Wednesday, August 31, 2011

TV Recommendation: The Hour

    I recently discovered a great new show that has filled the void this summer's TV season. The Hour is set in England during 1956. *Don’t stop reading! Wait, let me finish!* The wonderful Romola Garai is a first time producer for a new hourly broadcast program. She entails her good friend/frequent co-worker (Ben Whishaw) to come along. They’re sick and tired of being second rate. These two usually cover debutantes and non-hard hitting stories. However, tensions arrive with a new debonair host played by Dominic West. This won’t be your typical workplace drama. It’s going to get competitive as I see a little love triangle forming!


    Immediately (because it’s based in the 1950s), The Hour has been compared to Mad Men but I’m here to tell you: these are two completely different shows. The Hour should be in along the lines of Network or even Broadcast News. Also, for all those dummies out there: Mad Men is set in the 1960s America. Um, yeah, we had some major differences back then! *If you forget this is the Cold War Era, look around to see literally everyone chain-smoking.*

    Now, some folks might be bored with this concept. I can tell you I only check it out after seeing Garai’s name. Yet, after seeing the first episode, I was happily surprised to be caught off guard on how well-written and paced the series is. There are spies involved! Elements of crime drama, suspense, comedy, and political intrigue seep into the main plot lines and you just want more! Don’t compare it to other period pieces; The Hour has it’s own style and sophistication that brings me back for more.

    Garai perfectly conveys the struggle as a woman in the workplace.  She should be a “good little housewife” instead of wanting a career. What I love about her character is the inability to back down and go straight for the story. It’s hard enough being a woman in the 1950s but doing a man’s job was unheard of during that period. I'm ecstatic to see Garai shine brightly in a well deserved series. Whishaw was poetic perfection in Bright Star. Here, he’s not a mopey writer anymore but stands out as an electric journalist on the trail for the most worthy story. West is the Cary Grant prototype as a slick ladies man presenter. The tender moments when he tries to woo over Garai help me forget his tough character on HBO’s The Wire.

    The newest TV British import is already a hit in the UK and has been opted for a second season. American audiences have gotten a taste of this show with the latest 2 episodes airing on BBC America. I’m a little late to the series but there are 4 more episodes to go before the 1st season is over. I highly recommended watching it for a smart and wildly addictive series. You may think it starts off slow but stick around. You won’t regret it.

The Hour airs Wednesday Nights at 9pm on BBC America.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Buzzworthy Music Tuesdays: August 30

Laura Marling

    This British folk singer has been on the scene for awhile now but slowly making her way to the charts. Her distinct voice is a relief from the Rebecca Black's of the world. Her melodious music is heavily guitar based which is why I love her. No auto-tune in sight! It's hard to believe that she's only 21 years-old because Laura's lyrics sound like a Sylvia Plath poem! I would love to see her with her frequent band mates Mumford and Sons live in concert.

Her new album "A Creature I Don't Know" is to be released on September 13.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Coming Soon: The Rum Diary

    Johnny Depp is on his Hunter S. Thompson kick again with the adaption of the author's novel, The Rum Diary. Depp stars as a 1950s journalist new to the island. He meets a lovely lady who is engaged to a shady businessman, Aaron Eckhart. Don't be fooled by that description, this is not a love story! It involves corruption and lots o' lots of rum.

    This film has been in production in Puerto Rico since 2007. I have not idea why it took over 3 years to make this movie unless there's an CGI avatar popping up in the end?? Already, many fans are unhappy with Depp bringing their beloved book to the screen. I agree some books shouldn't be transitioned but I am eager to see this. I have faith that this will become a worthy thriler (ignoring The Tourist).

The Rum Diary will hit screens October 28th.

Friday, August 26, 2011

See It or Skip It: The Help

    I loved reading the critically acclaimed bestselling novel earlier this year. As a skeptical movie buff, I know there are numerous adaptations of books to movies that have been TERRIBLE. For once, I was glad to see I wasn’t going to be disappointed.

