Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Lots of Singles on New Albums, A Little Bit of Country, and... Leonard Nimoy???

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope you guys had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend (I know I had a great time). Because of all the activities, I did not post a Movie Monday blog yesterday. I promise it will return next week!

I spent last Wednesday and Thursday working on this music blog. I did come across a lot of videos for singles I have been listening to on the radio for the past couple weeks. Many of these songs are first singles from some of my favorite musicians/ artists, so I am excited to listen to what else is coming in the future. I also spent some time listening to a lot of Lady Gaga, since I bought her album on Friday. It's a lot deeper than her last two albums, but extremely enjoyable.

Anyway, music time!!!

Taylor Swift "The Story of Us"

I LOVED how the setting of this video is in a library. I can't help it, I am a bookworm... LOL. I really like the song since it's a play on words on how a love story is told like a book (hey, now the library setting seems completely appropriate). I also love that it is realistic in the sense that not everything is going to have a happy ending. I know I'll be singing along to this song when it comes on the radio.

Thompson Square "I Got You"

I am starting to get myself familiar with current country music other than the artist that crossover to the pop charts. I found this on YouTube and immediately loved the video with Shawna and Keifer acting as a more modern version of Sonny and Cher. It was very cute to see the blend of 70's nostalgia with modern day attire. The song is good and I will be looking into more of Thompson Square's music.

David Cook "The Last Goodbye"

The first thing I notice about this video? David Cook is left handed like me!!! I already knew he played guitar as a lefty but this just thrilled me. I've loved the song since I first heard it, but the video? It's a bit cheesy. I mean, I really loved how it started simple, just him in the cab, and then on the beach. But the whole "feared drowned" part? Total cheese. I'll stick to the song :-)

Jason Derulo "Don't Wanna Go Home"

What happens when you sample two formerly popular songs (Banana Boat's "Day-O" and Robyn's "Show Me Love", mix it with some new beats, and Jason Derulo? This song!!! When I first heard this song, I was blown away. It shows that Jason took a big leap with his music and his career. I am very excited to hear more of his new music... as long as he doesn't shout out "Jason Derulo" at the beginning of EVERY song.

T-Pain feat. Chris Brown "Best Love Song"

T-Pain... yay!!! This isn't the first time T-Pain and Chris Brown have collaborated (and probably won't be the last). I like that this is a slower song than "Kiss Kiss" and has some heart to the lyrics. Good song and good video (loved the ending... lol).

My Chemical Romance "SING"

This song isn't exactly new (the video made it's debut at least six months ago). However, it has recently got a lot of airplay on a couple stations I listen to. I actually had no idea that it was a My Chemical Romance song until I saw the video and recognized the lead singer. I like the video, with the futuristic battles. It was visually stimulating. I'm happy to hear new music from them :-)

Bruno Mars "The Lazy Song (Alternate Music Video)"

I really like this trend of artists making alternative versions of music videos. When I came across this version of "The Lazy Song," I was thrilled for a few reasons. One, if you recall, I was creeped out with the monkeys from the original video. Then, I fell in love with this video, since I seemed to have found the real-life version of Jeff Dunham's puppet Walter. After viewing the video for the first time, I had to re watch it since one of the viewers commented that the lead character is Leonard Nimoy. Yeah, it should have been obvious to me the first time, with William Shatner on TV, the Live Long and Prosper hand gestures in the mirror, then all the fan mail. Then again, I am not a Trekkie, so I can forgive myself. LOL

I hope everyone has a great week... which for many of you will be a short one considering the holiday weekend!!!

The 30 Day Musical Theatre Song Challenge

Theater arts is one of many things I am passionate about. When I was in high school, I decided to get involved in theater. At first, I just wanted to be behind the scenes, working on the props crew or making costumes. But then, I got the itch. I tried out for the musicals and stage shows. My friends and I would play improvisational games to entertain each other. Even though I never made it on the main stage, I was a member of the lobby cast and took a theater class. By senior year, I was the leader of the lobby cast and had established that I was really good at performing.

