Tag Archives: George Clooney

The End of the Batman Trilogy Thrills

The cowl doubles as a helmet.

In a nutshell (which is where the masked villain Bane should be kept), here’s my brief review of “The Dark Knight Rises”: Wow! Death and destruction flow. Bruce Wayne reflects. Catwoman rocks!

Oh, and the movie is waaaaay too long at 2 hours 45 minutes. The weak-bladdered set wish director Christopher Nolan had done some judicious editing of this interesting story.

Eight years after Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent’s death (and, yes, I had totally forgotten the storyline from the second movie), Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) turns into a reclusive eccentric never to don the costume again. The End.

Is Catwoman good or evil?

Not really. Because, of course, there has to be a bad guy or two wanting revenge against the Caped Crusader. Plus it’s time for Anne Hathaway to take a turn as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman.

Although the violence was excessive and, at times, stomach-wrenching, I thought the acting was great. Bale is the best Batman (yes, even better than my second husband, George Clooney); Michael Caine (Alfred) is . . . well, Michael Caine (he made me cry); Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) almost makes me forget he’s really Sirius Black; and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) is . . . well, Morgan Freeman.

If a mask covers your mouth, then closed-captioning should be required.

As much as I loved the regulars, though, I especially appreciated the talents of the third movie’s newcomers: Hathaway established herself as the best Catwoman; Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a believable cop; Marion Cotillard surprised me as Miranda Tate; and Tom Hardy showed both toughness and pain as the masked Bane (who sounded a bit like Darth Vadar).

This is one of those movies that’s best appreciated at the theater. If you’re a fan of this genre, it’s definitely a must-see.

Farewell, Batman. And thanks.

Movie Mania

Walter, Mary, and Gary travel to Hollywood.

During the long Thanksgiving weekend, we really gave our AMC Stubs card a workout. We saw four movies . . . but only one together. That one, “The Muppets,” was everyone’s favorite.

I especially liked seeing the Muppets together once again, because I have such great memories of the “Muppet Show,” which originally aired on TV in the late 1970s and early ’80s. So corny and cute! In the movie, the gang reunites to stop an evil oilman, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), from tearing down the long-abandoned Muppet Theater to drill for oil.

Helping the Muppets are Walter, his brother Gary (Jason Segal), and Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), who live in Smalltown. Even though Walter and Gary are related, Walter is a muppet (genetics gone rogue!) who yearns to be part of the “Muppet Show.” Can dreams come true? As long as you can sing about them, they can!

Two thumbs up!

“The Descendants”

The King family: Dad Matt and daughters Alex and Scottie

While “The Muppets” was marvelous, “The Descendants,” which the Mister and I saw, was meh. Even though it starred my second husband, George Clooney, I didn’t enjoy this family drama. George plays Matt King, an emotionally absent husband and father, who has to step up the parenting when his wife suffers a severe injury in a boating accident.

As usual, the foul language turned me off, especially when it came from the girls playing Matt’s daughters, Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller. Really, Hollywood moguls, just because a movie is rated R doesn’t mean the f-bomb is necessary in the majority of its scenes. How about working on good plot and character development instead?

“The Descendants” definitely is Netflixable.

“Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1”

Bella and Edward pose for an unusual wedding portrait.

My final flick was “Breaking Dawn Part 1.” I’m an admitted Twihard, really enjoying the Stephenie Meyer’s books. For the fourth time, my older son accompanied me; he so enjoys making snarky remarks about the movie in my ear.

Meyer’s fourth book is divided into two movies, just like the final Harry Potter novel (although there truly is no comparison in terms of writing and filming). In Part 1, human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and hunky vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) get married and, amazingly, are able to consummate the deal. Which, of course, improbably results in Bella becoming pregnant with what could be a vampire child.

I truly enjoyed “Breaking Dawn,” despite the wooden acting of  Stewart and Pattinson. The last 20 minutes or so when Edward delivers his daughter and then tries to save Bella’s life had me on the edge of my seat . . . even though I knew what would happen. And the absolute final scene? Wow!

I was surprised to see so many young girls in the audience, by the way. “Breaking Dawn” definitely is not for young teens; the birth scene is too graphic. And be sure to stay for the credits, because there’s a creepy teaser for part two.

By the way, my guys saw “Jack and Jill,” with both my sons thinking it was a hoot and a half, while the Mister was mildly amused. Why did I stay home? Two words: Adam Sandler. Ugh!

“The Ides of March”: Beware?

Ryan Gosling (left side) tries to help George Clooney become the next U.S. president.

Et tu, my second husband? Must even you, George Clooney, succumb to the foul-mouthed language that is populating PG-13 and R-rated movies these days? I’m disappointed. As usual, the f-bomb isn’t necessary in your newest movie, “The Ides of March.”

