blog for the last 2 months basically.  When they gave me the sling that I’d be wearing for 6 weeks, I was a bit flabergasted.  Honestly, it was not what I was expecting.  This is what mine looked like.

Keep in mind, I had to wear this when I slept, I was only allowed to take it off to shower and change. In my surgery, this was what all I had done: I had my rotator cuff repaired, my bicep tendon moved, bursitis removed and bone spurs removed.  And with all of that, I have 3 tiny scars that are just a few centimeters each and one scar that is just about an inch long.  All very tiny.  Oh, and a very handsome doctor 🙂  Lucky me.

I was trying to decide if this was worse than being on crutches (which I’ve had to deal with twice in my life).  I thought that crutches would be worse, and it a lot of ways they are, but honestly, both suck.  I was more mobile with the sling obviously, but I could do very little for myself, especially at first.  I don’t know how anyone could possibly go through this without a lot of help.  I thought I’d be left on my own more, but boy am I glad my mom knew better.  She was with me a lot, I could not have changed or showered without her for the first few weeks.  And I still have very limited mobility and have about 3 more months of PT in front of me.  They said that I should be back to normal by the beginning of summer.

You would think that with the inability to be able to do anything, I would have watched a lot of movies.  But I spent most of my time catching up on tv shows that I hadn’t watched all season.  I also spent the first week on painkillers, so that time is pretty much gone from my memory.

So for 6 weeks, no cooking, just watching my mom cook or ordering food in.  We did go to see two movies though, Thor (finally) and American Hustle.  Two very different types of movies, both good in their own way.  American Hustle deserves all of the hype that it is getting during this awards season.  I have to give it to both the ladies (Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams), they had to spend the majority of that movie without bras and still put in amazing performances.  I will say that Christian Bale is an amazing actor.  He is one of those method actors who really gets into character.  I gather when he saw pictures of the person that he would be portraying he insisted on having a comb over.  And honestly, that hair is like another character.

And oddly, I only read one book – Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places.  If you’ve read Gone Girl, it’s just as dark as that with a twisty sort of ending.  She really knows how to write for some emotionally messed-up characters.  If you like darker books, you will like this.

So all in all, it was a rather dull 6 weeks.  The sling was uncomfortable more than anything else and I was super happy when it came off this week.  But I’m glad I had this taken care of now, it’s not something that’s going to get better with time, only worse.  And I spent a year with shoulder pain before I had my surgery.  This was a pain in the butt, so avoid injuring your shoulders people.

Movies that make me cry

1 Dec

There are some very random movies that bring me to tears and most of them play around the holidays.  Tonight one of those movies was on tv.  And even though I own this movie on DVD, I felt compelled to watch the last half of it, because that was when I saw it on the guide.  So here are my movies… holiday edition… that make me cry.

1.  The Holiday

The Holiday (2006) Poster

This is the one that was on tonight and the number one makes me cry, especially around Christmas, but honestly any time it’s on.  It’s not sad at all.  For some reason the story just makes me get all teared up.  Maybe it’s jealousy because I’d really like to go on a holiday to the UK and meet Jude Law and have him fall in love with me in a matter of two weeks.  I have a rich fantasy life, leave me alone.  I just really love to watch this movie.  I know I’m not going to meet Jude Law but I would like to do a trip like this someday.  Just go someplace for a few weeks and actually get to know people who live there.

2.  Love Actually

Love Actually (2003) Poster

Another movie featuring Brits.  I do love a good British accent.  Here’s a movie with Andy Lincoln before he was killing zombies on Walking Dead.  And he was one of my favorites in this movie, he was adorable in it.  But really, the story that gets me crying every time is the one with the little boy.  It’s just far too adorable.

3.  Any Harry Potter Movie

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) Poster

I apparently have a thing with British people.  If you want to get down to it, Scottish and Irish too, I love those accents.  I don’t know why these movies get me.  Maybe it’s because I loved the books so much.  So when I watch the movies (and they are ALWAYS on in December, like 20 times on ABC Family) I get a little nostalgic.

4.  Meet me in St. Louis

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Poster

Judy Garland sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and I lose it every time.  Again, this isn’t a holiday movie, but it tends to be on TCM at some point in December and I always tune in.