A few weeks ago, one of my theater buddies "liked" a challenge on Facebook. It caught my interest and I went onto the page to see what the challenge entailed. Not even an hour later, I had a list of all the musicals (and musical movies) I had ever seen, ready to apply several of them toward these challenges. Many of those musicals will be featured and some will show up more than once (but with different songs). Get ready for some powerful songs, some visually stimulating images, and a few surprises!


1. From the first musical you saw/heard.
2. From your latest musical obsession.
3. Demonstrating how underrated you think a musical is.
4. Demonstrating how overrated you think a musical is.
5. Which makes you happy.
6. Which makes you sad/teary.
7. Sung by your favourite female singer in a musical.
8. Sung by your favourite male singer in a musical.
9. From the musical you know all -or nearly all- the lines to.
10. From your least favourite musical.
11. From the musical which made the most impact on you.
12. You could listen to all day.
13. From the musical you loved from hearing the first note.
14. From the musical you haven't listened to (or seen) in a while.
15. By your favourite musical composer.
16. From your least favourite musical, by your favourite composer.
17. With the best music.
18. With the best lyrics.
19. From a musical which disappointed you.
20. From your 'guilty pleasure' musical.
21. Which inspires you.
22. From the musical you wish was (never) made into a movie.
23. From the musical which everyone should see performed live.
24. Which makes you laugh.
25. Which is your current favourite.
26. Sung by the character in a musical you can most relate to.
27. From a musical you'd love to see featuring/starring all your favourite performers.
28. Sung by the musical character that's so bad/cruel/evil (etc.) you love them OR Sung by the musical character you love to hate.
29. From the musical you would love to be involved in (directing, singing, etc.).
30. From your favourite musical.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Avenged Sevenfold, LMFAO, Beyonce, Avril Lavigne, and an SNL Digital Short

Hello friends! I apologize for not having a Movie Monday blog yesterday. I was not motivated to write because of the tornado and it's aftermath in Joplin, Missouri. I spent all Sunday night and all day Monday watching footage, looking at pics, and posting important information on Facebook and Twitter. I tried to get my blog written, but it just wasn't happening.

Anyway, switching gears now.... it's music time! Lots and lots of music. Thanks to MTV Hits, a summer music preview article in Entertainment Weekly, and Saturday Night Live, I found a lot of good stuff to share with you!

Avenged Sevenfold "So Far Away"

I've never really given Avenged Sevenfold a change, mostly because the name just brought painful memories of my ex-husband and a friend of his. I just happened to be watching tv when this video started. I really liked it and I've decided that it's been long enough time that I need to start exploring this band, since they are very talented. For those that have been fans of theirs, I hope that you are pleased with this latest single. I know I am!

LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett and GoonRock "Party Rock Anthem"

I love the way they took the concept of the movie 28 Days Later and made it into a dance version of the apocalypse. Not only is the video entertaining, but I absolutely love the song. It is very catchy and I cannot wait to dance to it in a club sometime soon! This will definitely be the #1 party song of the summer!!! :-)

Beyonce "Run the World (Girls)"

Looks like women have a new song to empower them! Beyonce has chosen a very powerful song to introduce us to her fourth solo album, aptly named 4. I read that she had been inspired by a lot of things over the past year, including Nigerian music (which I noticed that it was used for this song and with the choreography). I also noticed some Janet Jackson styled moves and Lady Gaga wardrobe influences. Welcome back to the airwaves Beyonce!

Avril Lavigne "Smile"

It's pretty obvious that the separation/divorce between her and Deryck Whibley is coming through in her songs. Even though you can hear a little bit of the heartbreak in the lyrics, the song is very uplifting and does put a smile on my face. I love the parts where she is in white room with all the black music equipment and spray paint. The hot pink and hot greens pop out very nicely. I also love how Avril is walking around town collecting the broken fragments. It was easy to tell what shape it was going to be by the end of the song.

