Credits: Diane Warren, Victoria Shaw, Kristin Chenoweth
who has heard Kristin’s music before will likely laugh-out-loud at reading the
latest genre of music she has decided to tackle. Kristin is an opera singer – I
kid you not! – and as such, it makes it a little comical to see she recorded a country album, which are two genres that
couldn’t be more different. Believe it or not, she actually sounds really good
on every track of this, her country debut.
are the kind of neighbors that everyone gets along with. Sure, they’re a little
quirky, but they are the most interesting family on the block – and some of the
most free-spirited individuals you’ll ever meet!
most successful son, Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) is heading home for
Christmas and has his family in a flurry of anticipation at his arrival.
Accompanying him is his uptight businesswoman girlfriend, Meredith (Sarah
Jessica Parker). The plan is to propose to Meredith during the annual holiday
gathering of the Stone’s. Being back home with his siblings and parents (Diane
Keaton, Craig T. Nelson) puts Everett on edge – especially when his family
begins taking their dislike of Meredith to a whole new level. His
go-with-the-flow sisters Amy (Rachel McAdams) and Susannah (Elizabeth Reaser)
instantly clash with Meredith’s more rigid personality – most especially Amy
who is the only one to have previously met Meredith; she just CANNOT stand the
woman. This makes everyone a little blind to what Everett sees in Meredith. His
brother Ben (Luke Wilson) however thinks Meredith is the greatest girl his
brother has brought home yet.
Overwhelmed by this wacky and large family – and
their intense hatred of her, Meredith begs her little sister to come for the
duration of her stay with the Stone’s. Julie (Claire Danes) appears on the
scene just in time to save Meredith’s sanity… or that is her expectation. Instead,
Julie’s arrival changes the dynamics in the household… and shifts emotions.
Until a friend reviewed this, I really didn’t pay much attention to it – mostly because my entrance into fantasy has been very gradual and not being a die-hard fan of the story on which this is based didn’t help any either. Still, it was always in the back of my mind to someday see…
Independent, but with some bottled up trust issues, Alice (Caterina Scorsone) is an expert black belt and part-time instructor. Since her father walked out on her and her mother ten years ago, Alice was left with feelings of inadequacy, and that has transferred to her relationships with guys. This time though, she is crazy about her boyfriend Jack (Philip Winchester). They are taking another step in their relationship and Alice has invited him home to meet her mother, but when Jack proposes marriage, Alice does what she does best – she panics and sends Jack out the door. Noticing he slipped the ring in her pocket, she dashes out after him and witnesses men forcing him into a truck. Trying to stop them, she instead follows the mysterious man claiming to be helping Jack… and instead she falls right into a strange world that everyone calls Wonderland…
How many of you remember the cheesy seventies-era Charlie’s Angels? Or perhaps the more accurate question: are there any of you who watch the show through re-runs or the DVD sets? I can admit that I do own all four available seasons of the sappy show – and I love it. There are many things about it that bring on eye-rolling and groans, but above all it is cute, which is why when I learned producers were re-booting the series for the 2011 TV season, I was thrilled to pieces – that is exactly what the show needed: an updated outlook. In fact, I was so anxious about the re-make that I broke the standard “rule” at my house (to watch no TV show during its airing on television) and tuned in to the pilot episode. I’ve decided to share my early thoughts on the millennium version of a now iconic television show.
Synopsis: Kyle Kingsbury is a vain fifteen-year-old whose only source of parental affection is guaranteed so long as he is constantly considered among the “beautiful people,” otherwise his workaholic father has even less time for him. After his plan to get back at the long-rumored witch Kendra backfires, Kyle is left a beast – a curse Kendra spun on him in order that the world may see him on the outside as he is on the inside: ugly. When he is banished to the "middle of nowhere," Kyle must learn to cope with his new… beastly appearance and has only his tutor for company. Two years. That is all the time he has to “fix” things. In order to break the curse, he must find someone to love him unconditionally… and he to return that love… or he will remain as he is… forever.
