Category Archives: Movie reviews/news

Golden Globes 2016: a forgettable year

Variety

Variety

The 73rd Golden Globes ceremony was a bit lackluster, even for this TV and movie fan. The film that swept was one I’m not sure I can endure, and many of the TV winners were for shows I’d never heard of (Mr. Robot, Mozart in the Jungle, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend )?!

Makes it harder to get excited when you don’t have horses in the race.

One ongoing theme was the seemingly genuine surprise of winners, apparently convinced someone else would take home a Globe. (“I can’t believe this! Wait. am I really up here? I was not expecting this!”)  Perhaps that speaks to the talent level in every category.

Let’s get to the deets…..

The show:

Ricky Gervais was back as host. Many stars looked terrified as he took the stage and started spewing insults. His indiscriminate barbs spared no one, including the show’s network NBC, which he gleefully pointed out did not get one nomination.

He was wry, sarcastic, and funny…but kind of an anti-host. Not deeming the event worthy of a tux, he went with a blazer and no tie. No one felt welcome or comfortable when he was on the stage, and he often spoke some hard-to-hear truths about Hollywood, quipping “it’s funny cuz it’s true!”

Ricky-Gervais-hosts-the-73rd-Annual-Golden-Globe-Awards-on-Sunday-January-10-2016

When introducing presenter Matt Damon, he called him “the only person Ben Affleck hasn’t been unfaithful to.”  Midway through the show, he came on and said with disgust that the ceremony was “waaaay too long. Let’s get through it!”

But the one-note “I’m so over you people and you need to get over yourselves” routine got old after a while, and I was yearning for the creative and playful Amy and Tina.

–Happy to see Jon Hamm win for best actor for playing the miserable Don Draper for seven seasons, on “Mad Men.”

Lady Gaga won for a guest role in American Horror Story: Hotel. I don’t watch that show and don’t doubt her talent but find it hard to believe she was actually the best actress? Holding back tears, she gave a very, very dramatic acceptance speech so maybe she is.

Mr Robot poster

–This Mr. Robot show has now intrigued me,  after it won for best TV drama and Christian Slater won for best supporting actor in the series.

Standout moments:

–The crowd went nuts when Sylvester Stallone won for reprising his Rocky role as best supporting actor in Creed. 

Denzel Washington winning the Cecil B Demille award. Man, watching that clip reel was incredible. So many great movies and he brings gravitas to every role. I was a little disappointed by his speech. I like that he brought his whole family on stage but he seemed overwhelmed and too off the cuff to say what he really meant. He stumbled around on his speech and realized aloud he should have brought his glasses. Not as inspiring and strong as I expected.

–Taraji P Henson gave out cookies on her way to the stage after winning best actress for playing Cookie on “Empire.” When they tried to wrap her up she wasn’t having any of it: “No, no, I waited 20 years to be here you’re going to wait!”

The Revanent poster

Leonardo DiCaprio got a standing O after winning for growing a long, fuzzy snot-filled beard in “The Revenant.”  Seriously, that movie also won best picture and best director for Alejandro González Iñárritu— but it looks hard to watch: cold, violent and not a woman or laugh in sight. Not sure I can do it. Leo was the only winner who got political, saying we have to “protect indigenous lands from corporate interests and protect this planet for future generations.”

Moments that made my kids laugh:

Jonah Hill donning a furry hat and pretending to be the bear from The Revenant, doing an insulting bit so foul-mouthed  and inappropriate he got bleeped and started a “what did he say” frenzy on Twitter.

Jamie Foxx did a spoof of Steve Harvey‘s Miss Universe gaffe by claiming that “Straight Outta Compton” won for Best Original Score … before admitting he didn’t “read the card right” and it was really “The Hateful Eight.”

Full list of winners here.

The clothes:

I noticed that the always reliable and smooth Ryan Seacrest was specifically not asking women who they were wearing as often as usual and sometimes not at all. This must be due to the #AskHerMore campaign from last year that demanded actresses be asked more about their work than their fashion choices. Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls started their own campaign on Twitter #SmartGirlsAsk where fans could pose substantive questions on social media to ask stars on the red carpet. Definitely made for more interesting chatter.

I’ve been doing these awards wrap-up posts for years and I sometimes feel like a broken record picking the same gals as best-dressed, but when you know what looks good on you, you make good decisions. Perhaps some of my winners may sound familiar….

Vogue victors:

My three favorite looks of the night were:

julianne-moore

Julianne Moore never disappoints. This year she brought designer Tom Ford and wore his custom navy sequined sheath with a sleek design and subtle details. She wore her red tresses long and slightly messy to complete the look. Glamorous, modern, perfect.

Kate Hudson has become more known for her style than her acting, no? She definitely made a statement in a light pink Michael Kors beaded sheath that from the front looked like a bandeau top was separate from the long skirt but was actually attached in a sexy twisted back. The cutouts were accentuated by her unbelievable body. She topped off the look with messy bed hair and jewels.

attends the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

attends the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

The ever svelte Olivia Wilde in a burgundy sequined sheath with deep halter top: Beautiful, lustrous yet with old Hollywood flair.

Amy Adams usually does it right and her long, tight orange Versace dress with an interesting sequined pattern at the belt line popped on the carpet and off the stage. Also loved her long loose wavy red hair- like a fiery sunset.

Also liked Kirsten Dunst’s black velvet Versace sheath with very risqué, cleavage-bearing cutouts and a delicate strappy back, accentuated with a messy bun and diamonds.