Andy Samberg, Justin Timberlake, and Lady Gaga "3 Way (The Golden Rule)"

I had a feeling that there would be a new SNL Digital Short with Justin Timberlake hosting the season finale. In tradition of the Samberg/Timberlake skits, it begins with a "reminder" of the last song before it leads into the new one. To my surprise, Lady Gaga got involved herself. I enjoyed this song a lot (and got a lot of laughs), but my heart still belongs to Motherlover.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Steven Tyler Goes Solo, Simple Plan, and Three Other New Songs

There comes a time when looking for music that you seem to come across a streak of mediocre and bad songs. I've felt that since I started New Music Tuesday, I've had a pretty fair representation of decent to good music. This week, to me, has come of as pretty disappointing. I mean, I found some songs that I feel others would like, but I just couldn't find much that captured my interests. Anyway, don't let me be the only judge on new music... please, listen and feel free to voice your thoughts on the music!

Steven Tyler "(It) Feels So Good"

When in the world did Steven Tyler decide to go solo??? As a standalone song, it's pretty decent, but I'm used to the edgy rock that he performed with Aerosmith. It just makes me sad that I won't be hearing any new Aerosmith songs in the near future :-(

Simple Plan feat. Natasha Bedingfield "Jet Lag"

If I had heard this for the first time on the radio, I would have immedietly identified it as a Simple Plan song. I'm glad to see that they have returned with new songs, and added Natasha Bedingfield for this single. I like this song and am curious to hear what else will be coming out later this year.

Kitten "Chinatown"

I'm starting to get into rock music with a female as the lead vocalist (started with Halestorm). I have never heard of Kitten (I think), but I could really get into them. :-)

Nicole Scherzinger feat. 50 Cent " Right There"

I only have one word to describe my thoughts on this song and video... Meh.

The Black Eyed Peas "Don't Stop the Party"

For a Black Eyed Peas song... this one is not very thrilling. It doesn't make me want to dance in a club and Fergie's less-girly sound is a turn-off for me. You guys have not sold me on this song... sorry.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Movie Monday: Love Letters, Dean Koontz, Camp Counselors, a Musical, Gerard Butler, and Terrorists at Christmas

The weather in Kansas City has been absolutely crazy over the past week. I remember a week ago today, I was laying out on my back deck getting some color on my skin (and we were under a heat advisory for a couple days). Then the weather took a drastic change where I was dependent on a jacket to keep myself warm. Due to the coldness of the weather, I resorted in some movie watching, which six of them are featured in today's blog. I've got a nice blend of movies, some old and some new, some romantic comedies, action and science fiction- something for everybody!

Letters to Juliet

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and her fiance Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) are vacationing in Italy. While Victor takes care of a few business matters, Sophie ventures around Verona and comes across a courtyard where women write letters to Juliet -from Shakespeare's famous play- seeking advice about love and relationships. She befriends the "Secretaries of Juliet," who respond to the letters. Sophie finds a letter over fifty years old and decides to respond to it. Before she knows it, she is on a journey with Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) and her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) to look for Lorenzo (Fabio Testi), Claire's long lost love.

In the world of predictable chick flicks, it was highly enjoyable. Discovering that Sophie is an aspiring writer was very pleasing to me, since I love seeing movies with characters that has the same career aspirations as myself. As a Shakespeare lover, I enjoyed learning about the wall in the courtyard. I could see myself working with the "Secretaries of Juliet." The movie also honed in on my inner hopeless romantic by showcasing the beauty of the city of Verona and the country-side of Italy. I know that if I want to feel inspired or need a night with love story movies, this movie will be one of my first choices! Rating 4 out of 5 stars


Sisters Lisa (Rose McGowan) and Jennifer (Joanna Going) find the town of Snowfield, Colorado eerily abandoned, or that's what it seems. They discover the townspeople are either dead or have gone missing, with the exception of Sheriff Hammond (Ben Affleck) and his two deputies (Liev Shreiber and Nicky Katt). As they investigate what is attacking the town, they recruit Dr. Flyte (Peter O'Toole) to assist. What they discover is something out of this world...

I'll admit it... I wanted to see this movie because it was referenced (a lot) in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the movie was based on a novel by Dean Koontz (which I've never read any of his work... maybe I need to start). As for a standalone movie, I was a little disappointed. It felt like, for a book to film adaptation, that they cut out too much of the story and it didn't execute as well as it should have. The acting ranged from decent to good, with Rose McGowan and Liev Schreiber as the best two (sorry Affleck... I've seen you do better acting). If I ever get around to reading the novel, I hope that it executes the story a hell of a lot better! Rating 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Friday the 13th (1980)

Camp Crystal Lake is in the midst of reopening years after a tragic accident in which a young boy named Jason drowned. As a group of young adults prepare for the campers to arrive, they settle into their cabins and enjoy each others company. However, someone doesn't like the idea of people on the property and starts killing the counselors, one by one.

