My Week in Movies: January 28 - February 3

by lauren atkinson


Honeymoon
First of all, I have loved watching Rose Leslie from the time I first saw her on Downton Abbey through her time on Game of Thrones. I find her enchanting and relatable. I am hoping that because she is early in her career, we see her more often and in a continued range of roles and characters.
I love that this film starts with a "wedding video" which is a diary/love note to each other about how they are feeling about one another that they will show everyone that is a guest. This caters to the current culture we live: the need to overshare with friends and family, to document everything in our lives rather than to live personal moments and not have to share with other people. At the start, the wedding video feels inconsequential.
Honeymoon, at first glance, is very similar in high-level narrative to The Strangers. (Couple in a cabin, alone in the woods, strange events) What separates this one from others in the genre is the genuine love of the couple towards each other and the moments of affection. This felt like I was really looking at a vacation of a couple -- both because of the opening sequence of the wedding video and the electricity between the actors. As a couple, they feel natural. There are moments where they start to have hard conversations that many newlyweds do ("do we want kids?" "I didn't realize your dad was...") but are prompted all at once due to being in seclusion in a family home. The topics come up naturally and do not feel pressed to create tension. 
Rose Leslie's Bea goes from silly and fun to strange and unpredictable in her behavior. You begin to wonder whether her erratic behavior has always been nestled underneath the surface or was triggered by something new. I relate to her in many ways (post for another time) and as the story unfolds, you begin to feel more than sympathetic for her. At first, you are led to start thinking that Bea has been unfaithful to Paul. I had hoped that the explanation for her behavior was sci-fi rather than the haunting potential of something lewd or infidel that the plot tries to lead your mind. As the story becomes sci-fi, I am for it. And it shifts that way quickly. 
Had I not known what genre this was prior to starting it, I would not have expected the horror/thriller elements that come later in the movie. Because I was consciously aware that this was a thriller, I spent quite the time waiting for something to happen. But this does not mean that it is poorly paced or predictable: this movie takes its time and it pays off in the end.  
 

Poltergeist
This is one of my favorite movies and I am reserving a separate post just about why I love it. But I went and saw this in 70mm at Alamo Drafthouse this week and am so glad that I did! 
The cut that we watched had coloring issues (it was legit... magenta) but I loved seeing it on screen with an audience. The laughs are more laughable and the few jumps are jumpier. And I love when the audience claps at exciting moments.

Frances Ha
Yes, I am behind. It has taken until now for me to watch this and I am sad about that. Although this movie is very much a slice-of-life and coming-of-age from the female perspective, I found it a bit dry and lack-luster. This is not a favorite of mine but it does merit viewing if you have not seen it. 

However, the dialogue of Frances Ha is believable and sometimes painfully so. There are moments where Frances is faced with being in a room full of friends and seems to be wanting more from the conversations and experiences she is having. Almost creating a new narrative for herself in hopes that it will materialize into her life. I love the indecisiveness of Frances as she attempts to navigate feeling unfulfilled in her career and post-college life: she is still immature but wants to prove her worth. At times it is unclear whether Frances would like to push forward and have independence or whether she would like to continue to rely on others, much like a child expects their parents to provide. There's an insecurity of having to compare herself to others but then find the reality that you may not actually want to change your current position in life. 

The Witch
This is one of my favorite movies. I have a post upcoming in a few weeks talking more in-depth about this one. Stay tuned. 


My Week in Movies Jan 21-27

by lauren atkinson


Don't Kill It
This is a silly one, honestly. From the moment you turn this on until the end, you are in for unrelenting violence and corny practical effects. There's lots of blood and only camera-focused trauma. I found this to be a fun watch and a tight plot. The plot is pretty simple: kill a demon then become a demon. Normally paranormal (ghosts and demonic) don't get me going nor really do I find interest in them, but this is a fun one. 
I also liked our main: a comical caricature of rogue gunslinger.  Plus, he's played by Dolph Lundgren, which begs quite a bit of expectation about the action in this movie. 
Do I recommend? Really, only if you are ready for lots of blood and demon slaying. 

