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Another year at the Austin Film Festival!

It’s the 24th Annual Austin Film Festival & Writer’s Conference!

That’s right – I’m coming off a weekend of volunteering at the Austin Film Festival for the second year in a row! After having such a fun and inspiring time last year, I jumped at the chance to volunteer again this year.

I am still nurturing my interest in screenwriting, but have made about ZERO progress on doing much with this interest. I don’t like using the excuse that I’m too busy – but things have been a little crazy lately.

However, I still made time to volunteer. I actually starting volunteering in the spring, going door-to-door passing out advertisements for the Austin Film summer camp for kids. My first official shift during the festival was for the Pitch Competition – where I volunteered 9 hours last year and had so, so much fun!

This year… it was a little more stressful. I hadn’t been at my shift very long when one of the judges needed a cup of coffee (specifically, a medium coffee with 2/3 coffee and 1/3 almond milk). I was sent on the errand.

Of course, the coffee shop in the building was closed. I went back to my station and was told to “go somewhere nearby”…little did my shift manager know that I don’t really KNOW what’s nearby. So, I ventured to the 3rd floor where I heard there was free coffee.

Indeed, there was free coffee, but no almond milk. Only little containers of half and half. So, I moved with a quickness outside. Two blocks away was a giant “Day of the Dead” parade, on top of the Film Fest crowd – everywhere was packed. The first two coffee shops I found were closed. Awesome.

Coffee shop number three was open… but with a huge line. I jumped in line anyway. When it was my turn to order, I was informed they were actually OUT OF COFFEE. How does that happen?

I said I would wait… and about 20 minutes later, I got my order and moved as quickly as possible back to my volunteer station. I apologized for how long it took, but my manager assured me it was ok.

Well, until I looked at my phone to see she’d sent me several frantic messages basically thinking I’d run off downtown with her credit card. Umm what? I confronted her about the messages and she was all, “Ohhh just ignore those!”

Meerkat Moonship!

Regardless, she stuck me on door duty for six hours leaving me uninspired, with tired legs. I don’t think I’d survive in Hollywood.

On Sunday, I arrived at my first-ever shift to volunteer at a theatre! During this shift, I took tallies of how many people were lined up to see the movies, and helped count them into the theatre. I also got to sneak into (with permission) the theatre to see one of the films and enjoyed a free Coke and some free popcorn! Fantastic!

The movie I saw was called “Meerkat Moonship”, created by Hanneke Schutte – who was present for the viewing. Here’s the official description from IMDb:

“Gideonette, a timid and visionary girl, lives with her parents in a small town. Her dad Gideon, battles daily to allay her fears about the curse of the Gideon de La Reys. Throughout their family history every Gideon de La Rey died in a freak accident at a young age. In order to prove everyone wrong, Gideon named his daughter – Gideonette. Although Gideonette has had to endure endless teasing about the curse, her dad has tried to convince her that they’ll both grow old. When he suddenly dies, her worst fears are realized and she retreats into a dark world where her imagination runs wild. Realising that Gideonette needs to get away from the curse her mom sends her to her grandparents. Here Gideonette meets Bhubesi, a deaf boy who’s ‘training’ to become an astronaut. While her grandfather builds Bhubesi a Moonship, the brave boy wins her trust and they embark on a curious journey of wordless friendship that helps her to realise she can’t hide from death. When fate hands her a final blow and her newfound strength is tested, she has to decide whether she’s going to let the curse consume her or defy it.

Gideonette, a timid and visionary girl, lives with her parents in a small town. Her dad Gideon, battles daily to allay her fears about the curse of the Gideon de La Reys. Throughout their family history, every Gideon de La Rey died in a freak accident at a young age. In order to prove everyone wrong, Gideon named his daughter – Gideonette. Although Gideonette has had to endure endless teasing about the curse, her dad has tried to convince her that they’ll both grow old. When he suddenly dies, her worst fears are realised and she retreats into a dark world where her imagination runs wild. Realising that Gideonette needs to get away from the curse her mom sends her to her grandparents. Here Gideonette meets Bhubesi, a deaf boy who’s ‘training’ to become an astronaut. While her grandfather builds Bhubesi a Moonship, the brave boy wins her trust and they embark on a curious journey of wordless friendship that helps her to realise she can’t hide from death. When fate hands her a final blow and her newfound strength is tested, she has to decide whether she’s going to let the curse consume her or defy it.”

This was a BEAUTIFUL movie! I even teared up a few times – ugh! I think people are really going to love the aesthetic of this film, not to mention the message. Wonderful!

All in all, it was another great year with the Film Festival, and yep, I know I’ll be back next year!

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Watching: ‘Battle of the Sexes’.

Just saw this movie!

After seeing the previews several times, I saw “Battle of the Sexes” on opening night. While I’m not a sports’ buff, I AM an Emma Stone fan, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this movie isn’t reaallllly about sports.

The movie revolves around a real-life tennis match (that turns out to be an all-out war) between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell).

Bobby Riggs, a tennis player, but also a well-known gambler, is determined to show a newly-formed women’s tennis league what’s up when he challenges the #1 female player to a match. The winner takes $100,000.

But for the women, it’s about more than the money. It’s about getting equal pay, especially after they stopped competing against men (who were offered more than six times what women were offered). King wanted to win to show women they could earn equal pay, and to show men that women could draw a crowd and be equal-competitors.