I saw the remake of this film several months ago, expecting it to be not as good as the original. Now that I've seen the 1980 classic (On Friday the 13th, no less- I just had to!), I know that I was right. Since I have been playing "catch up" with 80's horror movies, I can definitely say that the decade I was born into produced some of the greatest horror movies of all time. There was enough backstory to understand why Mrs. Voorhees decided to attack the counselors (yes, major spoil alert but anyone who's seen Scream would have known that). What I really liked about this movie was that it didn't involve high school students (such a horror movie cliche) and that you never actually saw the killer in action (the camera was used to show Voorhees point of view when attacking people). Now that I've seen this, I need to start watching the sequels, where Jason is the one attacking people. Rating 4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a film director that is struggling to make his latest film come together just days before shooting begins. In order to get some inspiration, he seeks out his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), his mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz), his mother (Sophia Loren), his costume designer (Judi Dench), a whore from his childhood (Fergie), a journalist (Kate Hudson), and his muse (Nicole Kidman).

It took two tries to finally watch this movie from beginning to end. I got bored with it the first time, with good reason. The stage show may have won several Tony awards, but this film is less than to be desired. Many of the musical numbers were great, excellent even, but with a weak story to tell surrounding the numbers... yeah, it just didn't execute well as a feature film. I really hoped it would have been great. I was surprised that Kate Hudson had musical talents. I recommend that if you are going to see Nine to please see it in a concert hall and skip the movie. Rating 3 out of 5 stars

The Bounty Hunter

Milo (Gerard Butler) is a bounty hunter that discovers his next job is to bring in his ex-wife Nicole (Jennifer Aniston), who is a reporter that skips court to get details on a murder cover-up. Milo finds out pretty quickly that this bounty is not going to be easy, between Nicole trying to get away, a few loan sharks, and having to hide from the people responsible for the murder that Nicole has been researching.

This movie seemed like a predictable enough romantic comedy, and it was... for the most part. However, I think they went a tad overboard with sub-plots. Not only were they running away from people doing a murder cover-up, but Milo also had to deal with loan sharks for money he owed them from his gambling hobby. It just started to make the story too complicated for what should have been an easy-to-follow concept. There were a lot of really funny scenes and one-liners, so it was enjoyable in that aspect. I've just seen better adaptations of plots similar to this film. Rating 3 out of 5 stars

Die Hard

John McClane (Bruce Willis) is a New York police officer who is in Los Angeles to see his ex-wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and children. As he attends a Christmas party, a group of European terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), take the building hostage. John escapes to another floor of the building, where he makes contact with the LAPD. It's up to John to communicate the activity inside the building to the police and FBI while also trying to save the hostages from danger by the terrorists.

Chandler Bing and Joey Tribbiani would be so proud of me for finally seeing this movie! It has action, suspense, and a lot of heart. What more could you get out of a movie like this? John McClane is a great action hero and uses his common sense when under pressure (with the exception of Hans faking his accent to gain trust... and a gun). I've tasted the Die Hard blood and I want more... Rating 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Until next week, my friends...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Music Tuesday: A Trio from Tulsa, A Motorcycle Gang Led by Jesus, Bad Timing for Movie References, and Nicki Minaj

It's Tuesday, and if you are in my neck of the woods, you're probably taking caution due to the heat advisory. So what better to do on a unusually hot day in May than to check out some new music? I found some very entertaining videos over the week, so please enjoy (and, to warn you, one of these songs/videos is so ridiculous that you'll be saying WTF in between fits of laughter)!!!

Hanson "Give a Little"

Oh, how the boys from Tulsa have grown into men! I love how they have transitioned from bubble gum pop to a more indie-rock sound. The song is simple, catchy, and a lot of fun! I like how the music video uses color... from the solid background to articles of clothing. It made every color pop! I hope that at least one of the radio stations here in Kansas City will start playing this song.

