Showing posts from November, 2013

Movie Review: Philomena

I had no idea that Philomena was based on real events, much less a book, until I saw the movie. The real story (as well as the movie) is fascinating: a young teenager is taken in by the Catholic church after becoming pregnant, and then, when her child is three years old, he's sold to American parents. The book, called The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, explores this tale, and it is this on which the movie is based.

Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), an Irish woman, is looking at an old photograph of her son, who would have been fifty years old that day. She decides to share her story, never before told, with her daughter, who by chance meets Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) at a party soon afterwards, and the daughter asks him to help her mother find Anthony, the son; he used to be a journalist with the BBC. Sixsmith is ornery about the idea at first, but then agrees to write it as a human interest story, and soon he and Philomena find themselves flying to America in the hopes of tracking …

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Night Train to Lisbon, 12/3 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 5 winners

The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week! The movie Night Train to Lisbon will be playing on Tuesday, December 3rd, 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI). This film looks interesting and has Jeremy Irons in it too (Scar!) who usually gives a good performance.

Film synopsis:
Life can change in an instant.

This thriller follows Raimund Gregorius, a Swiss Professor (Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons) who, having saved a beautiful Portuguese woman from leaping to her death, stumbles upon a mesmerizing book by a Portuguese author, which compels him to suddenly abandon his buttoned-down life and to embark on an enthralling adventure.

In search of the author, Gregorius acts as detective, pulling together pieces of a puzzle that involves political and emotional intrigue and the highest possible stakes. His voyage is one that transcends time and space, delving into the realms of history, medicine and love, all in search of true meaning to his life.

Enter via the R…

Movie Review: Frozen

Frozen is a Disney movie, which usually means it will be delightfully charming, but I didn't know before seeing the film that it's also their musical film this year. Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, and others are among those whose voices we get to hear, and the songs in this movie are both catchy and well done.

Anna (Bell) and her sister Elsa (Menzel) live in the Palace with their mother and father, the King and Queen. Elsa has a secret that can't go past palace walls: she has the ability to create snow and ice with the flick of her fingers. She and Anna play indoors on mounds of snow, until one day she accidentally strikes her in the head; her parents take them to see the trolls, who fix Anna but remove some of her memories, and the royal couple decides that Elsa will not tell Anna about these powers. Elsa spends the next ten years or so avoiding Anna, until Elsa's coronation day, where her secret is unfortunately found out by all; Elsa flees the palace,…

Movie Review: Nebraska

I wasn't sure if I would like Nebraska or not, as it was shot in black and white. The director is Alexander Payne, though, and he's made many good movies that I have enjoyed, including About Schmidt and Sideways. Although I will say that this film is geared towards an older audience, I did end up enjoying it, and I can see why he chose to use a black and white medium now as well.

David Grant (Will Forte) lives in Billings, Montana, and one day his elderly father Woody (Bruce Dern) is found wandering on the side of the highway. Woody says that he's headed to Lincoln, Nebraska, because he received a letter in the mail saying he won a million dollars. The letter is from a company selling magazines, and is obviously bogus, but he insists it's real. His wife, Kate (June Squibb), has no patience for this, but after he escapes a few more times, David agrees to drive his father to Lincoln. They have a few mishaps along the way and end up in Hawthorne instead, Woody's hom…

GIVEAWAY: How to Save on Cyber Monday with

This Yes/No Films post is a Fashionista Event. I was provided a promotional item by to inform you of their crazy insane Cyber Monday Sales, Cyber Monday giveaway and our Cyber Monday $500 giveaway.

I am not usually a Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday shopper, but this year there are some really good deals floating around that I feel like I might have to take advantage of.

While most people are aware of Black Friday, some may not be aware that Cyber Monday - the Monday after the holiday weekend - has some great deals as well.

Just by looking at's Cyber Monday sales list, the following pop out at me:
Save $50 off one Xbox One complete bundle & free shipping ( $10 eGift Card with $75+ Purchase of Gift Cards ( - great for book lovers!
Save $10 off $30+ at Bath and Body Works's siteSave $50 off select devices on Verizon's siteAmazon's Cyber Monday deals aren't up yet, but you know they're goin…

Movie Review: The Book Thief

As I write this review, I can tell you that The Book Thief is already generating Oscar buzz, at least from the moviegoers that have already screened it. I read the book, by Markus Zusak, when in college, and I remember liking it a lot; the film is great as well, although it moves at a rather slow pace.