And speaking of big-time cleavage, Jaime Alexander ( from “Blindspot”) had a memorable emerald green and black gown that was tight and open on top and flowing on the bottom. Her updo added to the striking look.

It’s hard to talk about a red carpet and not mention JLo but frankly it was not one of my favorite looks for her. The mustard yellow skin-tight Giambattista Valli sheath had beautiful texture and lines, balanced by an attached cape on top. She went with very minimal makeup and flat hair so it wasn’t a wow. Don’t get me wrong– she still looked good, just not a standout.

Taraji P. Henson stood out in a sexy, sleek white strapless Stella McCartney sheath and long dangle giant emerald earrings.

Helen Mirren looked elegant in a black velvet sheath with a sweetheart top and sexy diamond necklace that seemed to be paving a path right to her ample cleavage.

Best dressed men for my money were Rob Lowe– aging well  with salt and pepper coiffed hair and a gray tux that fit snugly and perfectly….Jason Sudeikis in a handsome tux and Air Jordans, with socks to match wife Olivia Wilde’s gown….and Will Smith who knows how to wear a suit.

Fashion fails: 

I love Jane Fonda, but she made a fashion faux pax in a white dress with some kind of dust ruffle clown costume on top. It was a risk that did not pay off and overshadowed how great and real she looks in her own skin.

Variety

Variety

Rooney Mara had a rather severe hair look with a tightly pulled braid, which she coupled with a pale pink dress crowded with tassels and fringe that was more Spanish dancer than young starlet. I don’t think dressing up is her thing.

Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”) looked like she was going to a 19th century funeral all buttoned up and lacy in black.

Lady Gaga had a nice frock but for her, it was rather ho-hum. The look was channeling Marilyn Monroe with platinum blond bob hair and a black velvet Versace 40’s style dress with a sweetheart tip. Snore.

Melissa McCarthy may be hilarious but she really needs a new stylist.  She lost weight and her face was glowing but the silver, drapy garbage bag of a dress was not doing her any favors.

I know I say this every time, but seriously, Giulianna Rancic looks not well. She made the mistake of wearing a dress with cutouts and standing sideways on camera and 1) you could almost see through her and 2) her head looks so large teetering on those bony shoulders and that frail body, if she keeled over and face planted into the red carpet I would not be surprised. Hope she’s ok!

To see all the red carpet looks click here.

That’s a wrap kids. I need some sleep!

 

 

Holiday wrap-up: guilt and gluttony

I’m baaaaaack! Did you miss me? That was the l o n g e s t stretch I’ve ever gone without blogging people, and it didn’t feel good. But I had a lot going on with work and a new business, and there are only so many hours in the day!

Rockefeller Tree on carpoolcandy.com

The holidays only complicate things with all the customs and expectations to keep up. The gift-buying and wrapping, house decorating, party attending, family hosting, calendar/photo book making, card sending, cookie baking, good deed doing, and tradition keeping all make me want to OD on sugar cookies and eggnog and sleep for two weeks.

Something had to give.

I felt terribly guilty neglecting the blog and spent much of these holidays worrying that no matter how dog tired I was at the end of each day, I had not done enough. The to-do list loomed.

I hate that.

And I missed getting my ya-yas out in this space and hearing feedback from you guys. It feeds my soul! So please keep reading.

I have much to catch you up on so I’ll break it up into bullet points and photos.

–I started a college essay writing/editing business.  I’ve been doing alumni interviews for Tufts for 12 years and I’ve offered to help several friends’ kids with their college essays over the years so this year I decided to hang up a virtual shingle and make a go of it. I did a lot of research last summer on what colleges are looking for and interviewed several people involved in the admissions process. Then I sent an email with info on my background and experience to friends. Within two days of sending the email I had a few clients, and between October and January first, I worked with 12 students on more than 35 essays.

keep-calm-and-write-the-essay-4

I loved it. Working with someone else’s kids was a fun and enriching experience, I relish the editing process and helping kids express their bests selves, and I’m getting an invaluable education in the college application game before I have to worry about my own kid. Some of the students I worked with applied early and already have been accepted to Columbia University, Rhode Island School of Design, Villanova, University of Vermont, UC-Boulder, and University of Michigan!

Only down side was that every spare minute in the last six weeks– right up until December 30th– was spent reading and editing essays (hence the lack of blogging.) And now I probably won’t work with another kid until the summer!

— Hannukah came and went. It was all too early and too fast. I didn’t get a chance to properly shop and wrap. My boys don’t need anything so it was a challenge finding gifts that were fun, surprising, and useful.

Hannukah

Some highlights were Eli’s Kindle Fire for Kids, Aden’s video drone and a guitar, and Jacob’s Giants jersey and gift cards to Bagel Chateau and the sushi place in town.

IMG_3971

We also got to celebrate with family and friends, which is always the best part.

Hannukah

Family Hannukah party

— We saw the Giants’ season ripped away. Always fun and mercifully not subzero temps. It was an exciting and important game against the Panthers.

Giants game vs Panthers on carpoolcandy.com

It looked like a blowout before the Giants came back and went into OT…only to lose moments later.

Giants game on carpoolcandy.com

Lots of long faces in the car ride home.

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

–We honored our annual tradition: training into NYC to see the windows on Christmas Eve. While the warm December temperatures are a treat, they made getting around Manhattan even worse over the holidays.

Bulgari holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

The area around my midtown office near Times Square was a nightmare and Fifth Avenue on Christmas Eve was a mob scene. You’d think the NYPD were giving away iPhones on every corner from the endless lines of people streaming through the streets.

