Showing posts from October, 2015

Movie Review: Our Brand is Crisis

In Our Brand is Crisis, Sandra Bullock, a strategist, is coaxed out of retirement to help a Bolivian senator win the presidency. I thought this film would be more like Scandal (where Bullock is more of a "fixer" like Pope is) but instead it was an interesting mix of humor and politics.

Jane (Bullock), sometimes known as "Calamity Jane," has retired from being a strategist and now lives a relatively calm life in the mountains. Two colleagues go to see her to try and recruit her to help Senator Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida) win the presidency in Bolivia; as of the moment, he's failing miserably in the polls, and they know that only the best strategist, like her, can help him win. She initially declines, until she hears who the strategist for one of the other presidential candidates is: Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton), one of her rivals, whom she has never succeeded against. Jane packs her bags and heads to Bolivia, where she soon finds herself more emotionally in…

Movie Review: Room

I read Room a long time ago, and it was a haunting book. It was written in first-person by the child in the story, Jack, who has just turned five, and it talked about how he and his Ma lived in Room, and how they had always lived in Room. The big-screen adaptation of Room was just as heartwrenching as I expected after reading the book, but it was also very good.

Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his Ma (Brie Larson) live in Room. Ma hasn't always lived in Room, but she hasn't told Jack this; once he turns 5, however, she feels he's old enough to understand so she tells him the story of a 17-year-old Joy Newsome, who believed the story of a man looking for his lost dog, and tried to help. "Old Nick," as Ma and Jack call him, was that man, and she's been held captive by him in Room for the past seven years. Ma devises a plan for Jack to escape, by playing dead, and he does, with some complications, and he's able to give enough info to the police for them to figure …

GIVEAWAY: Disney Microfleece PJs - 33 winners (!), ends 11/18

This post contains affiliate links.

I'm teaming up with a few other bloggers to bring you this giveaway - these pajamas are so cute! 
Good luck!

Welcome to the Disney Microfleece PJs Giveaway Event!
Host: Southern Mom Loves
Sponsor: Richard Leeds International

You may have seen all of the adorable PJs at Walmart recently; Chances are they are from Richard Leeds International, and these PJs certainly fit the bill of "adorable." This line features your favorite Disney character's face right on the front of the plush, long-sleeved top while the pants feature an all-over print. Read Holly's full review here.

This line is available in Hello KittyEeyoreOlafMinnie MouseMike WazowskiWinnie the Pooh, and Mickey MouseFind them in the Sleepwear section at Walmart in store or online at 

Restaurant Review: Applebee's comes to Detroit (8 Mile + Woodward) + a giveaway! {ends 11/4}

*Disclosure: I received a free meal at the new Applebee's in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

This weekend, I got to attend a media preview for the new Applebee's in Detroit, owned by TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants (TSFR). It's the first national casual dining chain that's located outside of the city's central business district, and it's near the corner of 8 Mile and Woodward, right in front of the Meijer plaza there.

I've definitely been to Applebee's in the past, but this one had a fresh new layout that I really liked. The ceilings are apparently higher, and the bar area has been expanded and has a ton of televisions; my boyfriend, who was my dinner guest, noted that you could see TVs from any vantage point in the restaurant. The restaurant also has painted murals specific to Detroit, and names of area high schools (Mumford High, Ferndale High, etc.) on the walls.

Movie Review: The Last Witch Hunter

I didn't know much about this movie before I got screening passes for it, other than Vin Diesel and Michael Caine were in it. It ultimately ended up being a bit of a miscasting (Vin Diesel) but did have enough special effects to keep my interest.

Kaulder (Vin Diesel) has been hunting witches since the 1200s or so. When he was "young," he met the Witch Queen, and essentially killed her; however, she cursed him with the "gift" of immortality, and now his life is directly connected to hers - if her heart is killed, he dies too. Fast-forward to present-day, and Dolan the 36th (Michael Caine) is about to retire, leaving Kaulder in the capable hands of Dolan the 37th (Elijah Wood). However, Dolan the 36th is murdered - so it seems - hours before his retirement, and now Kaulder and Dolan the 37th must figure out who did it, and why certain witches are back in town. They enlist another witch's help too, Chloe (Rose Leslie, aka Jon Snow's girlfriend from Game o…

Blu-ray Review: Empire (Season 1)

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this Blu-ray for review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

A few of you *may* have heard of this little show called Empire ... kidding. I had definitely heard about Empire before receiving the Blu-ray to review, as my parents are fans of the show, but I had never watched it.

The show is so addicting that I whipped through season one (11 episodes, but really 12, since the finale is two hours) in about two weeks - and that's with staying on top of my other TV shows I currently watch, too.

I've started watching Empire season two now too (I've finished two episodes now and I still have two to go, three counting this week's - so, no spoilers, please!) and it's also very good, although the settings/surroundings are different.

Top 5 things I like about Empire:
It has SO much drama. In a weird way, it reminds me of Gossip Girl, a show I used to love back in the late 2000s/early 2010s, just because every episode has a few espe…

Movie Review: Woodlawn

Although Woodlawn has religious elements throughout, there are greater themes at work here too; those of non-segregation, love, and family, to name some. Thanks to these accessible themes, even non-religious moviegoers can enjoy this film, which is not always the case with Christian films; I enjoyed this movie as well, and I am not religious.