World War II is almost among us, and Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse), as well as her younger brother, are taken away from their mother, a Communist, and brought to Germany via train to be adopted. Her brother does not make the journey, so she arrives alone, to find a cantakerous "Mama" (Emily Watson) and a gentle and kind Papa (Geoffrey Rush) waiting for her. She soon acquires a good friend, Rudy (Nico Liersch), and also meets the acquaintance of Max (Ben Schnetzer), a young Jewish man that her family is hiding in their basement, whom she is not to speak about to anyone. Her father is not in the Nazi party but they must act like good German citizens, for fear of Max being fo…

Review and GIVEAWAY: Michael Angelo's frozen meals, ends 12/1

*Disclosure: I received free product coupons for the purpose of this post. The opinions expressed 
here, however, are my own.
I had not heard of Michael Angelo's before this post, but it makes frozen dinners made with fresh ingredients. The company is currently running a contest over on their Facebook page where you can win an all-expenses paid trip to Italy - one of the countries on my "to visit" list - and the contest ends this Sunday, November 24th.
I looked online and saw that Whole Foods and Kroger both carry their products, and I stopped at my local Whole Foods to pick up one of their frozen meals a few days ago. I chose the chicken parmesan, which normally I don't like, but it looked delicious in the package. Whole Foods didn't have many of their products, because they carry their organic varieties, but they had chicken parmesan, veggie lasagna, meat lasagna, and baked eggplant parmesan.
The chicken parmesan actually was quite a big serving - you get two ch…

Movie Review - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I read The Hunger Games books a while ago, but when I saw the first film in the series last year, the first book was fresh in my mind. This year, I was able to separate the book from the movie, and I really, really enjoyed Catching Fire - it may even be better than its predecessor. Some may complain that the ending is a cliffhanger, but it adequately prepared us for Mockingjay, the final part of the trilogy, which will come to theaters in two parts in 2014 and 2015.

When we last left Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), she had just won the Hunger Games after faking a romance with fellow competitor Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), allowing both of them to come out of the Games alive. Now, they're back in the poverty-stricken District 12, her hometown, and she's once again taken up hunting with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), her might-be-more-than-a-friend that she's known forever. Katniss and her family, along with Peeta and his, live in the Victors Village, but will be leaving …

Movie Review: The Delivery Man

I went in to The Delivery Man with some trepidation, because I had seen the French-Canadian film Starbuckonly seven months earlier. The Delivery Man has the same director as Starbuck, and, from what I could see in the trailer, some scenes were line-for-line the same. Although I did laugh a few times throughout the film, overall I liked Starbuck better - but your perception of Delivery Man will depend on if you've seen that already or not.

David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) donated sperm to a fertility clinic in the early '90s, just a few times - okay, about 690 times. The clinic was supposed to be selective about how many times it reused his sperm, but instead, 533 children were born of it - and today, about 190 of those want to know his identity, even though he signed a confidentiality agreement. His inexperienced lawyer friend, Brett (Chris Pratt), is excited to take on his case, and eventually they file a countersuit against the clinic, mostly because David is in debt to some ma…

Ticket GIVEAWAY - These Birds Walk, 11/26 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 5 pairs

The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week! The movie These Birds Walk will be playing on Tuesday, November 26th, 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI). Get your movie fix in before the holiday with a free showing of this film, which looks fantastic.

Film synopsis:
Filmed over nearly three years, THESE BIRDS WALK is the story of Omar, a high-spirited young boy of 9 or 10 who is living in a house for runaways; he has fled his difficult rural home life for the dangerous streets of Karachi, and is trying to find a safe haven somewhere amidst the chaos of his country and his family.

Attempting to help him is Asad, a young ambulance driver who works for the dispatch center adjacent to the runaways’ home. A former street kid, Asad sees something of himself in these children, and reluctantly but regularly risks his life to reunite them with their families.