Lady Gaga "Judas"

Well, Miss Germanotta has shocked us all again, but by making a normal music video. I love that she want for a simple concept and let the song tell most of the story. I loved how she imagined Jesus and his apostles as a motorcycle gang. I also loved how she used Judas as a metaphor for a former flame that betrayed her but she cannot help but still love him... I completely understand where she is coming from (and I know many others do, too).

Oh, and to have Norman Reedus as Judas... awesome :-)

The Lonely Island feat. Michael Bolton "Jack Sparrow"

When I found out that The Lonely Island collaborated with Michael Bolton for a song, I was confused. Then I found the music video. It's feels like two completely different songs were mixed together, but somehow it seems to fit in all its ridiculousness. It did make me laugh... a lot. I may be a movie geek, but you won't see me trying to throw in a bunch of movie references, hoping one would fit into a song about hooking up with girls in a club. This song may have sold me on investing in the album... LOL

Does anyone else find it weird hearing Michael Bolton using "pussy" and "fuck?" I know it threw me off...

Nicki Minaj "Super Bass"

Nicki Minaj is a guilty pleasure for me. She's hardcore in the rap scene, but she executes in in a very girly way. I love how she uses color in all her videos, especially this one... lots of pink, lime green, and blue (and the Day Glow underwear scene). The song is a good mix of her rapping skills plus her vocal talents, with an upbeat mix to it (compared to "Moment 4 Life"). I really enjoy this song.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Movie Monday: Lawyers Are Evil.. even "Satanical"

There has been this movie that has crept up randomly in my life the past few months... through conversations with friends and regulars at the bar (funny how that happens sometimes). Then, while killing time while my son was at church (a few weeks ago), I found a bunch of clearance movies at TJ Maxx. This particular movie was there and I took advantage of the $4 price tag. I decided to watch it on Saturday afternoon and was highly impressed...

The Devil's Advocate

Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) is a defense attorney who has never lost a case. When celebrating his latest victory, he is approached by a firm from New York with an offer to help them on a case. Kevin and his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) make the trip, which leads to a permanent position with the firm. As Kevin  spends time with his boss John Milton (Al Pacino), he finds himself paying more attention to work and less time with Mary Ann, who is struggling to fit into the lavish lifestyle that is expected of them. John eventually reveals to Kevin his true identity, The Devil, and proposes a plan that will forever change everything he knew about his life.

This is one of those movies that grasped my full attention in the first scene of the film. This movie was going to delve into the deeper side of things, through the thematic elements and symbolism. There are several instances where you have to pay extra attention in order to catch important pieces to the story (I recall having to rewind/ replay a couple times to make sure I caught things- like the story that Kevin's mom was telling in regards to his biological father). I sympathized for Mary Ann and the pressure that vanity had on her... others made decisions for her, especially about her hairstyle and color palette for the walls in her home. If that were me, I would be too stubborn to let that happen (especially about home decorating). Several scenes surprised me, including the love triangle sex scene and the final two scenes of the movie. I recall saying WTF quite a few times (especially when Kevin made his ultimate decision in John's penthouse). For anyone that's looking for a good thriller that's a little deeper and has excellent performances, I highly recommend this movie. Rating 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Seether's Gone Country Strong, Incubus, Parties on Rooftops, A Kanrocksas Artist, Chris Brown, and a Remix

A new month has arrived, and so has new music from artists we love to others looking to establish a following. I was happy to discover that some bands I have enjoyed the past several years have released new singles over the past few weeks (which a couple of them are featured this week). So, without any further delay, lets listen to what I've found while browsing YouTube this morning.

Seether "Country Strong"

A rock song with a country edge to it... I like it!!! I also love the music video... to see two young children playing with cowboys, superheroes, pirates, aliens, and Barbies (with Seether as the cowboy's defending their town) was highly imaginative... and a little reminiscent of Toy Story. I'm excited to see new music from Seether and cannot wait to hear more!

Incubus "Adolescents"

Having just heard this song this morning, I am going to have to listen to it a few more times before I grow fond of it. I've been a fan of Incubus for years but I'm just not feeling this song yet.