    The Help is set in 1960s Mississippi on the brink of the Civil Rights Movement. The story is focused on three women: Aibileen, Minny, and Skeetor. As a recent college graduate, Skeetor wants to write a book on the real life story of African American maids. A book about how these maids feel, how they are treated, and how it affects everyday life in Jackson, Mississippi. Of course, none of the women are interested in helping a white woman who is friends with most of their bosses.

    Viola Davis is the heart and soul of this film as Aibileen, a maid with a quiet yet strong willed demeanor. I was impressed with Viola in her supporting Oscar nominated performance in Doubt but this was something else. I can actually say she is what makes this a great film. There’s a scene where she opens up and describes a horrible incident from her past. Ms. Davis does this with such pose, elegance, and a delicate patience. There wasn’t a dry eye in the theatre!

    Octavia Spencer was born to play Minny, the sassy cook with an infectious personality. Octavia effortlessly delivers comedic lines like a pro. Yet, she also brings force to the screen. The epic scene with Minny and Hilly is one that will be remember for years to come. It’s interesting to know she is friends with the author and was inspiration for the character. So yes, she was born to play her!

    Emma Stone is generally known as comedienne but I am happy to say – the girl can act. Skeetor is an important character; so, readers were skeptic in the beginning. However, let it be known that Emma Stone is a great fit. A pivotal scene with her and her mother’s character was the first time I’ve ever seen her show her acting abilities. It was a very poignant moment in her career.

    I hated to love and loved to hate Bryce Dallas Howard as the movie’s villainess, Hilly Holbrook. Howard excels with her evil yet charmingly perilous words. Her delivery of “There are some real racists out there!” was hysterical. You hate this character but you can’t help but pity her ignorance. Bryce Dallas Howard created a memorable role and is finally a real actress. We can all ignore her terrible Twilight: Eclipse scene (which granted isn't her fault).

    Jessica Chastain was sweet as apple pie as the outcast Celia Foote whose genuine heart melts the tough Minny. She is done up as a Marilyn Monroe doppelganger. Unfortunately, none of the housewives are willing to overlook her bombshell looks and invite her in their inner circle. This could have EASILY become a campy performance but the physical and emotional struggle for Celia Foote is proof that Jessica Chastain is on her way to becoming the next Cate Blanchet.

    Veteran actresses Sissy Spacek, Cicely Tyson, Allison Janney also add a splash of AH-MAZING to this film. Sissy Spacek is delightful as Hilly’s mother, Mrs. Walters. She definitely brings some laughs to the screen. I only wish there was more of her. Cicely Tyson plays the maid (and second mother) that raised Skeetor, Constantine. Cicely Tyson’s power to convey a spirited yet fragile woman reminded me of her in the 1970s classic Sounder. She’s the grandmother we all wished for. Allison Janney played by wonderfully funny and politically incorrect mother to Skeetor. Janney has some real intimate scenes with Emma Stone's character. Their mother/daughter scenes are dear to my heart.

    There are several scenes where I gasped. A powerhouse of emotion flooded me including the shocking ordeal with Hilly’s maid, Yule May; as well as, the heartbreaking scene with Constantine and Skeetor’s mom. It’s despicable to think there really was a “separate but equal” in our government. This movie seriously brought horrible sobbing tears to my face but I loved every minute.