Barneys holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

We hit Barneys first… where they had an ice sculptor creating holiday works of art in the window. Eli could have sat there all night.

Barneys holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

His brothers, not so much.

So we moved onto my favorite, Bergdorf Goodman.

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Most of the fantastical scenes were made of Swavorski crystals. Divine.

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Saks had an around the world theme, featuring the Seven Wonders… which was lackluster.

Saks holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

But we do love Saks’ light show to Silver Bells music which lights up the entire facade of the 5th Avenue storefront.

Saks holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Macy’s had Snoopy and a message:

Macys holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

We let the kids in on one of New York’s best kept secrets at dinnertime. Arguably one of the best burgers in the city, we snuck behind the velvet curtains at the Parker Meridien in midtown to try The Burger Joint.

Burger Joint NYC on carpool candy.com

It’s a hole in the wall smack in the middle of a posh hotel, that serves great burgers, fries, beer and wine. The boys loved the food and the down and dirty scene.

Burger Joint NYC on carppolcandy.com

— I ate and drank a lot.  From candy canes to Cabernet…. latkes to honey-baked ham, I laughed in the face of moderation.  Hey, it’s the holidays! But my jeans say I’ve paid for it.

We watched Star Wars episodes 4, 5, and 6 before seeing The Force Awakens. When you’re the mom of boys– who happened to grow up with a brother who talked Wookie and had every single spaceship and action figure in the galaxy– you become versed in the ways of the Force. I’ve seen the movies multiple times and I know my bounty hunters and droids.

star wars force awakens movie poster

(LucasFilm)

We got tickets to see the new one on Christmas Day so we stayed up late Christmas Eve watching Star Wars and Empire, and then watched Jedi the morning before our afternoon showing.

Aden, Eli and I loved The Force Awakens, but Wilson and Jacob felt only lukewarm and left wanting more. One of my complaints about 1, 2, and 3 were they were too long and the stories were convoluted. I thought 7 captured the tone of 4, 5, and 6 and was well written and edited, funny, and fast moving. It was full of cool special effects and charming characters, and I loved that the protagonist is a badass woman. Harrison Ford was great and I can’t wait for the next one!

I’d like to say my holiday week was relaxing but I was working a lot and hosting family and friends so there wasn’t enough down time. I did manage to squeeze in two other movies.

The Big Short movie poster

(Paramount Pictures)

The Big Short is a compelling, well-acted story about the collapse of the housing market in 2008, but I don’t think it’s a terrific movie. There isn’t anyone to root for and it underscores everything tainted, greedy and shortsighted about this country. Sure, there’s Brad Pitt, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling (va-va-voom) but they all wear such terrible wigs it’s hard to remember how hot they are. The breakout star for me is Jeremy Strong, the tough, gum-snapping trader who doesn’t suffer fools and is probably worth $50 million. One to watch.

(Open Road Films)

(Open Road Films)

Also made Wilson take me to Spotlight— about the Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the epidemic of pedophile priests and the major coverup by the Catholic Church, exposed in a 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning  investigative report. I’m always amazed when a filmmaker can take a familiar story with an ending we all know and still build tension and drive. The performances  (by Michael Keaton, Liev Schrieber, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Ruffalo) are understated and the story is very powerful. Disturbing topic, but great movie.

hamilton---digital-album-cover---final_sq-6aec6877614608af10cf4169380c490a7e78bf5f-s300-c85

We’ve become obsessed with the Hamilton musical soundtrack. U.S. history set to cool rap music from a Broadway musical?! I’m in heaven and Aden and Eli are hooked. Nothing makes me happier than when my little sports junkies appreciate art and culture!

2016 cookies on carpoolcandy.com

–We spent New Year’s Eve with family and friends sharing cocktails, good food, and lots of laughs. Hope for more of the same in 2016!

Good to back sharing. Happy New Year all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U2 at MSG or How Bono and FOMO don’t mix

Monday, I decided to get last-minute tickets to see U2 at Madison Square Garden. They’re my favorite rock band (unless Bruce and the E Street Band count) and I’ve seen them live many times. I wanted to get tickets when they went on sale months ago– and even put an alarm in my phone– but on that day some domestic distraction prevented me from getting on the phone or computer at the right time and by the time I did, decent seats were sold out.

I was disappointed and mad at myself so I did what I often do (and wish I didn’t) I avoided the problem until too late, because it was too painful to deal.

U2 2015 tour poster

Then our own personal Ticketmaster– Wilson’s brother, Jon– got four free tickets in a box for a Saturday night two weeks ago. I was thrilled.

Until I realized it conflicted with my BlogHer plans. I couldn’t ditch my out-of- town guest and all the fun of BlogHerpalooza so I gave my ticket up and Wilson went with his cousin.

But you may remember that a few weeks ago, my sister-in-law got tickets an hour before the Taylor Swift concert, and got great seats. So I decided I would be fun and spontaneous and try to score tickets the day of the concert. I was already in the city for work and had to pass MSG to get to Penn Station for my train home so it seemed like a low-risk, high-excitment endeavor.

I solicited my friend, Karen, to go and she enthusiastically returned my text: “OMG that would be so much fun!” she replied encouragingly.

Buoyed by Karen’s whimsy and dreams of getting a wink from the Edge from my last-minute floor seat, I checked StubHub for tickets. The cheapest seats started at $180 and they were behind the stage. Not good.

Wilson told me the show featured a giant screen that ran the length of the venue so if we were behind the stage we would miss all the action and visuals. Although it was a Monday night and they were playing like 8 shows in NYC, there were barely any seats available and they ranged from $350-850. Each! 

