December 30, 2010

Movie Review: How Do You Know

How do you know if you should see How Do You Know? Just ask me.
Great cast: Reese Witherspoon who just lights up the screen, Paul Rudd who's adorably appealing, Owen Wilson who's fine, just not one of my favorites, and Jack Nicholson who's...well, Jack Nicholson. You can't fault the performances, they all did a great job with what they had to work with. Problem was the hugely inane, implausible script, and the direction.
Bad, bad, bad movie.
A waste of money, talent and MY TIME, even to review it.
Zero stars out of five for How Do You Know.

Do You Like Snow? Go to Frisco, Colorado

If you like snow this is the place to be, and here's the get sunshine with your snow! Have you ever heard of Frisco? I hadn't. Not until my friends Cathy and Ted Johnson moved there. Ted tells me they get 300 days of sunshine per year. I don't know how many inches of snow they get every year but suffice it to say it's a shitload (that's a meteorological term).
Click on the photo below to see the album from my recent visit:
Frisco, Colorado - December 2010

The first few pictures are on the drive from Denver, where it was 57 degrees, up 9000 feet and directly west about 75 miles to Frisco. As we got higher we ran into snow and by the time we were about halfway there they had closed some of the roads. In Frisco it was around 20, and stayed that way while I was there with some snow every day.
It's a winter wonderland. We did some snow shoe'ing and hiking, went to Breckenridge and Georgetown. It was great. What the heck, if you don't have to shovel it what's not to like?

December 28, 2010

Important News Item

Hugh Hefner tweeted that he got engaged. Actually that's two pieces of news; one, that he tweets (really, he TWEETS???) and two, that he's going to marry a 24-year-old. Come on honey, I know you're young but you can add, can't you? He's 60 years older than you. No, he's not 60 years old, which would be bad enough - he was already 60 years old when you were born. That doesn't strike you as a little creepy?
Hef's quoted as saying that when he gave her the ring she burst into tears. Well of course she did. LOOK AT HIM.
Okay, okay, enough of that. I'm not going to make the inevitable diaper jokes or gold-digger jokes. I refuse to stoop to that level. I'm sure they're truly in love, they're soul-mates, they complete each other.
I'm sure Crystal's a Rhodes scholar. She's probably on the brink of finding a cure for erectile dysfunction. And she'll get back to work on it as soon as she finishes texting her BFFs, puts her clothes back on and stows her bunny ears.

Movie Review: Somewhere

This movie would more accurately be titled Soooooomewheeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrre because that's the length of most of the scenes. That's not to say I didn't like it because I did. And the more I think about it the more I like it. It's that kind of film. But be aware that it's not action-packed, it just moves along at its own pace (slooooow) giving us a glimpse into the life of an alienated actor and the daughter he occasionally spends time with. Steven Dorff is perfect as Johnny Marco, the actor, and Elle Fanning is unselfconsciously wonderful as his daughter.
Lost in Translation, Sophia Coppola's first film, is one of my favorites. After I saw it I wanted everyone to see it, so went again with some friends. It was shocking to me when my friend Lauren described it as "like watching paint dry." To me it was perfect. I could say unequivocally that Lauren should not see Somewhere. It may be too slow for some but it's Sophia Coppola and you have to spend time with her characters. Sometimes you almost feel like a peeping Tom. But it's worth it.
My favorite scene: the pole-dancing twins who bring their portable poles to Johnny's hotel room and do their dance with plastic smiles and zero passion. Very funny. The funniest part, tho, is when he falls asleep before they're finished. There's another falling-asleep scene but I won't spoil that one.
4-1/2 out of 5 stars for Somewhere.

December 27, 2010

Movie Review: The King's Speech

Who knew that Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson were such assholes? If this movie is to be believed, they were. Especially Edward who is portrayed as being very cruel to his brother, making fun of his stammering, even as an adult. I read about them when I was young and always thought it very romantic that he gave up the throne for her (stupid, but romantic) but who ever heard about "Bertie," the stammering king?

