Posts Tagged ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Weekend Oscar Battle: “Zero Dark Thirty” or “Les Miserables”

There are nine movies nominated for “Best Picture” in this year’s Oscar race.  After going to the movies yesterday for a double feature, I’ve now seen five of the nine.  Interestingly enough, the only one of the nine that I really have no desire to see is “Django Unchained”, but I’ll check it out when it’s released on DVD.

With popcorn and Coke Zero (with a splash of Cherry Coke) in hand, we grabbed our seats for “Zero Dark Thirty”.

zero-dark-thirty

This Kathryn Bigelow-directed spy thriller, which is nominated for five Oscars, takes us along on the painstaking search and execution of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The movie begins on September 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Those attacks led to the murder of more than 3,000 Americans and kicked off  “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.”

While a very talkative movie, Bigelow and writer Mark Boal, who was also at the helm of the 2010 Oscar winner, “The Hurt Locker”, gives you a thorough history lesson that didn’t make it feel like you were in school.

When we first see Best Actress nominee Jessica Chastain, she’s a quiet, mousy CIA agent observing torture techniques to get information on al-Qaeda.  As the search for bin Laden drags on for almost ten years, we see her become a confident, assertive agent that gave the government the ammunition it needed to convince the president to order the U.S. Navy SEALs to go in and take bin Laden out.

The movie is being criticized in some circles as being pro-torture.  Yes, we see several scenes of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, starvation, physical abuse, and psychological torture with one prisoner being naked in front of his captors.  While the scenes were tough to watch and you did feel compassion toward the Middle Eastern detainee being interviewed, the reality of the situation is that 3,000+ Americans were killed and the U.S. needed information to prevent another 9/11 attack.

Jason Clarke was superb as the aforementioned interrogator.  The acting in the movie is top-notch.

The movie is more than 2 1/2 hours long, but once the order is given to storm bin Laden’s compound in Pakistani darkness, you’re sitting on your seat and you hold your breath to see how the operation will go down.

GRADE:  B+

les mis

As most of you already know, “Les Miserables”, or “Les Mis” is now a movie and Broadway musical based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel about Frenchman Jean Valjean, who served 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed starving relatives..

Once Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released from prison, he breaks his parole and a police inspector, Javert (Russell Crowe) dedicates his life to track down Valjean and put him back in prison.  In the course of redemption, Valjean becomes a factory owner and the mayor and he rescues the child, Cosette, of one of his dying factory workers, Fantine.  (That’s not a spoiler if you know anything about “Les Mis”.)

Hugh Jackman received a Best Actor nomination and Anne Hathaway is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her heartbreaking performance of poor, dying prostitute Fantine.  Although her time in the movie is limited, when she performs “I Dreamed A Dream”, I was ready to give her the Oscar right then!

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen were amazing as the lying, cheating, unconscionable Thenardiers.  Their comic relief was needed in a very bleak and depressing movie.

Now, since this is a musical, I have to mention the singing.  Instead of singing along to pre-recorded tracks and lip synching, the actors were required to sing live with piano accompaniments.  The orchestra was added in post-production.

Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks (adult Eponine) were spectacular and Amanda Seyfried (adult Cosette) is just as captivating as she was in “Mamma Mia”.  Hugh Jackman has done many productions that required singing, so he did a great job, too.  I was also pleasantly surprised with the singing voices of Eddie Redmayne (Marius) and Aaron Tveit (Enjolras).  Even Oscar winner Russell Crowe, while not a spectacular singer, was acceptable.  Let’s just say he’s no Pierce Brosnan in the “Mamma Mia” movie!

However, singer Adam Lambert of “American Idol” fame was very critical of the singing in the movie.

Adam Lambert

While I like Adam and I have his latest album, I thought that was a little harsh.  I mean they all can’t be “American Idol” winners.  Oh wait, neither were you!

The “Les Mis” soundtrack is the #1 album in America and, in just the first ten days of release, it has already outsold Adam’s last album, “Trespassing”, in the U.S., which was released eight months ago.  And, yesterday, it was reported that Adam Lambert was dropped/parted ways from his label.  So, I guess he shouldn’t be too bitchy about the singing in “Les Miserables”.