    The Help is a emotional film lead by a stellar cast. When I say stellar – I mean remarkable. This film was a very accurate adaption of the book which is not always the case in Hollywood (Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix, cough - cough). Director Tate Taylor and cast perfectly created the same vision I had of the lives of these characters but made it even greater than what I had imagined.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ten Years Today: Remembering Aaliyah

    Aaliyah was the coolest chick in R&B in music from the time she came out singing "Back & Forth." Who knew a 14 year old could be so smooth saying her own name! "It's L-I-Y-A-H." Her first album, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number was produced with help of R. Kelly. It was just a teasing of the hits to come. Her remake of "At Your Best" was a standout in the album but the Aaliyah we all love truly broke out with her album, One in A Million. Produced by mega-hit makers Timbaland and Missy Elliot, every song from the album was a chart topper. "If Your Girl Only Knew," "4 Page Letter," "Hot Like Fire," "The One I Gave My Heart To," "One In A Million" led to a 2x Platinum for the singer. She dabbled as an actress in Romeo Must Die while surprising everyone with her genuine acting abilities. The girl was a force to be reckoned with! I still hear her hits "Are You That Somebody" and “Try Again” played continually! Her last album was simply titled, Aaliyah was released after her death and was immediately at the top of the sales. 

    I remember hearing the news that Aaliyah and her crew died in that terrible plane crash in the Bahamas. Only 22 years old. I literally cried for days. It may seem juvenile for some but the thing with an artist is when you listen/relate to their music - you feel like you know them. I felt like I had lost a friend. I used to rock the Tommy Hilfiger clothes, dark shades, and even my hair parted just like Aaliyah. She was not only a great singer, she was a style icon. Her boyish baggie pants topped with a tank top was the epitome of sexy-cool. 


    It's wonderful to know that her songs are still played today because they were just that good! Her sweet voice cooed in your ear while those bopping funky beats had a easy that anyone could listen to. I miss her music, I miss her contagious smile, and I miss her because she was a wonderful role model. She was growing up into a beautiful woman and doing exceptionally well in her life. This is a true tragedy when someone young and so together is ripped from this earth. Let us remember Aaliyah today and continue to honor her memory for the years to come.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Florence Is Back!

    The original and vibrant Welsh songbird is back with TWO new songs. Florence released her last album Lungs in 2009. I've seen her THREE times in concert. I consider her to be one of the greatest performers EVER. It's not a concert - it's an experience! The new album is set for November 7th and was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in England. I'm beyond excited to hear her new material. Below is the video for "What The Water Gave Me" which is the first single. The second "Strangeness and Charm" will be on the album but I've actually heard her sing this song live. It's breathtaking! It's destined to be a bestseller and will rock our socks off.

"Lay me down / Let the only sound be the overflow / Pockets full of stones / That's what the water gave us!"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Buzzworthy Music Tuesdays: August 23

Amy Winehouse

    It’s officially been a month since Amy Winehouse past away. We still don’t know what she passed away off expect to say that the toxicology report was inclusive (which generally means there are too many substances in the system). I’ve been listening to her music non-stop while sadly thinking what a tragedy it is that we only have 2 full albums from this artist. I went to an Amy Winehouse Tribute and all the girls were dressed in their best eyeliners and beehives. She is gone, but not forgotten.

Here is her stunning voice on Valerie.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What I Learned From: Breakfast At Tiffany's

“Did I Tell You How Divinely and Utterly Happy I Am?”

 Use this sentence at least once a week. Either say it to yourself as a affirmation or just a general statement said in any conversion.

“Personally, I Think It Would Be Tacky To Wear Diamonds Before I’m 40.”

An essential style note from NY’s classiest call girl. Aim for pearls or silver.

Holly Golightly is the biggest fashionista to ever hit the screen. Little Black Dresses everywhere say thank you.

Men sometimes act like either “rats, super-rats, mice.”

Ms. Golighly sure didn’t have any luck with men until she met Paul Varjack and this was the 60s. I can’t begin to explain the NY men of today!  

The “Mean Reds” are the worse than the old “Blues.”

“You’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of.” The only cure is a trip to Tiffany’s!

Nothing Bad Can Happen To You Inside Of Tiffany's.


It may be pricy but staring into the cool crisp glass displays overseeing diamonds, pearls, gold, silver, platinum, and every other gem a girl’s heart desire is sure to either cheer you up or depress the hell out of you because you aren’t taking anything home.