Hot Chelle Rae "Tonight Tonight"

This song is just fun... I can imagine myself driving with the windows down while listening to this on the radio. The video is also very entertaining, between office shenanigans, crashing a kid's birthday party, and partying on rooftops. This could very well become the feel good song of the summer!

Tinie Tempah feat. Eric Turner "Written in the Stars"

I've heard this song on the radio (and seen the video on Mtv Hits) the past couple weeks, but it wasn't until a few days ago that I put the artist's name behind the song. Tinie Tempah is one of the artists that will be at Kanrocksas this year. I really like this song and when I finally made the connection, it made my excitement to go to the two day festival increase. The song is beautiful and if this is the kind of music that will be heard throughout his album, I might have to buy it!

Chris Brown "She Ain't You"

I'm not at all surprised that Chris Brown would pay tribute to his hero/mentor through a music video, especially after he did a tribute during one of the Mtv Video Music Awards a few years back. The song itself takes a few riffs from some of Michael Jackson's past hits, but in spirit of Chris Brown, he put his own twist on things. It's a pretty decent song... more on the softer side.

Britney Spears feat. Ke$ha and Nicki Minaj "Till the World Ends (Remix)"

Umm... wow. Can you say triple threat??? It seemed natural for Ke$ha to collaborate with Britney, since she was one of the writers of the song (seriously... Ke$ha has been writing songs for other artists for a few years, before she had her first album). Nicki Minaj was the surprise for me on this track, but it flowed well with the song. It's an interesting mix, and part of a trend of pop artists doing collaborations of current singles. I like the mix, more so because it's a lot less Britney, LOL

Monday, May 2, 2011

Movie Monday: Dates, Nature, Cleaning, Dancing, Ghosts, Missouri Ozarks, and a Deadly Stepfather

Last week was weird for me. For one, I wasn't feeling very well for a couple days. No, I wasn't sick, but the ladies can sympathize with me (which normally I don't have a major issue, so this was not cool with me). As I spent two days basically laying in bed, I decided to put a dent in my "movies I own but have never watched" collection. Yeah, I definitely did that.... FIVE movies (plus two that I caught while flipping channels). Needless to say, my movie geekness was very satisfied! Now, let's move forward with some great movie clips and reviews! :-)

Date Night

Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire Foster (Tina Fey) are a married couple finding themselves in a monotonous rut. In order to get some excitement in their lives (more specifically on their weekly date night), they decide to get out of the suburbs and eat at a trendy new restaurant in New York City. They take someone else's reservation, which seemed slightly wrong but harmless. However, it puts them in the middle of a series of dangerous events involving a stolen flash drive, the mob, and the NYPD.

Steve Carell and Tina Fey make a great fictional couple. I really loved the little things that they did together, like play the "what's their story?" game whenever they go out to dinner. Those little things are what makes each couple unique and what stands out for me. I got a lot of great laughs while watching this movie. The supporting cast (which includes James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Mark Wahlberg) contributed to the hilarity. Although some of the conversation during the chaos did seem a bit on the ridiculous side, I thought the story was well executed. Rating 4 out of 5 stars


DisneyNature presents a documentary (narrated by Pierce Brosnan) about the many wonders of the ocean and it's wildlife... including sharks, whales, sea lions, turtles, and crabs.

I came across this movie when my son was having trouble going to sleep. What I loved about this movie is that he and I were both very entertained (not bad for a documentary). I have a soft spot for seeing baby animals, so when the little sea lions were on screen, I could not resist saying "Aww..." The various crabs were entertaining, and my son and I were close to shouting at the screen when they fought (much like others do when watching pro-wrestling programs). I know this movie made an impact on my son, since he came home from school one day with a library book about sharks. I recommend this movie for any nature lover or someone with children that is looking for something entertaining and educational. Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Sunshine Cleaning

Rose (Amy Adams) is a house cleaner that is in need of a better job to fund tuition for her son to attend a private school. Her sister Norah (Emily Blunt) is tired of holding dead end jobs and wants to do something better with her life. Both of them end up seizing an opportunity that allows them to clean up homes and businesses after crime scenes, eventually creating their business, Sunshine Cleaning.