My favorites numbers in the movie for those that have seen it are:  “I Dreamed A Dream” (Hathaway), “Master of the House”  (Bonham Carter, Baron Cohen, & Cast), “ABC Cafe/Red and Black” (Redmayne, Tveit, & Students), “On My Own” (Barks), Russell Crowe’s final song (giving you the title would be a spoiler!), and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” (Redmayne)

While “Les Mis” was nominated for eight Academy Awards this year, after seeing the movie, I’m very shocked that director Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech) was snubbed for a Best Director Oscar nomination, along with director Ben Affleck of “Argo”.

“LES MIS” EXTRA — SAMANTHA BARKS “ON MY OWN”

GRADE:  A-

Advertisements

Random Friday Thoughts — January 11

Happy Friday to you.  I hope you have a great weekend planned.

The biggest project we’re working on this weekend is taking down the two live and two artificial trees and putting Christmas away until Thanksgiving.

HEALTHY APPROACH TO MOVIE POPCORN

Ray and I are going to the movies tomorrow for a double feature to see the Oscar-nominated “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Les Miserables”.

zero-dark-thirty

If you’re health conscious, you know how bad movie popcorn can be.  So, here’s our plan to stay on track with our weight loss before Las Vegas and the Lady Gaga concert in two weeks.  We’ll get our large popcorn and large diet sodas when go in see “Zero Dark Thirty”.  In the 40-minute “intermission” before “Les Miserables”, we’ll get our free refills on both.

les mis

Not only will the two bags of popcorn count as lunch tomorrow, but by not going to movies tonight to see one of the them and get refreshments and then go tomorrow to see the other movie and getting more popcorn, we’ll only do it once.  It saves calories and it saves even more money!

By the way, I’ll let you know what I think of each movie Sunday.  But, if you can’t wait, here is a very humorous review I found of “Les Mis”.

Les Mis Review

SHORT THOUGHTS ON THE OSCAR NOMINATIONS

I was surprised that Ben Affleck (“Argo”) and Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables”) did not get Best Director nods.  I was very happy to see the love for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and especially, the Best Actress nomination for Quvenzhané Wallis, the youngest nominee ever in that category.  By the way, Emmanuelle Riva of “Amour” became the oldest nominee in that category, too.

I was hoping that Richard Gere would be nominated for his first Oscar for “Arbitrage” and I was also surprised that “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” beat out “Rise of The Guardians” for a Best Animated Feature nomination.

Hushpuppy, you da man!

Beasts

THOUGHT PROVOKING

LincolnDear Abby

NEW SHOW TO CHECK OUT

I’m excited to check out a new show on Fox, Monday, January 21.

The Following

This psychological drama created by Kevin Williamson (the “Scream” franchise) brings actor Kevin Bacon to the small screen as “a FBI agent who finds himself in the middle of a network of serial killers, when a diabolical serial killer uses special technology to create it.”

It also stars James Purefoy (“Rome”) as the bad guy, Dr. Joseph Carroll.  “Entertainment Weekly” wrote this about Carroll, “a former college professor who taught the works of Poe and killed young women in the gothic hero’s honor—until he got caught.”

MARTHA PLIMPTON “RAISES HOPE”

Emmy and Tony award-winning actress Martha Plimpton, who currently stars on the Fox comedy, “Raising Hope” and guest stars on the CBS drama, “The Good Wife” has been a long time supporter of LGBT issues.

Martha Plimpton

My awareness of her support came in the October 2012 issue of “Out” magazine.

Kirk Cameron

She spoke out against former child star Kirk Cameron’s anti-gay remarks last year,  “First of all, this is a person who has primarily made his living in an industry that is full of gay people.  If you’re going to go out there and decide to denigrate these people who were your colleagues for much of your life, you can expect to hear back. And it’s important for us to respond to hateful speech. It’s important for us not to pretend that that’s normal. Everyone has the right to spew garbage; that doesn’t mean it’s not garbage.”

I’ve always said that I will fight the fight toward marriage equality and gay rights, but it will be won by the support of my straight friends and alliances like you and Martha Plimpton.

Plimpton:  “I think there are some interesting parallels going on in the country right now in terms of the backlash and hysterical fear about the advances of the gay rights movement and the extreme efforts to curtail women’s rights. When one group gets their civil rights taken away, it’s not that far down the line for the next group, and the next group. If there is a limitation for an employer to claim their right to contraception — to deny a woman some aspect of her health care because of their religious beliefs — I’m not sure how far a leap it is to deny someone with HIV/AIDS medication.”

Martha, thank you.