Sorry to air our “marital” laundry in the blog! Time to move on and actually talk about the film, which the Mister and I saw yesterday.

Mike Morris needs to win the Ohio primary.

Clooney co-wrote and directed “Ides.” Even though he also acts in it, playing Governor Mike Morris, who is running for president—of course, as a Democrat, he’s definitely not the star. Instead, Ryan Gosling is front and center as Morris’ brilliant, young media consultant, Steve Myers. Myers believes in Morris, who is trying to win the Ohio primary in mid-March with speeches about honesty and integrity.

Steve’s idealism becomes challenged.

Those of us who have read “Julius Caesar” both when we were in high school and again last year when our sophomores took on Shakespeare’s classic remember that “beware the Ides of March” was a soothsayer’s warning to the Roman statesman. Betrayal was the name of the game for the general, and it plays a big part in the movie . . . along with loyalty, morality, and doing the right thing for the right reasons.

Myers works for Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

“The Ides of March” features a wonderful cast, starting, of course, with Georgie and Gosling. Philip Seymour Hoffman (forever known to me as the fat Art Howe) is Morris’ somewhat-jaded campaign manager, while Marisa Tomei plays a reporter who could make or break Steve.

Paul Giamatti in bluer days.

Meanwhile, Paul Giamatti, as usual, does an excellent turn as rival campaign manager Tom Duffy. Is it just me or does everyone else think of Giamatti as a blue meanie in “Big, Fat Liar” (a favorite film of my younger son) when he’s onscreen?

I mostly liked “Ides,” but it did leave me underwhelmed. I especially didn’t buy into the lame romance between Myers and a young intern, Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), which was important to the plot in several ways. And the flick covers no new ground: Politics are dirty? Power plays help win elections? Sex and politics can be a combustible combination? Really? Yawn!

I’d give it two and a half stars (out of five).

Three Thumbs Up (If I Had Those Many Thumbs!)

Last weekend brought a binge of movies for us. But we didn’t feel overstuffed at all! In fact, all three that we saw were enjoyable.

First, on Christmas the four of us saw “Sherlock Holmes,” which was the #2 son’s #1 choice. We beat the crowd by going to the 9:45 a.m. showing. And we saved money—tickets are $5 each before noon.

Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr., and Rachel McAdams

Robert Downey Jr., who is not British, played the title character, who, of course, is British. Fortunately, he’s a good enough actor to carry that off. Jude Law was his faithful assistant, Dr. Watson, with Rachel McAdams as beautiful career criminal Irene Adler. Director Guy Ritchie’s rendition featured lots of physical action, which included Holmes boxing, juxtapositioning the mental game of crime solving.

The movie kept us on the edge of our seats the entire time. We really enjoyed it!

Neytiri (Zoë Saldaña) and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington)

Saturday morning brought “Avatar” into our lives, the #1 son’s pick. The special effects were dazzling, so much so that I was glad we didn’t opt for the 3D version. While it was an interesting story (humans genetically engineered alien bodies called “avatars” to try to reason with aliens in the future), I didn’t like being hit over the head with the pro-environmental, anti-war message. And I am both of those! However, it was much too heavy-handed in the movie, which was pretty violent. The boys really liked it, of course.

Anna Kendrick and George Clooney

The Mister and I saw “Up in the Air” yesterday. It stars my “second husband,” George Clooney.

Sidebar: This was my unusual conversation with another female moviegoer when I was buying tickets Friday. She was going to see “Up in the Air.”

Me: I really want to see that! My second husband, George Clooney, stars in it.

Her: Well, I’m having an affair with your second husband!

By the way, no male on earth will understand that exchange!

“Up in the Air” is about Clooney’s character, who plays a corporate downsizer (e.g., someone who fires people for companies). He has no attachments other than two sisters he hardly sees until he becomes smitten with a frequent-flying gal played by Vera Farmiga. As he continues in a hardly rational pursuit of mega airline miles, he’s paired with a new, young, female downsizer who wants to fire people via iChatting/Skype. Anna Kendrick, who plays Bella’s closest friend in the “Twilight” series movies, gets a more-sizable role here and really shows her acting chops.

Yes, yet another shameless chance to picture George in my blog.

The Mister and I both really liked “Up in the Air.” It’s billed as a romantic comedy or a comedy drama, but it’s really much more drama than comedy. It definitely makes you think about what’s really important in your life.

As someone who dislikes flying, I know frequent flying miles never will be more important than the people I love. And that includes those make-believe husbands!

Photo Friday: Shoot the Periphery

The #1 son bowls.

The #1 son bowls.

What if you don’t have a digital SLR to help you take fantastic photos?

#2 bowls, too.

#2 bowls, too.

Or say you do have a dSLR, but you don’t have a low-light lens like the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 (which I used for these photos) or f/1.8? Should you forget about taking difficult indoor action pix?

