Tag Archives: Review

Love NOT Actually

24 Sep
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To me, this movie was PERFECT. Absolutely perfect. If wanting to rip out your eyes is the definition of the word.

Have you ever watched a movie from your past and come back with a completely different conclusion than before?

Well, that just happened to me after a viewing of Love Actually on Netflix. I first watched this in the theater while I was in college and LOVED it! What a true depiction of “love”. It was different, it was funny, it was unique. So basically, it was a movie made for me. I remember raving about the film with a friend, and we gushed and gushed over the various plot lines.

A few days ago? Not so much. It was a ridiculous pile of sh*t. Not even a little bit of an exaggeration there. It tried too hard, it made no sense, and it wasn’t sentimentally tugging at my heartstrings whatsoever. It was just plain dumb. Was I on drugs in college? I don’t remember taking drugs … does that mean I did?

It starts off with a voiceover from one of the too many famous actors in the film, Hugh Grant. People are congregating at Heathrow Airport, while Grant talks of what real love stories are. So you get the impression that you are going to hear about real love stories. Prepare to get really disappointed.

• The first story is about an aging rock and roll star Billy Mack. He goes from zero to amazing in five weeks flat, restarting his career. In ways that would make Miley Cyrus jealous, he uses shock and awe to show the world that he’s still a viable celebrity by making fun of himself. Not by writing new songs or becoming relevant (so I guess that is true to celebrities now?). At the end, he tells his manager Joe that he is the love of his life. It never clarifies if the love is platonic or if Mack just came out of the closet, so the audience is just left befuddled.

• Next, we come to Keira Knightley’s character getting married to a man named Peter. The groom’s best friend Mark might be in love with Peter? It seems that way. But then we find out that the pissed-off veneer that Mark has is really to disguise his love for Knightley’s character. What? Yeah, I understand friends falling for other friends and having to hide it, but usually it happens in a shy, standoffish way. Not by being a total jerk. Well, unless you are a 12-year-old boy. In the end, he’s still in love with her, and the film depicts the three of them just joyfully hanging out together like they are in a threesome or just accepting the situation. So confusing.

• Colin Firth’s character’s wife sleeps with his brother. Oh, well. No mention of either character after that! Because five weeks later he proposes to his Portuguese maid, someone he has not been able to communicate with. Attraction = perfect couple. Not.

• Snape, er, I mean Alan Rickman, plays Harry (was this name intentional?), a director of a design agency. His secretary is IN LOVE with him. She does this by spreading her legs, wearing devil horns, blatantly propositioning him – we get it, you like Harry. Unfortunately, he is married to Karen, played by über famous person Emma Thompson. She is just too, too busy of a mom to notice her husband buying jewelry for his maybe girlfriend/secretary. (The movie forgets to show us if he actually physically cheated on his wife or just likes buying gifts.) The only bright side of the movie is when Mr. Bean makes an appearance as the jewelry store’s salesman. BT-Dubs, Alan Rickman, please speak up. You mumble too much. For all that I know, you just cast a spell on Harry Potter or were just covering up for forgetting your lines to this awful movie. If I were in the situation: samesies! The wife eventually figures it out, but besides looking a bit perturbed, she seems just “what can you do?” at the end. Because really, what can she do? I guess Emma Thompson will just have to make some more banana bread!

• Back to the beautiful Hugh Grant. He plays the handsome prime minister. He falls in love with Natalie, a household staff member with a filthy mouth. The little bugger! But dammit, the U.S. President, played by Billy Bob Thornton, is just in the way. He’s too domineering, too take-control, and too USA. He gets what he wants. So he flirts and flirts and flirts with Natalie, finally kissing her neck. Natalie doesn’t seem to like the attention. So what does Hugh do? Well he basically butchers U.S.-U.K. political ties because he’s upset. Super smart. At a press conference, he pokes fun at the U.S. President (an easy caricature of President Bush) and says that Britain won’t be bullied and that the U.S. needs to watch out. Chivalry, dammit! The British crowd goes wild – wild I say. Because who doesn’t love allies with a long history of friendship becoming enemies? It’s sooooo realistic. He even asks Margaret Thatcher’s portrait what he should do in the situation. I would imagine she would say, “Probably the opposite of what you just did, asshole.”

