Sunshine Cleaning

First of all: I liked it.
So it was a little on the dramatic side (eh)...but it was also a little on the quirky side (which i like)...and the actors make it work. Great acting, really.

Second of all: there were several undeveloped side stories.
Which leaves me with kind of this pleasant dissatisfaction. Especially considering that the main story itself wasn't overwhelmingly to my liking. Better to leave the rest of the stories to my imagination.

Third of all, Winston was definitely my favorite character.

(500) Days of Summer

TOTALLY my kind of movie. Plus Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a babe. Just sayin.

Anyway, the story provides a very interesting perspective of love and happiness. In beautiful indie style. I like.


Incredible special effects and thought-provoking movie! I really enjoyed it. Although it may seem that the bad guys are excessively one-sided, the conflict is a true one. It really hit home with me and I wept thinking about actual historical events that paralleled those in the film. For that reason, it may not be the most original plotline, but one well-worth the repetition.

Another movie I'd probably acquire for my own collection. Definitely recommend it.

The Princess and the Frog didn't really like it.

It kind of reminded me of Anastasia. You know - creepy villain into black magic, headstrong heroine with big dreams, charming loser hero.

Will I ever enjoy animated films again? Perhaps if/when I have kids.


A movie well-worth watching. I loved how Denzel's approach to AIDS and homosexuality matures throughout the film. It made me think - our society has come a long way. And, we've got a long way to go.

It gives me pause to note, there's a reason why I didn't see this movie a long time ago. I distinctly remember when my parents went to see it; my mother seemed moved and saddened by the film. But as a youth, the fact that the story was emotional and moving made me afraid. I wasn't sure I wanted to be affected by it.

(How ridiculous and sad, the fear of heresy...Did I prefer ignorance for its security? Well anyway, I'm glad to be able to lay my old fears to rest.)

Personal Effects

Something about this movie touched me, deeply. Which was a total surprise, considering the star is Ashton Kutcher. Ashton Kutcher - in a drama? Anyway, I don't even know what to say about it. I was moved by the combination of pain, and confusion, and disbelief, and vulnerability, and longing. And love.

Be warned of graphic content (dead body) and some language.


I have never seen a movie like this!

Except, it stirred a vague memory of a redheaded girl named something like Penny (?) who could breathe under water, and who was friends with a dolphin who saved her when she stepped on some poisonous coral. In a movie I watched on the disney channel one sunday as a little girl when I faked being sick so I could stay home from church.

I digress. Anyway, Ponyo was actually kind of funny, and endearing in its own way. What's not to love about a goldfish who sprouts chicken feet and then becomes a human-girl? And a mother with Tina Fey's voice who leaves her 5 year-old and the goldfish girl to fend for themselves in the middle of a tsunami/storm? Grin.

He's just not that into you

Personally, I thought this movie was a little depressing. In the end, it still seems to be portraying love as a game, which works out only if you make the right moves...and even then it's not guaranteed.

At the same time, it was light enough not to take it too seriously, so still enjoyable. I'd say it's worth seeing.

Sweet Land

So, throughout most of this movie I'm thinking that it's frustrating and a little slow...

...and then it ends, and I'm bawling.

Not amazing, but I definitely liked it. My favorite scene had the main character and her fiance in tears. I could feel it too. The fiance, Olaf, managed to do the best acting of all, with pretty minimal dialogue.

The Proposal

Ryan Reynolds is sooooo dreamy. Also...needy? Nice! Enjoyable little fantasy.

Oh wait, there may have been more to the plot than that, but that's all I remember.

The Invention of Lying

I really, really enjoyed this movie. I found it funny and quite thought-provoking. The absence of lying was in part represented by a lot of literal or superficial tactlessness, but I think the exaggeration drove the point home. I will see it again.

BUT - for my friends: I think it will appeal mostly to secular audiences, and may be considered offensive and even crude by the more religious. I don't think I would have enjoyed it at all a year or two ago.

