Archive | December, 2013

Happy to Celebrate a Happier New Year

31 Dec
One of my favorite pictures from one of my favorite days of the past year: Soaking in the excitement of the Red Sox Rolling Rally after they won the World Series

One of my favorite pictures from one of my favorite days of the past year: Soaking in the excitement of the Red Sox Rolling Rally after they won the World Series

What a difference a year makes.

For example, last year the Red Sox finished the baseball season in last place. This year, they’re World Champs. (Yay!)

Last year, my upstairs neighbor was annoying me with her late-night vacuuming and hyperactive dog. This year, she’s moved out. (Yay again!)

Last year, on this very day, the President and Congress reached a deal on the fiscal cliff, ensuring that the long-term unemployed would continue to receive benefits. This year, not so much. (Boooo!)

A year ago, that last item had me nervous up until the ball dropped. This year, I’m relieved that the insensitivity of our elected officials no longer affects me (directly, anyway).

In short, 2013 is ending on a much better note than 2012 did, and I have good reason to move into 2014 happy, hopeful, optimistic, relaxed, and in a better, more positive frame of mind than I’ve been in for quite some time.

Hooray, indeed.
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2013 Was a Lucky Year for the Movies

30 Dec

Inside Llewyn Davis scene2013 was the year Hollywood decided to blow up the White House — not once, but twice.

The year that Johnny Depp’s over-the-top character schtick totally and irreparably jumped the shark.

The year James Franco’s best performance was in a movie about Spring Break depravity, not the Wizard of Oz prequel — or even the movie where he played himself (a version of himself, anyway).

And the year even Bruce Willis didn’t seem to enjoy being a part of yet another Die Hard movie.

Yawn.

So you’d be forgiven if you thought 2013 was a bad year for the movies.

But you’d be wrong.

This was, in fact, one of the best movie years in recent memory, as Hollywood treated us to a bounty of impressive releases. The best of those grappled with important issues, such as racism, the economic climate, what it takes to survive (and thrive), and how tenuous our connections to each other are. They didn’t  provide easy answers or soft commentary, but through a variety of storytelling methods and production values, they entertained us, and in some cases, even inspired us to change our ways.

Of the 66 films I saw this year (!!!), what were the ones that in some cases, literally made me want to stand up and cheer? Here’s my list (with links to my reviews, where they exist). Continue reading

If My Year Had a Soundtrack, This Would Be It

23 Dec

John-Mayer-Paradise-ValleyEvery year has its share of ups and downs.

My 2013 was no exception.

There was hope, disappointment, fear, elation, relief, frustration, happiness, and much more. Sounds like a great movie.

Of course, like any movie, there’s a soundtrack. Here are the songs I was listening to this year, which, when listened to together, provide a pretty accurate representation of the emotional roller-coaster I was on in 2013. (For the record, no pun intended, I did the same thing last year.)

I invite you to relive the year with me — musically, anyway — if you choose. Continue reading

Holiday Movies: The Good, the Bad, and the Burgandy

19 Dec

Christmas isn’t until next week (!!), but Hollywood is already giving out the presents — in the form of some big movies hitting theaters or going wide this weekend.

Because time is tight, given the shorter holiday season, I’m wrapping my own gift for you here: Six reviews in one blog post.

That’s right … six. Read on for my reviews of American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis, Anchorman 2, and Saving Mr. Banks, plus two others as a bonus.

Enjoy! Continue reading