Yes Please

YesPlease

Amy Poehler’s Yes Please is as amazing as you would expect. It is in the same vein as Bossypants by Tina Fey and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling, two books that I absolutely loved, but it is more honest and vulnerable. She talks about everything you really want to hear, what it was like backstage at SNL, behind the scenes stories about Parks and Recreation, and her version of how her and Tina Fey became best friends. She also talks about some more painful times in her life, like her divorce from Will Arnett. She is not afraid to get deeply personal and expose every dark area in her life, but even while she is letting you see all the skeletons in her closet, it is with humor and grace.

I want to repeat some of those stories to you know, but as I am completely opposed to spoiling a book that I am telling you to read, I will refrain. I will tell you, once again, get the audiobook version. Here’s why. Amy Poehler is funnier than you are. She reading the book to you is funnier than you reading the book to you. Moreover, in this particular audiobook, she brings in special guests, like Seth Meyers, Kathleen Turner, and her own parents to read parts of the book. All of whom read the book better than you would. And there is added banter between Amy and Seth that you do not want to miss out on. The book is a fantastic read. If you are in a good place in your own life or a bad one, listening to Amy Poehler tell you about all her ups and downs, career highs and lows, will not only brighten your day, but inspire you to become your best self.

Advertisements

Yes, I’m ready.

*May contain vague spoilers regarding the Parks and Recreation series finale that aired last night.*

Leslie Knope

Last night, the series finale of Parks and Recreation aired. A rarity in television finales, we got to see what the long-term future holds for our beloved characters, which was a treat to say the least. The episode featured flashes into the futures of each character (future being relative as this season was already set in 2017) and back to the “present”. After seeing all of the wonderful thing that will come, the episode ended with Leslie and Ben prepared to leave. Ben says, “You ready, babe?” Leslie replies, “Yes. I’m ready.” I feel my life is in a similar state as the show ended. One season is ending and a whole other is beginning. Big changes, big moves, but it feels like things are finally falling into place.

Leslie Knope is a woman with big dreams. A woman I can relate to. She has always known she wanted to work in politics. Since the beginning she has had her sights on the White House. We found out last night that she wrote that she wanted to be the Governor of Indiana in her Kindergarten dream journal. When the series began, the possibility of Leslie making it out of Pawnee seemed slim. It seemed like the entire world was fighting against her. By the end of the series, I imagine every fan of the series believe that she can accomplish anything and everything she sets her mind to.

I do not have the luxury to see into my own future. I do not know if I will accomplish the major goals I have in my life. I know I am going to try. I know that soon, I will be moving on to the next phase and become closer to my dreams than I ever have been before.

Yesterday, I was asked if I was scared. I did not know quite how to respond. Anxious? Yes. Excited? Absolutely. Scared? I don’t really do scared. I don’t make a habit of putting myself in scary situations. Leaving, moving on, going “confidently in the direction of [my] dreams,” these things do not scare me. What would be scary would be not going, not trying, not fighting for the only thing I have ever really wanted in my entire life.

So, am I ready?

“Yes. I’m ready.”

Boyhood

Boyhood

Richard Linklater is a director whose name has become synonymous with innovative filmmaking, not in the way that James Cameron or Peter Jackson are with the newest forms of technology, but in a more simplistic way. He is a storyteller in the truest form. His films do not tend to be action packed, they are about people and relationships. M favorite films of his are the Before Sunrise trilogy which also includes Before Sunset and Before Midnight. Also starring Ethan Hawke, these films tell the story of a young American man and a young French woman who meet on a train traveling to Vienna. Each film takes place over the course of a day or two and follows the two in 1995, 2004, and 2013. Each was filmed 9 years after the last and is a more beautiful story than the last.

Boyhood was filmed over the course of 11 years. The same core cast is seem throughout the film with other characters coming in and out periodically. The film centers around a boy named Mason between the ages of 6 and 18. Not a lot happens throughout the film. There is no major plot. It is the story of this boy’s life in the truest form. It is the story of his family as seen through his eyes. The true feat of this film is watching the children grow up. The use of the same actors for 12 years watching how they change and grow in a way we have never seen before in film.