ANOTHER THOUGHT FROM THAT “OUT” MAGAZINE

J-O-S-H W-A-L-D, Skateboarder turned actor

Josh Wald

MY LESBIAN SISTERS’ BOOBIES

I’ll never forget the trauma I felt back in the mid-1980s when my butch lesbian friend, Molly, straddled me at a party and made me touch her boobs.  Reluctantly, I did so.  But, I guess I should have been more aggressive and rougher because she replied, “it’s not a f***ing radio dial”.  There is a reason that I’m talking about lesbians and boobies (I fell in love with that word when I heard it on “Nip/Tuck” years ago).

Feel

I just read an article that there is a strong correlation between lesbians and cancer, especially breast cancer.

Dr. Susan Love, a lesbian, tells “The Advocate” that “classic risk factors for breast cancer are more common in lesbians” such as smoking, drinking alcohol, obesity, and infrequent pregnancy.  Those are not exclusive to lesbians, but they are more common with gay or bisexual women.

Additionally, the October 2012 states, “Lesbians are less likely to have health insurance, less likely to get screened for fear of culturally incompetent health care providers, and butch women may have an especially difficult time paying attention to their breasts.”

The bottom line of the article, “If you love her, get her screened.”

FACEBOOK PHOTO ALBUM FLASHBACK

With my Lady Gaga concert two weeks away in Las Vegas, I was looking at my Facebook photo albums and I posted this picture from January 10, 2010, at my first Lady Gaga concert in Rosemont, Illinois.  This is Gaga performing “Bad Romance”.

January 10 2010

And, this one of Miss ABBA playing ball from January 11, 2011.

January 11 2011

PEEPS’ FRIDAY ’80S FLASHBACK

“Are you ready boy?  Here I come.  Catch me, I’m falling.”  You couldn’t escape the late-1980s.

The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania dance band Pretty Poison first charted on the Billboard Dance chart reaching #14 with “Nighttime” in 1984.

When their song , “Catch Me (I’m Falling)” was featured in the movie, “Hiding Out”, the song got heavy exposure on MTV and reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard Dance chart in 1987.  “Nighttime” was re-recorded and released as the follow-up and reached #36 on the Hot 100.

Jade Starling, the lead singer, currently lives in New Jersey and is a strong supporter of same-sex marriage and is a gay-rights activist.

Jade Starling

TOO EARLY FOR SPRING?

Before winter set in, we brought some of our fish pond plants inside and they are thriving.  Ray took this picture of the water hibiscus earlier this week.  The plant is now about nine feet tall!   It’s insane.

Hibiscus

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

Random Thoughts 2012 Recap, Part Three

Okay, new blogs start tomorrow.  This is my final installment of the recaps of my “random” blogs from 2012.  Those are the ones where I talked about multiple topics in one blog.  Basically, it was whatever was on my mind that day!  To read the individual blogs from this fall, I’ve made it easy.  Just click on the title once you’ve opened today’s blog.

September 15, 2012

In this blog, I covered Osama bin Laden, 9/11, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Argo”, “Lincoln”, freaky fish, Asian carp, bananas, and marriage equality.

I’m Having More Random Thoughts

September 27, 2012

My random thoughts on this day included Ohio and the presidential election, heavy rain expected in Houston for my vacation, our fish pond and raccoons, “The Impossible”, Christmas, Reba and “Malibu Country”, “The New Normal”, “Elementary”, and new music from Calvin Harris.

A Buffet of Thoughts — A Little of This & That

November 10, 2012

In this blog, I put the elections into perspective and behind me and I covered the top-selling artists in English music history, how many people believe in God, Christmas cards, and featured new music from Reba McEntire.

My Early November Random Thoughts

November 15, 2012

In this blog, I talked about Channing Tatum being named the “Sexiest Man Alive”, Christmas, Christmas music from Rod Stewart and Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.  Also, I blogged about “The Campaign” and “Arthur Christmas”, bigotry, Madonna, and PSY.

I’m Thinking About Christmas & Much More Today

December 6, 2012

Christmas was on my mind in this blog, along with human rights, Hillary Clinton, the lack of snow, my sister, Tammy, Shania Twain in Las Vegas, Britney Spears and will.i.am, Christmas decorating, Ke$ha, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and “Love Actually”.

Random December Thoughts

December 15, 2012

And, finally, Christmas, “Dexter”, marriage equality, killing camels, ice, snow, winter, and the fish pond were on my mind in my last random blog of the year.