Heartthrob
The dialogue in this is so infuriating and unreal. The acting isn't that great, either.
In short, this movie is Romeo and Juliet if Romeo had been a murderous lover and even more obsessive than Shakespeare had written it originally. And Juliet, Juliet doesn't die this time around but she's just as gullible, overly sensitive. 
Ok, Romeo and Juliet isn't that bad but I really did not like this one. 
And the lead reminds me of my little brother so maybe there's some personal issues in there, haha.
Either way, I do not recommend this one. 

Hush
This is awesome. From start to finish I was on edge and sucked in at the same time. I really don't even want to talk about why I love this movie so much until I watch it again. 

Screengrab from The ReZort

Screengrab from The ReZort

The ReZort
Skip this one. It's like... World War Z meets Jurassic Park. I thought I'd be on board for this but wasn't. Expect for maybe eye candy, Dougray Scott (love him, ok?) 

Trash Fire
Trash Fire isn’t exactly trash fire but it’s not that great. I'd say that this is one you can definitely skip.

Despite having Adrian Grenier as the lead, this is definitely a pretty indie-feeling movie. Not to get too far into it, but this movie felt like a recent film grad took every director possible as inspiration. The lighting and camera angles felt like Kubrick. There was a monologue whose imagery looked like knock-off Wes Anderson. The whole movie just felt very immature. It also felt like it wasn't sure whether it was supposed to be a horror, a comedy, or a drama -- it was really inconsistent in its scripting and pace.

Finally, I found Adrian Grenier's Owen to be unrelatable and childish. I am sure that is what he was supposed to make you feel, but no other characters redeemed him or gave explanation to his behaviors. So, I guess, “Go fuck yourself, Florence.”

Starry Eyes
“I AM NOT A MILLION OTHER GIRLS.” 
The introduction of this one feels old school: opening sequence introducing you to the character with the title cards rolling over it. The synthy intro music=perf. The pacing is very unnerving as its initial moments of horror aren’t clear: is this all really happening? Starry Eyes is a pretty original story and creates a mood that I will likely reference in the future. This is a new example of how to do horror right. 

The gore is heavy with this one, friends. And worth it. And good. 

Lead actor = BAE. LOVE her. 

The dialogue in every scene with the lead's friends is well-written and equally well-paced. The acting feels comfortable and more akin to being in a room of friends than watching a movie. I know people that are exactly like the lead’s drunk friends: disguising criticism as jokes. 

Also, side note: obsessed with the name “Big Taters” for a Hooters-esque restaurant. Love.

Once the horror actually hits in Starry Eyes (it takes awhile, not in a bad way though) it is well worth the wait. 

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
This movie is hysterical. It's the classic roadtrip-cabin in the woods-slasher meets buddy movie. 
Katrina Bowden (you'll know her as Cerie from 30 Rock) was awesome: she played the role perfectly and was absolutely charming. I'm hoping that she continues with comedy because she plays the role of "unpredictably smart dumb blonde" extremely well.
(spoiler ahead)
I enjoyed this original take on the traditional cabin-in-the-woods style movie as it did not have a direct, threatening slasher or supernatural killer. Instead, you have many misunderstandings and slapstick accidents alongside traditional horror tropes ("virgin never dies" etc.)

His Girl Friday
As I've heard, this is heavily inspired by The Front Page from 1931 (which I plan to watch next week) with Cary Grant as the lead. 
This one holds up -- I love the acting, the quick wit and even the plot. This is a good one to break up the seriousness of the world. I'd recommend this one to most anyone. 

Blade Runner 2049
This is a re-watch and I am so glad that I took the time this week to sit down and indulge in this one. I have to admit that on first viewing in the theaters, the story did not resonate with me. I am an incredibly big Blade Runner fan so when I heard there was a "sequel" I was pretty excited about it. If you don't want things spoiled, don't read further. 
Aesthetically, this movie fits right in with the original. From the colors and atmosphere to the the music, Blade Runner 2049 definitely does not feel out of place. If anything, Villeneuve does a fantastic job of bringing the world of Blade Runner into a reality that hits a bit closer to home. 2049 doesn't feel too far off from what could actually take place in the future. With technology rapidly advancing year over year, Replicants feel like a possibility to me. A major blackout wiping data stores? That feels right, too. 
The story this time around got me. There were so many moments of subtlety that I did not pick up the first time around. Decker's daughter is "ill" from a "genetic disorder" which the first time I did not pick up on the possibility of this making more than perfect sense: this is what would actually happen with the first Replicant-Human born into the world. Mariette slipping the tracker into K's pocket. 
And then there's the fashion. The transparent raincoats that nod at the original's Pris. Joi's ever changing and adapting outfits. So good. 
eally, I just want to watch this again soon. 