• Liam Neeson plays Daniel. His wife just died. His stepson Sam doesn’t seem too upset. His mom just died. He’s a tiny little kid “in love”. So he learns the drum set in five weeks to impress a girl. Somehow, he succeeds. Child prodigy. Liam Neeson falls for Claudia Schiffer. Did I mention that his wife just died like a month ago? Is anyone listening to me?

• Laura Linney’s character has been in love with Karl FOR YEARS. They almost get together, unfortunately Linney’s brother is crazy and keeps calling! Linney can’t stop taking his phone calls! Relationship averted!

• This British guy Colin decides to go to America to find hot girls. He finds them. American girls love guys with accents. No personality, dumb as a stump, but has a great accent! YAY! This storyline was SOOO needed.

The only love scene that seems um, “accurate” is between porn stars John and Judy. They star in a movie together, go on a date, and find they have things in common. The porn star thing is obviously weird, but the whole dating and finding things in common seems about right.

WTF, I don’t know what to say. Why did I like this movie? Did I just have horrible taste in college? I just, I just – I can’t. There was nothing real about it (besides the porn couple part with the younger Bilbo Baggins). So watch it if you want, but do it to make fun of it. Please. It’s just that bad.

Carrie’s makeup must-haves

9 Apr

Perhaps no one cares, but I thought it would be fun to list out my favorite beauty must-haves. Yes, this is really girly, but I’m a girl, so that works. And while I like to pretend sometimes that I am a no-nonsense, easy-peasy kind of girl, that is far from the truth. My boyfriend and family members can vouch for that. I like makeup … a lot.  One, again, I’m a girly-girl; and two, I’m a pasty-white ghost. Thank you to my very Irish heritage for that one. So makeup is kind of a must if I don’t want to look like the walking dead. Another disclaimer, I’m really, really picky in this category.

I wish I could give a list of my favorite makeup items that could just be picked up at Target or another box chain store, but no, I kind of have to go to other places (Sephora, cough, cough) to get all of my tools.

So here are a few things that Carrie must have at all times:

I’m a five-minute face gal. But that doesn’t mean I have three items in my disposal to work with. No, I do the whole enchilada every day. And when it’s a special occasion, I just make that enchilada extra loaded. I just complete the whole beauty routine super quickly – it’s down to a science.

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First, face moisturizer. I don’t have a specific go-to, but I have been using Simple Vital Vitamin Day Cream. I have used Kiehl’s, Aveeno, and others – as long as it is light, not heavy and with an SPF of at least 15, I’m usually okay.

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Primer. Yeah, I’m a huge fan of primer. There has been a big hoopla over BB cream (sunblock, moisturizer, foundation, serum, etc.), and I have tried it. But I have a better face result with separate products. I’ve used Sephora and Stila brands, but I have been happy with Tarte lately.

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Sometimes I put on serum, eye primer, and foundation – but most of the time I just add a tinted moisturizer. Stila is my absolute favorite. I can get the right shade and I have more moisturized skin and SPF. (Yeah, I like to load it all on.) My skin isn’t super oily and I don’t have huge skin problems – so this works for me.

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Concealer. If I have a zit, I’ll use some kind of light cream concealer. But my major problem is the dark black pits of despair known as my under-eye circles. With my porcelain yellow-white skin, they show like a mother. And there is only one concealer that I have been happy with. Cover Girl stick concealer. It’s heavy-duty, thick and stays put. It works, so I don’t have any reason to try something super expensive.

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Then them there eyes. I love shadows from Benefit and Stila, but I like trying multiple colors – so again no preference. I usually try to work with my brows, but yeah, I’m not picky here either. And eyeliner is my big thing – and I have at least 10 liners in my stash constantly. Again, I try them all – department and chain store. But when it comes to mascara, there is only one that I deem worthy. Lancôme Hypnose. My eyelashes suck. They are light brown and need some thickness, and this is absolutely perfect. You can plump them up multiple times without feeling like your eyelashes have just become gobs of black goo. I will never, ever try another product ever. Seriously.

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Blush, yeah I wear it sometimes. But I am much more into highlighters and cheek stains. Mary Kay Cheek Stain in Pomegranate is totally awesome, as is Benefit’s Fine One One (this is a brightening color for cheeks and lips). I’m not a fan of powdery substances, so both of these are winners in my book.

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For the highlighter, I usually go with High Beam by Benefit, but I also have a shimmer stick in my purse from Pixi Beauty, which is pretty fab.

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Lip gloss. Frick, I have loads of these. I really like any color of Stila Lip Glaze, as well as the new tinted lip gloss tubes by Burt’s Bees.