4.  Polar Express

The Polar Express (2004) Poster

Yes I put an animated movie on here.  It’s an awesome holiday movie, a little boy who needs to find his belief in the magic of Christmas again.  I love to watch this and I will at least once or twice (maybe more this year since I’ll be in that stupid sling).  This one makes me cry every time I watch it.

Speaking of the sling, I’m having my surgery on Thursday, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be writing.  I’ll have plenty of time and I will be catching up on all of those summer movies that I missed, I’m just not sure how easy it’ll be for me to type, we shall see.  I certainly won’t be cooking 🙂

How about you, what movies tend to make you cry?

Catching Fire Review

30 Nov

I went to see the latest installment in the Hunger Games series on Saturday. I love, love, love these books and the first movie had been very well done so I was super excited to go see this.

It had received rave reviews and I was not disappointed.  The acting was excellent on all fronts, they stayed very true to the book and the special effects were fantastic.  I probably don’t need to sell this movie too much, many people already are wanting to see it and have been.  If you were on the fence though though, go see it in the theater.  Also, if you haven’t read the books, do that too!  These books are really easy reads.

In preparation for the release of catching fire I re-read the book.  One thing that I’ll note is that when I read the books I was totally team Peeta.  After seeing the first movie, I started to kinda go, well, Gale wouldn’t be bad.  After this one, I appreciate Gale even more.  I’m still team Peeta, however, I get the appeal of Gale.  Maybe it’s because a Hemsworth is playing the part!

I love the addition of the new characters in this installment.  Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Johanna (Jenna Malone) are awesome, they both had some scene stealing moments.  The returning characters were also fantastic.  I always enjoy seeing Lenny Kravitz on screen as Cinna.  Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Elizabeth Banks as Effie, Stanley Tucci as Caesar and of course the trio, Josh, Liam and Jennifer (Peeta, Gale and Katniss).  All together, these folks really pulled it off.

One thing I will say is that if you haven’t read the books, the ending of this movie may seem unsatisfying.  I heard some people leaving the theater saying that they didn’t like how it ended, but it ended exactly as it did in the book.  It is really important to the overall story but like most middle books, it’s a means to an end.

Again, go see this movie, it really was very good.  In case you didn’t know, they are breaking up the last book into two movies (of course they are, they know people like me will go out and see both).  The next one is due out in 2014 and the last installment in 2015.  So not too long to wait!

Ender’s Game

5 Nov

Did you know that the name of this blog is Dinner and a MOVIE?  Yea, I was focused a lot on the dinner part and not so much on the movie part lately.

Anyway, I went to see Ender’s Game tonight!

Ender's Game

I’ll state for the record that I really enjoyed this movie.  A lot.  If you are a reader and enjoy sci-fi, please go read this book right now.  It’s long, but please, I beg of you, read the book before you see the movie.   Granted, as usual, the movie is not as good as the book, but they preserved the most important elements.  Also, Asa Butterfield’s performance for me was spot on.  In the book, we see Ender progress from about 6-7 years old through about 12.  In the movie, that would obviously be difficult, so he’s more in the 12-13 range in the movie, at least that was my take on the age. I was a little peeved that Harrison Ford got top billing for this when Asa was the star, but hey, a studio is going to do what they think will put the most butts in seats.

I’m going to get a little specific here about the story line.  So if this is a movie/book that you don’t want spoiled, move along, come back later!

The premise of the movie is set in a future where many years prior to Ender, the Earth was attacked by an alien race called the Formics.  They nearly defeated us but for the brilliant commander Mazer Rackham.  While the Formic’s have not since attacked, we are at the ready and are in fact advancing on their home planet.  The International Military has decided that the youth of the Earth are the best suited for command of the fleet as they have grown up on massive video game simulations, and they have been searching for a commander for the final attack.  Those chosen to advance through the military go to Battle School and if they cut it there, they go on to Command School.