This really was a week that cannot be beat. What have you been watching? 


 


My Week in Movies: January 7-13

by lauren atkinson


This week was my birthday week and although I wasn't expecting to watch much, I ended up having a pretty good week for movies despite only watching two. 

 

Haunters: The Art of the Scare
This documentary focuses on individuals running "Haunts" throughout the US. I find this fascinating because as much as I love horror, I am not big on haunted/spooky attractions. In fact, I have been known to cry and run through a haunted house in attempts to get out as quickly as possible. 
The attractions in this documentary are two ends of the spectrum: the stereotypical spooky haunted house and the extreme, over-the-top "must sign a waiver" style attractions. 
I really enjoyed this. There's a few reasons: 1. I *hate* haunted attractions despite my love of most other things "horror" related. 2. I've always wondered what prompts someone to create such attractions. and 3. The people in this documentary cannot be made-up. They are raw and strange but so so amazing. 
Now I wonder: how many of my parents' suburban neighbors are creating haunted attractions in their basements and garages? 

Phantom Thread
This film is going to be a tough one to top for me for the 2017 Oscar season. It is beautifully made and the story is unlike anything I've watched before. PTA is a favorite of mine and this has officially jumped in the list as my favorite by the director. 
Daniel Day Lewis plays a dressmaker in the 1950s and his behaviors are obsessive but driven by the women that surround him: he is compulsively inspired by affection and love. 
The film's score, by Jonny Greenwood, is captivating and moving. Personally, I'd say it's the best out of the four he's worked on for PTA. 
I got the opportunity to watch this in 70mm and am so glad that I was able to. 


Quinoa Beanballs

by lauren atkinson


beanballs.png

I like this variation of a meatball as they are hearty and have a fantastic texture. The sage and paprika together will bring through a meatier, smoky flavor. This recipe created ~24 balls and they can be kept in the refrigerator, uncooked, up to 1 week or you can freeze them for about a month. 

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 can Great Northern White Beans
1 jar sundried tomatoes, with oil (4oz jar)
2 whole cloves of garlic
1.5 tsp paprika
1 tbsp sage
0.5 tbsp parsley
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

**PREHEAT YOUR OVEN BEFORE GETTING STARTED: 375° F

1. Blend the Beans and tomatoes! In a food processor or blender, you will want to pulse the beans along with the garlic and sundried tomatoes until smooth. Once this is done, set aside. No need to strain the tomatoes prior to adding to the food processor: the oil from the tomatoes will assist in holding the mixture together. 
2. Rinse the Quinoa. If you are using a quinoa that is not pre-rinsed, you will want to rinse the quinoa.* You can rinse quinoa by using a fine sieve and running warm water over the quinoa while agitating the quinoa a bit with your hands or a spoon.
3. Cook Your Quinoa. I like to cook my quinoa in vegetable broth. Combine the broth and quinoa in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Once boiling lower the heat and cover your saucepan. It will take 10-15 minutes for the quinoa to cook. Cooked quinoa will be fluffy and most (if not all) of the liquid will be absorbed.** I then let the quinoa rest for a few minutes, removed from heat so that it cools a bit before being handled.
4. Mix it all together. Once your quinoa has cooled a bit, combine the bean mixture and quinoa in a large mixing bowl. At this point, you will also add your spices: the sage, paprika, black pepper, and salt. The mixture should be tacky (that's the beauty of the white beans! food glue!) 
5. MAKE THE BALLS. roll the mixture with your palms into 1.5inch balls. I like to scoop the mixture into my palm using a spoon -- this creates less mess. Once you have your balls, place them gently on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. 
6. Bake at 375° for ~35 minutes. The outside will brown a bit. 