Enjoying any earthly comfort, the wealth of a movie star, and the looks to go with it makes it impossible to be the most normal, down-to-earth, likable person - especially if such a person knows they have these luxuries. That is the working idea behind this movie, Beastly. Itprobably won’t appeal to a much wider audience than pre-teens and even older teenagers – to most it will be mistaken for an angst-driven story with some pretty faces and young Hollywood starlets that really have no real acting chops, but what everyone should recognize is its message about vain beauty… something that is only skin deep and fades with time. So without further ado, the story goes something like this – once upon a time…
Leading a charmed life is not just something Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is used too; it has come to a point where he demands it. With an attitude of being the only person who counts amidst his high school peers at the high-class private school he attends, Kyle doesn’t treat anyone with respect. His bid for class president results in asking one of the class outcasts to be his date for a school dance. But during that dance, his real intentions in asking Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) out become clear and wasn’t part of an apology but rather a ploy to further humiliate her. Long rumored to be a witch, Kendra’s reason for accepting Kyle’s invitation was to give him a second chance… but instead she shows Kyle firsthand her wrath and unleashes a curse on him – no longer can he rely on his looks; gone are his blonde locks and picture-perfect face, he becomes as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside. He is given a year to undo the curse – find someone to truly love him as he is or remain so forever…
Shuttering himself away in his house during the year, with only his housekeeper and blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris), it is the girl who did capture his attentions beforehand who soon becomes the one person who may change him. Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens) is a good student on scholarship with a determined nature; she has had to fight for what she has earned, coming from a background that is less than nurturing. When Kyle arranges for her to live in his home, his attempts to romance her go rejected, it isn’t until he can shed his selfless nature that he can really begin to love without condition.
I have really fond memories of seeing this movie in theaters. It was one that I saw on a whim without knowing much about, since then I’ve seen it subsequent times and bought the DVD. Thanks to this movie, I discovered just how much I enjoy the art of dance – seeing the professionals perform it, mind you, not me.
I read a “teaser” blurb preceding a review of this movie – ironically it was written by a guy, no less! In the span of one sentence, the reviewer remarked that he probably wasn’t the prime audience for this movie (ya’ think!?). Obviously, he was right and I must admit, I probably am not either – likely it is teens and in all likelihood, pre-teens, but still, this movie is infectious – in the best sense.
Writing Credits: Hillary Lindsey, Nathan Chapman, Cindy Morgan and Point of Grace
Number of songs: 11
Label: Word Label Group
I love these ladies. As artists, they are constantly surprising me in their music and as women of faith – from the little I’ve read written by them, they are examples. The fact that I get so much out of their songs is ironic because I am not their target audience. And still, their music constantly inspires and touches me. This album was their first as a trio since the departure of Heather Payne and is also their first to really be ingrained with a country flavored twang – and I LOVED that about the album. Right off from the second track (“Wildflower”) is this theme allowed to come through, it is co-written by Hillary Lindsey who is well-known for penning some of Carrie Underwood’s hits along with Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, Sara Evans and Lady Antebellum. The song definitely is traditional country recounting the story of a girl who just doesn’t fit in at her school and is just waiting for her life to change. “Love and Laundry” is another one that has a noticeable twang (and it’s adorable to boot!) but probably the song where the fiddle-infused notes come through most is on the title track which is dedicated to the ladies husbands.
Writing Credits: Nichole Nordeman, Clint Lagerberg, Cindy Morgan and Connie Harrington
Number of songs: 15
Label: Word Label Group
Re-releasing records can be tricky. I know for me, minus a select few, I don’t bother purchasing an album I already own. Point of Grace is a group that is one of those exceptions. I already was inspired by this record when it had released a year prior to its “deluxe edition,” so it would only stand to reason that I’d be buying this edition too.
There are simply too many tracks to single out, so I’ll be just going through a select few. For starters, the title track is awesome. Founding member Heather Payne (she has since left the award-winning group) sounds fantastic on it. The song prompts listeners to think about the “small stuff” in life. It encourages us to “take chances,” and to remember that it is not who we know in our life that will count but how we live. How the song relates to us is beautiful; the home-spun lyrics are truly from the heart. “Heal the Wound” is a very personal journey that features Leigh’s vocal talents. In her voice we can hear the meaning behind the song through such a moving vocal performance. This song asks God to heal the reminders of the past but leave a scar as a reminder of His mercy – it reminds us (which we need a lot of) to never forget the regretful choices we’ve made and through that the loving mercy that God extends. In her case it is in reference to an abortion previous to Leigh becoming a Christian. “All the World” is a fun upbeat tune which talks of being a voice for Christ. To show His love to… well “All the World.”