As the movie opens, it stays rather true to the book.  We’re introduced to Ender immediately and also get quick look into his psyche as well as the motivations and mechanisms of the adults who will attempt to control and maneuver Ender throughout the movie.  Harrison Ford’s character, Colonel Graff, is also introduced to us immediately.  One of the things I was glad to see was that they didn’t completely write off Ender’s siblings, Peter and Valentine.  Peter is brilliant but a psychopath who terrorizes Ender while Valentine is his protector and closest friend (and in the book, also brilliant).  In the book, Peter and Valentine get a whole sub-plot that is rather complex and interesting.  I understand why it was cut from the movie, it would have added about another hour to it!

Ender leaves his family to go to Battle School.  One of the things I was most impressed with was how the special effects team created and laid out the battle game room.  I had a vision in my head that Orson Scott Card (the writer of the book) had created for me and this was basically spot on.  I loved it.  In the book, we see Ender progress quickly through battle school.  In the movie, it was even more rushed.  But we have to get him ready for Command School!  Throughout battle school, you can see Ender’s struggles.  He has a violent side that he tries to suppress, but when pushed, it comes out.  And people do like to push Ender.

Ultimately, Ender of course ends up in Command School, surrounded by his most trusted team from Battle School.  Here, he meets the great Mazor Rackham and begins to try to understand the enemy.  They are called bugs by the humans because of their appearance.  Also, because of how they behave, they essentially have queens who command drones, kill the queen, and the drones stop and die.  This is when Ender begins to command simulated battles.   I’m about to get REAL spoilery here, so if you don’t want to know how this movie ends, again, LEAVE.

In the book, this came as a complete and total shock to me.  In the movie, I’m not sure… I obviously knew how it ended, but I think they gave more hints than were in the book.  Anyway, Ender and his team only believed they were simulated battles.  in reality, each battle was real as fleet moved closer and closer to the Formic home planet.  On the day Ender and his team believe they are graduating from Command School, they have a large audience watching the battle.  Ender ultimately destroys and entire planet and wins the war.  His realization that it was not a simulation but a real battle is horrific.  He’s committed genocide on the largest scale, eliminating an entire race.  Imagine coming to that realization after the fact.

When I read the book, I wanted to cry at how children, specifically Ender, were manipulated by adults.  The web of lies was so grand, it was astonishing.  Throughout, the idea that it was “for the greater good” was said over and over again in different ways.  Ender, wise beyond his years, questions everything from their methods to his own.  Could peace have been negotiated.  Could they have communicated with the aliens (they had no vocal cords, so communication seemed out).  Could he have done something different during the final battle to save more humans in the fleet and the home planet of the Formics.  Graff tells him no, that if Ender had known it was real he wouldn’t have been as daring, and ultimately would not have been successful.  Ender will never know, but he will have to live with what was done.  Ultimately, in both the book and movie, there is one queen left and Ender goes off to find a new home for her in an attempt to make things as right as they can be.

So, again, I really enjoyed this movie.  I felt that the performances were well done and they stayed rather true to the book.  There were things that would obviously be left out due to time constraints.  I would recommend this movie if you are a fan of the sci-fi genre.  Seriously though, don’t wimp out, read the dang book!  I know, some of you aren’t readers and that’s asking a lot, so fine, just go see it!

Has anyone out there also seen it?  What do you think?  How did it compare to the book for you?

Random Saturday Movie

28 Sep

Have you ever turned on tv on a Saturday or Sunday and just randomly started to watch a movie or show that you never even wanted to see?  This happens to me from time to time.  It happened today.  I meant to watch football, and I kind of am watching the UCF game (on ABC if you want to watch too).  But I had TBS on when I turned on the tv and Life As We Know It was on.

I really dislike Katherine Heigl.  She annoys me for some reason.  And yet, I kept going back to this movie.  As if I had no idea how it would end.  I’m going to spoil the ending here, I’m sure it will not hurt anyone’s feelings as it is not a shocking ending.  Best friends of couple (K.H. and Josh Duhamel) are named godparents of new baby.  Said couple dies in a car accident leaving best friends as guardians of the baby.  The movie then follows your typical romantic comedy formula.  They fight and dislike each other, then slowly become friends and figure out this new life, then they sleep together and everything seems great.  Then something happens to tear them apart (in this case J.D. gets a dream job offer out of town).  Katherine’s character starts to date the gorgeous doctor.  Of course, Josh comes home for some event, there is one more epic fight, and things seem to be over.  The gorgeous doctor speaks words of wisdom and walks away gracefully.  How else would that happen, isn’t that how all relationships end?!  Katherine of course runs to the airport to chase Josh… and buys a random plane ticket to get through security, because again, isn’t that a common thing?  I guess if they made movies about real relationships it would be SUPER boring.  So I’ll forgive them.  And duh, after all that drama, Josh never got on his flight, he was waiting for them at home.  And of course everyone lives happily ever after… how else would it happen.

