Posts Tagged ‘Keanu Reeves’

Morocco & a Hidden Marrakesh Treasure

Most of the people that read my blog find it on Facebook.  With that being said, you probably already know that I spent my birthday in Morocco, in northern Africa, and you’ve seen some of the pictures from the trip.

Today, I want to share a few thoughts, some things I learned about the country and details of one magical evening.

In Morocco, we arrived at the airport in Casablanca.  From there, we were driven to Rabat for a night, spent two nights in Fez, and two more in Marrakesh before heading back to Casablanca for a night.

Marrakesh was my favorite city.

Blue 1

Casablanca was my least favorite.  In all fairness, it could have been the short time there (about 12 hours), the congested traffic, and/or the neighborhood surrounding the hotel.

However, the exterior of the Hassan II Mosque, the largest in Morocco, and the stained glass of the Notre Dame de Lourdes Cathedral in Casablanca were stunning!  (I’ll be sharing many more pictures on my Facebook page in the coming days!)

mosque

stained.jpg

THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT MOROCCO

The country makes most of its money from two things that come from the sky:  the rain (agriculture) and planes (tourists).

Olives are everywhere and the trees are handed down in the family and some of the trees can produce for thousands of years!

olives.jpg

There are three pickings of olives.

The first is in late November with green olives.  Those are the highest quality and many are used for olive oil.  The second picking is later in December when the olives are turning red.  And, the last harvest, in January, is of black olives — the lowest quality of olives!

Every Moroccan home has a cat (mice control) and a turtle!  The turtle is to ward off evil spirits or black magic!

Although the country is 99% Muslim, only about 45% are practicing.

Many in Morocco, especially in rural areas, live in poverty, but it’s slowly improving.  Meanwhile, there are some well off and very rich people in the country.  But, it’s a culture where most don’t flaunt it.

The exteriors of many dwellings look very basic or run down, but the homes inside are lavish and filled with riches.

A MAGICAL EVENING

That leads me to the dinner I mentioned earlier.

Here I am with my “Crazy Asians” (Pom, Sheila, Po Po, and Izzy).  I met these fun ladies at the beginning of the trip and I shared a lot of time with them — an incredible group of friends!

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The evening started with a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of Marrakesh at sunset and a jaunt through the crowded souk (an Arab marketplace or bazaar) in the Medina (the old quarter of town) on the way to dinner.

Marrakesh Night.jpg

Once we were dropped off from the carriage ride, we made our way through a series of alleys that looked like a deserted, bombed out part of town!

But, at the end of the maze was the incredible and gorgeous Lotus Privilege Restaurant!

Lotus

Once we stepped inside, per custom, we washed our hands with warm water from a elegant silver tea pot.  We were then handed a tasty drink and took in the spectacular scenery.

I’m not being vain here.  I just couldn’t choose which beautiful backdrop to choose to share!

Pool

ap cactus

And, this is Elizabeth and Stephen, a delightful Texas couple.  Stephen celebrated his birthday a day before me!

I felt like royalty at this lavish dinner with this gorgeous group!

Group

Our three course tasting menu stated with incredibly colorful and tasty Moroccan salads.

This was followed by entrees of either cockerel (chicken), veal, or fish Tagine (my pick), and three choices for dessert.  I chose the pastilla with light cream and crushed almonds with fresh mint!

dessert

And, we were treated to live, energetic African music and an elegant, gorgeous belly dancer!

What a memorable evening!

CELEBRITY SIGHTING

By the way, Keanu Reeves was standing right in front of me as we boarded the flight from Paris, France, to Casablanca.

He was heading to Morocco to film scenes for “John Wick 3: Parabellum”, which is scheduled for a May 2019 release which also stars Halle Berry.

My posse got a picture with him! 🙂

Keanu.jpg

If you’ve ever considered going to Morocco, do so.  And, if you’ve never thought about it, I’d recommend it.

Anthony

 

 

More Movie Rentals To Check Out

You know I love watching movies and sharing my thoughts on them to let you know if you should hurry and rent something or don’t waste your time.

Here are some of the recent ones that we’ve watched.

“WHIPLASH”

This Academy Award-winning movie is a must-see!

I’ve now seen three of the 2014 performances for “Best Supporting Actor”.

While Robert Duvall was incredible in “The Judge” and Ethan Hawke put in a great performance in “Boyhood”, J.K. Simmons rightfully took home the Oscar for his sadistic music teacher.  I wonder if I’ll change my mind once I see Edward Norton in “Birdman” and Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher”?  Oscar voters didn’t!

While he wasn’t nominated, Miles Teller was very compelling as a first-year jazz student that pushed himself to bloody pulp to excel at drumming to try to impress his cruel conductor.

GRADE:  A-

“LILTING”

This British drama and love story from Cambodian-born British director Hong Khaou is heartbreaking and touching.

It’ll make you want to hold your loved one tighter and even call your mother-in-law to let her know that she’s loved and needed.

The movie featured incredible performances from legendary Chinese actress Cheng Pei-pei and English actor Ben Whishaw.

Whishaw is best known for his role in the James Bond film, “Skyfall” and its upcoming sequel, “Spectre”.  He also voices Paddington Bear in the recent film, “Paddington”.

In “Lilting”, he’s so charming and adorable.

GRADE:  A

“JOHN WICK”

“John Wick” is a kick-ass American crime caper starring Keanu Reeves.

After his wife dies, he gets a present delivered that she arranged to help him cope with his sadness.  It’s a cute little Beagle named Daisy.

At a gas station, the leader of a trio of Russian thugs asks John how much he’d take for his vintage car, which isn’t for sale.

Needless to say, that’s not the last we see of them and things go badly and then John Wick is out for revenge.

The movie is violent and bloody, but very entertaining.

GRADE:  B

“THE EQUALIZER”

This movie, which stars Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington, is basically “John Wick” with more acting pedigree.

“The Equalizer” came out a month before “John Wick” and grossed about three times the money ($192.3 million to $78.7 million).

Like John Wick, Washington’s Robert McCall, a retired black ops government operative, goes up against the Russian mafia.

However, the circumstances are different — it’s sex trafficking in this movie when McCall befriends a teenaged prostitute played by Chloe Grace Moretz.

Other than the violence and the Russian bad guys, that’s where the real similarities end.

While Washington is hands down a better actor than Reeves, this movie is 31 minutes longer than “John Wick” and it definitely could have been edited down to tighten it up.  It dragged and wasn’t as much fun (for a crime thriller).

GRADE:  C

“HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH”

Hedwig, the East German transgender rock musician, has been around since 1998.  That year, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” made its Off-Broadway debut and won the Obie Award and the Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Off-Broadway Musical.

It was adapted into a movie in 2001 by star and creator, John Cameron Mitchell and Mitchell was named “Best Director” at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and he was nominated for a Golden Globe that year as Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.

Neil Patrick Harris led the 2014 Broadway revival of Hedwig and won the Tony Award for “Best Actor in a Musical” and his co-star, Lena Hall won “Best Actress in a Musical”.  “Hedwig” also won “Best Revival of a Musical”.

I saw it on Broadway in early January with Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”) and he was incredible.

The movie stars the original Hedwig, John Cameron Mitchell.

GRADE:  B+

“KINKY BOOTS”

Here’s another older movie (2005) that is earning rave reviews on Broadway.

In this version of “Kinky Boots”, you’ll see Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years A Slave”) like you’ve never seen him before as sassy, drag queen Lola in those “kinky boots”.

This British comedy-drama also stars a much younger and softer Joel Edgerton.

GRADE: B-

Let me know what you think if you’ve seen any of these.

Anthony