Writing Credits: Hillary Scott, Charles Kelly and Dave Haywood, Monty Powell
Number of Tracks: 12
Label: Capitol Nashville
Genre: Country Debut: #1 first week secular and county-selling album
My thoughts: the first single off this country trio’s third studio album was “Just a Kiss,” and it was an awesome and beautiful ballad that – for once promoted a romantic relationship that was tender and wholesome. It begs the listener to take relationships slowly, to resist “temptation” …to end the night with “just a kiss.” On their full-length album, there are various overtures and mildly suggestive lines, but I cannot help but be fond of this album – the first I’ve actually bought. Prior to that, I had only purchased a handful of MP3 files but after being enchanted by “Just a Kiss,” I determined to buy my first album from Lady Antebellum.
Unless you are a small child or have been living on another planet altogether there probably isn’t one person – even if you aren’t politically inclined who has not heard of Sarah Palin or the Palin family. Whether you love them or hate them, support them or not, agree with them or don’t, there are certain things about the family that fascinate the public and press. (Perhaps “fascinate” isn’t even the right word – everyone seems to be obsessed with this family.) I have been both disappointed and impressed with their eldest daughter Bristol. After a stint on Dancing with the Stars, Bristol managedto capture America’s hearts as each week she was brought back after embarrassingly low scores and distasteful remarks from the judges. (What? I may not watch the show on a week-to-week basis, but I love it.) It was then that she impressed me with her quiet acceptance and wholesome personality. My regret for her obviously comes from her becoming a teenage mom with her high school boyfriend. This is the dissention that has enabled media outlets to most discredit the Palins. Now in a new memoir, Bristol recounts what it was like to live under such scrutiny – and shares the impact her decisions have had on her young life.
Since Downton Abbey is about to premiere its second series in the U.K., I thought it was the proper time to look back at its first. At its premiere reports swirled that the British were going to cut many costume adaptations (it looks like that wasn’t completely accurate). In addition to this airing on the U.S. based Masterpiece Theatre, another grand-scale production aired that year (plus there are a number of rumored and in-production pieces yet to come). So long as these continue, I see no reason to be disappointed with the Brits since this just proves that they still have some amazingly talented people bringing these productions together.
The date is April 1912, the Titanic has just sunk and news of it travels quickly across British societies. The household of Downton Abbey is abuzz with the news. When it reaches the earl, Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) it poses the question of whether or not anyone the family knows was aboard. Before long, he learns that his cousins were indeed on the passenger list and being the heirs to his estate, the title and fortune of the estate is uncertain since the Earl’s three children are girls. Robert’s wife, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) brought the money into the abbey which leads her to form a tentative bond with her mother-in-law (Maggie Smith), both taking up the cause entitling eldest daughter, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) to inherit its vast fortune and estate but being a woman automatically disallows her from the title. After consulting with their lawyer, it is made clear that the likelihood of Mary inheriting even the estate is far-fetched but it doesn’t deter the women of Downton and instead they turn their attention to making a promising match between Mary and a duke, allowing for Mary to at least keep the money in the family when she inherits a large portion at her marriage. Plans crumble when it becomes apparent the Duke had other motivations for visiting…
There are SO many television shows that are similar, it makes for a difficult time of keeping them all straight (or that would be my dad’s reaction). When ABC would air promotional spots for Castle, my mother and I would howl with laughter each time – so much so that we were determined to jump into the series knowing little about it. We impulsively bought the first set on a shopping trip, got home late that night from running various different places, and even still, we eagerly popped the first disc into the player. In anticipation for the premiere of Castle’s fourth season and the third season hitting store shelves, I couldn’t resist re-visiting one of my favorite TV crime-fighting duos by writing a post on just one of my (many) favorite television genius’.
Watching the first season of Castle left my mom and I in a quandary thanks to its terrible cliffhanger, an ending we were not expecting coming from such a feel-good, entertaining show. (This inevitably meant I would - from then on be using the Internet for spoilers on yet another show.) Waiting for the second set to release turned out to be a mild form of agony because we wanted to know what happened to the sparring Det. Beckett and the annoying Castle. Alas, the opening was a letdown in terms of much insight – happily that doesn’t hold true in season two's conclusion.