Woodlawn is the true story of Tony Nathan (Caleb Castille), a football player in the early 1970s in Birmingham, Alabama, who plays on a high school team that's comprised of 95% white players. Woodlawn High School itself has only just recently become integrated, against the governor's wishes, and the African-American students are not treated very nicely by their peers; even the black football players have trouble fitting in with their white teammates. A "motivational speaker" (as the coach calls him initially) named Hank (Sean Astin) shows up one day, and soon enough, most of the players on the team start believing in Jesus and i…

Review: Disney On Ice, at the Palace of Auburn Hills (in town through Sunday!)

*Disclosure: I have an ongoing media relationship with Feld Entertainment, and I received show tickets in exchange for this blog post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I was able to check out Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove yesterday at the Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit area), and it was a fun show. There were some franchises that performed that I hadn't yet seen at a Disney On Ice show before, such as Alice in Wonderland (see pic above) and the Toy Story crew.

I will say that although overall I liked the show, the second half was the stronger of the two, so make sure to stay through the end for that - The Lion King, Aladdin, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves were performed, among others (the dwarves were my favorite! so cute), and I enjoyed the second half more than the first.

You can still purchase tickets for Disney On Ice, as it's being performed through the weekend. Read on for showtimes and ticket info.

Movie Review: Freeheld

Freeheld is the true story of a New Jersey policewoman, Laurel Hester, and her domestic partner, Stacie Andree. In 2005, Hester was dying of cancer, and wanted her pension to be left to Andree, so that she could continue living in the house they lived in together; however, the freeholders of the New Jersey city she lived in were the ultimate deciders of this, and initially they denied her request.

Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) has worked for the Ocean City, NJ police department for the past twenty-three years. Being a woman, she has to fight for her promotions - things that male coworkers get handed easily - and so, she keeps the fact that she's gay a secret. She meets Stacie (Ellen Page) at a volleyball game they're both playing in, and they fall in love, even though Stacie is a lot younger than Laurel. One day, Laurel has been having rib pain for a while, and Stacie makes her go see the doctor; it turns out it's cancer, and a late stage one at that. Hester would have ha…

Movie Review: Bridge of Spies

The last Cold War movie I saw was Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a snoozefest that I rated 1.5 out of 5 stars back in January 2012. The story in Bridge of Spies was much easier to follow and also more compelling, and it's based on a true story, too; one that I knew little about before seeing the movie, which made it even more interesting to me.

James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is a lawyer based in Brooklyn, who lives with his wife and three children. He's assigned the case of Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet spy who was found in the U.S., presumably trying to get information. The judge and jury have all but convicted Abel before he even sees the inside of a courtroom, but they need to put up the pretense of a "fair trial" for him, so Donovan gets the case, presumably pro-bono. Abel is, of course, convicted, although the judge does give some leniency and sentences him to 30 years in prison (vs. the electric chair).

Later, the Soviets and the U.S. decide to make a deal: an…

Restaurant Review: Pie Five Pizza, Southfield, MI

*Disclosure: I received a free meal at Pie Five to facilitate this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

This past Monday night, my parents and I headed to Pie Five Pizza in Southfield for a blogger event to try out its pizzas. I'm no newbie to the "fast pizza" business - I've tried out both Blaze Pizza (Royal Oak, Novi) and MOD Pizza (Northville, Livonia, and soon Rochester Hills) - but I've been wanting to try out Pie Five for a while now, so I'm glad it held this event.

Upcoming and GIVEAWAY {ends 10/17}: Disney Live! at the Palace of Auburn Hills

Fresh on the heels of Disney On Ice comes Disney Live! presents Three Classic Fairy Tales, to the Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit area) this October!

Show synopsis:
Prepare to laugh, sing, and dream! Join Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck for an amazing fantasy adventure that brings the enchanted stories and music of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast to life. Be dazzled by beauty as you experience the adventure, humor and romance of Disney Live! presents Three Classic Fairy Tales. It's a world of pure enchantment waiting for you!

Exclusive ticket deal: You can get great lower level seats for Disney Live! for just $15! Make sure to use this link and input code DLIVE4.
*code not valid on front row seats or floor seats.

Disney Live! will be performed on these dates/times: Saturday, October 24th, 1pmSaturday October 24th, 4pm

GIVEAWAY: Win tickets to see Room, 10/27 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area)

The movie Room will be in theaters on October 30th, and I have 50 admit-2 tickets for my lucky readers to see a screening of it.

The screening will take place Thursday, October 27th, at 7pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI).

Official synopsis:
Both highly suspenseful and deeply emotional, ROOM is a unique and touching exploration of the boundless love between a mother and her child. After 5-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his Ma (Brie Larson) escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery: the outside world. As he experiences all the joy, excitement, and fear that this new adventure brings, he holds tight to the one thing that matters most of all—his special bond with his loving and devoted Ma. ROOM also stars three-time Academy Award® nominee Joan Allenand Academy Award® nominee William H. Macy. (A24) This film is not yet rated.