But in 1973, more than just equal pay was at stake for King. She was falling in love with a woman behind the scenes of her big dual.

This movie was touching, and at times sad. We’ve come so far in some ways, but in some ways we haven’t. King didn’t want to come out: she was married to a man she obviously loved, and after all, what would people think of her if she admitted her true feelings?

Emma Stone does a superb job emulating King, and I’d venture to say Sarah Silverman has a breakout role as the women’s team manager, comically getting them a cigarette sponsorship.

Definitely a movie worth seeing, even if you already know who wins the big game 🙂

In other news, I’ve added two new items to the Etsy shop and will be adding more items throughout the week! I have also been making SO many of the Holly Golightly Sleep Masks – if you’re looking for a relevant, easy costume, this might just be the accessory you need for Halloween!

Watching: ‘Ingrid Goes West’.

…Ingrid goes dark…

Over the long weekend, I did exactly what you’re supposed to do: ate watermelon and burgers (okay, vegan black bean burgers), shopped ’till I dropped, and went to the movies! I finally saw what lots of people have been talking about “Ingrid Goes West”.

“Ingrid Goes West” is the story of Ingrid Thorborn (Aubrey Plaza), who has spent a decent chunk of her life being obsessed with social media.

We’re not talking, oh she likes Instagram or she’s constantly buried in her phone – this is a full blown obsession that leads her to change her entire life, and sometimes, even ruining moments of the lives for whom she’s obsessing over.

Despite her past (in a mental institution), Ingrid discovers a new quest: Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). Taylor is the girl we’ve all seen on Instagram – her life appears perfect (in that California vintage way), complete with a wedding, bearded husband, and sponsored Instagram posts to feed her thousands of followers.

So, Ingrid… you guessed it… goes west in order to start a new life and embody Taylor’s. You might have an idea how this ends – but don’t worry, I’m not going to offer any spoilers.

I will say that a clear B plot is here, offering us Ingrid’s landlord and pseudo boyfriend Dan Pinto (O’shea Jackson Jr.), and the banter between them is the sparkle in this otherwise dark flick. Yes, Ingrid goes there.

While those who’ve seen it agree it’s a little…well, psychotic… I have to say that it’s probably a little more real than we’d all like to admit.

Our culture has become obsessed with perfection and this displays itself all over social media, and it has ugly consequences. We’re all comparing ourselves to people we don’t know personally, and trying to be these people, all based on a set of pictures that most likely doesn’t represent their R E A L life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this given a book I read last week (more on this in the coming weeks), so it’s heavy on my mind.

The other bright spot of “Ingrid Goes West”? I saw it at the Drafthouse and they had a split menu specifically for the movie. It had items for Taylor, which were refined and vegan, and options for Ingrid, which were indulgent and sloppy. Obviously I got the Cali fries from Ingrid’s side, and they were a delicious take on In-N-Out’s animal style fries. Fucking YUM.

Should you see this movie? Yep. Recommendations all around – especially if you are an Aubrey Plaza fan.

Also… there’s new items in my Etsy shop! I made several new items over the weekend, and I’m rolling them out a few at a time, but check them out!

Watching: ‘Patti Cake$’.

Loved this movie!

I’m pretty sure that every movie I saw this summer featured a preview for the indie-film “Patti Cake$”. Granted, I didn’t go to THAT many movies this summer, and every single one of them was at the Drafthouse, so, you get it.

But, I really wanted to see this movie.

The previews said Patti would be the character you wanted to root for this year. Hmm.

So, I saw a promo in my email inbox about seeing a screening of the movie that would feature Q&A with the cast. I wasn’t exactly sure what this would entail, but I didn’t think about it, and I bought a ticket (remember, 2017 goal: Just Do It).

I arrive at the theatre Sunday night, order some food, and my waiter asks for my ID and if I have a nut allergy. I didn’t order alcohol (I’m really trying to get thin y’all), and I definitely didn’t order anything nutty.

“We’ve got a few surprises coming,” he said.

Oh, DRAFTHOUSE.

So, they bring everyone in the audience a green gin-based shot, which the host says “will make sense once you see the movie.”

He says we’re going to do a toast, when WHO walks into the theatre but Bridget Everett!

My. Jaw. Dropped.

Although not necessarily known for her acting, she was in “Trainwreck” and also the “Sex and the City” movie. She’s mostly known for her comedy, a love of karaoke, and many hilarious appearances on “Watch What Happens Live”.

She’s also in “Patti Cake$” and was there to watch the movie with us and answer questions at the end with the film’s director, Geremy Jasper.

“Patti Cake$” is a movie that focuses on Patti, aka “Killa P”, an aspiring rapper living in a Jersey suburb.

Although it was written five years ago, this movie pulls out some relevant cultural issues, which seems politically relevant (but Jasper confirmed it was not intended to be political).

This movie was realistic, at times hurtfully so, but I couldn’t turn away. These aren’t the characters anyone aspires to be – they are flawed, but as a result, they’re incredibly relatable.

A movie about a small town, hopeless cater-waiter trying to make it big; no shit I’m all over it. Plus, the rap lyrics from Killa P (written by Jasper himself) are impressive as hell – and she takes down the haters, one by one.

Fantastic!

Since this is an indi flick, I’m not sure what cities it will be playing in, so be on the lookout for it in your town!

Watching: ‘Baby Driver’.

How YOU doin’??