Of course not!

#1 reacts to missing a spare.

#1 reacts to missing a spare.

First, if you do own a dSLR but only have the 18-55mm kit lens, be sure to increase your ISO, so you have a faster shutter speed to stop the action. And try to have steady hands, too.

Gutter ball sadness for #2

Gutter ball sadness for #2

If you’re frustrated because you’re not able to stop the action or you’re using a point and shoot camera that can’t stop the action, relax! Just try to shoot the periphery, e.g., everything that surrounds the activity.

I took my sons and #2’s friend Daniel bowling yesterday, and, as usual, it bothered me that it’s a sport that features more butts than faces. I don’t know about you, but usually (well, unless it’s George Clooney, my second husband), I prefer to photograph faces when I shoot sports.

#2 should've had a V8!

#2 should've had a V8!

But then I realized that there’s always more to sports than just the action, and that’s what I needed to concentrate on documenting. It does mean that you need to anticipate when your “athletes” are going to show that emotion and be ready and steady on the shutter.

Daniel gets a high five from #2.

Daniel gets a high five from #2.

The lighting tends to be funky in the bowling alley, but I think that just adds to the photos’ uniqueness. Or it could be that my Photoshop skills just aren’t good enough . . . that’s too often the case, unfortunately.

No movement here

No movement here

Don’t forget to take photos of everything involved in the sport, especially anything that doesn’t move (easy to shoot!). For bowling, of course there are the bowling balls. You might want to turn off your flash for these kinds of close-ups.

No movement here either

No movement here either

Fingers in a bowling ball can convey the action almost as much as rolling the ball down the alley.

Stylish!

Stylish!

Bowling shoes? Gotta wear ’em and gotta take a photo of ’em.

#2 is happy after picking up a spare.

#2 is happy after picking up a spare.

Even if you have to have them pose, be sure to get some good expressions from the athletes to help tell the story.

Those eyes!

Those eyes!

I couldn’t resist getting a photo of my contact-lensed high school senior heartthrob!

Love the electronic scoreboards!

Love the electronic scoreboards!

Back in the day, we had to keep score at bowling alleys by hand. Now the electronic scoreboards are great, and they’re easy to photograph.

The Terminator (#1), Daniel, and #2 pose.

The Terminator (#1), Daniel, and #2 pose.

If all fails indoors, don’t forget to snap a photo or two of your subjects outside. It’s all part of shooting the periphery when you’re an action photographer!

My Great-Nephew Finally Arrives!

baby-zeke

Baby Zeke is in the house! My niece, Ralphie, finally was able to pop out the eight-pounder early yesterday morning. Welcome to the world, little one; congrats to my niece, her husband, her big sister (the Beck), my big sister (first-time grandma!), my ex-BIL (who was nice enough to post photos for all of us to see), and my mom, who finally is a great-grandmother! We’ll get to see the Z-man when we visit Seattle in July when the Beck gets married.

Speaking of cute baby boys . . . .

127-2003-sleepy-2After I posted yesterday’s blog update, it hit me that I had a great photo of the #2 son eating his favorite pudding breakfast in 2003 (he was eight years old). I found it on my external hard drive, and here it is! Never a morning person, #2 looks just as sleepy as he felt. I used to carry him to the dining room table, deposit him in a chair, and open his pudding cups for him (they often were the devil to open; hate that industrial-strength glue they obviously used). This photo was taken during #2’s two chocolate-two vanilla cups phase. Today at Kroger’s I paused at the snack puddings and smiled. Of course, they were on sale!

Ah, George!

george_clooney-dr-ross1Sigh!! And sigh again!! My heart was a-flutter during last night’s “ER” episode, as my second husband, George Clooney, made his return as Dr. Doug Ross. I’m sure he was saying some incredible lines, but I was hardly listening, because I was too busy watching him. Lucky Julianna Margulies (aka Carol Hathaway) to be able to cuddle with my Georgie (albeit briefly). I also enjoyed seeing Ernest Borgnine on the show . . . I’ve always loved that gap between his front teeth. He’s an incredibly talented actor, yet to millions of young kids, he’s best known as the voice of Mermaid Man on “SpongeBob SquarePants!”

A quick note: I love being able to surf the ’net on my MacBook while watching TV. It was nice being able to check Wikipedia for every “ER” nuance.

Oh, and did anyone notice how I managed to slip in George’s photo in back-to-back blog posts? Couldn’t help myself!

Late night television

medium_big-east-logoTry as we might, the #2 son and I couldn’t quite make it to the end of the thrilling University of Connecticut-Syracuse basketball game before falling asleep. #2 nodded off during the third overtime, while the drool was dripping out of my mouth during the fifth extra period. I did wake up when the sixth OT was finished to see that Syracuse finally had won.