I’m Having More Random December Thoughts

Anthony

Random Thoughts 2012 Recap, Part Two

Here’s another round of the random blogs that I posted this summer that covered multiple topics.  To read each random blog, I’ve made it easy so you only have to click on the highlighted title inside the blog.  Have a great Saturday.

June 21, 2012

You Know What I’m Thinking?

In this blog, I talked about classic rock and kitchen renovation, causes of death in the United States, the summer drought and being ready for fall and winter, Olivia Newton-John, my future pick hit from Chris Wallace, and chocolate wine.

July 10, 2012

I’m Thinking About These Things Today (And You May Agree or Disagree)

In this blog,  just ten days before the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting spree, I said “guns don’t kill, people do”.  I know that guns caused the actual deaths, but there was a person behind them.  Sadly, when I wrote this segment of the blog, I referenced the Tucson, Arizona shooting and I had no idea of what would happen later in the month.  And, now we have the fresh, sad memories of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting.  You might find the reading interesting and I welcome your feedback.

I also referenced work and seniority, which is another ill-fated topic since I’m no longer there.

There were also random thoughts about Hank Williams Jr. calling President Obama “Hitler”, food, the remake of “Steel Magnolias”, Carrie Underwood, and the music of Laura Pausini.

August 7, 2012

My Wandering Mind — Here’s What I’m Thinking About

The heavy topic on my mind here was about returning soldiers and the demons they face, which leads to more suicides.  I also touched on human rights.  On a lighter note, I had random thoughts about “Dexter”, fall, food, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Artpop”, Lady Gaga, “The Paperboy”, “Lebanon”, and the music of Demi Lovato.

August 26, 2012

Oh No, He’s Thinking About Random Things

Topics here:  nuclear power plants, healthy eating and cheesecake, bigotry, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, fall, Thomas Roberts’ upcoming marriage, hot new music from Zedd and Madonna, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Argo”.

One more coming tomorrow.

Anthony

Oscar Is Tempting Us Into Movie Theaters

Going to the movies these days is not a cheap date.  By the time you buy two tickets (even at matinee prices), a large popcorn, and two large sodas, you’re looking at over $30.  I guess that’s not really all that bad for two hours of entertainment, but what if the movie is disappointing.

Prior to last night, I’ve gone to  the movies seven times this year.  I saw “This Means War”, “Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter”, and the original “Halloween” in the cheap theater.  As for first run movies, I saw “Dark Shadows”, “Magic Mike”, “Argo”, and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”.  I really hope that when the Oscar nominations are announced in January that we hear “Argo” and “Perks” among the nominees.

oscar-statues-02

When we get to November and December, we start seeing movie companies baiting Oscar.  The superheroes and the serial killer/slashers are replaced by more thought-provoking theatrical releases.  I saw one of those movies last night.

Lincoln

LINCOLN”

“And, the Academy Award for Best Actor goes to [sound of opening envelope] Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”.  There’s no need to draw this until the Oscars on February 24, 2013.

When the Oscar nominations come out in January, we’ll be seeing this movie nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Screenplay (Tony Kushner), Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), and likely nominations for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress (Sally Field) and Best Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones).

Much of the 2.5-hour-long movie takes place in January 1865 as the Civil War rages on and President Lincoln works behind the scene toward getting the 13th Amendment passed that would end slavery.  (In case history was your weak subject, he was assassinated in April 1865).

While watching the movie, I didn’t see Daniel Day-Lewis portraying our 16th president, I saw Abraham Lincoln!  Day-Lewis, who has already won two Best Actor Oscars for “My Left Foot” (1989) and “There Will Be Blood” (2007), was mind-blowing and has a very good chance of picking up his third Oscar.

I could have sat there for another two hours watching him play Lincoln.  You could see the heartbreak he felt about losing one of his sons and the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that died in the Civil War, and his quest to ensure that slavery would be abolished.  But, Spielberg and Kushner also gave us a chance to see Lincoln’s fun side when he would tell stories and jokes.

Sally Field definitely took advantage of the stories we’ve read about Mary Todd Lincoln’s unpredictable and unstable personality.  While going off the deep end in some scenes, she was very much in touch with the politics that her husband was dealing with and you could tell how much she supported him in other scenes.  Portraying both sides of Lincoln definitely raises Field’s chances for a third Oscar.