It's a very engaging story with wonderful performances by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. Both could have easily overdone their roles but fortunately they didn't. Helena Bonham Carter doesn't have a huge part but when she's on screen she's amazing.
Five stars out of five for The King's Speech.
BTW, Eve Best and Guy Pearce are physically perfect as Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson.

December 25, 2010

Movie Review: The Black Swan

Don't go to this film thinking it's a dance movie. Oh, there's plenty of dance but that's really secondary to the central story which is a psychological thriller that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. It's hard to keep up sometimes, and sometimes hard to watch, but it's well-done and beautifully acted.
Natalie Portman is riveting as Nina whose dance obsession is driving her to the brink, or maybe what's making her crazy is her scary, symbiotic relationship with her mother, played by Barbara Hershey. More likely it's Hershey's creepy, surgically altered face that fuels her fears.
Mila Kunis is wonderfully sinister as the new young dancer who would do anything to replace Nina in the lead roll. Or would she? Maybe it's Nina's imagination. You be the judge.
Four out of five stars for The Black Swan.

December 24, 2010

Movie Review: The Fighter

I'm a sucker for the underdog-beats-the-odds kind of movie and especially when it's based on a true story. The Fighter is an exceptional film with lots of heart and great performances from people who are cast against type. Christian Bale is amazing as a burnt-out, crack-head ex-boxer and Mark Wahlberg is fabulous as his brother, although Wahlberg doesn't exactly look like he belongs in that family. Too GQ, but his performance makes you believe he could be. The most amazing was sweet and sparkly Amy Adams as a cynical, hardened bar maid who talks like a truck driver. Talk about casting against type. But it works. In spades. She is one of the best actors of our time, she has a truly engaging screen-presence, and that she could play this part realistically speaks to her talent. I can't imagine who read that script and said, "I know...Amy Adams!" as opposed to someone like Juliette Lewis, but it was a brilliant risk and it paid off.
Melissa Leo plays the mother of nine children (including the two boxers) and she's perfect as a trailer-trash, trash-talking, chimney-smoking mom who lives for the glory of her sons. The seven big-haired women (yes - SEVEN!) who play the sisters are mostly caricatures but their appearance is usually a funny bit that beautifully lightens the tension.
Five stars for this film with great writing, stellar performances and a lot of heart. A great film about the really stupid sport of boxing. Jeez, why would anyone want to do that?

Book Launch Video

Have you seen the video from my book launch for Mr. Right-Enough?

Get your signed copy here (right over there on the right) or on
And if you've already read it please write a review for me on Amazon. It really helps in the rankings.

December 23, 2010

A Jewish Christmas

Yes, I'm Jewish, but I don't care if you tell me to have a merry Christmas cuz the day will be very merry, indeed. I didn't have to agonize over the perfect gifts for my goyishe family, I didn't have to move furniture to put up a huge outdoor plant in my indoor living room, or worry that the lights would spontaneously combust the dry needles. I have no decorations to bring out and pack away after enjoying them for fifteen minutes. I don't have to wear a sweater with a big Santa on it and my cat doesn't have to wear antlers.
As a Jew, I get to enjoy a day at the movie theatre and then go out for Chinese food. No stress, no fighting the crowds in the stores...just lots of good cheer (read: alcohol) and those yummy chocolate covered strawberries my Jewish sister sent me for Christmas (well, she's married to a goy so she's an equal-opportunity celebrator).
So, I'll have a very merry Christmas and I hope you do too. Don't forget to get out your socks with the reindeer on them.

December 22, 2010

Too Hot to Handel

Every Monday I rehearse at Old St. Pat's as part of the Too Hot to Handel Choir. What's a Jewish atheist doing singing Handel's Messiah, singing about Christ and the Lord Our God and "For unto us a son is given" and the Hallelujah Chorus? I know. But I love it. We sound so wonderful!
Come hear me sing at the Auditorium Theater on January 15th and 16th. Not to worry, there will be about 200 other voices besides mine.
This is a rockin' jazz-gospel version of Handel's Messiah and it's energetic and rousing - you'll be dancing in your seat.
Use the promo code FRIEND when you buy your tickets and you'll get great seats at $10 off.
Click on the poster to purchase tickets. Or call the Auditorium Theatre box office: 312.431.2357.
Let me know if you're coming. Hope to see you there!