Swinging House Parties Are The Best

Women crying at the party, Rusty Trawler, endless dancing, and possibly the best time of the 1960s happen inside of Holly’s apartment Poor Mr. Yunioshi couldn't take it!

Do Not Accept Drinks From Disapproving Gentlemen

Especially not disapproving gentlemen who are kept by other ladies. What right does he have to judge you!?

“A Girl Can’t Read That Sort Of Thing Without Her Lipstick” 

Important events happen at a moment's notice so a Holly must always have her “face” on when reading letters! But for us real girls, it's always nice to look your best.

Love Doesn’t Put You In Cage

It’s okay for people to belong to other people because whether you like it or not we all wish for that movie cliché of kissing in the rain.

Friday, August 19, 2011

See It or Skip It: Crazy, Stupid, Love

    I’ve recently discovered the recipe for a joyful rom-com-drama. It entails two main ingredients: great writing and an outstanding cast. Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marissa Tomei, and Kevin Bacon are what I call “outstanding.” I do like how Hollywood is putting big casts together but it can get overwhelming if done incorrectly, i.e. Valentine’s Day. Each of these actors brings Crazy, Stupid, Love to another level on its own terrain. I can safely say it’s the best romantic comedy I’ve seen in over 2 years.

    Now, please don’t confuse the premise with the likes of Will Smith in Hitch. Yes, there’s a bit of that “male makeover” routine but this film has what Hitch was missing - a heart. *Don’t get me wrong – it was an entertaining film but a far cry from good!*

    The movie opens up as Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) hears the horrible news that his wife of 25 years wants a divorce. Instead of the quest of becoming a sad divorcee still pining for his ex-wife, Ryan Gosling’s Jacob comes to the rescue. Here is a handsome smooth talking man that can get (and probably has) any women he wants. Cal desperately wants to become his disciple.


    Yet, as the story progresses, Cal in a way grows up and becomes a better man. All the while, Emily (his ex) still misses him but tries to live without him. Their children are adorable. Teenage son, Robbie believes his 17 year old babysitter is his “soul mate.” He sends her texts and publicly proclaims his love (at the high school, no less). Sadly. he doesn’t realize she’s also got her eyes for someone else which is when fun unfolds.

     Emma’s Hannah is a career driven law student that isn’t falling head over heels over Jacob’s lothario game. She’s not about to go for a  pick-up line even if he does have some classics (“Fancy face” is just what he calls a lucky lady one night). My favorite scene is Hannah and Jacob’s first night together.”Seriously?! You’re like Photoshopped” It’s great to hear there was a lot of  improvisation! I have a special place in my heart for their recreation of the famous Dirty Dancing ending.

    On the other side, one of the most endearing moments in the film is when Cal and Emily call each other about to fix the power breaker. Their love and history is so evident that it spills onto the screen. It got a little misty-eyed in the theater.

     Ryan is wonderful in comedy and fits easily into the role of the know-it-all ladies man, Jacob. Steve Carrell, as shown in Dan In Real Life, not only has a talent for comedy but also for drama. I enjoyed the touching moments and the overwhelming emotion portrayed on his face. Julianne Moore is simply STUNNING. Truthfully, I can’t think of anything she wasn’t wonderful in! A magnetic actress in every genre. Emma Stone is funny and cute as usual. She the type of girl any fella can go for.

    The supporting characters do a terrific job of not overshadowing the plotline. Scene stealers Jonah Bobo and his wishful love, Analeigh Tipton (from America’s Next Top Model) provide easy comedic relief. It’s just like a complicated love story - the younger version. Marissa Tomei is hysterical as an unforgettable one-night stand. You have to wonder why she’s not doing more comedies. He may have broken up a marriage but Kevin Bacon doesn’t have a big role. I still liked his company on screen.

    The tribulations of a marriage isn’t a new concept to Hollywood films but it’s refreshing to see how a “recycled” storyline of cheaters, one-night stands, losers and playas can be so well executed.