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And because I’m so transparent in color, I love me some lipstick. Preferably of the red variety. My collection varies, but I love, love, love anything by NARS, Stila or MAC.

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Afterwards, I usually put on some kind of powder (sparingly, because I hate it). Usually I have Clean and Clear blotting papers in my disposal. Which I find necessary (especially in the afternoon.)

Other things I love that are necessary to my beauty routine?

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Aveeno Sunblock Spray. I never leave home without it. I have learned my lessons well to protect my fair skin. (There was a couple-year stint in high school where I tried to tan my skin to a different color, but only ended up with moles that needed removed because of it.) A dermatologist warned me about the effects of skin damage (shout out to Dr. Ernst-Woodhouse!), and I take her advice seriously. I love this formula because if I don’t have face sunblock on hand, I can spray this without fear of breakouts or super oily skin. The very light scent is another point in its favor.

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Secret Clinical Strength deodorant. If you haven’t switched over, do it. Even if you don’t have seriously stinky armpits, I still recommend it. I bought it after learning that walking a mile to work each day is just not an odor-friendly activity. Still, I use it every day and notice how much better it is than the regular formula.

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LUSH BIG shampoo. Amazing. So awesome. It smells like the beach, is gritty like the beach – basically its sand for your hair in a cup. The texture gave me pause when I first started using it, but man, it has become my favorite hair product. For fine hair, like mine, it’s also a great friend. The only must when using it is to apply conditioner as well, otherwise your hair may come out a bit dry feeling.

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Origins Ginger Essence perfume. I love to smell like a clean hippy. That is why I use this. That is the only way I can describe it.

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And my absolute must: Philosophy Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinoid Eye Repair. This is a bit pricey, but it’s a bit of a necessity for me. Again, I’m pro-anything-that-keeps-your-skin-awesome, and was told by a skin doctor that retinoid can be pretty super spectacular (pretty sure they used other words, so I’m paraphrasing.) The first couple weeks can make you second guess the product (the skin under your eyes may get red and dry), but hold on. If you hold on for one more day, things’ll go your way. FO’ SURE!

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And last but not least, if you don’t have tons of money to spend on makeup supplies, or you just like to be a cheap ass like me sometimes – try out Pixi Beauty Cosmetics. Ohmigod, these products are great. Seriously, I can only say great things about this line. Even before looking at Sephora or other brands of products, go to Target and give them a try. Totally worth it.

So there you go. Too many words on what I use. Now you can mock me and tell me that I’m doing it wrong or spending too much money or tell me that the routine is not working or blabbidy-blah-blah. Don’t care. But that is life.

Nice try, Brooklyn

4 Mar
Canada bars, Communist bars, even trailer park bars ... but nothing Midwest-themed (or at least deserving of the term).

Canada bars, Communist bars, even trailer park bars … but nothing Midwest-themed (or at least deserving of the term).

When I first moved to the NYC area, I had this crazy idea that I would mingle amongst other Midwesterners at some kind of Iowa-themed bar. Silly, I know, but I have “How I Met Your Mother” to thank for that. One of the main characters, Robin, ventures to a Canadian-themed bar if she ever feels homesick. She got the idea from Marshall, a boy from Northern Minnesota who visits a Vikings bar whenever he feels the same. TV shows don’t ever spread lies, I told myself, so there has to be a Minnesota or some kind of Midwest bar in NYC! Canadian bars, yes, even trailer park bars are available for refuge. Green Bay Packers have their own bar, but I am not a big sports fan. I just wanted a bar that would give me that “close to home” feel. So I found Burnside, located in Brooklyn. I had read some good reviews in various articles, and ventured there yesterday with great expectations.

Fail.

Walking in, I immediately felt like it was a Pinterest-inspired 1900’s farmhouse – if hipsters lived during that time period. Faded wallpaper, sandblasted wood, dim lighting through candles and old-timey lanterns – yes, if Laura Ingalls Wilder was trying to be ironic, in a really painstaking way, this would be considered Midwest. (There was a shuffleboard, so they get an up vote for that.)

Their beverage collection. Well … they had Milwaukee’s Best in cans, a Stevens Point lager, and Leinenkugel. And lots of microbrews from the NYC area. Ahem. Oh, I spotted a small bottle of Templeton Rye (shout out Iowa!) behind the counter. The same size I usually spot in a personal liquor cabinet, but eh.