Just a side note here, Melissa McCarthy was in this and of course stole the show.  As usual for her, she did an amazing job.  Maybe that’s why I stayed tuned in.

So my thoughts on this ultimately, I’m still not sure why I watched it.  It wasn’t awful, I will say I’m very glad that I watched it on TBS and technically didn’t pay for it (aside from paying my cable bill).  It was moderately entertaining, even though it was super predictable.

Fall/Winter 2013 Movies

17 Sep

As we enter Oscar and holiday season, there will be lots of great movies coming out!  Here are the movies that I’m most excited to see.  I’ve split the list, the ones up top are the ones I’ll most definitely make time for in the theater.  The rest of the list are movies I really want to see but may not make it to depending on time!

Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Nov 22)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever.

I’m excited to see this one.  Loved the books and loved the first movie, so I’m hoping I like this one as well.  I’m curious to see how the create the arena as I have a very specific picture in my head from the books.

Enders Game (Nov 1)

A brilliant young strategist rises to the top of his class in Battle School while training to defend Earth against hostile aliens intent on exterminating the entire human race in this sci-fi epic based on the celebrated novel by Orson Scott Card. In the not-too-distant future, our planet has come under attack from a malevolent race of aliens known as the Formics. Incredibly, fearless International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) sent them fleeing back into the stars, becoming a living legend in the process. But decorated Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) knows that the Formics will soon return even stronger than they were before, and he’s determined to find a new hero who can meet them head on. Enter Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a modest young man with vast untapped potential. Upon being recruited into Battle School, Ender partakes in a grueling series of simulations, effortlessly mastering every challenge presented to him. Celebrated by his peers and respected by his superiors, Ender is quickly promoted to Command School, where the one and only Mazer Rackham provides him with the knowledge and tools needed to save mankind from certain extinction. As the final battle approaches, Ender prepares to embrace his destiny as one of the greatest heroes in the history of planet Earth.

I am so excited to see this movie.  I was excited when it was announced and then SUPER excited when I saw the first trailer.  My friend Brian at work turned me on to this book when I was looking for a good gift for my god son for Christmas.  Asa Butterfield did an Ask Me Anything over on Reddit a few months ago and it sounded like he felt the movie stayed true to the book.  He also seemed like a very down to earth kid.  I hope that they stay as true to the book as possible, the most important element is the ending, it was just so very unexpected and awesome.

Thor: The Dark World (Nov 8) 

Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

I just like action movies.  Oh, and Chris Hemsworth.  I mean really, he’s just stunning as Thor.  I just expect to be entertained by this one!

The Wolf of Wall Street (Nov 15)

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) Poster

Martin Scorsese reteams with Leonardo DiCaprio for this adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s memoir about his exploits as a crooked banker. Terence Winter provides the screenplay.

Leo is in this, need I say more?  I do hope that this one earns Leo his much deserved Oscar, the word around town is that this one just may do it.  I’ll actually be shocked if this movie doesn’t turn out a few Oscar nominations.

12 Years a Slave (Oct 18)

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in the true story of Solomon Northup, a free man in 1800s New York State, who was kidnapped and forced into slavery on a plantation near New Orleans, and his subsequent fight for freedom with the help of a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt). Steve McQueen (Hunger) directed from a script he co-wrote with John Ridley, based in part on Northup‘s memoir.

I really want to see this one, it looks very interesting.  Yet another one that should turn out an Oscar nod or two based on what I’ve seen of it so far.  I tend to really like historical movies, so I have high hopes.

These next ones are movies that I’d really like to see, but based on time, I may not get to see all of them.  So these are a little further down my list than the ones above.