Promotional spots for this evening sitcom “sold” me on trying this. While it may be a bit out-of-the-ordinary of something I’d normally watch, I couldn’t help but become interested. So, after some reading and the release, I was excited to finally have the chance to watch this.
“It’s about time for you to take down your flags, don’t you think?”
That was my dad’s question a couple weeks ago when we were backing out of the garage on the way to church – the response? “Um… no not until the end of August. And besides it’s GOOD to be patriotic!” Every summer in late June early July, my mom and I deck the house out in red, white and blue and it remains so until the end of August – at least. What this inconsequential exchange begs of us Americans is to ask: have we forgotten? Have we forgotten what it means to be patriotic? Have we forgotten how to display such patriotism – to just be proud Americans? In the hustle-bustle of daily lives, yes, I believe we have. It has been ten years since one event changed how many of us see terrorism – 9/11. My guess is that for the majority of us it altered how we think of war on the home front because it was an act carried out on U.S. soil – something unimaginable. I do not remember exactly what went through my young teenage mind but do recollect who called to tell my mom to turn on the television, where we were going that day and that T.V., radio and Internet outlets covered nothing else for days. September eleventh changed many, many lives but even for those of us not directly affected, I do not think there were many among us who weren’t emotionally touched. My memories are not as vivid as they would be if it only happened five years ago, but I still remember where I was when hearing the radio announcement that we had declared war – as a young girl, it made quite an impression.
The beaches of North Carolina are filled with students holding beachside parties and spending their days soaking up the sun while on their spring breaks. A soldier in the U.S. Army, John Tyree (Channing Tatum) spends much of his time at the beach surfing, while on a two-week leave. It’s during one of these times that he spots a pretty college student walking the pier with her friends. After impulsively rescuing her bag that fell over the railing, John meets Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried). Both immediately feel an instant connection and so begins a whirlwind two week romance – she being a southern girl who doesn’t drink or smoke, he an upstanding soldier with a checkered past. She meets and bonds with his quiet, reserved father (Richard Jenkins), they go to the beach, and connect over acts and works of charity… and eventually fall deeper in love thousands of miles from each other over letters with John’s promise to be back and home for good in 12 months. And then September eleventh happens…
The story: a young man leaves his home to fight a war and faithfully exchanges letters with his mother. In the heat of a battle, he puts his life on the line in order to save another, and becomes a POW.
My thoughts: the first time I heard this song – and actually listened to the lyrics, I remember the heartwarming impact it made on me. It isn’t really a song I can relate to but it doesn’t have to be: it’s just good songwriting. Anyone who is a proud American will definitely understand the significance of the lyrics. The soaring instrumental music transports us although I don’t think it is Mark’s best vocal performance, he still does the profound lyrics justice.
Letters from War is a song of hope and tells the message we want every American family to experience who has a loved one fighting – for every person who stood up and fought to preserve American freedom; it sets up the metaphorical reunion scene every family longs for. I love the song for its inspiration and compelling look at heroism. Today the definition of that is often confused with something it shouldn’t be. Patriotism shouldn’t be limited to a day that, to most people just means picnic baskets and fireworks but instead actually reflect what Independence Day means to us – what the Founding Fathers may have intended. Mark captures a lot of hopeful emotions in this ballad and for that reason the song is a very real, honest one.
The lyrics:…she wrote to him every night as she prayed… her tears stained the paper with every word that she read, it said: I was up there alone, I was out there alone when the shots all rang out, bombs were exploding and that’s when I saw him, he came back for me and though he was captured, a man set me free – that man was your son, he asked to write to you, I told him I would, oh, I swore. It was the last of the letters from war…
Temptation is all around us. From frivolous, extravagant purchases to the simple joys, don’t we all encounter them in some form or another – and they are out there on a daily basis, and because we are human, many of us don’t defy the odds, whether they be major or minor. Christ walked this earth as a man and faced many similar challenges – we, however seem more susceptible to luring pursuits, but like Jesus have the option to say “no.” Being the son of God gave Him no “special” privileges for resistance, contrary to secular belief. Miramax’s 2000 film Chocolat concocts an array of tempting concepts, or more precisely: confectionary delights but like so many other stories, the script goes much deeper than that.