Food? There were bratwurst and burgers, and portobello mushroom sandwiches (something I enjoy, but never consider an Iowa fare). But they had fried cheese curds. A saving grace, thank you God. I have been missing fair food, something I don’t eat a lot of but miss it intensely. You could buy a bag of jalapeno poppers or something fried and heat it up at home. Or just go to Leon’s Pizza and taste their decadent cheese balls with homemade ranch dressing … okay, now I’m drooling. But not here, they don’t have the same respect for fried food as some of us Midwesterners do. So we ordered two baskets, no reason to waste time when fried food is on the line. No side of ranch or ketchup (come on people!), and they tasted more like funnel cake then greasy, beautiful breading-wrapped cheese.

This was a disappointment.

We didn’t stay long, like we thought we would have. Instead, we headed home for supper, not wanting to even imagine what their burger tasted like.

It was decided that The Machine Shed would make a killing in NYC. Seriously, if something farmer-themed came here, I would predict it would be an instant hit. If I had a ton of money, I’d definitely try to finance something of that nature here.

So what I guess I am saying is that I’ll have to wait for a trip home for old-fashioned beer lights, good Iowa food, and an actual Midwest bar. No more of this hipster crap for me.

Fifty shades of red

16 May

If you haven’t heard of the best-selling fiction novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James, you might be living under a rock.

Not because it has been on the New York Time’s bestselling list for weeks or because of the film rights bidding war it has caused – but for it’s explicit content.

Bookstores have been unable to keep it, or the two other books in the trilogy, on the shelves. Kindle eBooks has ranked the books No. 1, 2, 3, respectively, for almost 60 days.

What’s it about, you ask? Well, uh, a recent college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a very successful young businessman named Christian Grey embark on a very, er, romantic relationship.

That is really all you need to know.

Have I read it? Um, yes?

Here’s the story: I had a lot of free time this weekend, I was stuck at a Barnes & Noble, it just happened to be the first thing I saw in the store and there was barely anything else on the shelves (not true.)

Actually, curiosity killed this cat and I just had to check it out. Not only that, but when there is a popular book out (even if I know it’s just not my thing), I feel compelled to see what all the hype is about.

Was it worth it? Let’s see, how should I put this delicately let’s start with the positives. Like “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer, it has its “endearing” qualities. A certain pull that draws the reader in and makes them want more. Such as the emotional connection between the two main characters and um, yeah, that’s all I’ll really say.

That is my positive reaction to the books. In complete honesty, the novels are absolutely horrendous. The prose is atrocious, the plot line is questionable and most of the time, it felt as if I was reading an 11th grade writing assignment gone wrong.

The protagonist, Anastasia, is this mixture of everything I hate in a female lead character. She’s really stupid (an understatement), weak and a complete mess of a person. I’m not saying that those people don’t exist, but this blows Twilight’s Bella out of the water. At first it was cute – when you got to the second and third novels, I was rooting for something bad to happen to the girl. And Grey – don’t get me started. I was so angry at the creep – he is into some really weird, kinky stuff and although I’m not going to go too much into it, I felt his character advocated misogynistic ideas and violence against women. (Yes, she consented to the situations I’m referring to and I could care less. It angers me to no end.)

Yet, people have the right to read such novels and fantasize what they wish about their lives.

“You’re reading too much into it!” fans will say. “It’s just fun.” I call foul, but whatever. So many college women are reading this in their free time, and I know what I was like at that stage. Vulnerable.

And, not that this rant is in any great, polished form, but the grammar, oh, the grammar – it is so bad! The words are repetitive, stereotypes run rampant, phrases that never existed are right in front of you and some of the words that seem smart, feel as if they were pulled right from a thesaurus. Intelligent verbiage just to fill space – completely and utterly pointless.

Okay, okay, I know – people are not reading these books for its witty content. Yes, I get that; I will also commend the author on getting so many women to read, just like Stephenie Meyer – but seriously. Seriously? I’m at a loss for words on this series.

My opinion probably means nothing to most, but I shook my head and smacked my forehead with the palm of my hand so many times during my reading of the first novel. I just – I – no words – uh. I is dumber for reading it. Yes, I know I wrote that wrong. The book is that bad.

If you want to read it, you’ll read it. If you don’t, you won’t. It’s just a bit unnerving that this is the trilogy that gets everyone reading.

Perhaps New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said it best, “Even though James writes like a Bronte devoid of talent, her saga is the first smash hit in the era of “Mommy’s naughty reader.”

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