Last Tuesday, I went straight from work to the Drafthouse to see “Baby Driver”. I had a free ticket to use, along with a free popcorn, and everyone I knew said this movie was SO good. Honestly, I wasn’t sure it was my style, but I figured I couldn’t really lose with Ansel Elgort as the lead. Amiright?

I got a rootbeer float, my popcorn, and was ready to roll. Being a Tuesday at 5, there weren’t too many people in the theatre. Here’s how IMDb describes “Baby Driver”: After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Here’s a little more in-depth description from Google: Talented getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. After meeting the woman (Lily James) of his dreams, he sees a chance to ditch his shady lifestyle and make a clean break. Coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey), Baby must face the music as a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.

The young getaway driver is known as “Baby” (Elgort), and he’s ready to get out of the business even though he’s pretty damn good at it (the opening scene will make you want to drive out of the theatre and over curbs and yell “Fuck the po-lice!”… or was that just me?).

But as things go with organized crime, you can’t necessarily put in your two weeks’ notice and be done with it. And thus we have a plot, along with a B plot of Baby falling for a waitress at the local diner – they connect over a love for music and a dream of escapism. I know the feeling. 

While the events of the movie are seriously, deadly at times, the tone is smart, and pretty funny – I laughed a lot, and then felt like a psycho when I was the only one laughing. Kevin Spacey – who plays the organizer of the heists – is just the best.

In general, “Baby Driver” is getting rave reviews – despite recently being sued over one of the songs used in the film. Here’s a snippet from the New York Times’ review:

“Baby Driver” isn’t avant-travestying; it’s a pop pastiche par excellence, crammed with cubistic action; glowering and golly-gee types (played by the seductive likes of Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza González and Lily James); and an encyclopedia of cinematic allusions, all basted in wall-to-wall tuneage. At times, the whole thing spins like a tribute album, a collection of covers of varying quality: diner yaks à la Quentin Tarantino, Godardian splashes of color. When it works, the allusions give you a contact high, like when a friend turns you on to a favorite movie. At other times, Mr. Wright’s pleasure veers into the self-satisfied, and all that love feels smothering, near-bullying, like bro-cinephilia in extremis. 

…Sooo, should you go see it? Yes! Yes all around – I loved this movie. The next flick on my radar? “Ingrid Goes West”. Looking forward to it!

BBC: ‘Ready Player One’.

I have been reading SO much lately, and the book we’re talking about today is seriously so good! I have to say that the week before I picked up this book, I spent an afternoon scouring the library shelves for a book that would give me an escape.

Sure, I’ve been reading books this year that are good, but nothing that really pulls me so much that I can’t put it down, or can’t WAIT to pick it back up. And then I got the text that “Ready Player One” was waiting for me to pick up.

When I checked it out at the library, the librarian kindly informed me that the author, Ernest Cline, actually lives in Austin, and that they were turning the book into a movie. Uh, cool! Here’s the book’s official description from Amazon.com:

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines–puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win–and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book. I’m not really into futuristic-type things, and although I do love a good session of video games, I don’t know much about them, especially newer ones.

But color me wrong, because this book was freaking AWESOME! It was so visual, which I love, and had enough action to keep things rolling. Don’t know video games? Totally doesn’t matter. There are even loads of 80’s references in there (including “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”), which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Some of my favorite lines from the book are:

  • “It was the dawn of new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a video game.”
  • “But I fell forward instead of down, and the stars seemed to fall with me.”
  • “We’re going to have the world’s top five gunters together in one chat room. Who’s gonna sit that out?”
  • “I would abandon the real world altogether until I found the egg.”
  • “Like any classic video game, the Hunt had simply reached a new, more difficult level.”

If you’re following me on Twitter (@OrangeJulius7), you may have seen some of these lines, as I love to live Tweet my reading. As I was doing so, a podcast reached out to me because yes, it’s a podcast about “Ready Player One”! It’s called Get to the Good Part, and although I haven’t listened to it yet, I’m pretty sure they’re reading and discussing the book, chapter by chapter.

As for the movie, all I know so far (according to IMDb) is that it’s coming out next year, is being directed by Steven Spielberg, and TJ Miller is in it. Can’t wait!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Hungry Heart” by Jennifer Weiner.

It’s supposed to rain all weekend in Austin, so I’m looking forward to hunkering down inside and getting some quality cooking and reading done. I hope y’all have a good one!

‘The Big Sick’.

Great movie!

Saturday night I hit up my favorite movie spot – the Alamo Drafthouse (swear they do not endorse me) – to see “The Big Sick”! I’ve been waiting for this one ever since I saw the trailer, as it promised to be a real-life romantic comedy, complete with cultural relations and well, a big illness.

I know it doesn’t sound like a funny movie, but it definitely was! Here’s an official-ish description of “The Big Sick” I found on Google: Kumail is a Pakistani comic who meets an American graduate student named Emily at one of his stand-up shows. As their relationship blossoms, he soon becomes worried about what his traditional Muslim parents will think of her. When Emily suddenly comes down with an illness that leaves her in a coma, Kumail finds himself developing a bond with her deeply concerned mother and father.

I know a lot of people love Kumail Nanjiani (who plays himself) from “Silicon Valley” – a show I attempted to watch but it was way too much like my old job that it was depressing and I wasn’t going to force it. Seeing this movie was my first real taste of Kumail and I absolutely loved his sense of humor.

