Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Business cards

I went to the Michigan Bloggers Meet-up at Roosevelts in Farmington Hills tonight, which was sponsored by the Michigan Bloggers Network on Facebook. I got to network and meet a lot of other area bloggers, and there was one thing they had that I did not: business cards! Two of the bloggers had very cute "mini" cards from moo.com, and vistaprint.com was also recommended to me by fellow blogger and co-worker Intense Auburn. I looked at both sites when I returned home from the meet-up and although Moo has more choices, I opted to go with Vistaprint - Moo was about $25 for 100 mini cards with shipping, and Vistaprint is giving me 250 free cards, with about $5.60 for shipping (21 day shipping, but still). I am very pleased with the result and I thought I would share it all with you here - comment if you have an opinion on it. I liked the black and white and also that it reminded me of something out of a movie (someone driving somewhere), and Vistaprint gives you a surprising amount of background choices considering that it is free.

The finished product

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Going the Distance"

I should tell you beforehand that I am biased when it comes to Drew Barrymore movies, as I am a huge fan of hers. I met her in person at the Birmingham, MI screening of "Whip It" last year, and she seemed as nice in real life as most of her characters are in her movies. Therefore, I was hoping that I would be able to give this movie a good review, and luckily it seems that I can.

Erin (Drew Barrymore, "Everybody's Fine") and Garrett (Justin Long, "After.Life") meet in New York City while Erin is there for a summer internship. They instantly like each other but Erin cautions Garrett that their relationship can only last throughout the summer, as she is returning to San Francisco in August. After they part ways at the airport, however, they realize that they like each other too much for it to just be a "summer fling," and they decide to try having a long distance relationship together. Airfare is expensive, however, and they soon find that when you are only seeing each other every three months or so, it's tough to consider it a "relationship."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Mao's Last Dancer"

Before seeing this film, I had seen the trailer and had also read that it won awards at the Toronto Film Festival; besides that, though, I did not know much about it. The movie, however, ended up being a very pleasant surprise.

Li Cunxin (newcomer Chi Cao, as the adult Li) is selected at a very young age to leave his village in rural China in order to train as a ballet dancer in Beijing. Eventually, he is chosen to go to U.S. and be a guest dancer with the Houston Ballet. It is when Li is there that he finally realizes the oppressiveness of the Chinese government, and when his visa expires three months later, he refuses to go home. The Chinese Consulate will not grant him more time in America, however, a decision which Li and his friends and co-performers try to fight.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"The Switch"

I had hoped "The Switch" would be funny, because its trailer was pretty good. By now we all know the cardinal rule about comedy movies, though: unfortunately, the funniest parts inevitably get put in the trailer, and the audience ends up being disappointed by the rest of the movie. "The Switch" was cute but it was definitely just another "fluffy" summer movie.

Wally (Jason Bateman, "Couples Retreat") is best friends with Kassie (Jennifer Aniston, "The Bounty Hunter"), who constantly hears her biological clock ticking; unfortunately, she's not married, and doesn't even have a boyfriend at the moment. She decides to become pregnant via artificial insemination, and she wants to actually meet the donor, so she chooses handsome Roland (Patrick Wilson, "The A-Team). Her friend Debbie (Juliette Lewis, "Whip It") throws Kassie a "I'm getting pregnant!" party, in which she will be artificially inseminated after the guests leave. Wally, however, drinks a bit much and finds himself in Kassie's bathroom, where Roland's sperm is sitting in a plastic cup ... and you can probably guess what happens from there.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"The Expendables"

Before anyone criticizes this review, let it be known that yes, I had seen the trailer for the movie before viewing it; yes, I knew it was going to be a "shoot 'em up" movie; and yes, I was aware that those types of movies generally don't have much plot. But is it so much to hope that perhaps it does have a decent plot, or at least one that doesn't have so many holes in it? With "The Expendables," apparently yes.

Barney Ross (Sly Stallone, "Rambo") heads the group called the Expendables, which includes Lee Christmas (Jason Statham, "Transporter 3"), Ying Yang (Jet Li, "Ocean Heaven"), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren, "Icarus"), Toll Road (Randy Couture, "Redbelt"), and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews, "Middle Men"). They are a group of rogue henchman who will take on any assignment, for a price. When a "Mr. Church" (Bruce Willis, in a cameo appearance) pays Sly and his gang $5 million to assassinate the dictator of a foreign country, they accept; when they get there and take a look around, however, they realize that the job is going to be much more complicated than they originally thought.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"