I was feeling impulsive and crazy, but not that crazy.

I downloaded the StubHub app to my phone and began obsessively checking for seats. I went to the StubHub office in midtown, hoping I could charm someone there into state secrets on how to get last-minute seats that didn’t cost as much as a pair of Bono’s custom sunglasses.

MSG seating grid on carpoolcandy.com

I looked at the MSG seating chart about 100x in 12 hours.

It’s really kind of insane how much you have to fork over to see live music these days. Like cuckoo.

But I digress.

So Karen and I show up at MSG and stand in a line for people without tickets hoping to get last-minute releases. We knew that line of at least 20 people was not bearing fruit, but that line is how scalpers know you are in need.

We surveyed the situation and were approached by at least three scalpers. The first had only three teeth and very dirty shoes– no joke– and seemed pissed off. We didn’t engage him.

Another seemed sketchy and only talked out of the side of his mouth, while darting his eyes around, probably scanning for cops, who were lingering close by. We weren’t sure if we could get arrested for buying tickets from a scalper or if only the scalpers were at risk.

Did I mention Karen is a lawyer and very practical? Between that and my fear of making a bad choice that would put us out up to $500, we were not terrific scalper customers.

But we found one guy– let’s call him Joe Tickets, cuz that’s the name he gave me when I got his cell phone later– whom I trusted. He looked me in the eye, he was funny and he seemed to have a more honest face than the others. He said he would give us a ticket for one of us to go inside and find the seats to ensure they were legit. Then the other person would give him the cash for both tickets and get the other ticket. Seemed foolproof.

U2 MSG 2015

He had two tickets in a decent section for $250 each. $50 more than we wanted to pay, but it was now 8:10pm and the show was starting in 10 minutes so we began to feel desperate.

But that desperate feeling also made us doubt ourselves. We saw a couple buy the tickets from Joe and the husband disappeared while the wife waited outside for the call. She eventually wandered away so Joe’s tickets seemed to be the real thing (just like the U2 song.)

We hesitated….and just like that… the tickets were gone.  Joe whispered into several other dudes’ ears, but all the seats were taken and the music had already started.

So much for spontaneity.

disappointed fans on carpoolcandy.com

We walked into Penn Station (no place to lick your wounds) in a daze. We kind of couldn’t believe we really weren’t seeing U2. This isn’t how we pictured the story ending.

I attribute much of my initial excitement and subsequent disappointment to my acute case of FOMO (fear of missing out.) I get an idea in my head that I want to do something– it can be a pop culture event like this, or a party, or even a family activity– and I start to get anxious if I have a conflict and can’t make it happen.

I missed the “last” Grateful Dead shows in my home town a few weeks ago….U2 for BlogHer…I went to Taylor Swift and didn’t get to see The Wailers playing at Maplewoodstock….Wilson had only 4 tickets to the Met game and didn’t have enough tickets for me.

First world problems, I know. Woe is lucky me. But I can get my panties in a twist over missing stuff, and I cant figure out why. It happens with events, but also TV shows, movies, vacation spots. What personality defect does this reflect?

You know what doesn’t help my FOMO issues? Fucking Facebook.

FOMO graphic

As Karen and I sheepishly boarded our train home, we chatted a bit before checking our phones. I went onto Facebook to retrieve a message. As I scrolled through, I saw at least three friends posting photos from inside the show I was missing at that exact moment.

Photos, videos, and excited bursts of concert joy rattled and hummed on my feed. I hated them all.

We still hadn’t found what we’re looking for.

By the next day, the feelings of disappointment and regret had subsided and I realized that, of course, there will be other concerts. Karen and I had fun and impromptu dinner and drinks that never would have happened.

That’s the lesson I’m still striving to learn. To be present and satisfied with the moment I’m in. Cuz most of them are pretty great.

What gives you FOMO? Tell me in the comments.

Staycation 2015: the week in photos

My kids were on spring break last week and we stayed home because Jacob had 5 baseball games. Was I bitter? Maybe a little. But it was actually nice to be home with few plans and time for the kids to relax.

My boys overindulged on-screen time for sure, but I planned at least one outing a day to make sure they got some stimulation that didn’t include a remote or joystick (I know, no one calls them joytsicks anymore but ‘Xbox controller’ is so undescriptive.)

We’re so lucky to have New York City in our back yard, and I took them in a few times to get a change of scenery and sneak in some culture without the boys realizing it.

Here are the highlights of the week in photos…..

Walking the High Line NYC on carpoolcandy.com

I met two gal pals at Penn Station Friday night. We were having dinner with our husbands in Chelsea at 7pm so we bought ourselves chilled mini wine bottles (at the little store by the stairs to the Garden) which we dumped in paper cups. Then we picked up the High Line at 31st St. and 11th Avenue to walk to the restaurant.

There’s nothing like an outdoor cocktail hour, walking above Manhattan, and people watching on the High Line on a lovely spring evening!

Home/Dreamworks movie poster on carpoolcandy.com

Home/Dreamworks

On Monday I took Eli to see the animated movie Home. We both liked it a lot– it’s a very sweet and engaging story, with characters voiced by Rihanna, Jim Parsons, JLo, and Steve Martin. I also like any excuse to eat movie popcorn.

Batting cages at Frozen Ropes on carpoolcandy.com

Tuesday I took Aden and Eli to the batting cages at Frozen Ropes to hit balls off a pitching machine.