Catcher in the Rye

I just read this for the first time. Frankly, I'm shocked at how many people name this as their favorite. I guess I owe it another read, or a more in-depth analysis.

I did find it enjoyable, and thought-provoking, and amusing, and relatable. Huh.

The Scarlet Letter

I just got back from a vacation, during which I enjoyed revisiting Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. I found so many parallels to my own religious experience:

1. ON VIRTUE - Many believed that only fear of punishment would support human virtue (p. 45).

2. ON JOY - Hester (the adulteress) rejected most joys as sin (p. 70).

3. ON GUILT - Mr. Dimmesdale "attributed all his presentiments" to his own sin. In other words, he blamed his dislike and distrust for Hester's husband on his own guilt and shame, refusing to believe that the other truly harbored him any ill-will (p. 117).

3b. Hester tended to explain away (justify) the sins of others, or take the blame upon herself (blame for her daughter's wildness, her husband's consuming hate, her lover's self-destruction) (p. 140).

4. ON SELF-CONCEPT - Mr. Dimmesdale tended to view others as saintly, and himself as depraved. Hester too is continually self-denigrating, accepts and even encourages the holier-than-thou condescension of others as deserved.

5. ON REVELATION - There was a tendency for persons to find plenty of individualized revelations in nature (p. 128).

Good, thought-provoking stuff.

A Whole New Mind

Read this for class. It was an easy, fairly enjoyable read. My biggest criticism is that the writing didn't seem very research-based, more subjective than objective. Casual. Of course, maybe the conversational tone is what made it such an easy read.

Anyway, I liked thinking about Mr. Pink's ideas, in spite of his apparent bias. He emphasized the importance of tapping into right-brain characteristics. I like.

Before Sunset

WOW. This movie is ME. It was sooooooooo much better than I expected. It was one long, philosophical conversation. Colored by emotion, especially that friend we all know - "What if?". Witty, charming, and MUCH better crafted than any real life conversation (of course). So I loved it. Now I am curious if the predecessor would be worth watching. Or if these films are based on books? Cuz there's some good, meaty thought going on.

There's this part of me that wonders why I post reviews of movies that most (if not all) of those of you who read this blog won't want to see. Maybe in the chance that there's an edited version available someday? But really, I'm not trying to convince anyone to watch what I've watched. It's just...this IS me, these ARE the things I think about...and I like to be able to talk about them? Hmmm. For what it's worth! :)

Everything is Illuminated

I have such mixed feelings about this film. I loved the thoughts and emotions it provoked in me....but I don't know to whom I would recommend it?

There are these conversations between characters which are vulgar, extraneous, mundane...

There is humor, and I wonder how much is truth? How much is caricature? Does it matter?

And then there are moments of poetry, and tragedy, and beautiful heart-ache, and wisdom.

And maybe I'm looking beyond the mark, but the movie seemed real to me in that life is messy - it's not all beauty and truth. It is one moment silly, or stupid, and the next moment eternal, and profound. And God sees it all, understands it all.

Joy Luck Club

How did I miss this one? Especially when I'd read and enjoyed the book as a teen?

Oh yeah, because it was rated R. What do I think of the rating now? Well, on the movie case itself, it attributes the rating to "thematic elements" or something vague like that. And while this movie is heart-breakingly beautiful and not vulgar at all, I do agree that it would be best appreciated by mature audiences. A baby is killed. It is tragic and disturbing (though not gory).

Anyway, I love the film. How could I NOT relate to the story of eight+ women struggling to be good and strong in the face of their individual insecurities? Must read the book again. I think I would appreciate it much more as an adult.

Starter for 10

Wow, where did this one come from?? Randomly stumbled across it in netflix.

A bit predictable, but likeable (not surprisingly, Tom Hanks is among the producers). I liked the end. Plus, it's BRITISH and set in the 80's. With mixtapes, and everything. Plus, James McAvoy. Nice.

Eat Drink Man Woman

In a funny way, this movie felt like home. It's Taiwanese, of course.