I also didn’t expect to love the parts of the movie where he’s spending time with Emily’s parents (don’t worry, no spoilers here), but I did! It was funny and seemed really real and heartfelt.

Naturally, I loved the details of this movie – Kumail’s side-gig as an Uber driver, the “stress-eating” scene, and perhaps most of all, the abundance of air mattresses and the secrets shared atop them.

If you follow me on Instagram (@OrangeJulius7), you probably saw my post from Saturday night mentioning that seeing this movie gave me ALL the feels! I recently went through a little bit of a heartbreak (I am still gathering all of my thoughts on this, but you can plan on seeing something here next week) and am also experiencing the end of a long friendship.

Talk about ROUGH. So, seeing a movie about friendship, family, love, and big sickness – probably wasn’t my best move ever, but hey, it was still a good movie.

I’m definitely recommending this movie to anyone and everyone. Don’t care who you are – you need to see this movie. You’ll laugh, you might cry, and if you’re lucky enough to see it at a Drafthouse, you’ll eat really well, too, because they made an ENTIRE menu of authentic food to go with it! I had the kebab and an ice cold Blood and Honey and it was delish.

So yeah, now you’ve got weekend plans.

Yep, I saw ‘Baywatch’.

The good-looking cast of “Baywatch”.

My original plans for Memorial Day Weekend included going to the pool and getting my tan on… and that’s about it. But, leave it to Austin, Texas to RAIN the entire weekend, so I made a list of alternative, indoor plans, which included seeing “Baywatch”.

I skipped over to the Drafthouse Friday night, ordered a Whiskey Banana Split shake and fries (okay and a bacon cheeseburger, too) and was ready to see just how terrible this movie was. But, I actually liked it!

Here’s the scoop from IMDB: Devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchanan (Dwayne Johnson) butts heads with a brash new recruit (Zac Efron). Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.

Honestly, I’ve never seen the original “Baywatch” television show, which probably would have made the movie even funnier. But it was still really obvious that this movie was a clear spoof on “Baywatch”, and in some ways, an homage.

So yes, there’s the classic slow-motion running, the hot bodies, and the fact that LIFEGUARDS are going way out of their way to save lives, along with crimes, mysteries, and petty theft along the bay. They take themselves REAL serious.

The part I didn’t expect was Zac Efron’s character, Matt Brody, was obviously making fun of olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte. It wasn’t a subtle blow either – he had the grill, the gold medals, the drunk reputation, and ruined his career after going overseas to compete and selfishly blowing it for his team. Wow.

As part of his probation, he has to work as a lifeguard (which is also part of a bigger coverup that the Baywatch lifeguards are about to discover, but don’t worry, no spoilers!). That was the other bit of a shocker – that there was an actual plot, and a few of the cast members from the original “Baywatch” series made some cameos.

Sure, it was a cheesy movie – but I think that’s to be expected, and I ended up laughing a lot. Not bad for a Friday night leading right into summer! And hey, if you’re going to the Drafthouse anytime soon – try the Whiskey Banana Split shake; totally delish!

#FAIL: ‘Beauty & the Beast’.

The Beast and Belle step onto the dance floor.

Although I was ready to see the remake of “Beauty and the Beast” during its premier weekend, I somehow stuck things out and saw it last night at the Drafthouse.

I’ll just get this out of the way now: it’s not worth rushing to see. That’s right, it’s mediocre, at best. Honestly, where do I even start?

I’ll start with the fact that Disney needed to decide whether or not this was a movie for children. Originally, this fairy tale (created long before Disney) is probably not safe for children. After all, we’re talking about a woman falling in love with a BEAST.

But the cartoon version Disney created made it much easier for us to suspend reality and possible even look at the Beast with gentle eyes. Not in the remake. He’s a hairy, matted beast, with a nasty attitude. But don’t worry, because Disney tossed in a fuck ton of slapstick humor (think: the Beast in makeup), for the kids.

And I get it, many real-life movies ask us to suspend reality before the movie even begins. Heck, that’s why we love going to the movies so much! But in order for a true escape to happen, all of the details must be in order. I’ll come back to this in a second.

The cartoon version of this flick is a musical, so I guess the formula was to keep the same song and dance numbers in this version – I mean you have to have “Be Our Guest” – but none of it was good. The singing was weak (sorry, Emma Watson), and there was no dancing. Even “Be Our Guest” had a more serious tone to it.

In general, this film lacked magic. Despite all of the special effects Disney has their grubby paws on, they didn’t use much of it for this film – minus one scene where gold is sprinkled onto Belle’s dress (probably an ode to Donald Trump, for the Republicans in the audience). It’s weak – especially in the age of “Fantastic Beasts”, which had my jaw on the floor the entire time.

Finally, I’ll mention wardrobe. All of Belle’s outfits were disappointing (that yellow prom dress from 1999 deserves a Joan Rivers’ rip on “Fashion Police”), while the Beast showed out in his winter coat and his ballroom blue – but that doesn’t make up for the fact that he was wearing a shredded afghan for half the film.

Riddle me this… so Disney wanted to update the cartoon version, but they actually didn’t update it. They just made it with actual people, who lack stage presence. Yes, they added a few different scenes, but they added nothing to the point or entertainment of the movie.