Batting cages at Frozen Ropes on carpoolcandy.com

It aint cheap: $30 for 30 minutes, and the time went quickly, but it was a productive, fun activity.

We took the train into the city Wednesday and the kids picked Shake Shack for lunch. The line wasn’t too long….

Shake Shack NYC on carpoolcandy.com

and we chowed on our burgers and fries.

Shake Shack NYC on carpoolcandy.com

Then we walked a few blocks to see Matilda on Broadway. Eli and I read the Roald Dahl book and we had been listening to the music in the car and explaining the plot to Aden.

Matilda on Broadway NYC on carpoolcandy.com

I was worried because Aden wasn’t so psyched when I told him I bought the tickets. But we all loved it! Amazing performances, inventive staging and dancing, and terrific music that we are still humming days later. I highly recommend!

My boys had never been to Dylan’s Candy Bar so after the show we headed east and wandered the sugar sanctuary for almost 45 minutes.

Dylan's Candy Bar NYC on carpoolcandy.com

Giant gummy bear and candy necklace!

I gave them each a $15 limit but still managed to spend an obscene amount of money I can’t think about ever again. Oh well. You only live once right?

Dylan's Candy Bar NYC on carpoolcandy.com

Like mice in a cheese factory….

Two friends and I took our boys to the city Thursday to walk around Chinatown. We had never been to Chinatown in NY and I thought we’d walk the streets, taking in the new culture, marveling at the colorful fruit and vegetable stands, and wandering into little shops.

Chinatown NYC on carpoolcandy.com

But I forgot I was with 7 boys whose only interest was consuming as much sesame chicken as their bellies could hold. The authentic eats at 456 Shanghai Cuisine didn’t disappoint. As you can see here, we tried a little bit of everything. The pork dumplings– both standard and soup– were gobbled up instantly, and the moo shu pork, shrimp and vegetables, chicken lo mien, and sautéed green beans were delicious. Nothing was greasy and no one felt sick 30 minutes after consuming an impressive amount of food. And the price is nice too. The lunch specials were just $5.75 each and came with soup and rice.

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on carpoolcandy.com

Although I couldn’t eat anymore, the children managed to cram in shakes and cones from the famous Chinatown Ice Cream Factory down the street. In addition to the standards, they have some very inventive flavors, including Black Sesame, Ginger, and Lychee. Thumbs up from the fellas.

NYC criminal court tour on carpoolcandy.com

Chinatown is very close to the Criminal Court building, where our friend Chris works, so the boys got a bonus tour of a courtroom and a holding cell.

NYC criminal court tour on carpoolcandy.com

We also stopped at the mecca of sneakers, a place called Flight Club, near Union Square. Literally hundreds of technicolored sneakers line the walls of this store and I couldn’t find a pair for less than $150.

Flight Club NYC shopping on carpoolcandy.com

Much like me at Bergdorf Goodman, the boys browsed the shelves, knowing they could never afford the laces of most of their coveted shoes.

Flight Club NYC shopping on carpoolcandy.com

A boy can dream…..

I must admit I enjoyed Flight Club from an anthropological perspective. It’s a whole culture of people who purchase, trade, and collect high-end sneakers and seeing so many creative designs made it feel like an exhibit in a modern art museum.

Flight Club NYC shopping on carpoolcandy.com

Check out the price tags on these babies! This is what thousand-dollar shoes look like

The prices of some of the shoes were as expensive as art– going up to the eye-popping $7,000 to 11,000 range! Who knew?

On Friday it was back to work for me so the boys had a free day to play with friends.

I asked them tonight what the highlights were of their break. Jacob groaned, which he does at any question I ask him of late.

Aden said “Everything!” I’ll take it!

Eli? After a detailed recap of all our adventures, he chose the playdate with his friend Kieran yesterday.

Can’t win ’em all.

 

 

 

 

Oscars 2015: the posh and political

It was a night of platform heels and platform speeches at the Oscars.

Hollywood insider film “Birdman” swept the 87th Academy Awards (winning best picture, director, and original screenplay)  and many of the night’s winners used their acceptance speech time to stump for causes close to their hearts. Here’s the lowdown on a very long night….

birdman promo

 THE HOST:

First-time host Neil Patrick Harris breathed new life into an old show as Oscar producers took a more positive tack that paid off. Less snark and more sugar, the show intended to celebrate our love of movies, not just the celebrities who make them.

neil-patrick-harris-oscars promo

I won’t pretend I’m not a huge NPH fan from his How I Met Your Mother days and I expected him to be lengen (wait for it) dary. (sorry, how could I resist?!)

The opening musical number was well-rehearsed, clever, funny and a love letter to movies, instead of the standard teasing/humiliating stars routine. I loved seeing NPH inserted into movie classics and the Anna Kendrick and Jack Black cameos.

With no less than five costume changes, including three different colored tuxes, he was a compelling and affable steward throughout the show. I loved the bit where he spoofed Birdman and Whiplash and wound up on stage in tight-whiteys.

NOW FOR THE GLAM:

May fav looks of the night….(for pix click here) 

Once again, five-time nominee Julianne Moore wins in a white beaded strapless Chanel with black accents with an impeccable fit that complimented her alabaster skin. Her makeup, up-do and diamond earrings were also perfection.  Glad she looked so good the night she finally won!

Many of the best dresses were white, including Lupita N’yongo’s Calvin Klein white beaded sheath with a sexy halter of pearls. She looked like an oyster goddess.