Hanging over both of them, though only briefly glimpsed in the film, is the presence of the founder of both the orpha…

Review: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents Dragons at the Palace of Auburn Hills

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents Dragons, at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

I will be the first to admit: I am not a circus person. I went with my parents in 2011, I believe, because we had won tickets, and I ended up getting very bored midway through the performance ... so I was not particularly looking forward to seeing the circus again.

However! I was quite impressed with Dragons. There's your usual circus fare, like the elephants and clowns, but Dragons had a lot of aerial stunts - it was very Cirque du Soleil-esque - that were fascinating to watch. For example:

There were acrobats inside these "ornaments," of sorts, that hung from the ceiling, and they occasional broke out of their bubbles without ever falling.

And of course, you can't have a circus without lions and tigers:

I think the lion wrangler definitely earns his pay - I'm not sure you could convince me to get in a cage with 8+ lions and tigers, e…

GIVEAWAY: win a Turbo Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, ends 11/23

I'm helping promote this contest - check it out and enter to win!

Chances are you have heard of the awesome new kids movie Turbo. Am I right? Well, like I've said before, the fact that I am a member of Fox Home Entertainment Insiders has its perks! Not only have I received a copy of the Blu-ray combo pack but I have a copy for ONE lucky reader! 
Can you say "Christmas present"? Oh yeah!

I also have some fun printable items for your kids to enjoy. Here is a sneak peek of what you will find! Click on the image to go to the download page. Enjoy!

Now for the giveaway!! We are giving away ONE copy of Turbo on Blu-ray combo pack. There is one mandatory entry but the rest just increase your odds of winning. The giveaway will run from 11/14/13 to 11/23/13. Good luck! 

Product Review: Evandé skin care products

*Disclosure: I received free Evandé products for reviewing purposes for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

One of the things I love about going to conferences like BlogHer is connecting with bloggers I already know, as well as meeting new bloggers. A new blogger friend I met was Ann, from KickAss Living, and she told me about a company called Evandé that was looking for bloggers to try out their new line of skincare products.

I got in touch with Evandé and they sent me three products to try:

Gentle Facial Cleanser & Make-up RemoverThis mild non-foaming cleansing system effectively removes dirt, impurities, make up and oils. Clears away dead skin and improves cell renewal, leaving the skin silky soft with a soothing & refreshing feel.Alcohol-Free Pore Minimizing Toner  Purifying blend of natural pore-minimizing anti-oxidant botanicals.Oil-Free Face and Neck MoisturizerProvides flawless perfection to my face without imparting greasiness or oiliness. Enha…

Ticket GIVEAWAY - Cold Turkey, 11/19 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 5 pairs

The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week! The movie Cold Turkey will be playing on Tuesday, November 19th, 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI). This one sounds great - I love Cheryl Hines so I hope to see it.

Film synopsis:
A movie about a family that will make you thankful for yours ...

Thanksgiving get-together for the eccentric Turner clan, presided over by eminent scholar and patriarch, POPPY (Peter Bogdanovich), turns into a disastrous holiday weekend when black sheep daughter NINA (Alicia Witt) pays her first visit home in 15 years. Nina immediately clashes with stepmother, DEBORAH (Cheryl Hines), and competes with her siblings (Ashton Holmes and Sonya Walger) for Poppy’s affection – and money. Over three days, the family gradually disintegrates over who will get Poppy’s money – only to discover Poppy has his own bad news to share…

COLD TURKEY is about what happens when you set a match to a powder keg. It’s about honesty. It’s about love. It’s about tryin…

Movie Review: Diana (2013)

Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997, and I remember being ten years old and watching her funeral procession on TV with my parents. She was loved by many, yet she also had secrets, and that's what Diana is about: her relationship with a heart surgeon, from 1995-97, whom many believed to be the love of her life.

Princess Diana (Naomi Watts) lives alone in Kensington Palace, with guards to keep her safe. She meets Dr. Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews) at a hospital when her masseuse's husband has a heart attack, and finds him intriguing. Their chance meeting starts an affair that will span two years, and leave both of them wondering if people from two such different nationalities, backgrounds, and experiences can fall in love - and not just fall in love, but make it work in the long run, too.