When I first saw the trailer for Scott Pilgrim a few months back, I immediately disliked it. It was confusing and there was too much going on in it. Once a friend explained to me that it's based on a comic book series, it made more sense; still, it wasn't a movie I was dying to see. When I won free passes to see it, however, I was hoping that it would be good, since I am a big Michael Cera fan. Luckily, I was not disappointed.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera, "Youth in Revolt") is 22 years old and lives in Toronto. He has a band called the Sex Bob-ombs, and he is now dating a 17-year-old high school girl named Knives Chau (newcomer Ellen Wong). When he meets Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, "Live Free or Die Hard"), however, he knows that he's in love. They start dating, but there's a catch: he must defeat her seven evil exes ("not ex-boyfriends, but exes," she constantly reminds him) before he can really be with her. The exes show up everywhere and randomly, and although Scott is pretty good at fighting (he learns most of his skills from video games, in my opinion), he gets pummeled pretty hard during the majority of the movie too.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Eat Pray Love"

There were two other movie screenings I could have attended last night, "Takers" and "The Expendables." However, I chose to see "Eat Pray Love," because I love Julia Roberts movies, and the trailer made it look interesting. It ended up being an overall decent film, albeit a very slow-moving one.

Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts, "Valentine's Day") is unhappy in her marriage to Stephen (Billy Crudup, "Public Enemies"), and after her divorce she decides to take a year-long trip around the world. She visits Italy, where she learns how to savor food; India, where she learns how to pray; and finally, Bali, where she learns how to love again. Although these are three radically different countries and cultures, Liz finds something meaningful in each experience, and by the end of her year she is once again refreshed and ready to take on life.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Michigan: Hollywood of the Midwest?

*By Liz Parker (Yes/No Films) and Elyssa Pearlstein (A2-4U)

Liz Parker with Courteney Cox-Arquette, in Ann Arbor

Scene from "Youth in Revolt"
shot in Ann Arbor, summer '08
A few weeks ago, I was visiting with some friends in Ann Arbor and we decided to go to The Black Pearl on Main Street. Once seated, one of my friends (co-writer of this article, actually) asked me if the woman seated two bar stools down from us looked like Courteney Cox Arquette. I turned to look and was stunned – if it wasn’t Cox Arquette, it was definitely a really close look-alike. I thought that there was a good chance that it would be her since I knew that the movie she was starring in, “Scream 4,” had recently been filming in Ann Arbor. Our other friend thought that it wasn’t her; however, when fans started inching closer to her with cameras in tow, we knew that it was. Courtney graciously took pictures with us, and we left The Black Pearl a little bit starstruck.

The question, then, is this – is Michigan becoming the “new Hollywood”? Fellow blogger Jackie at freeismylife.com posed this question in a blog post of hers, and I have to slightly agree with it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"The Other Guys"

After viewing the trailer for "The Other Guys" a few weeks ago, I was expecting the movie to be either really hilarious or really dumb. Unfortunately, it ended up being a mix of the two, although the audience seemed to be laughing during most of it.

Terry (Mark Wahlberg, "Date Night") is sick of being "the other guy" - the guy who sits at his desk doing paperwork all day while the other policemen get to respond to calls and get all the glory. Terry was on his way to being a star policemen when he made the unfortunate mistake of shooting Derek Jeter, thinking he was an intruder at the ballpark, and so now he has to deal with his partner, Allen (Will Ferrell, "Step Brothers"), who would be content sitting at his desk and not doing any "actual" policework. When a case comes their way that may actually be big, however, they decide to step up and try to solve it; unfortunately, their boss (Michael Keaton, "Post Grad") tells them to back off and leave the case alone.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Step Up 3D"

There was a screening of "Step Up 3D" last week, but I had chosen to see "Charlie St. Cloud" instead, so I was glad when another screening was available for this week. This is the third film in the "Step Up" series, though I had only seen the original, which featured Channing Tatum as the main dancer. It didn't matter that I missed the second, as "Step Up 3D" can be considered a "stand-alone" film, and the 3D and the dancing in it were fantastic.

Moose (Adam G. Sevani, "Step Up 2: The Streets") and Camille (Alyson Stoner, TV's "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody") are freshmen at NYU, and they are at an orientation tour when Moose spots a pair of Nike shoes he likes. When he follows the owner, he gets drawn into a street dancing competition, in which he competes and is spotted by another dancer, Luke (Rick Malambri, "Surrogates"). Moose had been a dancer in high school but is now determined to study engineering at NYU and give up dance; however, Luke brings him into his dancing "family" and Moose can't resist going back to his old ways. Their dance crew must win Worlds for the $100,000 prize money, as their house is about to be seized by the bank, and Luke believes that Moose can help them achieve this. Luke also recruits Natalie (newcomer Sharni Vinson) as part of his dance team, and they end up falling for each other; what he doesn't know, however, is that she has a big secret she's keeping from him.