I read the …

Movie Review: Pan

My favorite Peter Pan movie of all time is Hook, and no other Pan movie I've seen has ever come close to comparing. However, this version almost does, as the acting, storyline, and 3D were fantastic, and its tagline of "Every legend has a beginning" sums up the film well.

Peter (newcomer Levi Miller) lives in an orphanage in London during World War II; his mother (Amanda Seyfried) dropped him off there when he was a baby, with promises of love and that she would come back for him. We then flash-forward to twelve years later, during WWII, with Peter having to deal with the awful orphanage and its director, who rivals Miss Trunchbull in meanness; she's even giving the children less rations and hoarding all the good stuff (honey, candy, etc.) for herself. Children have been disappearing from the orphanage lately, presumably because they've been adopted, and one night Peter and his friend stay awake to see what's going on - it turns out that pirates have been st…

Upcoming and FLASH GIVEAWAY {ENDS 10/10}: Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove at the Palace of Auburn Hills

*Disclosure: I have an ongoing media relationship with Feld Entertainment, and I receive show tickets in exchange for posting. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove is coming back to the Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit area) next week, and I have a discount code as well as a GIVEAWAY for my lucky readers!

About the show:
Get tangled up in Disney’s 50th animated feature with Rapunzel and Flynn and enter the worlds of your other favorite Disney princesses –Tiana, Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Mulan and of course, the one who started it all, Snow White. Ahoy, Mateys! Set sail with Peter Pan, the always sassy Tinker Bell and the cantankerous Captain Hook and his pirate pals on an adventure beyond Never Land! Trek the wilds of Africa with Simba, Nala, Pumbaa and Timon as they discover the true meaning of the ‘Circle of Life.’ Tick-Tock! Tick-Tock! Don’t be late to a very important date with Alice and the Mad Hatter as they…

Review: New made-to-order salads at Del Taco {and win a $25 Del Taco gift card!}

*Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal at Del Taco in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

My family and I dined at Del Taco this weekend to try their new salads, which are all under 600 calories. I'm a fan of Del Taco, as there's a location close to me that I sometimes frequent; usually I get the chicken or turkey tacos, so I had never tried any of the new salad dishes before.

The three new "ensaladas" choices include a Chicken Bacon Avocado Salad (590 calories), a Mexican Chopped Chicken Salad (510 calories), which is what my mom and I ordered, and the Signature Taco Salad (540 calories), which is what my dad chose for his meal. 
All of the salads come with tortilla chips, hand-sliced avocado, a lettuce blend, and a side dressing - the chicken salad and taco salad come with salsa casera, and the Chicken Bacon Avocado salad comes with a cilantro pepita ranch dressing. 

I am not a big salad-eater in general, but I overall li…

Movie Review: The Walk

Philippe Petit and his story of walking the wire between the two World Trade Center towards in 1974 was one that I learned about only recently; there's a documentary on Netflix about it too called Man on Wire which I would now like to check out. The Walk is a more Hollywood-ized version of this story, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a fantastic job as Philippe.

Petit (Gordon-Levitt) grows up learning "circus tricks," as his father derisively calls them, and eventually decides he wants to be a wire walker. He enlists the help of circus operator Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), who teaches him how to walk, and also how to set up, the high wire. When Petit sees a picture in a magazine of the yet-unfinished WTC towers one day, he decides to travel to the U.S. to set up a wire there and walk between the two towers; it's going to have to be a covert "coup," as he calls it, though, because there's no way this walk would be legal. With the help of his girlfriend, Annie …

Movie Review: The Martian

I reviewed The Martian this past August, and it was a fantastic book. It was the first novel for author Andy Weir, and rumor has it that the movie rights were sold within a week of the book hitting stores. I was very excited, then, to see that the movie version was coming out this October, with Matt Damon as the title character, and I am glad to report that the film is just as good as the book.

Mark Watney (Damon) and his crew have been inhabiting Mars for about two weeks when a major storm hits. The astronauts perform an emergency evacuation, and Watney gets hit in the head with a piece of debris; his crewmates think he's dead and leave him behind. It turns out, however, that Watney is in fact not dead, but he might as well be: he has enough food for a few months, but it will be years before the next Mars probe can land and provide him with more. Watney decides to "science the sh-- out of this," and with his botanist background, he starts growing potatoes from the exi…

Movie Review: Sicario

Sicario is a slow burn of a movie that will definitely reward its viewers, should you choose to stay invested for the 2-hour runtime. It definitely has some great performances in it that are sure to garner some award nominations, but at the same time I found it to be very slow-paced, despite a few action scenes.

Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is a FBI agent who works in drug busts, and is chosen for a special task force that will be going to Mexico to track down a drug kingpin. Also on the team is leader Matt Graver (Josh Brolin); the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro); and eventually her FBI partner, Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya). What Kate doesn't find out until later is that the team is very unorthodox, and has its own agenda rather than following the law - especially Alejandro, who is on a mission of his own that just happened to align with the team's, partially.