My mouth watered and my heart ached. I laughed, and I hmmmm'd, and I was half-distracted wondering throughout why that land/culture is so close to my heart.

I'm not sure whether or not to recommend this movie to anyone else, because I feel like my own opinion and viewing-experience was so clouded by nostalgia! But apparently, it was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1994, if that means anything to you.

Away From Her

I cried three times today. Twice during this movie. It was a story that made me...thoughtful. Hmmmm. Interesting portrayal of a couple dealing with Alzheimers.

And wow, Julie Christie is gorgeous even as an old woman! ;)

Daniel Deronda

You know those BBC period pieces that suck silly romantic girls in? Here's another one.

The truth is, I found the production pleasant and interesting -- but MOSTLY I really enjoyed the scattered hints of literature worth further study. They left me wanting the full story. I loved the comparisons evident between the different characters, their choices and relationships. I loved George Eliot's treatment of social issues including gender roles and race/religion.

I will probably be acquiring this book for my own collection, and reading it, soon. :) Oh, and I recommend the silly romantic girls.

I've Loved You So Long

What do I know of despair?

The past week has been hellish for me, and this was a thought-provoking escape and reminder that somehow...through it all...there can be love, and light.

Movies like this make my heart want to be just a little bigger.


As it says on the cover, this is "a gem of a film!"

Definitely recommend it. I randomly stumbled across it tonight (well, actually, Netflix is already starting to know me in a Big Brother way, and put it in my path). I found myself totally relating to the main character, Rachel (an Orthodox Jew). Oh that party scene.

Loved her friendship with Nasira. Laughed throughout at unexpected insights. Maybe things worked out just a little too well for them both in the end...

but by the end, it seemed just right (even if they both looked like models). And for the moment, I feel just a shade less-cynical. :) Who knows.


Kinamand = "Chinaman" in Danish. Think the Chinese version of Green Card, in Danish. A bit slow. With an abrupt ending. But beautiful to listen to the Danish and the Chinese!! And nostalgic to listen to all of the Chinese love songs throughout.

Band of Brothers

This HBO mini-series is excellent, excellent, excellent. Like I said on my other blog, I will definitely be acquiring this for my own collection and watching it again. To remember. I highly recommend it.

Of course, some of you might care to know that if it were rated it would definitely be R.

Saint Ralph

So, this one surprised me a bit. I thought it was going to be about a boy wanting to win a race so his mom could wake up from her coma. It was more about the boy's struggles with, um, sexual energy I guess? And how he turned to running to cope with that, and with the world being against him, as well as with his mom dying.

If the story had been true, like I thought it was the whole time, it would have been more moving. It did keep my interest (again, in part because I thought it was based on reality! and in part because I love movies about endurance athletes), and it did fuel my desire to run. But...the plot/scripting was definitely B-movie quality, and a little bit hokey at times, and so...I guess I don't recommend it. Chariots of Fire is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better. Also, On a Clear Day, of course!

Kramer vs Kramer

I call this "Story with No Happy Ending." Sigh.

Worth watching, of course. Some good food for thought. Good drama, without being Hollywood-dramatic.

Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring

I like foreign films. I do. So it was fitting that the first DVD I would rent with my Netflix membership would be French.

I didn't watch it all in one sitting (viewing time = nearly four hours in total). I didn't cry when a main character died. I didn't connect with the love story.

BUT. The story of selfishness and betrayal, anger and remorse. THAT, I connected with. In the end, 5 stars out of 5!

Twilight (2008)

I'm pretty sure no one that reads this blog would even think of renting this movie, but in a moment of weakness...I did.

Wow, I have not seen something this bad since...The Spiderwick Chronicles. I couldn't stomach either. Turned it off before the plot could even develop. Terrible everything - elementary script, bad acting, super-annoying plot (this relationship is so creepy and stalkerish - makes me wonder how I made it through the book back in the day?)...blech. Left a bad taste in my mouth!!!