Disney made the ultimate mistakes of amateur writers: they give us no reason to like the Beast (he was a dick before turning into a beast and he’s still a dick AS the beast), and they didn’t keep up with consistency in details (such as, why is Belle complaining about her provincial life when she isn’t living one?).

The two things I liked about this movie? Lumiere’s shoes, and the storyline among the “objects” – they were much more aware of their lifespan as the rose petals fell, than what we saw in the cartoon. It made for an interesting twist.

I am also really happy I saw this at the Drafthouse because they had a themed milkshake called “Pudding en Flambe”, which was vanilla ice cream, chocolate pudding, and flambeed strawberries, and it was DELICIOUS. So good. It was worth the $12 I paid for the ticket and the $10 for the shake and tip. Hey, be our guest!

I know so many people who loved this movie, and I know that I’m critical when it comes to films and writing, and even song and dance. I was sad to be disappointed by this one, but I can’t ignore mediocrity, especially when it’s a film that’s going to make a ton of cash.

Even Roger Ebert’s site agrees with me and says the additions did little for the story, and that it lacks performance. But, they still awarded it 3 stars because no one wants to be on Disney’s bad side.

Meh, I’ll be the first. And I’ll bring my “Pudding en Flambe” shake with me when they banish me to the Beast’s dungeon.

‘Home Alone’: An analytical look.

"Are those microwave-dinners any good? ...I'll give 'em a whirl."

“Are those microwave-dinners any good? …I’ll give ’em a whirl.”

“Home Alone” is my favorite movie. Ever. To me, it’s not just a classic Christmas movie – it’s a mark in time, a piece of pop culture, a portion of a legacy, and a story everyone can relate to (I swear).

About a month ago, I muttered a one-liner from the movie at work (“Mom… Dad… Uncle Frank… Where are you guys?”), and one of my coworkers admitted she’d NEVER seen the movie. Umm, what? I tried to explain just how much she was missing out, but she couldn’t understand, she’d missed out on one of John Hughes best pieces of work.

Last week, I went to the Alamo Drafthouse to see it in the theatre. They were hosting a pizza party, meaning each movie ticket came with all-you-can-eat cheese pizza, because… Little Nero’s.

Seeing my favorite movie on the big screen made me notice a few things I hadn’t before, and I got to thinking about why SO many people love this movie. I think there’s a lot more to the film than just a cute kid and some sloppy robbers. So, let’s explore – because… well… “It’s Christmas time and there’s always a lot of robberies around the holidays, so we’re just checking the area to make sure everyone is taking the proper precautions.”

Yeah.

Christmas, as a theme. 

Obviously, “Home Alone” is typically seen as a Christmas movie. There’s lights, snow, an underpaid Santa Claus who smokes cigarettes, and let’s face it: the McCallister residence is COVERED in red and green (seriously, the wallpaper, comforters, pots and pans… look next time you watch).

But the fact that this story takes place around the holidays is more than just a coincidence. For one, Christmastime completely lends itself to robberies, making way for the Wet Bandits to lurk in the shadows (after all, kids are afraid of the dark!). The holiday season also creates the perfect reason for an entire family to take a vacation, not to mention a vacation overseas, for an extended amount of time. The winter season also makes two additional things possible: the storm that knocks out the power and the phone lines, which causes the family to oversleep, and later complicates things when they’re trying to contact Kevin.

And finally, the Christmas holiday brings out the child in all of us. Let’s talk more about that…

Typical Roles of an Adult vs. Child 

In most movies, children play the roles of children, and adults play the roles of adults. But, in “Home Alone”, things are a little different. There are two scenes that really drive this point home. First, let’s look at the church scene between Kevin and his neighbor – also known as The Southbend Shovel Slayer.

That line from Kevin, “No offense, but aren’t you a little old to be afraid?”

While both characters are offering each other advice, Kevin playing the role of the adult in this scene, offering life advice to his older neighbor in the form of a metaphor with the scary basement. But did you catch why he was in the basement? To do laundry. Not something a typical 8-year-old would do. See?

The other scene that proves my point is, of course, the grocery scene.

Not only is he grocery shopping alone as an adult, he offers up coupons (which he clipped from the morning paper), and is reading an issue of “Good Housekeeping”.

I also can’t complete this analysis without mentioning the scene in the beginning when Kevin is fretting over packing his suitcase. He’s throwing a fit, jumping up and down, shouting, “When I grow up, I’m living alone!” There’s lots of one-liners that mention growing up, being grown up, or kids – all which swirl around our typical ideals for these roles.

Overcoming Challenges to be the Person You Want to Be 

And finally, nearly all of the characters in this film must overcome personal challenges in order to be the person they want to be.

For the neighbor, he wants to be a good grandfather. In order to do that, he must overcome his fear of his son not answering his calls, and he must make things right in order to bring his family together.

For Kevin’s mom, she really does want to be a good mom (despite the obvious). In order to make that happen, she has to find a way home to Kevin (by air, or polka moving van), and prove that she loves him unconditionally.

For the Wet Bandits, they want to be amongst the silver tuna! To do it, they must lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top, but not without overcoming Kevin’s house of tricks.

And finally, for Kevin, he ultimately wants to show his family he loves them – yes, even Uncle Frank – and to do that, he must protect his house, and drown the Wet Bandits!

And there you have it, my analysis of “Home Alone”! I’d love to hear other things you’ve noticed about this fantastic flick!

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.

Helloooooo Zac Efron!

Helloooooo Zac Efron!