After the big vote about the future of slavery and the end of the Civil War, we see President Lincoln walking down the hallway and down the stairs at the White House.  If Steven Spielberg had asked me, I would have faded from that scene to the last scene of the movie of Lincoln giving a speech that led into the credits.  I would have cut out the five minutes or so of the movie (two scenes) that Spielberg left in there.  I won’t say what those two scenes were, but the movie didn’t need them.

But, who am I?  He’s Steven Freaking Spielberg!

GRADE:  A

“RISE OF THE GUARDIANS”

This Thanksgiving, many people will park themselves at the table or on a couch watching parades and football, while others will go shopping for “Black Friday” bargains.  Many will be heading to the movies and feasting on “Lincoln”, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2”, “Life of Pi”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Red Dawn”, and “Rise of the Guardians”.

Rise_of_the_Guardians_poster

However, on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Gretel and I have a date to see “Rise of the Guardians”.  (If we can convince Ray to go along with us, we’ll wait until the weekend of Thanksgiving!)

Why not hangout with Jack Frost and the Guardians (Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman) all in the same movie as they fight off the evil Pitch, the Nightmare King?  Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, and Jude Law voice the main characters in this $145 million dollar fantasy movie.

It looks fun and there’s even Oscar buzz for this movie for Best Animated Feature.

There are three other movies that are on my list to see this holiday season, but one will not open wide until January 11, 2013, although it opens before Christmas in New York City and Los Angeles.

“ZERO DARK THIRTY”

ZeroDarkThirty

This is the follow-up to Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker”, which also won “Best Picture” and “Best Original Screenplay, along with three other wins.  It follows the hunt to eliminate al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden and stars Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain.

It’s being billed as “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.”

“THE IMPOSSIBLE”

the-impossible

Another touching movie that I want to see is already getting award season buzz.  “The Impossible” follows one family during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that left around one-quarter of a million people dead.

It stars Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.  The $45 million movie has already made its money back since it was released in some foreign markets in October.  Most of the $46.3 million that the money has made is in Spain.

I know the movie opens December 21st in the United States, but I can’t confirm if that’s limited or wide release.  (I’m leaning toward limited.)

“LES MISERABLES”

les mis

And, finally, on Christmas Day, the movie adaptation of the successful stage musical, “Les Miserables”, opens across the country.

Watching a movie about a man who goes to prison for stealing bread and a poor woman who is ridiculed for having an illegitimate child and forced into prostitution!  What a depressing way to spend a glorious holiday that already depresses many people!

This movie has OSCAR written all over.  It’s directed by Tom Hooper, who also directed the Oscar-winning “The King’s Speech” and stars Hugh Jackman (“Real Steel”, “Swordfish”, and the “X-Men” series), Russell Crowe (“Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind”), Anne Hathaway (“The Devil Wears Prada” and “The Dark Knight Rises”), Amanda Seyfried (“Mamma Mia”), Eddie Redmayne (“My Week With Marilyn”), Sasha Baron Cohen (“Hugo” and “Borat”), and Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech” and “Dark Shadows”).

What movies are you excited about this holiday season?

Anthony

Wallflowers Do Blossom!

Thirty years ago, in high school, I was a wallflower and Ray was outgoing and fun (and he’s the one that went to a Catholic school)!   A wallflower is a loner or a shy person that doesn’t socialize or participate in activities at social events.

The only thing that I took part in during high school was reciting the creed in a Future Farmers of America (FFA) function my freshman year, only because it was required as part of the initiation process and then I opted out of FFA my final three years of high school.

The only things I thought about in high school were making straight-As and becoming a weatherman.  Look where both of those things got me.  🙂  Luckily, in college and beyond, I blossomed from an introvert to a very outgoing, public figure.

That is a good thing because I feel that confidence is something that I want to instill in my 11-year-old daughter, Gretel, as she goes through those ever-changing, drama-filled teen years!

Thursday night, Ray and I went to see the movie, “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” (now playing at the Rave Cinema in Davenport, Iowa, and in more than 700 theaters across the country).  And, it’s definitely a movie I suggest to parents with kids in  junior high or high school.  We may have forgotten just how bad or stressful high school really was and that it wasn’t always a blast.


The movie is based on the 1999 novel of the same name by Stephen Chbosky.  Luckily, when the movie was filmed last year in and near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the author also wrote the screenplay and directed the movie.