— I wasn’t sure about Reese Witherspoon’s strapless white Tom Ford gown with two black lines, but it grew on me as the night progressed.  It was her typical simple, elegant, modern fare. Not imaginative or risky, but solid, and she gets extra points for being one of the few who let her hair down, despite the rain.

–I was soooo disappointed with Jennifer Aniston’s Globes dress last month but she completely redeemed herself in a gorgeous nude sparkly Versace dress that hugged her body like a Band-Aid. The sleek design had subtle cutouts that showed off her phenomenal body.  Her loose shiny hair completes any outfit.

–Although black is never as exciting as color, if you’re Cate Blanchett you find a deep velvet sheath with rough, frayed edges and a sexy keyhole back, and pair it with a giant turquoise necklace that matches your eyes perfectly… and you pop right off the screen.

–Another exception to “black is boring” was Sienna Miller, who can do no wrong. Her Oscar de la Renta short-sleeved dress with flared peekaboo skirt and velvet bows was sweet and ethereal and different.

–Although I’m not impressed with Dakota Johnson in interviews or for starring in 50 Shades, I was impressed by her YSL one shoulder red dress and diamond jewels. Perfect Oscar fashion: classic and timeless with a nod to old Hollywood but sexy and fresh, with a sassy ponytail.

Felicity Jones, nominated for best actress for Theory of Everything owned the moment with a gorgeous grey Alexander McQueen ball gown with a hand-sewn beaded bodice and giant satin skirt with classy updo. Channeling Audrey Hepburn, the look was flattering, elegant, regal.

Zoe Saldana looked amazing in a blush pink Versace dress with stiff, artful lines. She paired the dress with loose curly hair pulled up.

Guys who know how to wear a tux, the tighter, the better: Eddie Redmayne in navy, John Legend in Gucci… and Adam Levine in Armani. Whiplash’s Miles Teller is my new boy crush. Handsome, confident, talented, he spoke intelligently on the carpet like an old pro.

Scarlett Johanssen popped off the red carpet in an extremely tight-fitting emerald-green Jessica Rabbit hourglass dress by Versace, and funky green beaded necklace.

But there were some couture catastrophes….

Lady Gaga made quite an entrance in a white beaded Alaia ball gown with red leather spacegirl gloves. The look was very Jane Jetson meets Grace Kelly. Odd.

–Much like how I feel about Gwyneth herself, I couldn’t decide if I loved or hated Paltrow’s pale pink, one-shouldered sheath. It was sexy and flattered her sick Tracy Anderson bod but why oh why did she add the giant organza flower on the shoulder? Too much or avant garde like a Carrie Bradshaw accessory?

—Not sure what the usually best-dressed Nicole Kidman was thinking. She looked like a slimy Rainbow Fish in an iridescent strapless gown with an unexplained red belt.

-Kerry Washington looked more mother of the bride than belle of the ball in a strapless white dress with dowdy beading.

–Loved David Oyelowo in Selma but he looked like he was missing his pals from the barbershop quartet in is tight red tux.

CELEBS I’M WORRIED ABOUT:

–I was disturbed by the lack of movement in Melanie Griffith’s face. She couldn’t express her pride and amusement over daughter Dakota Johnson’s new success because she’s spent too much time at the plastic surgeon’s.

Faith Hill you’re so pretty but your hair’s too short and you and Tim McGraw need to eat a few IN and Out burgers– he looks old and manorexic!

 BEST SPEECHES:

Paramount Pictures

–By far, the best speech was given by John Legend and Common when they won best song for Selma and Common talked about the famous bridge where MLK’s march took place  “This bridge is a symbol for change. Its spirit is built on hope, welded with compassion, sealed by love for all human beings. Selma is now. The struggle for justice is right now. Our voting rights are being compromised,  and our struggle for freedom and justice is happening now.”

–I wanted to stand up and cheer like Meryl Streep and JLo when best supporting actress winner Patricia Arquette used the end of her speech to forcefully demand wage equality and equal rights for women.

–Graham Moore won for best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game and used part of his moving speech to speak to gay teens who feel hopeless and alone: “When I was 16, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird, different, like I didn’t belong. And now I’m standing here. I’d like this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or different. Stay weird. stay different and then when it’s your turn and you’re standing on this stage, pass that message to the next person who comes along.”

– In her classy acceptance speech for best actress for Still Alice, Julianne Moore said she’s glad the movie has drawn attention to Alzheimer’s Disease, which still has no cure.

Alejandro G. Inarritu, who wrote and directed Birdman used his best picture acceptance speech to ask for respect for his fellow Mexicans and all immigrants.

–J.K. Simmons made his wife the highlight of his acceptance speech forWhiplash (amazing must-see performance in a disturbing but compelling movie) and told us to call our moms– not text or email– call! Thanks dude.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS:

Most of the musical numbers were sleepy, except best song winner “Glory,” performed by John Legend and Common with a powerful reenactment of the Selma march on stage that had the whole crowd on their feet– many in tears–  by the end.

Lady Gaga beautifully sang a medley of songs from The Sound of Music to commemorate the film’s 50th anniversary.  I admit I sang along and wept nostalgic tears when Julie Andrews came out afterwards to thank her and introduce the nominees for best score.

Idena Menzel and John Travolta acknowledged their unusual connection (he famously butchered her name at the last Oscars) and gave out an award together. But instead of making up for last year’s gaffe, he continued his weird streak by pulling her face too close to his very pulled, rubbery face, and spoke to her in a creepy voice that gave me shivers. Ick.