Rush (Sept 20)

The epic action-drama stars Chris Hemsworth as the charismatic Englishman James Hunt and Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds) as the disciplined Austrian perfectionist Niki Lauda, whose clashes on the Grand Prix racetrack epitomized the contrast between these two extraordinary characters, a distinction reflected in their private lives. Set against the sexy and glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing, Rush portrays the exhilarating true story of two of the greatest rivals the world has ever witnessed—handsome English playboy Hunt and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Lauda.

More Chris Hemsworth!  They are really pushing this one, I’ve seen the trailers in most of the movies I’ve seen lately and I feel like there are ad’s for it on tv constantly.  It looks pretty good, I have absolutely no Grand Prix knowledge, but I think I’d like this movie.

Out of the Furnace (Dec 6)

Poster art for "Out of the Furnace."

A Rust Belt ex-con must choose between escaping a life of poverty and rescuing his brother from a life of crime in this drama from Crazy Heart writer/director Scott Cooper. With the dream of a better life always just out of reach, Russell (Christian Bale) and his younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) find their futures taking a grim turn when Russell ends up in jail. Meanwhile, on the outside, Rodney falls in with a notorious group of criminals who threaten to destroy any hope for a better tomorrow. Later, when Russell is released from prison the temptation to cut his ties with the past clashes with his sense of duty to his brother, who is headed down the road to ruin.

I’ve seen the trailer for this a few times now and it looks really good.  As usual Christian Bale goes full on in character.  I’ve rarely seen an actor get so into whatever role he’s playing.  Here’s another one that I’m guessing will turn out a few Oscar nominations.  I really want to see this, I’m hoping I can get to see this in December.

Captain Phillips (Oct 11)

Captain Phillips is director Paul Greengrass’s multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is – through Greengrass’s distinctive lens – simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks), and his Somali counterpart, Muse (Barkhad Abdi). Set on an incontrovertible collision course off the coast of Somalia, both men will find themselves paying the human toll for economic forces outside of their control.

Yet another movie that is being heavily pushed.  I generally like Tom Hanks, and this looks like a very good movie.  I’m curious as to how true to life it will actually be.

Runner Runner (Oct 4)

Believing that he has been swindled, Princeton grad student Richie (Justin Timberlake) goes to Costa Rica to confront online-gambling tycoon Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Block’s promises of immense wealth and power have a seductive effect on Richie, until he learns the shocking truth about his new mentor. When Richie is coerced by the FBI to help bring Block to justice, he faces the biggest gamble of his life: outmaneuvering the two forces closing in on him.

Mostly, I want to see this because of JT.  It’s definitely a serious role and I do think he is a decent actor.  I have high hopes for this movie and I hope it turns out to be good.  As we know, Ben Affleck movies tend to be hit or miss, so this will likely be either awesome, or really bad.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Nov 27)

Nelson Mandela’s life story is told in this adaptation of the South African leader’s autobiography that details his early life, education, 27-year imprisonment, and eventual presidency and rebuilding of the previously segregated country.

Another historical movie.  I have a great deal of respect for Mandela and what he did and went through.  The trailers for this movie have made me want to see this movie.

The Book Thief (Nov 15)

The Book Thief (2013) Poster

A young girl (Sophie Nelisse) living with foster parents (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in Nazi Germany begins collecting forbidden books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee hiding in her home in this war drama adapted from Markus Zusak’s book.

Shockingly, I have not read this book.  I’m going to try to squeeze it in before I see it though.  I love books and movies like this.  While not a true story, it is still historical in that it is set during WW2.

Don Jon (Sept 27)

Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a strong, handsome, good old fashioned guy. His buddies call him Don Jon due to his ability to “pull” a different woman every weekend, but even the finest fling doesn’t compare to the bliss he finds alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) is a bright, beautiful, good old fashioned girl. Raised on romantic Hollywood movies, she’s determined to find her Prince Charming and ride off into the sunset. Wrestling with good old fashioned expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy in this unexpected comedy written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

This was a last minute addition, but honestly may end up toward the top of the list.  It looks so funny and I’m guessing has some aspects that all of us who have had to date in the past 15 years have experienced.  I mean I’ll be honest, when I went to Ireland I looked at my friend Sara and said “the movies lied to me.  Ireland was supposed to be full of pubs with cute, charming bartenders and old drunk Irishmen who wanted to tell us stories.”  Most pubs were actually full of middle aged paunchy guys who just wanted to watch their football.  I’ll admit to being slightly disappointed.  I think this movie explores that kind of “fantasy” which I developed.  Damn movies, ruining my life obviously 🙂

Those are the movies I want to see, are you excited to see any of these?!