While I was truly impressed by Ellar Coltrane, the young boy (now young man) who played Mason, I think the is the best performance I have ever seen out of Patricia Arquette. She is just lovely as the mother. Watching her handle the raising of her children, her struggles with her romantic life, and subsequently life after her children leave home is really powerful in a way I was not expecting.

This film was not only really cool to watch because of the historical filming process, but also because no one can tell you a story like Richard Linklater. He is a true master of basic character development with truth and depth we rarely have the opportunity to see.

American Sniper

American Sniper

I really had a hard time finding the motivation to see American Sniper. It is the type of movie I avoid as best I can. I do not typically enjoy movies about war. That is especially true of films about any wars that have taken place throughout my lifetime. My first and foremost issue is that I do not find them entertaining. And by entertaining, I mostly mean funny. It is difficult to find very much amusing about the never-ending warfare in the middle east. Beyond that there is just so much beige, and that, in and of itself, is unappealing.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this film. I found parts entertaining and even uplifting. Yes, there was plenty that was disturbing and heartbreaking about the film, but I did not leave the theater feeling exhausted and depressed like I often do after movies about modern wars.

Bradley Cooper did a fantastic job in his portrayal of Chris Kyle. He was charming, as expected, but also convincingly expressed the experiences of war from a different perspective than we often see.

I think a tremendous benefit to the film was the casting of Jake McDormand. I did not know that he was in the film before I went to see it. As soon as I saw him, I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew that I would be, at least periodically, entertained. His character, Biggles, was the highlight of the film for me. He brought light to a film about a dark subject matter in the same way, I can only assume, Ryan “Biggles” Job did for these men in real life.

The story is powerful. No matter you opinions on war, on sniping, or on the state of our country in general. A subject matter I do not make a habit of tackling on this blog or in my life in general, but an important one for sure. If you are resisting seeing the film because you think it will be a downer, know that this is not the case. The film was entertaining and uplifting while dealing with issues many of us choose to avoid when it comes to entertainment.

The Theory of Everything

Theory

The Theory of Everything is a biographical look at the life of Stephen and Jane Hawking. The film is based on the book Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking.

This is a movie that I had been wanting to see for a while. I find Stephen Hawking fascinating. I understand very little of the science (I have never put much effort into understanding science), but I think people who can change the world by solving one math equation have to be pretty interesting people. Beyond that, I love his sense of humor. Stephen Hawking will pop up on shows like The Big Bang Theory from time to time and, playing himself, has some of the greatest one-liners of the series.

I thought the film really captured what I know to be true of the physicist, adding the dynamic of Jane, who I knew almost nothing of. The story was both sweet and devastating, triumphant and heartbreaking.

I was blown away by the performances, which is not something that happens to me very often. I am often happy with performances, or even pleasantly surprised, but rarely blown away. Felicity Jones, is as lovely as ever. I think she is truly one of the greatest actresses of my generation. She is wonderful in everything. This is a particularly difficult character, I would say, for reasons I would rather not say to prevent spoiling even the slightest of plot points, but she tackles it with courage and grace. Eddie Redmayne, who won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama, is stunning. I have never been thoroughly impressed with him before, but this role changes that for me. The physicality of the character is truly incredible, but more than that is the fact that he does not speak for almost half of the film, but still brings such personality to the character that I never felt the loss.

Another area is one that I rarely think of when it comes to film. That is music. I rarely think about music unless I am specifically asked to think about it. During this film, I noticed and really felt the addition of the music. It was sweet and simple and reminded me of this mathematical music that I encountered during a production where the musician turned Pi into the most beautiful song I have ever heard. That is what the score to this film sounds like, and it was perfect.

I highly recommend this film and am very excited to see how it fares as the awards season closes this weekend.

My Funny Valentine

We are a mere day away from Valentine’s Day and so in honor of that I asked the group to submit their favorite Romantic Comedies. Some are more romance than comedy, and some more comedy than romance. Some may require a box of tissues because the ending is more heartbreaking than “happily ever after” and some may require a box of tissue because you are laughing so hard that you are crying. So here is the list I have compiled, broken into categories to make it easier to find what you are looking for this year. Each is complete with links to IMDb so you don’t get the 2005 Pride & Prejudice starring Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley confused with the 1995 Pride and Prejudice starring the one and only Mr. Darcy, Colin Firth, and Jennifer Ehle.