There are several things that I loved about this movie. For one, the way that Rose and Norah were siblings with different personalities but had a close bond reminded me of my sister and I. Add their father (played by Alan Arkin) and you see a very unique family. As I saw what the sisters had to do to become a legitimate business (and perform their job), I found myself considering a possible career option that would be financially beneficial. I loved how Norah took the job at a personal level when she wanted to find out about the people that lost their lives (and kept "souvenirs" of the deceased). The story was strong and the sub-plots within the movie contributed nicely. Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Dance Flick

In the world of parodies led by the Wayans family, Dance Flick is centrally focused around the plot for Save the Last Dance but also features other dance movies including Hairspray, Step Up, Fame, Flashdance, West Side Story, and Center Stage.

I have come to the realization that PG-13 parody films are utterly disappointing. I was really hoping that this was going to be better than Vampires Suck, especially since the Wayans family was behind it (I was a big fan of Scary Movie and Scary Movie 2). I was right that it was better, but not by much. It had its moments, but not enough for me to rave about the movie. Rating 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Charlie St. Cloud

Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) is a young man who has a strong bond with his little brother Sam (Charlie Tahan). He promises to practice pitching with him for an hour every day until he leaves for college. On the day the promise was made, a car accident takes Sam's life and turns Charlie's life upside down. At the funeral, Charlie flees into the woods and finds his brother (in spirit) waiting for him with a baseball and a glove. Over the next five years, Charlie fulfills his promise to Sam but their time together gets threatened when a girl named Tess (Amanda Crew) comes into the picture. Charlie finds himself falling in love but also losing the bonding time with his deceased brother.

I remember watching previews for this movie and thinking "I love the concept and I hope that it will turn out to be good!" Despite hearing poor numbers at the box office, I still showed optimism that this would be a good film.... and it was. To my surprise, this movie takes place in the Pacific Northwest, so that brought a smile to my face. I like how in the first 15 minutes, you see the bond between the brothers and the direction that their lives were headed, until the accident. When the movie moves forward five years, I noticed how isolated he became with his family, friends, and the townsfolk. I loved how Tess brought his ambitions back to his life and made him realize that he has been grieving for so long. I really liked how the movie ended (no, not going to spoil it for you, but there is an unexpected twist that threw me off guard). Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars

Winter's Bone

17 year old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in the Missouri Ozarks and takes care of her two younger siblings and depressed mother. When word gets out that her father has gone missing and had put their home up as collateral for his bail for manufacturing and distributing crystal meth, she goes around the county looking for any details about his whereabouts. As she is told by many people to stay out of it, she ignores them and moves forward while putting her life in danger.

This movie was good, and Jennifer Lawrence did deserve her Academy Award nomination, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. A lot of it has to do with my ex husband. He had connections and bonds with people like the ones represented in this movie. I recall a few times where I went with him and his cousin to tiny towns in Kansas (this was when we lived in Fort Scott) and hang out with people like this. It was uncomfortable to me. I respect Ree as she ventured to find her father, despite getting threatened and harmed along the way. I saw that she just wanted her family to be able to live in their home and not have any worries (aside from her mother's depression issues). Even though I wasn't that fond of the movie, I'm still going to recommend others to see it. Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Stepfather

Michael (Penn Badgley) has been away from home while attending military school. Upon his return, he finds his mother (Sela Ward) in a relationship with David Harris (Dylan Walsh), whom has already moved in. As Michael gets to know David, there are rumors circulating in the community. A neighbor notices an episode of America's Most Wanted and points out the similarities between the suspect and David. The neighbor is found dead days later, which prompts Michael to do his own investigation. As he starts to do research, he realizes that David is one step ahead of him and Michael must try to outsmart him to save his family from danger.

What I like about movies like this is that they keep the story simple and let the actions do more of the talking. There are several instances where you see something subtle happen (like a refusal to fill out personal information or get a picture taken) that I caught about David's need to hide his true self. David's unnecessary outburst of anger (like when he grabbed Michael's brother's neck for playing a video game instead of listening to his mother) was an instance foreshadowing his violent behavior. Although this movie was very predictable, the ending left me surprised.... but in a disturbing way. This wasn't the best thriller movie I have seen, but enjoyable. Rating 3 out of 5 stars