Thursday, February 27, 2014

RoboCop (2014): Movie Review

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

First of all, I shouldn't have had to consult wikipedia to clear up some plot points in this new RoboCop, because I'm really good at following plots, even when it jumps around a little.  Problem #1.

Second, why another remake?  I honestly haven't seen the original RoboCop, but it's the stuff of legend.  An iconic 1980's movie that is still a fan favorite.

RoboCop's been modernized, as modern as 2027 can be, in a time when the U.S. military has run amok, sending robots to police the World.  Taking away their freedom for freedoms sake.  The robots are everywhere except America, where we still have crime and violence.  (This is all explained through a pro-robot show by television host Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson), who comes in and out of the movie to explain a thing or two.  The movie's narrator, if you will, with a biased opinion.) The American people don't want Robots to become our police force.  The "Dreyfus Act" was created to prevent robots from taking over our streets, our reasoning being that robots can't feel, their actions being the result of hard-wired programming.  Quick and cold.  No remorse.

OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), the company behind the robots, wants to turn a profit.  With the Dreyfus Act he's at a stalemate, but he soon realizes this can be overcome through changing the opinions of public and politicians alike: merge human with machine.  A robot people can relate to.

Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a policeman in the Detroit Police Department, and with his partner Jack Lewis (Michael K. Williams) they are going after the crime boss Antoine Vallon.  Unfortunately for them the DPD is corrupted, some working with Vallon, and after a couple scenes I can't remember because they're forgettable, Alex is sought after and blown up when a bomb is attached to his car, right in his front yard, his wife and son sleeping upstairs.  Little of Alex is left--lungs, a hand, his head--so as a means of survival Clara (Abbie Cornish), Alex's wife, agrees to allow him to be turned into RoboCop, much to OmniCorp's delight.

At this point the movie hits a lull, taking itself way too seriously, exploring this problem or that, as I grew tired and bored.  A thinking film instead of an action flick.  Thinking films aren't bad in the least, but RoboCop was advertised as an action film, and there are way too many slow moments.

Adding to this doldrum are plot points casually created and then ignored, jumbled with terrible character development and cast chemistry.

Alex Murphy is not a compelling character, and I don't know who to blame: writers, actor, or director.  Not enough time was spent on Alex pre-robocop to get a sense of who He was; there's not a way to really compare his before and after.  We get a sense of it through his wife Clara.  What we do see of his former life is muddled and incoherent.

A forgettable bookmark in cinematic history, quick to be forgotten unlike its predecessor.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Motivation Board

I finished my motivation board last night.

I've been meaning to make a visualization board for a while now, haven't yet but will soon at some point, because I realized a motivational board is more important.

I got the idea when I was going through SELF magazine last night and cut out two quotes: "Confidence Makes You Sexy (Your Hair Doesn't Hurt Either)" and "I Regret That Workout - Said No One, Ever."

They were so cute!  And I relate to both.  I need a little more confidence.  I wish I could say I'm 100% sure of myself; That I have no doubts or insecurities; That I'm completely comfortable with my body.  I'm not. At all.  But it's a change I'm working on.

It's hard not being hard on myself for not being at a desired point "K" or "T" or "Z", somewhere further down the road then where I currently stand.  As hard as that is, life comes at us one day at a  time for a reason.  I'll get to my desired point eventually.  It's okay that it's not tomorrow.  Life is meant to be lived.  None of us is perfect.

So this is my focus: Finding confidence in the here and now.  Trying to not let past mistakes and missed opportunities get me down.

A couple other sayings I wrote on the board are things I've chanted to myself from time to time.

"Time waits for no one."  I got that from the anime "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time," which is excellent by the way.  Amazing animation, story, and music.  The complete package with a good message.

"No sweet tastes as good as a skinny body feels."  I heard this during Ward Prayer once.  It's true, but I'll forever love chocolate.  (EDIT.  I just realized the saying is: Nothing tastes as sweet as a skinny body feels."  Gotta correct my board.)

And "I accept myself completely - Right Now."  I got this from the Food Matters documentary "Hungry For Change."  It's a phrase I'm chanting to myself everyday now.  The brain can be reprogrammed.

One day at a time.

Time waits for no one.

Life is meant to be lived.

This is only the beginning :0)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Harry Potter at the Utah Symphony

Last month Krista and I decided to peruse the Utah Symphony website to see if there was a concert we wanted to go to.  It was she who discovered The Magic of Harry Potter, conducted by Vladimir Kulenovic, highlighting pieces from the first three movies by John Williams, mixed with other delightfully magical pieces.

