I was really excited to see Pompeii – mainly because I’ve had a mild obsession with Pompeii, Italy for most of my life – and I will say that I was a little disappointed in the film’s focus. Instead of focusing on a citizen of Pompeii, the movie focuses on Milo, a Celtic slave forced to fight in the gladiator arena, and his life as it pertains to the Pompeian woman he loves, Cassia. Despite his origins, Milo’s character is charming enough to make you want to root for him – and Cassia – for the entirety of the film, even as the city of Pompeii begins to crumble around them. The film’s special effects were spectacular, and the eruption of the volcano was all that it should have been. However, I did find the movie’s reference to the plaster casts of Pompeii’s citizens vague, at best, as their presence in the film was largely unexplained. All-in-all, I think that Pompeii would appeal to a range of viewers thanks to the presence of a love story intertwined with gladiator fights, the subplot of unlikely friendship, and, of course, an erupting volcano. Overall Rating: B-
Book Review -- Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
Today we celebrate the birthday of one of the most beloved and prolific of all children's authors -- Margaret Wise Brown.
In the Academy Award Best Picture nominated movie, Her, Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore, a lonely and sensitive writer who develops a deep relationship with an operating system named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). This movie explores the nature of love: what it means to love, how we love, who and what we love, and how we face the loss of love. Phoenix does a brilliant job portraying subtle emotions, vulnerability and human heartache. Scarlett Johansson delivers a strong voice performance, enabling us to accept her as an evolving consciousness rather than a mere software program. This movie was beautifully filmed, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I look forward to viewing it again. Overall Rating: A-
With the warm weather finally here, it's time to start planting gardens!
Soul Food Junkies is a documentary film that discusses how the traditional (but delicious) Southern United States/African-American diet is unhealthy, and how to improve that diet through altered cooking methods and food choices. The difficulties and pressures people experience when they try to give up traditional, greasy, salty comfort food for a healthy diet is tactfully revealed. Traditional, heart-healthy, and vegetarian cooks share their methods of preparing soul food, which enhances the film. I liked Soul Food Junkies’ message that improving one’s diet is not easy, but is necessary to improve one’s health. I recommend this film to all, because the methods of healthy cooking are universal. Overall Rating: B
Every May, we celebrate a very special week-long event called Children's Book Week!
Crafting with Kids: Mother's Day Crafts
Austenland is a vacation resort where customers are transported to nineteenth century Britain to live out their Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice fantasies. Having purchased the cheapest package, Jane's fantasy character is an "orphan with no wealth" and is treated as such until she decides to change her story. She's caught between two men as fantasy and reality seem to blur. This is a very cute romantic comedy with a slow start (great for girls night in). The cast is great: Keri Russell (Jane), Jane Seymour, Jennifer Coolidge, and good looking British men! Watch the end credits for a cheeky musical number. Enjoy! Overall Rating: B+
Book Review: The Pigeon Needs a Bath. "Everyone's favorite pigeon is back, and he's dirtier than ever!"
In the opening scene of Orphan Black, the main character, Sarah, watches in shock as a woman who could be her twin calmly sets down her coat, purse and shoes before walking into the path of an oncoming train. Sarah attempts to cash in by taking the woman's purse and identity and quickly falls down the rabbit hole into the world of human cloning as the series explores the themes of sisterhood, nature versus nurture, individuality, scientific experimentation and religious extremism. The Clone Club consists of nine members (so far) all played by the incredible Tatiana Maslany as distinctly different women ranging from an uptight soccer mom, to a homicide detective, to a geeky scientist, to a psychotic killer. Each week this action-packed series takes the viewer on a thrilling ride as Sarah tries to answer the following questions: who created the clones, who is killing them off one by one and who can she trust to help her? The second season of Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on BBC America. Welcome to the trip. Overall Rating: A
We're celebrating two totally made-up holidays soon: School Lunch Hero Day & Star Wars Day!