“Perks” follows Charlie, played by Logan Lerman, who’s biggest role has been playing demigod Percy Jackson in the series based on the books by Rick Riordan.  The first movie came out in 2010 and the sequel arrives in theaters next fall.

Charlie is a shy teenager beginning his freshman year of high school and he’s already counting down the days until he graduates from day one.  He writes letters to an anonymous person to express everything that happens in his life since he doesn’t feel that he can talk to his family.  His closest relative is his Aunt Helen and we see her in flashbacks.

At school, he develops a rapport with his English teacher, Bill, played with quiet subtly by Paul Rudd.  Bill encourages Charlie to read many classic literary works to expand the young man’s intellect.

In shop class, Charlie meets Patrick (Ezra Miller), a senior that is taking the class with the freshman because he’s such a cut-up that he can’t pass the course and move on.  We also learn that Patrick makes jokes about everything because he’s harboring his own secrets and heartbreak.

Last year, Miller starred in “We Need To Talk About Kevin”, which is still one of my favorite movies that I saw earlier this year.  He was even nominated for his performance in that chilling, psychological thriller that was grossly passed over by moviegoers and the Academy Awards.

The third of the major stars of the movie is also the biggest star in the movie.  Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” movie series.  This is her first starring role since leaving Hogwarts behind.

All three actors are very believable and you feel their joy and their heartbreak throughout the 102-minute movie.  You’ll laugh and you’ll want to cry and you’ll be thankful that you survived high school.

The movie follows Charlie as he meets Patrick and Sam (Watson) at a football game and he mistakenly thinks that Patrick and Sam are dating.  Actually, they’re step-brother and sister.  Charlie writes about going out afterwards to a diner with Patrick and Sam, a ride through the tunnel that becomes a focal point of the movie, Patrick’s love affair, Charlie getting his first kiss and his first relationship, and his falling in love with Sam.

The funniest scene in the movie is when the group attends a party and Charlie samples brownies at a stoner’s house.  While the laced treats allow Charlie to be honest with his feelings, it also hints at the darker past that haunts the quiet teen.

There’s also a Christmas scene in the movie and I definitely have a weakness for movies that feature my favorite season.

“The Perks of Being A Wallflower” is a powerfully charged, must-see movie this fall.

Along with “Argo”, it goes to show that Hollywood does produce some quality offerings.  Now, bring on “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty”.

GRADE:  B

A Buffet of Thoughts — A Little of This & That

It feels like one of those days where I’d love to have a buffet!  But, I’m determined to eat healthy through Saturday when I leave for Houston.  So, I’ll have a blog buffet — where I talk a little about this and a little about that.

SO GOES OHIO, SO GOES THE COUNTRY

Watch out, Mitt Romney!!!  If the great people of the Buckeye State are correct and they have been since 1972, you’re in trouble.  Since Ohio is considered a “battleground” state that will be key in deciding the 2012 election, you’d better be spending much of your time, money, and efforts there.

Since 1972, Ohio has picked the winning candidate in the presidential election.  As a matter of fact, since 1944, the state has only picked the wrong candidate in the race for the White House one time!  Back in 1960, Ohio picked Republican Richard Nixon over Democratic winner John F. Kennedy by 6.6%.

In the latest CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll of Ohio voters posted on Real Clear Politics, President Barack Obama leads Romney by 10%!

And, speaking of President Obama, I entered a contest the other day and the winner gets to have dinner with the President before the election.  While a long shot, Gretel is very excited.

IS THAT A DINOSAUR?

While the Quad Cities will enjoy more “Indian Summer-like” weather (NOAA: “Indian Summer” is generally associated with a period of considerably above normal temperatures, accompanied by dry and hazy conditions ushered in on a south or southwesterly breeze”), from this weather map you’d think that a storm would be bringing a dinosaur into the middle of the country!  I saw this a while back and saved it.  Too funny!

Sadly, the forecast for Houston Saturday when we arrive doesn’t look too great and will likely keep us from seeing the “Balloon Glow” of hot air balloons at the Johnson Space Center!   Bummer!  😦

OUR FISH SHOULD BE VERY AFRAID

Overnight, I was awakened around 2 a.m. by a noise down on the patio, which is located right below our bedroom window.  One of the cats heard it, too, and she was in the window peering outside.  As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw it.  A raccoon was scurrying around trying to get the can of fish food open after it knocked the container off the patio table.  I ran downstairs and turned on the patio light and it ran up the steps into the backyard away from me.  Like a warrior, I grabbed the water hose and started spraying it into the direction that it ran.