At the time there was only a Tuesday performance, but due to overwhelming demand the Utah Symphony added a Wednesday date.  As a gift Krista quickly bought tickets so we could all go as a family, siblings + my Mom.  My Dad volunteered to babysit.

The entire hall has sold out, which was awesome to see!!

 Erin (Krista's sister), Krista, Michael, and a mischievously looking Robbie.

 Steven and I.

 The pieces we heard performed!  The conductor wanted to mix in enchanting classical pieces amongst Harry Potter, to introduce classical music to those who may have never heard it performed.  Which, trust me, you haven't lived until you've sat in front of a live Symphony.  The power.  The energy.  There's no way to describe the feeling.

Heh, as a note, I've discovered that it's impossible to listen to The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Paul Dukas without seeing Mickey.  The whole time I'm like: "This is where Mickey falls asleep" "This is when the brooms come alive" "Mickey's drowning!!"  It's pretty funny.  The power of imagery and a childhood enlightened by the classics.  Thanks Disney and Fantasia.

We need a new Fantasia.

 I got a circle of 5ths mouse pad.  The music geek in me couldn't resist.  It was an ongoing joke with my Dad and I for the longest time.  When I attended College of the Sequoias back in 2001, my Dad drove me one day to Visalia for class.  On the way back he asked me what I learned.  "The Circle of 5ths," I replied.  "What's that?" he asked.  So I explained it, and with me being me, detailed and all, within 5 minutes my Dad was yelling "Stop! Stop! I can't take any more."  Confused.  I don't know if he was joking about this aspect of music theory being too much, he use to read Calculus books before going to bed, but it was pretty funny.  Since then, whenever I'd start talking about music, he would shout, "Circle of 5ths!  Circle of 5ths!"

 A glass art structure in the Abravanel Hall lobby, in commemoration of the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics.  Whenever I see it I think balloon art or underwater coral.  I believe it's supposed to represent Fire, but I'm not sure.

 Right after the performance, which got out around 8:55 pm, we had just enough time to visit Swarovski, which is our favorite store in City Creek.  So many pretty things to look at.  And we were delighted by a water/fire show next to Nordstrom's.

Overall a really fun night, ending with dessert at Denny's.

Vladimir, The Magic of Harry Potter conductor, seemed to have the greatest time, saying really cute jokes between pieces as he explained why some music was selected.  So much fun.

And after a search I just did on the Symphony website, I discovered Video Games Live is coming in SEPTEMBER!!!!!  Do you know how huge that is??!!  Do you know how much I want to go!!!!!?????  Happy thoughts.  Saving up for it.  In the meantime I'll listen to the soundtrack on my iPod.  (The Kingdom Heart piece is the best.)

 (I Found this on Facebook)

Music is Magic :0)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My Guilty Pleasure . . .

Austenland is now on DVD/Blu-ray!  Just in time for Valentines Day.

Can you believe Valentines was a little over a week ago, and just last week all V-Day candy was 50% off.  Yeah, I took advantage of the sales.

Back on topic.

Austenland.  The movie I vowed, after first seeing it, to rate the film 1.5 stars out of 5.  Then, after some thought, and a couple nights sleeping on it, I rated the movie 3 out of 5 stars for the review I wrote.  Oh, was I mad.  But then I had to see the movie again, just to solidify or debate my first opinion.

After seeing the movie 5 times, yes F-I-V-E times in theaters (twice driving up to Salt Lake), this movie has grown on me in a huge way.  I really like it now, and find some parts really charming.

Oh, I still give it a 3 out of 5 stars simply out of stuberness, and the fact that I still believe the PG-13 elements shouldn't have been included, but that's just the proud prude in me.  (I know, pride before the fall, but there you go.)

Still, this movie is super addictive, and laugh-out-loud funny, especially with a bunch of girls, all of us giggling.

When my Mom and I brought the DVD home my brothers moaned.  Robbie still remembers vividly how mad he was after leaving the theater up in Salt Lake.  Steven was none too pleased, either.  Robbie begged that we never watch Austenland while he's home.  

(Now, I must mention Robbie actually Loves, LOVES romantic comedies.  He sometimes craves them.  And he willingly sits down to Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, Road to Avonlea, While You Were Sleeping, etc, whenever they're on.  It's the PG-13 bits of Austenland he found infuriating.  Honestly, I understand and respect him for it.)

So that's when I realized something funny and sad: My brothers view Austenland the same way my Mom and I view Sucker Punch.

(I should note Robbie hasn't seen Sucker Punch, despite encouragement from my Dad and Steven.) 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Yuzen Spring 2014 Box Review and Spoilers

I got the Yuzen Spring 2014 box last weekend!  It actually arrived on Valentines Day, which is perfect :0)  Well timed!

