Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday, Monday....

I made this square and sent it off to be incorporated with other squares from knitters across the country into a baby blanket for a special person. I will not reveal the name of that person yet.

I've been knitting a lot lately. Going to The Kid's baseball games, a few hockey games, and Mavericks game every now and then affords me with much knitting time. I only have to do the finish work on the sweater I've been making for The Kid for the last year. Gracious! I am ready to be done with it, and the season for wearing it is just about over. That's the way I roll, though. Always a season behind. I also have to complete the sleeves and the finish work on my Gathered Pullover sweater, and I will be done, done and done with it. I have several other little things OTN and will complete everything...all in good time.

Speaking of sports, the Mavs and the Stars are struggling lately. The Stars seem to get further from playoff contention with each game that they play. Oh well. They started off on the wrong foot with the Sean Avery situation. Key players with injuries just added to the struggle. It will be interesting which restricted free agents will return next season. The Mavs are doing somewhat better. The real story is The Kid's baseball team. They won their fifth district game tonight - more than the two prior seasons combined. They are 5-0 in district play, and 15-1 overall. Go team!

My guilty pleasures television shows are building up to their season finales. In the case of ER, it's the series finale to which we will be treated this Thursday night. I started watching that show with episode one, and have been a faithful viewer throughout its run. Grey's Anatomy had an interesting story line last week where a little old lady was on the brink of dying once a month, and her family members wanted her to die already! The interesting, yet unrealistic, thing about that scenario is that the woman was a full code; so, every time she arrested, they would shock her back to life. I kept telling the television set, "That would sooo not happen! That woman would be a DNR, and no one would be torturing her with compressions and 300 joules of electrical current." The television was not listening. Oh well. Private Practice - train wreck. And I cannot turn my eyes away from it! The real guilty pleasure, though, is The Real Housewives of New York City. Last season was the first, and we met Jill, Alex, Lu Ann, Ramona and Betheny (who is not married, and by definition, not a housewife, but it does not disqualify her from the show). So, Lu Ann is married to a French Count - Alex de Lesseps. That makes her a Countess, and she's mighty proud of that fact, too. I used to think that Lu Ann was the least pretentious, but I've changed my mind this season. The big question of the show last season was whether or not Alex's husband, Simon, is gay. Who cares? What we do know is that Alex and Simon are joined at the hip, and have two rather ill-behaved young sons. Simon has rubbed Ramona the wrong way, and that acrimony has carried over into this season. In fact, just last week, she told Simon that "he has no depth" right before a fashion show was going to start at Fashion Week. Ramona can be very intense, but I think she has a good heart deep down. I have to admire the fact that she is not hypocritical. She doesn't like Alex and Simon, and she doesn't pretend that she does. Jill and Ramona have had their share of spats. I think Betheny and Jill are my favorites this season. Then, there's a new girl this time around, Kelly. She is a single-mother of two girls. I have not decided how I feel about her yet. I have to say that I have never watched The Real Housewives of Orange County. I have watched a couple of episodes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and I didn't much like it. The NYC show, despite its occasional train wreck and mean girl qualities, is far more entertaining in my estimation.

Finally - I've seen some movies and I want to tell y'all about them:
Russian Dolls is the sequel to the movie L'Augerge Espagnole. It is five years later, and Xavier, an aspiring writer, has yet to sell his first novel, and finds himself writing for a French soap opera. His love life has much to be desired, yet not for lack of trying. The first film was much better. This one left me bored in spots. Several of the actors from the previous movie return, including the most famous of the bunch, Audrey Tautou. Meh.

Jamie Lee Curtis and the voice of Drew Barrymore (among others) star in Beverly Hills Chihuahua, about a dog who is whisked off to Mexico and gets lost. Chloe, the dog who sounds like Drew Barrymore, is a pampered pooch, who wears adorable little outfits, courtesy of her owner, Curtis. (Hi Barbara W.) Curtis has to go out of town, and enlists her niece to watch the pooch. The niece and friends decide to head on down to Me-hee-co. They take the dog, and they lose track of her. The search for the dog/the dog's journey to get back home - It's the crux of the movie. It was cute.

The Kite Runner is hard to watch in some scenes, but it is a gut-wretchingly good film about two boyhood friends in Afghanistan. Amir and Hassan are inseparable since birth, but an act of betrayal and geographic distance ultimately separates the boys. Amir and his father move to the US to escape the brewing political and military problems. Many years later, Amir returns to his, now Taliban-run, homeland to attempt to write a wrong. I really liked it.

Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman star in Last Chance Harvey, about Harvey, a struggling jingle writer, who travels to London for his daughter's wedding. There, he meets Kate, a civil servant whose job it is to conduct a survey of plane passengers as they arrive at Heathrow and are heading off to pick up their baggage. It is a charming story of adult love. Kathy Baker and James Brolin also star. It was pretty good.

You must go see Sunshine Cleaning. Amy Adams and Emily Blunt play two down-and-out sisters who start cleaning crime scenes. Alan Arkin plays their dad. It was not as light and funny as the trailers lead one to believe, but it was really good. I loved it.

Whew! Are your heads spinning now?

MK out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Movie Week Part Two

I am so bad. I really had intended to wrap up the reviews last week. Here they are:

Helena Bonham Carter, Stephen Rae, Eddie Marsan and Gregg Sulkin star in Sixty Six. Sulkin plays Bernie, a boy who is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah - which happens to be on the same date as the World Cup Final - and it looks like England is going to be in the finals. Bonham Carter and Marsan play his parents. The family runs into some bad luck and the event planning gets less lavish as the big day draws near. Set in England in 1966 (duh), this movie is really charming.

Romance and Cigarettes is not that great of a movie, although it ultimately has a good message. There are lots of good actors in it - Susan Sarandon, James Gandolfini, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Bobby Cannavale, Mary-Louis Parker, Christopher Walken, Elaine Stritch, Eddie Izzard and Amy Sedaris. There's even a guy named Yianni Digaletos who is credited as playing The Greek. This couple (Sarandon and Gandolfini) have been married forever, but husband's head is turned by a shop girl (Winslet). The characters break out in song every now and then...I don't know, I didn't like it much.

Brick Lane is about a Bangladeshi girl, Nazneed, who enters an arranged marriage with a bit of a pompous man, Chanu, and she travels to England to start their life together. Nazneed gets a little bored, and starts a relationship with a young, handsome dude. Before long, she finds herself at a crossroad. It was pretty good.

I read The Secret Life of Bees several years ago, and was happy to see it made into a motion picture. Dakota Fanning stars as Lily, a teenager who grows up thinking that she is responsible for killing her mother. Her father is a bit tortured, and Lily bears the brunt of his frustrations.
She sets off with her housekeeper (Jennifer Hudson) to try and find out more about the mother she never really knew. Also starring Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keys. It was a well-adapted version of the book. I liked it.

5X2 is a movie chronicling the demise of a marriage told in reverse order. It starts with a judge declaring the marriage over, and ends when the couple first meets. It is in French, with English subtitles. It was pretty good.

Diane Lane and Richard Gere star in Nights in Rodanthe. It is about an unhappily married woman, who agrees to run her best friend's inn while she is away. The only guest for the weekend is a doctor on his way to reunite with his estranged son. You can probably guess where this story is leading. Interestingly, Viola Davis - nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Doubt - played the best friend. It was chick flickish, but very good.

Greg Kinnear stars in Flash of Genius, the true story of Robert Kearns, who invented the intermittent windshield wipers. Lauren Graham, Dermot Mulroney and Alan Alda also starred in this movie. It was very good.

In English and French, with English subtitles, I’ve Loved You So Long is a very emotional and interesting study about two sisters who were separated when the older sister (Kristin Scott Thomas) goes to jail for fifteen years, and their parents essentially cut all ties with her. They reunite when she gets out, although it is a bit of an adjustment period for both of them. It was very, very good.

James McAvoy, Rebecca Hall and Catherine Tate star in Starter for 10, a movie set in England in the 1980s. A very bright working-class young man (McAvoy) gets accepted to a posh university, where he tries out for the University Challenge team. He meets the girl of his dreams (Tate) and sets out to woo her. It was pretty good.

In Not One Less, a young teenager substitutes for the town's only teacher in a very poor village in China. She will get a 10 yuan bonus, if after the 28 days that the teacher will be away, he returns to find all his students present and accounted. It is not small feat, since children frequently leave the school to find work to help support the family. True to form, one of them does leave, and the sub goes after him. It is very, very Mandarin, with English subtitles.

I officially am caught up.

MK out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Movie Week Part One

I thought I would take the next few posts and report about the movies I've watched recently on DVD.

Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth Class) is a science-fiction animated comedy about a little trash bot that lives on human uninhabitable, 2700 AD Earth. His job is to take out the trash. He meets EVE, a search robot, and follows her on the adventure of his life. It was cute, cute, cute.

Although I had never heard of Iron Man, the Marvel Comics hero, before the movie, I thought it was well made. I cannot think of a better choice to play Tony Stark/Iron Man than Robert Downey, Jr. Gwyneth Paltrow plays his secretary, Pepper, and Terrence Howard plays Rhody - his best friend and colleague. The premise is that Stark is a wealthy philanthropist and genius inventor who develops a suit of indestructible armor that he uses to thwart evil. It was very good.

Lust Caution, in Mandarin with English subtitles, is about a young woman who is recruited into a theater company that turns out to be a front for a revolutionary group. Her job is to get close to a powerful political figure in order to facilitate his assassination. It is set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in World War II. It was alright.

The Seeker: The Dark is Rising is about a young boy who happens to be an immortal warrior and who is the only one who can save humanity from the dark forces of evil. The only two people I recognized in the film were Frances Conroy and Ian McShane. It is based on a series of books by Susan Cooper. It was pretty good, and it is definitely a family movie.

In Swing Vote, Kevin Costner plays this loser dad whose vote will determine the winner of the presidential election between the incumbent, played by Kelsey Grammer, and the challenger, played by Dennis Hopper. There were many other movie stars and real-life people (playing themselves) in this cute, little comedy. I liked it.

The Edge of Heaven is a complicated drama that tells the interconnected story of six people. It is set in Germany and Turkey, and told in those respective languages with English subtitles. A widower invites a prostitute to live with him. After an incident in which she dies, the widower's grown son travels to Germany in the hopes of finding and helping out her daughter. It was alright.

The Devil Came on Horseback is a documentary about the atrocities in the Sudan. Brian Steidle, a former US Marine captain, joined the African Union peacekeeping force and travelled to Darfur. He witnessed and chronicled the horror, then published his pictures worldwide. His efforts brought awareness of the problem to the forefront, and defeated the Sudanese government's denials about the genocide. It was very interesting.

Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman, Jeremy Piven and Richard Jenkins star in The Kingdom. When American forces in Saudi Arabia are attacked, a group of U.S. counter-terrorism investigators travel to Riyadh and attempt to capture the perpetrators. It was good.

The Ex is another movie with Jason Bateman, as well as Amanda Peet and Zach Braff. A couple is forced to move back to the wife's (Peet) hometown, where the husband (Braff) takes a job in his FIL's advertising company. The star employee is the wife's now wheelchair bound former one night stand. Apparently, he wants to steal the wife back and to remain the star of the company. It was way silly.

Zodiac is based on the real events surrounding the Zodiac killer who committed a series of murders in the San Fransisco area in the late 1960s. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo (my secret boyfriend) and Robert Downey, Jr. star in this movie. It was interesting.

The Falcon and the Snowman is also based on real events. Set in the 1970s, this movie is about two longtime friends who are caught selling secrets to the Russians. Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn star in this movie that is an oldie, but I just got around to seeing it. It was good.

William H Macy, Adam Arkin and James Cromwell star in A Slight Case of Murder, is about a powerful movie critic (Macy) who accidentally kills his lover and in trying to cover up the incident, unleashes a series of madcap events. I would consider it a dark comedy. It was okay.

10 Questions for the Dalai Lama is an interesting documentary in which a reporter asks the Lama philosophical, yet practical, questions. It was good.

Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles and Mia Farrow star in The Omen, a remake of the 1970s horror flick about the birth of Satan's child and his role in the death of civilization. It was good, and I think even better than the original.

Whew! Done....Tune in soon for another installment.

MK out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Birthday... Barbie. She turns FIFTY today.

Barbie and I are compadres in the age department, although she is a few months older than me. Of course, she was born a full-grown teenager; so, technically, she is lots older than I am.

Not too much going on these days, except we are in the thick of baseball tournament season. The Wildcats have won ten out of eleven games. Go Wildcats!!!

I've been doing a little knitting, but have been stalled on the Kid's sweater, as well as my gathered pullover. Those darned June 2008 socks are still languishing too. Oh well. Everything will get done eventually.

I haven't been to the movie theater lately. There have not been many movies that I am dying to see. There is always this lull right after the, we are about to hit the stupid movie season - summer.

I've watched a few DVDs though. I need to find the list and write up a few opinions...

MK out.