Man I need some About a Boy or Wedding Singer now, to wash that away....

Settebello (in Salt Lake City)

Caprese Salad? Awesome.
Margherita Pizza? Awesome.
Gelato for Dessert? Awesome.
Good walk, good swim, good conversation, good friend...awesome.

17 Again

I liked it, I did. A little goofy and predictable, of course, but...well...I laughed and I enjoyed myself.

PLUS, I heard songs by Spoon and the Kooks - cool!

The Tale of Despereaux (2008)

So....the book is better.

I'm guessing that this movie does a good job at keeping most kids entertained, but it just made this kid sleepy. And I think it was different from the book, because the book was quite good (elementary, yet also appealing to adult audiences), but I can't really remember how. Hmmmm.

Marley & Me

Let me just say that if you go into this movie expecting Where the Red Fern Grows, you will be relieved.

Meanwhile, it's you know, cute, and a surprisingly good plug for the traditional family.

I still don't want a dog.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Yet another book that leaves me moved.

In its captivatingly poetic pages I find a metaphor for my OWN life. Like Pi Patel, I feel myself adrift...cramped in my own lifeboat...wrestling against my own tigers...seeking for my own for those moments that are meaningful - if only because they are new and unique.

Unexpectedly beautiful story.

Eagle Eye (2008)

Wait a second, I've seen this movie before! Except with Will Smith! It's called I, Robot.

So the plot is not the most original, and the chemistry between the two main characters isn't the best (even if the girl is a cougar, and I'm all about that really ;)...but I was still entertained. Worth seeing once when you're in the mood for some suspense and there's nothing else on.

One of Ours by Willa Cather

"Ruin and new birth; the shudder of ugly things in the past, the trembling image of beautiful ones on the horizon; finding and losing; that was life..."

This novel is comprised of five books. The first three I couldn't read fast enough; I felt like I was reading about myself. The last two didn't keep my interest as much...but still, from beginning to end, it was full of the sentiment above...and since I could completely relate to that feeling, it kept me pushing on. Overall, I loved it. I recommend this book for pragmatic-idealists. :)

Easy Cheesy Chicken Chowder

1 cup broccoli flowerets,
1 cup corn
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 t. dried thyme

Combine in a pot, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until veggies are tender. Don't drain. Add:

2 c milk
1 1/2 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1 can cream of potato soup
1 cup shredded cheddar

Stir over medium heat until cheese is melted.

Love this recipe. It's quick and tasty, even when you don't have onions and thyme on hand.

Shoyu Chicken & Tofu

1 cup water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Firm tofu
Some raw poultry, cut in pieces

This time I cooked tofu and turkey (and also cabbage, but that was a bad idea). I don't know, like at 350 until it was cooked? Thirty to forty minutes maybe? Serve with rice. I've made it before with chicken, which is probably what I'll usually use. It is TASTY. The tofu is the best part. But no matter which kind of meat and tofu you use, it's always best the day after (when the soy sauce has soaked in a little more).

It would probably be better with some grated fresh ginger and long strips of onion cooked in the sauce, but I never seem to have these things on hand when I want to make it.

Slumdog Millionaire

I'm going to be honest: I really, really enjoyed this movie!

For what it's worth, or for those of you who do want to see it or who might consider watching an edited version down the road...I thought it was good story-telling. The portrayal of Jamal (main character) was sweet and endearing and won my sympathies early on. The cultural exposure, though dramatized and tending to caricature, of course, was still delicious and thought-provoking to me.

There is violence, and I closed my eyes more than once. But it certainly didn't seem any more violent to me than standard PG-13 action fare!! I read a review this morning that stated the film also has strong sexual language. Seriously? That surprised me, because usually that's something I'd be more sensitive to. I'm a girl who can't tolerate much of prime time tv for vulgarity and innuendo. All I can think is that I must have missed most of that because of foreign accents or terminology...or somehow the context was less offensive to me.

I'll definitely watch it again, and will possibly acquire it for my own collection.