Yuzen, which delivers 4 times a year, corresponding with the 4 seasons: Spring (February), Summer (May), Autumn (August), and Winter (November).  It's $33 a box, and the theme is all about bringing a little Zen to your life.  The site states, "Each box has the very best Eco-conscious products to nourish the body and soul."  
"Each box includes high-quality natural and organic personal care products, healthy snacks, and lifestyle items carefully chosen from about 6 companies."  It's mainly filled with deluxe sample sizes, which are smaller then the original size, but big enough to try and use.  Sometimes there's full size items, too!!

This is my pamper box. We all need a little zen :0)

 The wrapping is always perfect and beautiful.  It just doesn't look beautiful, Yuzen smells nice, too.  Before I even unwrapped the tissue paper with the Japanese print, I could smell the candle waiting within.  This box is an experience.

Each box comes with a fold out paper that talks about each company and product selected, why it was chosen, and then a coupon code fore a nice discount if you want to buy more.  (FYI, you'll fall in love with at least a couple items.)

 What greets you under the paper.

This month we received eight products from six different companies.

 Acure Radical Resurfacing Facial Treatment: size received is 1 oz., valued at $14.  Full size is 1.4 oz., which is $19.99.

I've never heard of Acure, but now that I have, with some research, I'm super excited to try this product!  I've read nothing but good things about it.  This Radical Resurfacing product is a Lemon Probiotic (probiotic for the skin!) with 1% Chlorella Growth Factor.  From the website:
  • Restores balance and surface tone to skin
  • Feeds and restores cells
  • Protects against free radical damage
  • Improves skin texture and tone without photosensitivity
  • Great for all skin types
  • Paraben free, Vegan, Gluten free, Synthetic fragrance free, Silicone free, Phthalate free
  • Fair trade certified ingredients

 Sumbody Bathmelt,valued at $5.50, and Sumbody Sum Fizzer, valued $5.95.

We received two Sumbody products to try out!  Besides the bubble baths I had as a kid, I've never tried bath fizzes or melts of any kind.  Heh, I'm starting to feel a little sheltered.  Both of these items smell really good, and they're generous sizes.  Good for a little R&R.

 Balanced Guru Body Balm: size received 1 oz, valued at $12.  Full version is 4 oz, priced at $45.

I've already started using this body balm on my elbows, and it's working nicely.  I need to use it on my feet as well.  From the website:

"Treat your whole body with a smooth and buttery body balm. Enriched with healthy butters and an invigorating blend of essential oils that will wake up your senses and moisturize your skin without leaving it greasy or tacky. Make sure you work it well into elbows, knees and even your feet. They'll thank you later."

 Lotus Wei Infinite Love Mist Mini: size received 10 ml, valued at $8.  Full size is 50 ml at $40.

I love the smell of this mist, and have already started using it.  I'm a true believer in aromatherapy, getting into it when I started collecting DoTerra essential oils.

This mist is called "Infinite Love," and uses flower oils that encourages self wellness, forgiveness, clarity in relationships, etc.  The website has the full list.  Perfect for Valentines and Spring.

Sranrom hasn't officially launched yet, so I don't know the value of these products, but it's cool that this is a new company!  Already I'm impressed.

The candle smells nice in uplifting scents, and was the first thing I noticed in the box.  I love candles, and this is a nice one.  The Calm Down lotion is a fun idea.  It's scented with Lemongrass and Kaffir lime, which "helps you tackle stressful situations with calm confidence."


Chocolove Cherries & Almonds in Dark Chocolate.  On the site you buy a case of 12 bars for $17.

I'm a sucker for Dark Chocolate.  Love it.  This bar has a wonderful cocoa taste with cherries and almonds.  Honestly, I went to Sees Chocolate the day after Valentines, and I preferred this chocolate.

I love this box!  Love the theme and the way Yuzen is curated.

And I love discovering new favorites.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Beautiful Cover of "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen

There's already so many Disney Frozen covers out there, but a couple days ago my brother showed me this new cover song of "Let It Go" and I was floored.  Absolutely beautiful.  This cover is an African tribal version with Alex Boye, featuring One Voice Children's Choir, Lexi Walker as the lead "Elsa."  This is shot at the Ice castle venue in Midway, Utah.  I've got to visit that place.  So cool.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

First Person View of the Luge Track in Sochi Russia Olympics 2014

I found this video floating around Facebook.  It's a first person point of view of the Luge track used in the Sochi Russia 2014 Olympics.