I’ve adopted a new rule: from now on, I’m only seeing movies that star Zac Efron. If that means my movie life will be dwindled to frat boy flicks and rom-coms, then so be it!

So, I had “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” on my to-see list for a while; truthfully, it was my budget that was keeping me from the theatre. But, thanks to one of my Twitter followers, I found out I got a free movie ticket for my birthday, courtesy of the Alamo Drafthouse!

What?! This was the BEST news ever! The Alamo was slowing their showtimes for “Mike and Dave”, so I went to see it on Wednesday night – something I haven’t done in a very long time. But, it was a nice change of pace to get out of the house mid-week, take a break from the TV-Couch routine, and do something fun.

So, I got my free ticket (worth $10.25), and treated myself to an overpriced Diet Coke and parmesan fries; I was in my pajamas, sitting between two couples on dates.

….And I laughed so much during this movie!

Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) are brothers, notorious for partying hard, especially at weddings and family functions, which usually ends up in disaster for everyone involved.

When their sister announces she’s getting married in Hawaii, their parents make Mike and Dave promise to bring sensible women as dates to the wedding, as to not ruin their sister’s big day. The guys agree, and set out to find dates, using Craigslist.

While their Craigslist applicants don’t really pan out the way they’d hoped, their odd ad got the attention of Wendy Williams, putting them on national television, and also in the eyes of Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza).

Alice and Tatiana, roommates and friends, are also overcoming hardships of their own: they were both just fired from their jobs, and Alice is still heartbroken after being left at the altar. On account they need a vacation, the women set themselves up to win over Mike and Dave.

And as you’ve probably guessed, hilarity, along with absolute ridiculousness, ensues.

I can’t quite pinpoint exactly what it was about this movie, but I laughed SO much! I think part of it is just the sheer ridiculousness of it – pretty much none of it makes sense, but it’s all good, because Zac Efron is fine as hell, and Adam Devine is pretty cute, too.

This movie also made me feel a little sorry for Efron, because… let’s face it, he’s been typecast. Like big time. Let’s take a look at his list of work: “High School Musical”, “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody”, “Hairspray”, “17 Again”, “Charlie St. Cloud”, “New Year’s Eve”, “The Lucky One”…

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed seeing these movies, but I have to wonder how he feels about always playing the same type of character: hard exterior + incredibly good looking + softie on the inside.

I know on the one hand, actors are excited to make money doing what they love – and probably for Efron, he’s lucky to have gotten out of the whole Disney thing. But still. Will he ever have a serious or adventurous role?

This movie, “Mike and Dave”, also introduced my to Aubrey Plaza, probably because she’s known for “Parks and Rec” and a bunch of other things I’ve never seen. But nonetheless, I thought she was hilarious, and I have a feeling her work in this movie will only help her career.

 So, if you still have a chance to see “Mike and Dave”, I’d definitely recommend it – you’re in for some laughs.

In other brief news, good luck on this Monday. I was so, so lazy this weekend, and really sad to see that come to an end. I can’t remember the last time I laid in my bed as much as I did this weekend, and it was quite nice.

I still watched some good TV, finished reading a book, and took a trip to the library (per usual). This week, I’m looking forward to my dance classes, and counting down the days until the Olympics! I’ll have more news on that front as the week continues. See you all here, tomorrow!

Who you gonna call? Chris Hemsworth.

The ladies of the new "Ghostbusters" movie.

The ladies of the new “Ghostbusters” movie.

Over the weekend, my friend Jenny treated me to see the new “Ghostbusters” movie. I haven’t seen a movie in awhile, so I was excited, and glad she picked this one, because it’s not one I would have initially picked for myself, but it ended up being pretty funny!

The movie begins with a historically haunted mansion, complete with the green goop the Ghostbusters’ franchise is known for. The ghost sighting reunites a professor, played by Kristen Wiig, and her long-lost scientist friend, played by Melissa McCarthy.

McCarthy has a new researcher in tow, played by Kate McKinnon. The three of them check out the mansion in hopes of capturing the ghost, taking it back to their lab, and studying it.

But of course, their problem quickly becomes much larger than that, and the group recruits a fourth member, a subway operator (Leslie Jones) who sees a ghost among the tracks. They move into a makeshift office/lab above a Chinese restaurant, and hire a secretary. Enter: Mancandy Chris Hemsworth.

His character is dumb as rocks, but for once it’s great to see a guy placed in a flick for the pure drool factor.

Together, the women must catch the ghosts – which are multiplying by the day – while keeping New York City safe, and getting people (including the government) to believe their challenge is real. Decent plot + comedic timing is what makes this movie a win.

You know what else is cool? The fact that most of this cast is from Saturday Night Live (Cecily Strong makes a few appearances, too)! The film received tons of backlash when it announced its mainly-female cast – critics wanted to stick to the original formula of an all-male spirit squad.

Please! It’s about time we had more films that feature female leads; men get them all the time. And besides, the movie does PLENTY to pay homage to the original cast and films. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of the original – so, I can’t say how it compares to that, although I did like this one much better.

I’d say if you’re at all interested in seeing it, you definitely should. I am a huge Kristen Wiig fan, and it was great to see Kate McKinnon in a longer role than just on SNL.

…So, I’ve been drinking out of this coffee mug that I got from a mug swap I participated in many years ago. It was done through a blog – anyone that wanted to participate just sent their address to the main blogger, along with a few fun facts about us, and we got mugs from another blogger, and of course I sent a mug to my assigned blogger.