WHO GOT ROBBED:

Richard Linklater in the Best Director category. I loved Birdman but best picture and screenplay should have been enough. Linklater came up with the concept and executed shooting a beautiful, relatable film about an American family experience over a 12 year period. He should have been recognized.

boyhood poster on carpoolcandy.com

Michael Keaton as best actor for Birdman. Eddie Redmayne was wonderful playing ALS-affected genius Stephen Hawking in Theory of Everything, but he’s young and has a long career ahead. Keaton’s an old timer who was great in this movie and may not get another shot at gold.

What were your favorite moments and looks of the night? Tell me in the comments.

Pop culture potpourri

Yeah, I saw all your Facebook photo posts of your fabulous white beaches in Aruba and gorgeous views from the ski lift in Vermont. I was happy for you, really I was.

But one of the great things about staying home for the holiday break was a chance to catch up on all the TV, movies, and other crap I’ve meant to get to but never seem to have the time.

There’s an overwhelming amount of media to ingest, and much of pop culture popularity now is through word of mouth buzz, so thought I’d share some of the stuff I’m digging at the moment.

serial itunes logo on carpoolcandy.com

Serial    I can’t explain why listening to almost 12 hours of one woman talking about a 15-year-old murder case is fascinating but it is! We were driving to Boston for New Year’s and I plugged the podcast into the car stereo. My kids groaned as soon as the top 40 stopped, but within 20 minutes, all 5 of us were entranced.

by the way graphic on carpool candy.com

– By the Way, In conversation    I’ve raved about actor/comedian Jeff Garlin’s podcast before but then it went silent while he was shooting The Goldbergs. But he’s back baby, and better than ever. It’s not an interview show, it’s literally just 2 people onstage before a lucky live audience– chatting about anything from pilates to bad movie endings. He gets the best guests, but I’ll listen to any episode–even unfamiliar names — because it’s always entertaining. Who loves Garlin most? Brady, who’s getting some nice long walks.

imitation game poster on carpoolcandy.com

–The Imitation Game   This movie is a fascinating piece of little known history, and an interesting character study of Alan Turing– an odd codebreaker who helped end World War II.  Wilson and I give it two thumbs up for a riveting story and excellent acting. I know ladies swoon for Benedict Cucumberpatch but I don’t quite get it. I preferred to admire the flawless skin and effortless style of Kiera Knightly. Without giving too much away, there’s also a powerful social/cultural statement about the lack of human rights at that time that resonates today.

boyhood poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Boyhood    There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this movie but I liked it and appreciated the creativity, foresight, and endurance required to make such an innovative film. As the mom of three boys, it was interesting to see their common behaviors and attitudes, but this boy’s parents’ divorce was central to the story and will likely speak volumes to single parents and blended families. The characters were appropriately gray– not all good or bad– and showed growth as they lived with the choices they made. It’s a quiet movie though. Half the time I was stressed while watching, expecting a big dramatic turn of events, but it never came. I’d like to see it again, knowing the outcome, and appreciating the pop culture references and details. It’s groundbreaking in film history, and significant in modern culture.

HBO Boardwalk Empire poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Boardwalk Empire    I don’t know many people who watched this HBO series that ended last fall, and that’s a crime. We finally finished the last season and put it in our top 10 best dramas of all time. Each episode– exec produced by Martin Scorsese– was like a mini movie. The cinematography, art direction, costumes, and attention to historic detail was flawless and the writing was brilliant. Every season had its own intensity, and featured mafia legends including Capone, Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano and Arnold Rothstein.  Season 3 with Bobby Cannavale as the psycho mobster Gyp Rosetti was one of the sickest characters I’ve ever seen on TV.  I’m telling you, watch it. Or I’ll break your legs.

NBC parenthood poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Parenthood     If you stuck with it through all six seasons as we have, it was well worth it. It’s been called “appointment crying” and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through an episode with a dry eye, because creator Jason Katims and his excellent writers know how to yank at those heartstrings like he’s playing a bass. It got a little soapy in the last couple seasons, but the characters are complicated, the acting is excellent (shoutout to Ray Ramano, who knew?) and the stories are often relatable. Episode 11 was especially great as they started to revisit the past and wrap up the series in a subtle but powerful way. I’m eager to see how they end it. Even if you gave up a few seasons ago, I’d recommend watching the last two episodes. But be sure to bring a hanky.

NBC parenthood poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Into the Woods soundtrack   This was my dad’s favorite Broadway show of all time and we saw it with Bernadette Peters back in the day, so I was thrilled to see it was coming to the big screen. I haven’t even seen the movie yet (soon!) but am loving the music. Sondheim is the most clever theatrical rapper there is. The lyrics are beautiful and poetic, and the bigger message about life in and out of the woods is timeless. (Cinderella: “How can you know who you are til you know what you want, which I don’t?)  As Eli told me– he’s my one kid who loves show tunes as much as I do–  the story is about what happens following “Happy ever after.”  Careful what you wish for!

RHOBH poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Real Housewives of Beverly Hills    Sooo much better this season! They got rid of the two creepy weirdos from last year and scored the goofy, fun, candid Lisa Rinna and her pal, soap opera actress Eileen Davidson. The houses. parties, and shopping sprees are still outrageous, the hair and makeup completely over the top, and the cat fights extra scratchy. Sure, Yolanda is out of touch with reality, but somehow she’s still endearing and a good mom. Brandi is trashy and so clearly in need of therapy it’s like watching a tall white Cadillac Escalade with blinged out wheels crash in slow motion.  Great TV.