NOTE: All Synopsis were copied from Fandango

The Family Review

15 Sep

My mom and I decided to go see The Family today just for something to do (since the Steelers play tomorrow).  We went in spite of the relatively bad reviews that it received.

The Family (2013) Poster

I wasn’t sure if it was a comedy, action movie or family drama.  There were bits that were comical, and if they had stuck with that, I’d say it could have been funny.  There was violence, and if they had stuck with that, I’d say, hey it’s another mafia movie.  But really what I came away with was the family drama.

All we ever know is that Robert DeNiro turned state on the mafia and is in witness security.  The mafia is of course still after him.  His family has had to move around every few months since he informed on his former “family”.  You don’t immediately see the impact on the kids, but it becomes very obvious after a while.  I’m going to spoil a bit here for you, but their daughter was so unstable it was awful to watch.  In the end the kids essentially save their parents and it is so very sad when you think about it.  Both parents kept saying that the kids adapt so much better than they do.  Are they delusional?  Both kids have so many issues and both parents are too self-involved to notice.

So in the end, I guess this was a dark family comedy.  Did I like it?   Eh, it was okay.  I wouldn’t watch it again nor would I tell you to run out to see it.  But if it’s on TBS one afternoon in 2 years, just give it a watch.

The Mortal Instruments – City of Bones Review

1 Sep

I dragged my poor mother to see this movie tonight.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013) Poster

I can’t believe how bad this was.  I read this whole series of books and LOVED them.  They were good stories that were relatively well written.  I liked the characters, they were well developed and somewhat understandable.  At least in the original trilogy.  I was really excited to see this movie because I had a hope (albeit a small one) that it would be okay.

The movie version deviated from the book a good bit, didn’t explain enough of what was going on and relied on mediocre acting to get the point across.  The only bright spot was the acting of Robert Sheehan who played the part of Simon.  He was really the only one with decent acting chops among the young cast.  I will say that Lena Headey and Jonathan Rhys Meyers were also in it and did an okay job with the small bits they played in.

On a side note there, when did I get old enough to have people about my age playing the parents of teenagers.  I do not feel that I’m old enough for that to be happening.  I don’t expect my contemporaries to be playing college students or anything, but parents of teenagers???

I just wish movie studios would learn from their mistakes.  Taking well loved books and then making horrible versions of them for the big screen isn’t going to work.  Golden Compass and Beautiful Creatures being other examples of this type of massacre.  You can’t just take a huge book series and turn it into a huge movie.  It takes a little effort, put someone who knows what they are doing behind the script, someone who will keep the original intent of the story in tact and won’t just go for the quick, cheesy scenes.  This movie could have been done well if it had a decent script and someone who didn’t just try to put the movie out there for a quick buck.  The studio could have actually made a lot of money if they had put in some effort.

So my note to movie studios, take a little pride in your output.  I get it, you are out to make money, but what good is it to make a crappy movie from a well liked book series.  You won’t get your money back on it and you won’t make any money off of the rest of the series because you so royally screwed up the first one.  So instead of investing in this first movie for the sake of the trilogy, you made a crappy movie that tanked.  I mean, one girl in the theater actually stood up at the end and said, “well that sucked”.  I agree.

Casablanca and Moroccan Beef with Cous Cous

28 Jul

I’ve said before that Casablanca is my absolute favorite movie.  Well, my friend Jen had never seen it (I know, gasp, the horror).  So a few weeks ago I decided I was going to force her to watch it and also make a Moroccan meal to go with the movie.  So instead of looking one up online, I turned to the family.  My cousin Mike (uncle to miss adorable below) is a trained chef, even if that isn’t what he’s doing for a living right now.  So I asked him to send me something to go with my movie watching and he sent me this Moroccan Beef with Cous Cous recipe.