I’d really like to do something similar – would anyone be interested in participating? We could do a book swap, recipe swap, or perhaps just a $5 care package swap – if you’ve got ideas for another kind of swap, I am open to it – I’d like to keep it something for both women and men, so keep that in mind.

If there’s enough people that would participate – I can get this going next week! Let me know in the comments, or send me an email: Holly@thebitterlemon.com. I hope to hear from you!

That 3-day weekend tho.

Whew! It’s sucky because it’s kind of like a Monday, but it’s a little less painful knowing it’s Tuesday, and in just four short days, I’ll be running out of the office a la Kevin McCallister on Christmas Eve yet again. I hope you all had a fabulous weekend – I know I did!

I pretty much did everything on my list; I got started a little early and hit up a taco truck Thursday night. I got two beef tacos, complete with pico and fresh lime, along with some nacho chips. I walked a few blocks home and scarfed them down with a few glasses of Chenin Blanc + Voigner by Pine Ridge.

Friday, I left work and hit the wine shop and found a bottle of Rose that looked delicious (Mulderbosch 2015 – perfect for red wine lovers). Then, I went home and made bacon-burgers with tomato jam and slaw. YUM!

On Saturday, I enjoyed a leisurely morning with coffee (of course), did a few hours of freelance work, and enjoyed a nap. I also cleared out a few hours of TV from my DVR, including “The People’s Couch”, “The Voice”, “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” and “Real World: Go Big or Go Home”.

Then, I drove to Round Rock to see my first Express baseball game – versus the Reno Aces. For starters, the stadium is really nice. I had a third row seat, which meant, I was really close and could see the players nice and well, just in case any of them were cute.

Patrick Cantwell.

Patrick Cantwell.

A few innings in, and I’ll be honest, I was starting to miss the excitement of the Texas Stars games. But then they called up Patrick Cantwell, catcher for the Express, to the plate. His walk out song was “PYT” by Michael Jackson (which is one of my favorite songs), and his number is 3 (my lucky number). Hmm… I flipped to his page in the program. From New York.

Perfect! He is sooooo freaking cute, I thought (pay no mind to the fact that he’s only 26). And then he cracked the bat, scoring the first homer for the Express. They ended up winning 5-4.

I wasn’t really hungry during the game, but I had been thinking about a hot dog all day. So, I swung by Sonic on my way home and got a coney dog and one of those Turtle Pecan blasts – holy shit, those are good!

On Sunday, I had a decent amount of freelance work to get done, so I got up and tackled it for about 4 hours while I watched the Indy 500 in its entirety. I also gave myself a pedicure, and then headed to the Drafthouse to see “Neighbors 2”, where I enjoyed a “Blood & Honey” on draft and another cheeseburger. I told you I was going to eat this weekend!

The movie was pretty funny; very similar to the first one, of course. Zac Efron looked fan-fucking-tastic – nearly too buff, but I’d still take him, no questions asked. I finished up my night with a few glasses of wine in bed and a little TV.

On Monday, I slept in, and stayed in bed as late as possible, out of sheer principle that it was Monday, and I wasn’t at my desk. Glory to God in the highest!

I had my coffee, and I finally ventured onto my patio to get a few things done. I planted the remaining seeds I’d boughten weeks ago – filling two pots with soil for wild flowers, two more pots with soil for cat grass (this is a regular thing I do for Blanche), and filling a final pot with soil for a packet of seeds I got online – tulips! I swept my patio and got things looking clean.

That’s when I realized that it was totally supposed to rain all day Monday and it was sunny, and hot as hell. So, I packed my new beach bag and headed to the pool for THE FIRST TIME. I was surprised to see that there were only a few people there,  so I lounged with my book (“What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty) and my white wine spritzer (yeah, I said it) for around 3 hours. It was fantastic!

I got home, got cleaned up, and cooked some chicken, had some wine, and watched “JAWS” – which is the first time I’ve watched it in awhile and it’s definitely interesting seeing it as an adult.

What were you up to this weekend?

Britney sing-a-longs & ‘The Birdcage’.

So, let’s talk about it: the Britney Spears Sing-a-long at the Alamo Drafthouse. Yes. I went last Saturday night and it was pretty fantastic.

I’d heard about it from a coworker, but pretty much everyone I know in Austin (read: 3 people) was busy with other raging Saturday night plans. I wasn’t sure if this would be super lame going alone, buuuuut I kind of LOVE Britney, and it was one of the last times the Alamo was going to show it.

Obviously, I decided to go, and brave it – another date night with myself! I bought my ticket online and upon arrival, I already saw lots of fans dressed up, and even the male waiters were wearing Britney garb: the Catholic school uniform and the flight attendant uniform from the “Toxic” video.

If you’ve never been to the Drafthouse, it’s a movie theatre that serves REAL food, desserts, cocktails, and beer, all from the comfort of your seat. Upon entering the theatre, everyone was given a glow necklace and a wand with streamers on it.

I promptly ordered a beer and the hatch chile cheese fries (yum!). When 10 pm (kickoff time) finally rolled around, we were instructed to sing-a-long, dance, and cheer on Britney for the next TWO-AND-A-HALF HOURS! That’s right, it was more than two hours of solid Britney songs!

Whoop!

Whoop!