I've tried to imagine what it must be like going down one of those tracks, but this is beyond anything I've ever imagined.  Nauseating!  But it does look like crazy fun.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Wisdom of Dad

What my Dad said today:

 "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Give a man a fishing rod, and . . . I don't know, he'll probably break it, but hey, he'll feel better about himself."

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Lego Movie: Movie Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

"Everything is awesome!
  Everything is cool when your part of a team.
Everything is awesome!
When we're living our dream."

Honestly, I'm surprised they haven't made The Lego Movie sooner.

Lego has become a staple in the video game world with titles such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings to name a few, each known for their fun game play and quirky humor.  They're fantastic.  So when I found out there was going to be a movie, and could tell through the trailers that the Lego humor was there, I knew this movie was going to be a winner.

It is a Winner.  A winner full of Awesomeness.

Emmet () is your typical go lucky guy.  He's an excellent enthusiast, but that's just about it.  No original thought in that brain of his.  Common and ordinary, only he's the key part of a prophesy given years earlier by the wizard Vitruvius ().  It's said Emmet's the great Master Builder who will overthrow Lord Business ().  Now Emmet's along for the ride, eagerly ready to prove he's extraordinary.

Cameos abound in The Lego Movie.  There's the obvious D.C. super hero's, complete with hilarious inside jokes, Abe Lincoln, Shaq, etc, etc, etc . . . bounteous et ceteras, some of which I will not name for the shear fun of the surprise.  This movie finds a way to blend all these cameos together, and not once does this film fill overcrowded.  It just seems so natural seeing all these characters together.

And the animation is brilliant.  I thought it was stop motion animation, but then I read somewhere that it's computer generated.  I just don't know!  But the look it fun, clean, colorful, and full of sight gags.  I didn't want to blink once--sadly impossible--so much is onscreen.

There seems to be a political message embedded within the film.  The WALL-E of this decade?  With a villain named Lord Business/President Business it's easy to draw a few conclusions.  And there's an outside society that seems very Libertarian.  I'm not going to get into all that.  I found the message of the movie, by movie's end, to be quite inspiring.  And I theorized, could be totally wrong here, that the name "Business" could come in part from the saying: "Mind your business."  By films end you can find your own meaning.  There's so much that can be taken from this film.

Overall I found The Lego Movie to be a lot of fun.  Clever.  Family friendly.  I saw it in 2D, and I want to see it again in 3D, which could be a blast.

Now I want to play with Lego's.

MPAA: Rated PG for mild action and rude humor.

Friday, February 7, 2014

February 2014 POPSUGAR Must Have Box Review with Spoilers

 I got my PopSugar box today.  So soon!  And I didn't even look at spoilers, so opening the box was a complete surprise, and that just makes it all the more fun.

POPSUGAR is a monthly subscription lifestyle box for gals.  The cost is $39.95 a month, free shipping, but it's cheaper when you subscribe with a 3, 6, or 12 months subscription.
On any month you can receive goodies for home, a book, fitness, snack, makeup, pampering, fashion, etc.  You never know what you're going to get, only that it will be fun and worth around $100, give or take a little.
You can subscribe here.

 Nourish Organic Argan Face Serum in Apricot + Rosehip, valued at $23.99.  From their website:

"This highly concentrated face treatment is designed to deeply hydrate and reveal smoother, softer and more supple skin with improved tone. Moroccan Argan oil, packed with restorative omega fatty acids, intensely hydrates and replenishes. Apricot kernel oil moisturizes and softens skin while helping retain clarity. Rosehip oil smoothes skin texture and helps even out tone. Fragrance-Free. Alcohol-Free. Gluten-Free. Vegan."

I can't wait to try this!  

 NCLA Nail Polish in Rodeo Drive Royalty, valued at $16.00.  I've never used this brand of nail polish, so I'm excited to try, and it's a very pretty shade of deep red.  Just in time for Valentines.

 Cinnamon Hearts from Sugar Wish, valued at $6.25?  It's four 1/4th bags at $25, so I'm guessing we got a 1/4 pound, but I don't know.  I had a couple, and they're tasty!  Another great Valentines item.  They're going to offset all the chocolate I plan on eating next Friday.

 k. hall designs PEONY Candle Tin, valued at $11.  This candle smells so nice, and it burns for 20 hours!  Yeah, I'm totally testing this claim.

 Gorjana and Griffin Brooks Jewelry Roll, valued at $45.  I don't own a jewelry roll, and this is a nice one.  I've taken necklaces on trips before and had them get all tangled up.  Not fun!  This item will help :0)

 Model Co. Lip Pops Duo Lip Gloss and LipStick, valued at $16.  This was supposed to come in my box, but my box arrived with it missing.  Very dissapointing.  I emailed Costumer Service, so hopefully they respond soon, and send this Model Co. Lip Duo to me.  Looking forward to it, because I love lip glosses.