The Affair on carpoolcandy.com

Showtime

–The Affair    A lot of fellow TV junkies are raving about this show but Wilson and I thought it was mediocre. The concept is compelling– a story of an affair of two married people, culminating in a murder mystery, told from his and her points of view. But some of the writing was lame and the way they bopped around the Hamptons and Brooklyn when they should have been hiding in hotel rooms was bonkers and unrealistic. Oh but did I mention Joshua Jackson is unbelievably hot?? I don’t care how good The Wire was, I can’t imagine a world where one would choose the overcompensating greasy curls and weak character of Dominic West over Jackson, the brooding cowboy. I will say that the last 3 episodes were great and hooked us in for next season.

Trivia Crack Game on carpoolcandy.com

–Trivia Crack     Jacob introduced me to this app on my phone and it’s an addictive diversion when on-line at Trader Joe’s or commuting home. You answer questions in several different categories in less than 30 seconds, and can play against friends. The questions aren’t that hard (yet) so it’s a nice little ego boost and feels like a better use of brain juice than say, scrolling Facebook.

Are any of these sucking up your time? What are your latest pop culture obsessions? Tell me in the comments.

Black leaders raise $2.1 million so kids can see ‘Selma’ for free

I was working on a piece this weekend that I have to share. It’s a great story to commemorate the Martin Luther King holiday,  and there’s still time to take advantage of an inspiring program called “Selma for Students,” in cities all across the country.

I’m working today, but Wilson is taking the kids to see ‘Selma,’ thanks to some amazing business leaders who had an idea “that had legs,” as one of them told me.

It’s rare that a good idea discussed over dinner with friends actually turns into something big, and raising more than two million bucks in less than 2 weeks because you believe in educating our youth is pretty special.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Here are the deets:

Many students across the country will mark Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday this year in a more meaningful way than just enjoying a day off from school.

That’s the goal of Paramount Pictures and scores of African-American business leaders who have sponsored free screenings for students in select cities of the new movie, ”Selma,” about King’s 1965 civil rights march.

 It all started at a dinner party on New Year’s Eve, when a group of prominent African-American executives were discussing the historical significance of  “Selma,” and how important it is for young people to see the story come alive on-screen. 

Soon dinner table chatter became a movement and within a week, 27 business executives created a fund to allow some 27,000 middle school and high school freshman students in New York City to see the film for free at participating theaters starting January 8. Seventh, 8th and 9th grade students were required to show a school ID or a report card to receive a free ticket.

”The reaction has been incredible,” Megan Colligan, President of Marketing and Distribution at Paramount– the film’s distributor– told FoxNews.com. “There’s something so special in not planning it, it really came from organic honest inspiration and then people were willing to dedicate themselves to doing something that’s never been done before. “

When the New York theaters sold out quickly in the first weekend, and the fund continued to grow as news of the program spread, the leaders expanded it to 75,000 tickets. Then Paramount and the executive sponsors began to think bigger.

By Sunday night (Jan 18,) the Selma For Students efforts had raised $2.1 million and distributed at least 285,000 free tickets in 24 cities– from Nashville to San Francisco.

“There’s a common identity with this cause and this history and everyone wanted to touch it. It’s been an incredible outpouring of support,” one of the business leaders, Fred Terrell, told FoxNews.com. “It’s something I’ve never seen, it’s been so infectious, and it gives you a sense there’s a cohesive quality to the African-American business community. They want to be part of educating our youth and telling that story to young people,” Terrell, Vice Chairman at Credit Suisse, said.

Executives leading the “Selma” for Students charge hail from many companies representing finance, law, and media—including American Express, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, BET Networks, and Essence Magazine.

As school, church, and youth groups gobble up available tickets, organizations in many communities nationwide have coordinated campaigns to find more African-American business leaders to underwrite more free tickets to keep the movement going.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

“Selma” details the events surrounding Dr. King’s march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, which resulted in one of the most powerful victories in the civil rights movement–President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Despite brutal opposition, King and his non-violent supporters made history as they courageously fought for change.

It was an epic moment the program sponsors wanted today’s youth to understand. “It would be a shame for such a great a historical vehicle to be in the marketplace and not get the opportunity to have a community meeting around it. The story is as relevant today as it was in 1965,” Terrell said.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn more about my history,” Joshua Phillips, 12, a student at Forest Street Elementary School in Orange, New Jersey said at a recent “Selma” screening with his classmates.

Several institutions in New York City and other communities are supporting the project by hosting viewings and discussions. Participating students are encouraged to share their thoughts on the film and photos of their experience on social media, using the hash tag #SelmaForStudents.

“We don’t get out like this so much so it’s something different for the students to experience, seeing an educational movie while having fun at the same time,” said Amanda Sherwood, 13, of Orange, New Jersey.

Terrell and many of the business leaders involved were pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming enthusiasm for the program and how rapidly it all came together. “The kids will know that there are African-Americans who cared about their education, who found a special connection between this movie and their own lives, and wanted to pay it forward,” he said.

“Selma” — directed by Ava DuVernay– stars David Oyelow as Dr. King, and includes actors Tom Wilkinson as President Johnson, Cuba Gooding Jr., rapper Common, and Oprah Winfrey. “Selma” won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song and Best Picture. 

“The police officers beating the peaceful protestors had the biggest impact on me. People have to understand the struggle African-Americans had to go through to vote. We take it for granted,” said Antonio Green, 13, who saw the movie twice this week in South Orange, New Jersey.

The free “Selma” tickets are available for students, while supplies last, through the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, January 19.

Did you take advantage of this amazing offer? What did you think of the movie? Tell me in the comments.