Have You Seen This?

If you haven't seen this take a look. It's great.
And if you come to the Auditorium Theatre on Jan. 15th or 16th you can hear it live. Use the promo code FRIEND to get a $10 discount.
I'll be the girl on her cell phone.

December 21, 2010

Call him nuts, but Hoffman's vision a success

Great article about my cousin, Ken Hoffman, published December 10, 2010
See you at the game, Ken!

DETROIT -- There have been some big up-front names involved, from former Michigan State coach George Perles to ex-Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, but the name that really counts and always has in regards to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is Ken Hoffman, Toledo born and raised.
The game, for many years known as the Motor City Bowl, is Hoffman's baby, from start to present. And the reason that sentence doesn't say start to finish is due to Hoffman's optimism and perseverance.
Read the rest of the article in The Toledo Blade

December 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Dad

My dad would be 101 today. He lived til 90 and tho it wasn't long enough for me he had a good, long life. He was a good, kind, loving father, and my biggest supporter.
This is the picture he carried in his wallet. That's me, in case you don't recognize the girl with all the hair (where'd that go??).
And this one is from his 85th birthday.

December 5, 2010

Movie Review: Unstoppable

3-1/2 stars out of 5
Unstoppable is a film that wants you on the edge of your seat but doesn't quite get you there. Maybe the problem is that I saw it right after I saw 127 Hours, and that's a film that essentially pastes you to the edge of your seat. The tension is 127 Hours is relentless and gripping. Unstoppable is too predictable to cause much anxiety but that doesn't keep it from being fun to watch. How can you not like something Denzel Washington is in? He's a likable, reliable, watchable actor and you can't help but root for him.
Rosario Dawson is pretty good as the yard master although her part could have been cut with no noticeable effect on the movie. If they give Oscars for wrapping up your hair in a ponytail, pulling out the band, then doing it back up again, she gets it. That's mostly what she does, I guess to show tension or something.
The story is fairly unbelievable, like when the Denzel Washington character is running across the top of the train as it's speeding down the tracks, jumping from car to car (photo above). Yeah, right. But the unbelievability didn't bother me. It was an entertaining way to spend an hour and a half and isn't that what a movie's supposed to do?

December 3, 2010

Ron Santo, Dead at 70

I woke up to the news that Ron Santo has died at 70, and it made me cry. How could you not love Ronny? He was an amazing man with an indomitable spirit in the face of so many challenges including the amputation of both of his legs to diabetes. And he loved those Cubbies like no one else.
It's a very sad day for Cubs fans and Chicago in general. He should have made it into the hall of fame while he was still alive.
It's a sad day in Chicago.

December 1, 2010

Movie Review: 127 Hours

5 stars out of 5
Oh my god. Go see this movie.
That's my review. (The real-life Aron Ralston, right)
Well, I couldn't possibly leave it there but really, it's an amazing film and you have to see it.
I love Danny Boyle's filmmaking (even though I wasn't crazy about Slumdog Millionaire). He has a clear, unique style and a knack for intensity - from the split screen at the beginning (and again at the end) to the perfect music to the way you are so right there with this guy who is in a situation that's impossible to imagine, yet you imagine it, you feel it.
If you've been living on Mars and don't know the story this is a spoiler alert. It's a true story of a guy in Colorado who's an outdoorsman and a risk-taker. He rafts, he hikes, he the extreme. On this day he goes out by himself with a little food and water and a dull knife, climbs down into a canyon and an enormous boulder falls in after him and pins his arm. He's there for 127 hours and has to cut off his own arm to survive.
The arm-cutting is not terribly gruesome although by that time you'd do it yourself. The tension leading up to that moment never lets up. From the time he's pinned I was on the edge of my seat even though I already knew what was going to happen. That's the sign of a great filmmaker.
James Franco's performance is stellar. He has to carry this film and he does it admirably. You believe every move he makes and every word he utters.
It's an amazing film about an amazing story.
I had to wonder, tho, why he couldn't sharpen that knife on the rock. Did it not occur to him or would that not work?
Anyway, small thing. Big thing is, you have to see it.