Based on a Jane Austen novel:

Pride & Prejudice

Clueless (1995)

Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Sense & Sensibility (1995)

Emma (1996)

Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)

Based on a Novel:

The Notebook

Anne of Green Gables (1985)

The Princess Bride (1987)

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

The Notebook (2004)

P. S. I Love You (2007)

Old School:

Breakfast at Tiffany's

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

To Catch a Thief (1955)

High Society (1956)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Charade (1963)

The Essential 80s:

Sixteen Candles

Sixteen Candles (1984)

The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Sure Thing (1985)

Say Anything (1989)

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

The Golden Age of Rom-Com:

You've Got Mail

Pretty Woman (1990)

My Girl (1991)

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

While You Were Sleeping (1995)

The American President (1995)

My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

The Wedding Singer (1998)

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Never Been Kissed (1999)

21st Century Classics:

How to Lose A Guy in 10

Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)

Love, Actually (2003)

13 Going on 30 (2004)

The Holiday (2006)

Sydney White (2007)

Definitely, Maybe (2008)

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)

Bridesmaids (2011)

A Little Quirky

Moonrise Kingdom

Benny & Joon (1993)

Amelie (2001)

Just Friends (2005)

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Juno (2007)

WALL-E (2008)

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Academy Award Winners:

Shakespeare in Love

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Annie Hall (1977)

Forrest Gump (1994)

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

And now for something completely different:

Jennifer's Body

Chasing Amy (1997)

High Fidelity (2000)

Jeux d’Enfants (2003)

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

And there you have it. Hope you all have a fantastic Valentine’s Day!

I’d like to thank the Academy…

Academy Awards 2015

In case you have not yet figured this out, I am a huge movie fan. From the date the Academy Awards nominees are announced until the evening of the show, I am doing my best to see as many of the nominees as possible. This year, I am going to post about each of them I am able to see. I have a list narrowed down at this point that includes that include the movies that swept the nominations as well as films from the specific categories that are the most important to me. Included in this post, will be the links to all of the posts about nominated films I have seen so far this year.

And the Nominees are:

Best Picture

Lead Actor

Lead Actress

  • Two Days One Night (Marion Cotillard)
  • The Theory of Everything (Felicity Jones)
  • Still Alice (Julianne Moore)
  • Gone Girl (Rosamund Pike)
  • Wild (Reese Witherspoon)

Best Supporting Actor

  • The Judge (Robert Duvall)
  • Boyhood (Ethan Hawke)
  • Birdman (Edward Norton)
  • Foxcatcher (Mark Ruffalo)
  • Whiplash (J.K. Simmons)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Boyhood (Patricia Arquette)
  • Wild (Laura Dern)
  • The Imitation Game (Keira Knightley)
  • Birdman (Emma Stone)
  • Into the Woods (Meryl Streep)

Best Cinematography

  • Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert Yeoman)
  • Ida (Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski)
  • Mr. Turner (Dick Pope)
  • Unbroken (Roger Deakins)

Best Costume Design

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)
  • Inherent Vice (Mark Bridges)
  • Into the Woods (Colleen Atwood)
  • Maleficent (Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive)
  • Mr. Turner (Jacqueline Durran)

Best Director

  • Birdman (Alexandro G. Iñárritu)
  • Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
  • Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
  • The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum)

Best Film Editing

  • American Sniper (Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach)
  • Boyhood (Sandra Adair)
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (Barney Pilling)
  • The Imitation Game (William Goldenberg)
  • Whiplash (Tom Cross)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Foxcatcher (Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard)
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White)

Best Production Design

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock)
  • The Imitation Game (Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald)
  • Interstellar (Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis)
  • Into the Woods (Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock)
  • Mr. Turner (Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Original Screenplay

  • Birdman (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo)
  • Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
  • Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman)
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness)
  • Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)

Best Visual Effects

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick)
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould)
  • Interstellar (Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher)
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer)

This is not a complete list of the nominees, just a list of the films I intend to see and the categories for which the are nominated.