And a bonus item!

Dial Vitamin Boost Body Wash, valued around $3.  I just tried this, and I love it.  Nice scent that lingers.

Apart from the disappointment in not receiving an item, I love this box.  Another great month for PopSugar.  (And it will be even greater when I get the lip duo.  Hope Costumer Service gets back to me.)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Art of Doing

(Photo taken in Cambria, CA)

"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.  Knowing is not enough; We must apply.  Being Willing is not enough; We must do."

~ Leonardo da Vinci

Or what Yoda said:

"Do or do not, there is no try."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gimme Shelter, Movie Review

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

(As a note to my friends, Jordan Commons is still playing this movie, but Tomorrow is its last day in theaters before leaving.)

“Love comes to those who still hope even though they've been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they've been betrayed, to those who still love even though they've been hurt before.” ~Unknown

I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like living on the streets, being in and out of 10 foster homes, having a mother who is both a prostitute and drug addict, and a father whose done nothing more then send a letter.  Agnes "Apple" Bailey (), a street smart 16-year-old girl, is in this very situation.  It sounds like the stuff Lifetime Television movies are made of, only Gimme Shelter, written and directed by , is based on a true story.

The movie starts with Apple--the name made me think of Gwyneth Paltrow, though the movie shows why Agnes prefers this name--cutting her hair, chanting "I'm okay.  I'm not scared," over and over again.  When she's done she looks in the mirror, and with her we see her rugged image.  This isn't the Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical; This is a girl raised to emulate her Mother, desperate to be saved, with blotchy skin, dark eyes, piercings, tattoos, the works.  As Apple rushes to the phone to call a taxi, we see her mother June Bailey, played magnificently by , sitting on the ground, drugged up, teeth yellow.  The sight is dramatic.  A foreshadowing of this lunatic woman who haunts her daughter.

Apple finally finds her father Tom Fitzpatrick, played by , who has a family of his own, and successfully works on Wall Street.  He isn't in need of anything, seemingly living the perfect life.  When it's discovered Apple is pregnant, she is taken to an abortion clinic, and the true fight for life begins.
I don't mean to spoil anything.  I don't think I truly have.

What I thought was a movie about a single girls survival, becomes a story about fighting for the right to live and to be alive.  It's beautiful and touching.

Though I love the overall message of this movie and what true life inspirations Kathy () and Frank McCarthy () bring to this story, the movie isn't without faults.  There are moments that lag a little, balance problems with story and arch, and side characters not fully fleshed out.  There were times I wanted to peak behind the curtain and see what else was going on, such as the Step Mother's before and after attitude that felt jarring to me, which wasn't fully developed.  I understand everything is from Apple's perspective, her perceptions become ours, I just wish some things were more fleshed out.

But with that stated, I still found this film to be positive and gripping.  A story worth being told.

Another note, makeup artist are typically not mentioned in movie reviews, but I must say how impressed I was with the makeup used on to make her appear sick and unhealthy.  Stunningly eerie.  And though I was impressed with many of the performances in this movie, Rosario was incredible.      

Gimme Shelter isn't for everybody, but I do recommend it, and I'm glad I sought this movie out.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving mistreatment, some drug content, violence and language - all concerning teens.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

At Home Planetarium

A few weeks ago I got to spend time in a Digitalis Portable Planetarium, all by myself, for a couple hours.  It was unbelievably fun.  The Universe at my beck and call!  The ability to zoom in and out of planets, see what phase Mercury and Venus are currently in, where the moons of Jupiter currently sit, what constellations are in our daytime/night sky, etc, etc, etc.

The remote was having some issues, so there was a moment where I was rewinding time, and hitting play wouldn't resume normal speed.  The stars were spinning round and round fast.  So crazy!  When the remote decided to work again I was viewing last Novembers stars.  Totally reminded me of the Psych episode "For Earth to Starbucks" when Shawn hosts a Planetarium show, and then leaves to investigate, leaving the sky spinning.  I know what that feels like!!  Cool and nauseating at the same time.

I found out that the same planetarium program I was using in the Digitalis Dome is available as a free Open Source computer download: Stellarium.  Sure, you're not inside a dome, but you can set the location to where you live, and see what constellations are in the sky no mater the time of day.

It's a really fun program to play around with.

(BTW, the symbol with the sun behind the cloud turns off the atmosphere, which is helpful for daytime viewing.  When you have the planet names turned on, click on the planet and zoom in using the (/) key and out using the (\).  A couple planets have two zooms, if the moons are spread out at a distance.  The Help menu is highly recommended.)