Monday, April 29, 2013

Movie Review Monday - The Place Beyond the Pines

Place Beyond the Pines starring:
Ryan Gosling
Bradley Cooper
Eva Mendes
Ray Liotta
Ben Mendelsohn

WARNING - This review contains spoilers

I'm starting to think I've become jaded. I greatly anticipated seeing this movie. I loved the cast and the premise. A bad decision by one father to become a bank robber, and a bad reaction from another father - a cop who shoots him dead, leads to a lifetime of consequences for both men's sons.

I still like the premise, and the first half of the movie was very gripping. It was the second half that lost me, when the two boys (inevitably) meet up and become quasi-friends. That whole relationship seemed fake and forced and to me, completely unbelievable, as did the parents reactions. 

To me, it felt like it was trying too hard to be an arty film while maintaining a thriller feeling. Don't get me wrong - there are many arty films I love. But its a fine line combining genres, and they could have kept this together and made a truly great film if they'd tried to make the relationship between the kids a little more realistic. By the end of the movie I felt no connection to any of the characters. I left the theater feeling rather deflated.

My rating: 3 Stars 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Monday Movie Review - OBLIVION On Tuesday

Sorry for the delay! I had oral surgery yesterday and was pretty out of it, but I didn't want to miss an entire week, so here is my review of OBLIVION.

Starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo.

Short synopsis: After a many years war against aliens nearly destroys the earth, a former NASA Astronaut assigned to extract Earth's remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself. 

I wanted to love this movie, I really did. And overall, it was okay. The first hour was pretty exciting, seeing the technology and learning Jack Harper's (Cruise) mission. Watching his character slowly evolve was interesting. But I wasn't riveted or blown away by any great, original ideas. Basically this was a (visually striking) mash-up of Mad Max, The Matrix, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Independence day. For the last half hour I was actually bored. The ending was such a cop out, I groaned. But the fun moments and gorgeous Icelandic landscape make it worth a trip to the theater.

My rating: 2 1/2 Stars

Friday, April 19, 2013

Foodie Friday Fajitas

Okay, I promised some fun Friday foods, but here's the deal - I've been dealing with the dentist all week and can hardly eat a thing. I promise next week, I will have a fun and exciting foodie blog. For now, I'll just have to share my DH's Fajita Recipe - which is SUPER YUMMY!

Awesome Chicken Fajitas

2 TBSP lime juice
2 TBSP lemon juice
4 TBSP orange juice
1 clove minced garlic
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP canola oil
1 green, 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, cut into strips
1 onion, sliced into rings
10 flour tortillas, heated
1 c sour cream
1 c salsa
1 c guacamole (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine the juices and garlic. Sprinkle the chicken with chili powder and salt. Place the chicken in the juice mixture and refrigerate while marinading at least thirty minutes. ;

On a prepare grill or broiler rack, place chicken about 6 inches from heat. Cook until done (about ten minutes).

Heat the canola oil in a fry pan, and heat on medium. Add peppers and onions and cook, stirring, until onions are transparent, but still crisp - about five minutes. Slice chicken breasts into strips and add to pan. Divide chicken - pepper mixture evenly in center of tortillas. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, salsa and guacamole. Serves 5

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Writing Wednesday - Getting Organized

Recently, my DH gave me the gift of a lifetime - to retire from the "day job" and dedicate my time to becoming a serious author. Sounds great, right?

For the past three months I've been depressed and overwhelmed. The entire task of organizing my life as an author seemed too big - there were so many things to worry about. Promotion. Submissions. Self publish or traditional. Social networking - for a shy introvert, that was the worst.

To keep my mind busy, I wrote and finished a book. But then I had to face reality. Now I have yet ANOTHER book, joining half a dozen others in folders on my laptop. I can't keep writing and ignoring the rest. I took two classes through my writing groups. One was for social media, the other for self publishing. After reading some of the assignments, I realized I could achieve peace of mind by doing one simple thing: making a spreadsheet, to help me keep track of what I'm doing.

You can all design yours to fit your needs, but these are my tabs:

Submissions - I have a list of agents, contact info, their specific guidelines and I can track when I sent and when I hear back from them
2013 Goals - this includes my daily writing goals, submission goals and blogging goals. Also, specific weekly and monthly goals.
5 Year Goals - Self explanatory - where I would like to see my career in five years.
Expenses - I like to buy small promo items to hand out. This also includes conferences, contests, etc.
Income - This is still blank for 2013. I do have a few books published by small presses, but I need to get more out there (back to 2013 goals).
Blogs I Follow - So I can keep track of blogs in my genre that I will follow and comment on without feeling overwhelmed.
My Books - A page to keep track of my titles and the progress (word count) of all WIP's.
Book Reviewers - If you want to be noticed on Amazon, the more reviews the better. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of review sites out there. Make a list, get your books out there.
Twitter - I made a list of people in my genre who I wanted to keep in touch with, to follow and re-post their tweets.

Every author needs to establish a platform. Being social is a big part of that. I know it can seem daunting. That's why I suggest the spreadsheet - you can see your goals in a black and white, quantitative way.

I hope this helps! I'd love if you would share some of your tools on keeping organized.

See you for Foodie Friday!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Movie Monday - Trance

Starring: James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class, Atonement, Wanted)
             Vincent Cassell (Black Swan, A Dangerous Method)
             and Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Seven Pounds, Unstoppable)
Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later)

You probably haven't heard of this GEM of a movie. I read the movie listings Friday, and saw nothing that truly interested me. I want to see 42, but that seemed like a better home rental. So what to do?

Then I read the reviews for this British film, TRANCE. An auction house employee employee with a gambling problem is injured during the heist of Goya's painting, Witches in the Air. We soon find out he was in on the heist, though when his partners open the stolen case, the painting has been cut from the frame. Obviously, the employee, Simon must know where it is. But he can't remember. His heist buddies hire a hypnotist to help him remember, and things really heat up.

There are so many twists and turns, you'll have whiplash by the end of the movie - but in a good way. This is an intelligent film, with deep, rich subplots. I don't want to ruin the charm of the story, but I HIGHLY recommend this film.

4 out of 5 stars