Not everyone will find a touching story within this independent movie. Some will be blinded by its sometimes immoral behavior, others will only see the prejudice most characters held fast too. I cannot remember exactly when first I saw it, but I do recall just how much I fell in love with it – and only wish I put it into the DVD player more often.
One cold, blustery day a brisk wind not only brought a sudden chill but the sly North wind ushered two figures cloaked in red into the small French village that believed in tranquility and the “proper” way of seeing things done. Anything that upsets their peaceful way of doing things is frowned upon by the town’s mayor, the Count de Reynaud (Alfred Molina) and someone is always quick to put one back into their place should they mess up. When single mother Vianne (Juliette Binoche) and her six-year-old daughter (Victoire Thivisol) appear on the scene, it doesn’t take long for her to create a stir. Coming from a mother who moved with the wind whenever she felt restless, Vianne has done much the same with her own daughter – and is found out to never have been married. Renting a small shop and its above stairs apartment from a bitter woman (Judi Dench), Vianne sets to work at her trade and opening a decedent chocolate shop. Much to the horror of the village she does so during the period of lent. Not a church-going woman, Vianne manages staying power in a village clearly anxious for her dismissal, but she connects with many of the people in spite of the mayors best efforts.
Synopsis: Kate Kilpatrick has plans. She is
going to complete her stint at the small town Valley
Oaks Times and then head off for bigger and better prospects at a larger
outlet. Her plans are complicated by fellow Riverton classmate Tanner Carlucci who
is now a substitute history teacher at Valley Oaks and skilled pilot. Kate’s
drive intimidates Tanner somewhat: he is twelve years out of high school and
still without a career… and when he begins to entertain ideas of Kate in his
life for good, things get even more confusing – for the both of them.
lady Adele Chandler is a single mom who focused all her attentions on being a
good mother. Now, she has been in a semi-serious relationship with a “safe” bet
– serious-minded businessman, Will for six months. Then she meets Graham quite
by chance. He stirs her heart like Will has never but that means her life will
be upset, something she isn’t sure she is willing to allow for – nor is it
something she ever expected after years
of creating a stable environment to raise her daughter in.
Synopsis: dedicated basketball coach and teacher, Britte Olafsson isn’t about to let her firm hand with students be upset by some overprotective, overbearing parent. New principal Joel Kingsley also rules with strict, orderly discipline on school grounds. As a former Marine, he is used to challenges but when it comes to backing up Britte in her coaching decisions, he may just have met his match.
Married seventeen years, Alec and Anne Sutton are experiencing some financial and emotional trials. They’ve just seen their best friends go through a divorce which shakes Anne’s beliefs to the core – if it could happen to her friend, can’t it happen to anyone? Amid job troubles and a tanking economy, Alec loses sight of his family – and his wife’s heart. Will he be able to win her back?
Sometimes, a comical premise is not enough to save a movie that should have stopped when it was ahead… and, unfortunately, this movie relies a lot on its capacity to be “funny,” in the process masking the heart of the story. Some of you might have seen the trailers or read a blurb about The Back-Up Plan and thought it sounded awful, but something about it looked comical enough for my mom and I to be interested – plus the opening credit concept was really cute. (Which may be about the only compliment this film is likely to get.)
Sandra Bullock is one of the most naturally funny comedic actresses in the business, so it comes as no surprise that I went and saw this in theaters and now own a copy of The Proposal. Despite unkind remarks by the media, this film is delightful.
People detest her. People avoid her. People IM about her. She is Margaret Tate (Bullock), a successful book editor who runs a strict department: if everything isn’t just so, she’s annoyed. For three years, Margaret’s dedicated young assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) has stood by watching Margaret push people around (even though his family urges him to quit: every day), and she insists he be in the office before she is with her steaming hot coffee. Andrew has put up with it for one simple reason: he wants to be a book editor. The start to a perfect day quickly turns into disaster for Margaret when she learns that her visa has been denied, needless to say Margaret is livid! (After all, she’s Canadian not a terrorist!) Just when her superiors tell her that nothing can be done, inspiration hits and she announces that she and Andrew are getting married … and no one is more surprised than the groom! Initially refusing Margaret’s offer, she blackmails Andrew into assisting her and the two are soon on their way to the immigration office wedding bliss. Peppered with questions, Andrew and Margaret con their way through the interview and before they know it, are planning a trip to visit Andrew’s parents to share the happy news, only this time its Margaret who is in for a surprise when she learns his family is in (surprise!) Alaska.