Those are pictures of the fish earlier in the week.  I think we need to find something to keep the raccoons away from them this week while we’re gone.  We definitely didn’t  fatten them up to be a meal for a nocturnal beast!

RANDOM PICTURES I REALLY LIKE

REMEMBERING MY GRANDMOTHER

On Monday, my sister, Tammy, turned 46.  We celebrated by Ray making her dinner and we had pumpkin cake roll for dessert.  Tammy is not the only family member that would have been celebrating a birthday Monday.  She was born on my grandmother Helen’s birthday.

Had my grandmother been alive, she would have been 99 years old!!!

FALL MOVIES & OSCAR CONTENDERS ARE COMING

I’m so excited to see the new Ben Affleck movie, “Argo” when it’s released on October 12th.  I’ll be in Las Vegas and I plan on finding a movie theater.  I’ve already expressed interest in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, “The Paperboy”, “Lincoln”, and “Zero Dark Thirty”.  Now, I’ve added another one to the list.

“Entertainment Weekly” calls “The Impossible”, starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, a “shocking tsunami drama” based on one family’s experience of the Indian Ocean tsunami that hit on Christmas Day (our time) 2004.  The trailer looks incredible.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING

I know that I just blogged two days ago about the new Mattel Barbie coming out and that I still didn’t get my Reba doll from last year, but here are a few nice places you can shop this year and know that some of your money goes toward marriage equality.

FALL TELEVISION

While I wait for the new ABC Reba McEntire comedy, “Malibu Country” (November 2nd), the only new television show I’ve checked out this fall is “The New Normal”, from Ryan Murphy (“Glee”, “American Horror Story”, and “Nip/Tuck”).  It focuses on a gay Los Angeles couple (Bryan and David) wanting to have a baby.  Goldie, who just moved to LA from Ohio agrees to be their surrogate mother for $35,000 to go back to law school and to make a better life for her daughter, Shania.

It’s funny and enjoyable.  The premiere episode has been the best.  The ensemble cast is great and the standouts are Ellen Barkin (Goldie’s grandmother), NeNe Leakes (Bryan’s personal assistant), and Bebe Wood (Shania, Goldie’s pre-teen daughter).

Sadly, the ratings for the NBC show have already started slipping from almost 7 million viewers for the first two episodes to around 5 million for Tuesday night’s politically-charged episode, “Obama Mama”.  Check out this extended preview if you haven’t already watched the show.

Tonight (Thursday night), I want to check out CBS’ new take on Sherlock Holmes, “Elementary”.  It’s not because I’m a fan of the detective.  It’s because I’ve had the hots for Angelina Jolie’s ex-husband, Jonny Lee Miller, ever since he played “Eli Stone” on ABC (thanks for cancelling that ABC, bad call!).

Speaking of hots, Miller’s version of Holmes is even tattooed! 🙂

And, finally, Sunday night is the seventh season premiere of “Dexter”.  And, we’re only two weeks away from the new season “The Walking Dead”!  I love this post to thank the show’s 10 million Facebook fans!

And, the new season of “American Horror Story” is coming, along with the final season of “Fringe”.

FLOWERS

With the trees beginning to turn and mums opening up, colors are beginning to pop.  Did you know that in the winter of 1636, tulip mania hit Holland and for some time, bulbs traded for the price of houses? Crazy!  Although I’d never pay that much for anything, other than a house, the sight is majestic!

MY NEW MUSIC GUILTY PLEASURE

While I await the new Lady Antebellum Christmas CD, “On This Winter’s Night” and  Blake Shelton’s Christmas album (because it features Reba), the album I’m really excited about is Calvin Harris’ “18 Months” (October 29, 2012).

For those that don’t know him, he’s a Scottish DJ and producer.  He also spent 10 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with Rihanna on “We Found Love”.  He’s also had other hits like, “Feel So Close” and “Let’s Go”.  His new song, “Sweet Nothing”, features Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine.

And, FYI, I still cringe when I hear the current Taylor Swift song, “We Are Never Blah Blah Blah”!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

I’ll leave with you this amazing quote from Chinese journalist Hu Shuli, “Believe in what you do, do it smartly, and never give up.”

Have a great day and thanks for checking out my buffet blog.

Anthony