Movie Review - Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World starts off by giving us some Asgard mythology and background, although if you saw the first Thor you're most likely familiar with Asgard. It's been two years since Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has returned to Earth (same timeline as in real life, as Thor was released in 2011). Since then, Asgard has made some new enemies; Thor must save his kingdom and also save Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), his mortal love, from danger.

The film starts in Asgard and later on in the movie, Thor (Hemsworth) returns to Earth. A portal has been created connecting the nine realms, and until it closes, Asgard, Earth, and the other seven are all in danger. Jane Foster (Portman) has been getting crazy readings on her scientific devices because of this, and she and her assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings) have been investigating it in London. Jane manages to contract the "aether" (prounced "ether") inside of her while investigating, and it's something that Asgard'…

Ticket GIVEAWAY - Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces, 11/12 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 5 pairs

The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week! Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film"will be playing on Tuesday, November 12th, at 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI).

Film synopsis:
Since 1998, Filmmaker Magazine has put out an annual talent list, its "25 New Faces of Independent Film," which has acted for a barometer for American indie cinema, bringing early attention to such talents as Hilary Swank, Ryan Gosling, Lena Dunham and Miranda July, among many others. This fall, three directors selected for the 2013 list -- Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, Scott Blake and Mohammad Gorjestani -- hit the road with their work, accompanied by Filmmaker's Managing Editor Nick Dawson.

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. The ticket giveaway will end this Sunday, November 10th at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified the morning of November 11th. Winners must respond within 24 hours or other winner(s) will be chosen. Tickets are…

GIVEAWAY: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents Dragons at the Palace (Detroit area), ends 11/6

*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Entertainment ambassador, and Feld is sponsoring this giveaway. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey will be back in the Detroit area this month, and I have a family four-pack of tickets to your choice of show, either November 13 or 14 at 7:30pm.

Show description:
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents DRAGONS is a once in a millennium event that honors The Year of the Dragon. Circus performers from the farthest reaches of the earth have assembled for Ringling Bros.® Presents DRAGONS to showcase their astounding acts of bravery and astonishing athleticism. Ringling Bros.® Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson presides over this fantastical celebratory tournament of circus champions that brings together mystic dragon lore with authentic circus feats. DRAGONS is a never-before-seen blend of renowned spiritual and real life legends that can be found only at The Greatest Show On Earth®!

The anticipa…

Movie Review: About Time

I had been excited to see About Time for a while, since it looked a little like The Time Traveler's Wife (which Rachel McAdams also starred in). It's more of a comedy than that film, but it had some unexpectedly sad scenes in it as well, and overall it's a good choice for a matinee.

On his 21st birthday, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) learns a secret from his father (Bill Nighy): the men in his family can time travel. They can only go back in time, not forward, and they can't go to places they weren't actually at in the moment, but it's a good way to reverse poor choices and/or use it for good. Tim decides he's going to use it to get himself a girlfriend, and he sets his sight on his sister's friend Charlotte (Margot Robbie), who is staying with them for a few months. That doesn't work, but a year or so later, he's living in London and meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), and he uses his newfound ability to make things perfect between them and woo her. He even…

Movie Review: Last Vegas

Last Vegas is a Hangover-esque movie for the older generation, and it has a great set of core actors in it to boot. Like The Hangover, the majority of the movie takes place in Las Vegas, and the cast is there for Michael Douglas's character's bachelor party - he's marrying a woman half his age.

The "Flatbush Four" grew up together in the Brooklyn area, but now are scattered to various parts of the country. Billy (Douglas) lives in California and decides to gather the Four in Vegas for his bachelor party before marrying a 30-something woman. Archie (Morgan Freeman) recently had a small stroke, and his family is very protective of him - he's going to have to sneak out of his house if he wants to get to Vegas. Sam (Kevin Kline) hasn't had much chemistry with his wife lately, and she encourages him to "have fun" while he's in Vegas, saying that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and even giving him a condom. Paddy (Robert De Niro) has become a…