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Jun
12

You don’t have to be a shopper to love Mall of America! I wrote about 10 Things to Do at Mall of America Besides Shop for USA Today 10Best!

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hbo “true detective” at best buy right in time for father’s day

True DetectiveEvery once in a while a TV series comes along that’s so good and so thought-provoking, you binge watch the whole season and then want to go back and watch it all over again.

Interestingly enough, many of those shows seem to come from HBO, whose latest offering is the groundbreaking True Detective. [Read more…]

win a copy of “gloria” on dvd

Gloria poster

It’s so rare to see a movie about a middle-aged woman who is a fully-realized character you can actually relate to. Portrayed stunningly by Paulina Garcia, Gloria is that woman. [Read more…]

“girl rising”

Girl Rising

I have very mixed feelings about International Women’s Day, which was celebrated this past weekend. On one hand, yay for acknowledging the gender that makes up more than half our population. On the other hand, WTF? [Read more…]

win a copy of “diana,” out on blu-ray and dvd today

Naomi Watts

Because I got married the same summer as Princess Diana, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for her. I vividly remember watching the news about her car crash at night and being devastated, the next morning, when I heard she had died. [Read more…]

vicki lawrence and “mama’s family” by cathy chester

Mama's Family portrait

There are dysfunctional families, and then there are DYSFUNCTIONAL families. [Read more…]

the real summer movie superheroes

Summer movies tend to be big and epic and all about superheroes. I prefer small movies about everyday people. I told you about three fascinating documentaries last week, and thought I’d share three more interesting choices. In these, the superheroes are a middle-aged couple trying to keep the passion alive in their relationship, a young girl learning how to cope after her parents’ divorce, and a group of elderly table tennis champions. Enjoy, and let me know what movies you’d recommend!

BEFORE MIDNIGHT

I loved this movie, which picks up twenty years after Celeste (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) first met on a train in Before Sunrise and reunited a decade later in Before Sunset. If you haven’t seen those, stop whatever you’re doing and stream them on Netflix before heading to the theater. Part of what makes Before Midnight so good is knowing these characters since they were in their idealistic twenties – their hopes, desires, philosophies – and watching them settle into middle age and deal with the situations life throws at them. [Read more…]

stevie nicks, sarah polley and bergdorf goodman

It may seem like action heroes are taking over at the movie theaters this summer but, if you’re craving some real human drama, consider taking the road less traveled and check out these new documentaries:

STORIES WE TELL

Sarah Polley, who directed the beautiful and powerful Away From Her, turns the camera on her own family in this fascinating documentary about the truth – and its many versions. The film revolves around Sarah’s mother, Diane, an actress who died of cancer when Sarah was just 11 years old. As Sarah interviews her family members and her mother’s friends, secrets begin to surface and the plot keeps twisting. Because these are real people whose real lives are affected by the events that occurred – or didn’t occur – the film becomes more and more riveting, building to a conclusion that will blindside you. Ultimately, Sarah has the most at stake here, both personally and professionally, but the way she puts the pieces together and presents them to her audience is masterful storytelling in itself. [Read more…]

“greedy lying bastards” and the sadness card

My great friend, Kim LePiane, does a card reading for me almost every time we get together (trust me, you should call her to do one for you – she is amazing) and recently I turned over the Sadness card. I couldn’t imagine why I was getting it since I really wasn’t feeling sad about anything.

I went down the list of everyone I love to make sure there was nothing I should be feeling sad about, and then Kim – who knows me very well – said, quietly, “You know, this doesn’t have to mean there’s sadness in your personal life. It could be more of a global sadness.” [Read more…]

tina fey, paul rudd and paul weitz on “admission”

Anyone who has been through the college admissions process knows how harrowing it can be. But what’s it like when you’re the one making the decision rather than waiting for it? In Admission, which opens Friday, March 22, Tiny Fey’s character gets a rare opportunity to experience the stress on both sides of the application.

Portia, an unmarried Princeton admissions officer, reconnects with John (Paul Rudd), an old classmate who now teaches at an alternative high school. He introduces her to a student who just may be the son she gave up for adoption years ago, and informs her that he is applying to Princeton.

I had such a good time at the press junket for Admission, where my fellow bloggers and I got to meet stars Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, and director Paul Weitz. As a fan of everyone involved – plus the book itself – I looked forward to hearing what words of wisdom they would impart about parenting and the college admissions process. Here are some snippets from our press conference:

[Read more…]

The Best Documentaries at the Oscars: “How to Survive a Plague” and “The Invisible War”

One of the most thought-provoking categories of the Oscars – and one that’s filled with fantastic movies not enough people usually get to see – is Best Documentary Feature. So far, I’ve only seen three out of the five but I was so blown away by a couple of them, I can’t stop thinking about them.

Although I liked Searching for Sugar Man, I just don’t think it should have won the Academy Award. Yes, it’s a fascinating story about Rodriguez, a ‘70s rock phenomenon most of us have never heard of, and it’s amazing that it’s true. But, to me, an Oscar-winning documentary should be more than that.

How to Survive a Plague, now available on DVD, is way more than that. In fact, it’s one of the most inspiring movies I’ve ever seen, telling a story that will forever change the way I look at the world and my own role in it.

Writer/director David France beautifully captures the bravery, persistence and determination of a group of activists trying desperately to save their own lives – and those of their friends – during the AIDS epidemic. As years pass and millions of deaths continue to tick away, these men and women never give up. They relentless pursue the attention of the media, the government and the pharmaceutical industry, bucking the bureaucracy, researching treatments and medications on their own, and risking everything. [Read more…]