The term “best-selling author” does not always mean that an author deserves to be such a success or have such a prestigious honor to their name, it just means that enough people bought her books to make her a well-known name who has been on the best-seller list. Chick-lit author Emily Griffin has had her first novel brought to screen in the comedy Something Borrowed. The movie caught my eye because of Kate Hudson and so, I wanted to see it. I do not know how the original material plays out but here the story goes something like this. Never mind that Darcy and Rachel have been the best of friends since the fifth grade – they still don’t know how to be honest with one another.
I wanted to write a note of thanks to Jemimah at Beautiful Blank Pages for including me and giving me a fun award: the Liebster Award. =) Thank you SO much, Jemimah!
Since I am new to the blogging scene and am still learning how everything works - honestly, I am lost when it comes to all the "blog awards" - I simply refuse to single out any five blogs to pass this on to, but I want you to know how much I've appreciated you stopping by and commenting; I've enjoyed "chatting" with each of you, my "blogger friends." And, I've loved discovering and reading every single blog I "follow" - you all have fabulous blogs.
I am going to break the "rules" as regards this award (I hope no one minds too much!) and instead do something a little bit different. Below is the list of blogs I follow that are under 200 followers - in addition to Beautiful Blank Pages.
The fact that I actually rented this movie meant that seeing this was a small step out of my comfort zone in terms of the films I see. Normally, I go for stories that are more firmly planted on the ground – so to speak, but the trailer for Wild Target just hit me in all the right places. (No pun intended!)
Living up to his father’s expectations is something Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy) has done well. Taking over the family business, as it were, Victor is a professional hit man. His hits are all carried out with precision and nary a single hiccup – however, living up to his mother’s standards is another thing all together. Rose (Emily Blunt) is one con away from being in a very dangerous situation. Her latest and biggest swindle to date involves selling a painting to the wealthy Ferguson (Rupert Everett) who has the means to buy an original, only problem is, right under their noses she switches out the original for a forgery. When these two get tangled up in each other’s lives, things go array…
I am an auburn-haired (thanks L'Oreal!) 20-something who wears heels with jeans. Part county, classy and a little bit sass who is a romantic at heart
(despite my belief in realism). I’m a bookaholic and am passionate about writing – which may explain why I make up conversations between my current characters in my head (this can be quite inconvenient), and have an Internet photo phobia. I’m learning to love sci-fi, live a bolder life and am adding color to my simple but full life. I live in the Midwest, overuse the
word "rather," and can be a bit of a neat freak. Spending quality
time with my wonderful family is a favorite pastime. For the past four years,
I have been able to be a part of the coolest online webzine around covering
literature and film. You, the readers and wonderful friends never cease to brighten my day with a cheerful comment or encouraging word, so thank you from the bottom of my heart. Here are some of my favorite things: blogging // bright,
beautiful crisp days // costume dramas // dancing with the stars // music
//novels// photography // rainy days // romantic comedies
// simple joys // starbucks // television's crime drama, Castle // writing
+ Christian fiction (suspense, late 1800's/1900's historical, romance,
+ Secular fiction (contemporaries,
romance; dependent upon the content but limited to "PG13")
+ Young adult/teen novels
The ratings: Books here receive a "scale" rating from 1
(being the lowest) up to 5
The review: In a review, I share my concluding
impressions; thoughts the book left me feeling or contemplating, what the
characters meant (if I related to any), the details (historical settings or
descriptive costuming), the story itself as well as any other quirks that may
have been impacting or amusing. Also included are the books "stats" (publisher,
genre) plus a publisher's synopsis.
If you are interested in seeing
your current book reviewed here, or if you have a review
request/suggestion please contact me here: dreamer13[at]frontier[dot]com