Speaking of putting out fires . . . .

One reason this is being posted late is because the Mister left his wallet at home. Usually, he forgets his cell phone (a major inconvenience . . . for me, because I then have to answer it all day). He needed his wallet, so I made the half-hour drive to give it to him. Think I was just being the nice wife? I got a free lunch at the Olive Garden out of it!

Firefighting at Home

 

office2008macfinweb

One of the many reasons why I fall so far behind in the clutter war is that I find myself constantly putting out fires on the homefront. Too often my perfectly crafted decluttering schedule gets annihilated by last-minute got-to-get-’er-dones by the boys.

Here’s an example: The other day the #1 son asked me to print out a 10-page paper he had written for U.S. History. He typed it in Microsoft Word 2004, e-mailed it to me, I proofed it and fixed his typos in Word 2008, and tried to print it. When I looked at the preview, the pages were blank. I tested it with another Word document that I knew I was able to print with the older version, and, still, nada. Hmmmm . . . what to do.

Because #1 son had to have the paper the next day, I opened it in TextEdit, which comes with every Mac, fixed the breaks that differed from Word, and printed it out. The next day I made it my goal to figure out why Word wouldn’t print. I have Microsoft Office 2008 on my MacBook, so I checked to see if a document would print from it. It could. I knew the problem wasn’t with the printers hooked to my iMac, because the document would print blank from both of them, not just one of them. I tried to print a document in Excel, and that worked, so I figured it was just a Word problem.

I checked Mactopia, Microsoft’s Office for Mac website but didn’t see anyone else with the same problem nor did I read any solutions. Looked like I was on my own, unless I wanted to call for support. Microsoft allows two phone calls before it starts to charge $49 plus tax; I’d rather save my free calls just in case of a dire emergency.

I thought it would be best to just start from scratch, so I uninstalled Office and then reinstalled it. The #1 son had chemistry notes he needed printed, so I opened them in Word, went to print preview, and held my breath. Whew! They appeared!! Printed them out with no problem. I’m not sure what caused the Word glitch on the initial install, but I’m glad it’s fixed. However, the decluttering time that I had previously scheduled was taken up by putting out the Word fire. This always seems to happen with the boys’ projects,  as in, “Mom, I need poster board for tomorrow,” “Mom, please put more staples in the stapler,” and, the ever-favorite, “Mom, I need 30 plastic bowls for chemistry,” which I actually had!

Today’s fire: Troubleshoot the #1 son’s alarm clock, which hasn’t worked right since the time change. Maybe I can multitask and declutter one or two things in his room while I’m at it!

Minor get ’er done

puddingYesterday when I was pulling various snacks for the boys’ lunches from the kitchen cabinet dedicated just to them, I decided to finally take care of something that has been bugging me for months: Pudding disposal. The #2 son used to be a snack pudding fanatic. He loved pudding! He ate four cups of it for breakfast every morning for a couple years. He would switch from two chocolate and two vanilla cups to four chocolate cups, but he never varied from his breakfast choice. Sometimes he’d even eat it for an after-school snack. I tried making the pudding from scratch (I know, hard to believe), but he didn’t like it as well.

There are two basic rules of thumb when it comes to your kids’ eating jags. First, they will come to an end at some point. It may take months, it may take years, but they will end. Second, when they do end, you will be stuck with food that no one else will eat. And it probably will be a lot of food, because you’ve stocked up. The Hunt’s Snack Pack chocolate pudding that #2 liked wasn’t always available, so I often would buy extra when I saw it, especially when it was on sale. No pudding would equal no breakfast would equal one grumpy child.

Of course, I was just setting myself up for a fall. Suddenly and without warning, #2 stopped eating pudding cold turkey. He hasn’t eaten so much as a bite of pudding for a couple years now. And, of course, I had a shelf in the snack cabinet brimming with Snack Packs that I couldn’t bear to part with. At first I tried to fool myself into thinking that the no-pudding phase would end as quickly as it began, and I wanted to have stock on hand.

Yesterday I looked at the pudding cups mocking me and decided to just put an end to the misery. First I checked the expiration date on them . . . 2007 stared back at me. Even if #2 suddenly got that pudding fever again, he couldn’t even eat them. I trashed them and didn’t look back.

Wonder when I’m going to get rid of the several boxes of old Pop-Tarts, which replaced those pudding breakfasts for a year or so, that are still in the snack cabinet? Maybe I’ll get ’er done today!

TV watch

george-clooneyI’ve maybe seen one or two episodes of “ER,” none in years, but I plan to watch it tonight. Why? I’ve read that my second husband, George Clooney, will make a guest appearance! It won’t matter if I have absolutely, positively no clue what’s going on . . . all I want to do is stare at George and listen to him talk.