First though, I went to see this little girl earlier in the day, had to get in some snuggles.  My mom is holding her here, I love this pose though, we call it Thinking Girl.  Look at those LONG legs!


Here is the recipe from Mike with some pictures from me.

Moroccan Beef Cous Cous (yields 4)

  • 1 lb. beef tenderloin (or chuck) – 1 inch cubes
  • 1 spanish onion – chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 3-4 white or gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 large carrots – peeled and cubed
  • handful of fresh chopped parsley and cilantro
  • handful of red or green olives (optional)
  • handful of garbonzo beans (optional)
  • 1/2 or 1 whole preserved lemon (or grated lemon peel)
  • 3 cups of beef stock
  • Morrocan cous cous (or Israeli if you can’t find it)
  • Chicken stock


Pat beef dry and season on all sides with salt and pepper, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and saffron (reserve some of spices for vegetables).  Add olive oil to large pot and brown the meat on all sides (in batches if needed) on medium-high heat. Remove from pot.


Reduce heat and add a little more olive oil and sweat onions, garlic, and carrots until soft. Add remainder of spices and stir.


Add beef back into pot and add 3 cups of beef stock and cover. Simmer the meat and veggies for about 1 1/2 hours or until beef is fork tender.

IMG_0752 IMG_0754

Add the potatoes, beans, olives and preserved lemon (or peel), adding broth/water if necessary. Partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender and the sauce is reduced until thick (add corn starch slurry to thicken if liquid is being reduced too much).


Add some chopped parsley and cilantro. Season the stew with more spices and salt and pepper if necessary.

During the last part of cooking, follow instructions on cous cous package. Once it is light and fluffy, add cous cous to bowls. Spoon stew over cous cous and garnish with more parsley and cilantro and serve.


A note from Mike:  This is a staple of Moroccan cuisine and is usually cooked in a tagine. Since most people do not own a tagine (myself included), a stock pot will suffice just fine. This is tasty on cool night and while watching Casablanca!

So I cooked this up and we watched Casablanca.  I’ve seen it like 3 dozen times so my opinion doesn’t count.  Jen’s thoughts on it though had to do with the fashion (she loved it), and the drama (a little over the top for her at moments).  I hadn’t seen it in a while, but it was as good as I remembered of course.  Rick’s speech at the end alone is enough to watch this movie, it has more great statements than almost any other movie.  If you’ve still not see it, please go rent it.  It’s only about 1.5 hours long, so it won’t exactly take up a bunch of your time.  And make this dish, it’s actually really easy and it tastes really good.

The Lone Ranger Review

6 Jul

On Friday, I went to see The Lone Ranger.

The_Lone_Ranger movie poster

It was cheesy and campy and obvious.  It was also entertaining.  It had unbelievable action scenes, over the top explosions, lots of stuff happening on top of trains, in trains, on train tracks… you get the picture.

I felt that Armie Hammer’s Lone Ranger was channeling his inner Doctor Who when he kept saying that he wouldn’t kill and didn’t believe in guns.  I got it at first, he was a lawyer, he wanted to follow due process.  It just went on a bit too long.  When he finally gave in and realized that the only way to truly stop the bad guys, he held nothing back.  Armie Hammer is just so Mr. All American to me.  I have trouble buying him as that rough and tumble Lone Ranger.  He did the best he could with it though.

Johnny Depp’s Tonto was a little odd, but let’s face it, most of his characters are odd.  I absolutely got his character’s motivation.  He lost his whole tribe to “the bad guys” mentioned above as a child, due to his actions.  But they were the actions of a child, I just felt bad that he carried that guilt his whole life.  I’ll give it to Johnny though, he knows how to play crazy and funny and bent on a mission all at the same time rather well.  He’s done it for the Pirates movies and now this one.

Anyway, this would be a wait for DVD movie recommendation in my opinion unless you are a little bored one weekend.  I really want to go see Monsters University next.  I was a little surprised that these two big Disney movies released the same weekend.  I guess it’s slightly different audiences, but there is enough overlap.

So, that was my opinion on the Lone Ranger, if you saw it, what did you think?

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