 

These quinoa and bean balls are great with pasta. I like to add these into my marinara and simmer for a few minutes prior to serving. I'd image these would be AWESOME on a sub too :)
 

 

*Rinsing quinoa removes the natural coating on it. If you do not do this, your quinoa might taste a little more bitter than you're expecting. Some brands of boxed quinoa comes pre-rinsed so no effort is needed there :) If you buy bulk foods, you will need to rinse! 
**Cooked quinoa will have "germ" (the outer ring of the quinoa) start to separate from the seed. 


2017 Favorites: Cosmetics

by lauren atkinson



There were quite a few products purchased this year, so I will keep this extremely brief. The below are the items that I kept revisiting and became staples in my cosmetics drawers and now I cannot imagine what makeup life would be like without them ;)

image from my instagram - lcatkinson

image from my instagram - lcatkinson


Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint

This is both a recently released product and recent purchase of mine -- Beyond it being recent and fresh in my mind, this is one of the best lipsticks I have purchase in a while (and yes, I own a lot) The color payoff is honestly, unreal. The application is both smooth and feels luxurious. Once dry, this lip paint is more of a matte-velvet finish. The only downside is there is some transfer when eating but the color lasts all day otherwise! 

I am hoping that this product results in additional colors in the line and I am confident that as soon as those colors are released, they would sell out immediately. 

 

Image via TomFord.com

Image via TomFord.com

Tom Ford Lipstick - BOYS&GIRLS Collection


Not only is the packaging perfectly Tom Ford, the ad campaigns for this line are some of my favorite. The images are striking and sexy. 
I picked up the shade "Evan" which happens to be my most worn lipstick at the moment. It's a mauve-y nude and looks great on both glammed up and effortless days. This lipstick is a creamy matte: It applies smoothly but has a matte finish. 

image from drunkelephant.com

image from drunkelephant.com

 

Drunk Elephant - like, everything...
This year I've been really focusing on skincare. One of the brands that I cannot get enough of is Drunk Elephant: I love nearly every product of theirs that I have purchased. My favorite has been a secret to keeping my skin in great condition all year: The T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum. This stuff kept my skin smooth (I tend to get dry patches on my cheeks and the skin is stubborn to lift) and the Night Serum allowed for a beautiful exfoliation -- you can feel it working without the harsh impact or burning. 


What cosmetics and beauty items to you grab this year and love? 


Highly Recommended: Favorite Vegan Blogs

by lauren atkinson


I have been slowly migrating back to vegan eating at home over the past year and with that, venturing to find creative recipes that inspire me to get cooking again.

With that, I wanted to share some of my favorite vegan food blogs. Some of these I have been following for years. These are outside of the common Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker (love both of those but figured y'all might want some others) and I don't see enough people posting about them! 

1. Hotforfoodblog.com - Lauren Toyota is insanely creative with creating meals. She also has a youtube channel with a series she calls "Recipes?" where she creates meals with leftover contents in her fridge. Lauren has a cookbook coming out in February and I'm sure it'll be awesome. Her recipes are generally simple: she has my favorite Buffalo Cauliflower "Wings" She is legit a hero and kitchen wizard... I am yet to find a single recipe that I don't love. 

2. mississippivegan.com - Timmy has amazing food. I HIGHLY recommend his vegan mac and cheese when you're looking for an amazing "cheater" meal (it contains a lot of cheese subs that are processed, despite being plant-based... something I usually try and avoid) and he also adds playlists to his blog (M/V) which always have good recommendations :) I love his instagram: his pics are beautiful and his instagram stories are fun to watch.

3. TheEdgyVeg.com - Carnivore Approved Recipes. Candice and James make a lot of vegan style fast food. Candice does a lot of the cooking while James does most of the tasting ;) They also have a youtube channel that I'd recommend! They're fun to watch.

4. fragrantvanilla.com - Fragrant Vanilla Cake, best known for desserts, offers tons of fun and simple recipes.

What are some of your favorite vegan/vegetarian food blogs? Any recipes that I should try?