Let’s see if I can remember them all: “Scream & Shout” feat. Will.i.am, “Pretty Girls” feat. Iggy Azalea, “Perfume”, “Criminal”, “Til the World Ends”, “Hold it Against Me”, “3”, “Radar”, “Work Bitch”, “If U Seek Amy”, “Circus”, “Womanizer”, “Break the Ice”, “Piece of Me”, “Gimme More”, “My Perogotive”, “Everytime”, “Toxic”, “Me Against the Music” feat. Madonna, “Boys”, “I Love Rock N Roll”, “Overprotected”, “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman”, “I’m a Slave 4 U”, “Stronger”, “Lucky”, “Oops…I Did it Again”, “(You Drive Me) Crazy”, “Sometimes”, and “…Baby One More Time”.

For starters, I definitely had forgotten about a few of these songs – I hadn’t even heard of or seen the videos for “Perfume” and “Criminal” – both right on track as far as Britney songs go: catchy, a little corny, but complete with hot guy in video with her looking amazing.

It was also interesting to look at nearly her entire career over 2.5 hours of time. There is such a difference between those “Sometimes” days versus the “Gimme More” days – and those are the ones Britney fans are forgiving her for (I still cringe thinking about that MTV performance).

Between the Vegas residency and her last few songs (hello, “Work, Bitch”), she’s making as big of a comeback as someone can ask for. I think she’ll always be an entertainer in some form, and it’ll be interesting to see where the years take her. I know I have looked up to her as a dancer since “…Baby One More Time”. The choreography in “I’m a Slave 4 U” has always been some of my favorite.

Of course, there’s always that fantastic flashback of the fashion. Personally, I love the gold top she wore in “Work Bitch”, and am a huge fan of all of the denim she’s sported over the years. During the show, pretty much everyone was on their feet, singing and dancing, and it was really fun! I woke up Sunday with barely any voice, so I know I was really belting it out. Truthfully, I’m not sure what my favorite Britney song is, although I love “Stronger” and I also love “Circus”.

Finally saw this one!

Finally saw this one!

As for me, I’ll be visiting the Alamo very soon, as they are hosting a “Justin vs. Justin” sing-a-long, as in Justin Bieber vs. Justin Timberlake, complete with themed cocktails, and they are also hosting a “Bridesmaids” quote-a-long that includes a free champagne flute. YAS!!!

A few weekends ago, I also finally watched “The Birdcage”. You may recall that I’m kind of on a mission to see all of the movies that I should have seen by now, but haven’t (read about me finally seeing “The Breakfast Club”), so this is just another step in my pop culture journey.

The Birdcage” was released in 1996, so this year marks its 20th anniversary! It stars Robin Williams, and as described by IMDB: “A gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion agree to put up a false straight front so that their son can introduce them to his fiancĂ©e’s right-wing moralistic parents.”

So… I had no idea how funny this movie was going to be. I really had no clue what it was about; read the description on my TV, and I took it that it was going to be a sad movie. So, I braced myself, and then right off the bat (when the bar owner won’t front free drinks for guests), I was laughing.

I don’t want to give anything away, in case I’m not the only person that’s just now seeing it, but in the end, it was a little sad. But, I think it was realistic – and I think it was kind of interesting to watch during an election year, given the political father that was at the dinner.

I also watched “Hairspray” – the John Travolta version – but didn’t think it was so great.

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday weekend; I’ve got some fun things planned, and you can watch it alllllll on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 …or I’ll see you back here on Monday!

Movies: Paper Towns.

Cara and Nat of 'Paper Towns'

Cara and Nat of ‘Paper Towns’

Whoop! It’s 11:37pm on Thursday, July 23, and I’ve just gotten home from the PREMIER of “Paper Towns” — the movie based on the bestselling book by fellow Hoosier, John Green (Yep, I read it).

Y’all don’t understand. I’ve been looking forward to this movie since the day I put down the book… which was like… more than a year ago. I even thought the movie came out JUNE 24, and I was frantically searching online for movie times, and when I didn’t see any local showtimes, I was totally prepped to plan a damn road trip to see a movie… ABOUT A ROAD TRIP.

Anyway, so, yeah, I just saw the movie and I’m still kind of spinning with all of these thoughts on it. Was it good? Yes. I won’t give any spoilers, but I’ll say right now, that the book was better. If you’ve read the book, like my friend Derek, we agreed, the book is much more introspective and that’s really hard to display on the big screen.

However… I’m going to say this, and coming from me, it will probably come as no surprise. This movie took me back. I don’t know what everyone’s experience was in high school. But I know what mine was, and I know that the few friends I had, we had some fantastic adventures when we least expected it. And I know that all we wanted was to be recognized by the cool group in school — and there were times when we were noticed; we actually dated people in THE cool group.

And I’ll tell you it was always a disappointment. There were nights I spent in the homes of kids I never thought even knew my name. And they did the same things my friends and I did — and that fact was a little validating.

And, that’s kind of the point of “Paper Towns.” We have a tendency to build up people or things we know nothing about (story of my life), and in return, we feel like less than. But perhaps, in discovering that truth, we learn a little something about ourselves.

I’m not sure where you’re at in your life. But if you’re at any variable close to me — a person who’s been looking at maps, calculating mileage, and applying to jobs nationwide — this was the exact movie I needed to see this weekend. I highly recommend it.

“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”

—Paper Towns by John Green