Whip It! by Director Drew Barrymore Movie Review: Roller Derby with Ellen Page Pumps Girl Power Into Sports Genre

Move aside boys — it's time for the girls to get in on the action, on both sides of the camera.

It's no big secret that American cinema is still largely a man's world, from top to bottom and everywhere in between. Every once and a while, we get something like Frozen River — a film about what it means to be a woman, written and directed by Courtney Hunt (a woman) — and of course, small awards buzz aside, the film gets relegated to the fringe.

The point here is not that we should expect women to be making films solely about women — Kathryn Bigelow has exhibited more insight into the male psyche than most gents. But when sexuality and promiscuity are too often treated as synonymous with femininity, someone has to step in, and it might as well be someone who knows a thing or two about being a woman.

And, for that matter, filmmaking. Whether you believed she had it in her or not, Drew Barrymore is exactly that filmmaker.

Whip It! Skates Around The Sports Genre Conventions Admirably

Whip It! — Barrymore's directorial debut — isn't a sensationally great film, and from beginning to end, it's a downright predictable one. Every move is telegraphed by a thousand coming-of-age and sports movies before it. However, it has the wonderful sweat and stench of truth, as in something that came from experience rather than blind inference.

Scripted by Shauna Cross from her novel of the same name, Whip It! is unapologetic in its reliance on genre formula and convention, which is at least one reason why it gets away with playing connect the dots with the plot lines. Predestination aside, there's a lot of personality coming through from both sides of the camera.

Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) longs (as every small-town, high-school protagonist does) to escape. The prison in question is Bodeen, Texas, or more figuratively, her nutty mother's (Marcia Gay Harden) insistence on including her in the local pageantry circuit. Down the highway, the liberal offerings of Austin tempt her toward, of all things, roller derbies.

Ellen Page Leads Off Phenomenally Assembled Cast in Whip It!

Page, as she has proven before, is as talented as any young actress around, and it's a good thing she brought her A-game. Aside from the demanding physicality for the role, Page has competition coming at her from all angles. …

The Benefits of Organic Gardening

It’s alive!

OK, not really. I mean, they are alive, but not in the Frankenstein’s monster kind of way. Just the botany oxygen and carbon dioxide if-you-peel-back-the-bark-and-see-green type of alive.

We have plants. Edible ones. And they’re growing!

Even though our compost wasn’t quite ready yet, we went ahead and started our garden. In a 13-by-13 section of our back yard, near our south-facing neighbor’s fence. My husband dug up four, 5-by-5 plots for planting and a 3-foot cross path. Because I’m involved in this project and me and Murphy’s Law are BFFs (best friend forever…haven’t you seen the AT&T commercial?), naturally the day we picked to start all this was cold and blustery. And of course, I mostly just played with a jolly baby while my husband did all the hard, sweaty work. He loved it and we had a lot of fun watching and waving from a window and occasionally going outside to visit. My inexperience thought this planning, plotting, digging, and planting wouldn’t take any longer than two hours, tops. It’s a lot more hard work than I thought!

When you see a garden of beautiful flowers and yummy vegetables and fruits it’s easy to think only of the pleasant results and ignore how those results came to be. I know I glorified the work and thought oh how much fun it will be to weed and plant and transplant and dig and … get sunburned and bitten by ants and stung by mosquitoes and feel your shirt stick to your back. Somehow, I “forgot” about all those times I was encouraged to go outside and help keep the flowerbeds looking neat while growing up and I hated it. All I could see was the negative side of things. Sticky sap, hot sun, dumb plants. Strangely, somehow I almost enjoy it now.

In early March we planted carrots, garlic, mesclun mix lettuce, cilantro, and garlic. We already had a pumpkin (due to lost seeds somehow mixed in the compost that sprouted. Now there’s a tale: When my husband shoveled out compost to fertilize one of the plots…surprise! There’s already something growing!) and a sweet potato started before we began digging the garden plots. My husband measured and dug the four plots we’d be using for our garden, three non-perennial (annuals and bi-annuals) plots and one perennial, and then laid newspaper down to act as a mulch and …

Best Katy Perry Videos: 3 Top Music Videos by Rock Goddess Katy Perry

If you don't like Katy Perry, too bad. Whether you pay attention to fashion, music or celebrity news, Katy Perry dominates them all. With her quirky, newsworthy style, her brilliantly composed pop songs and her marriage to hot comedy movie star Russell Brand, Katy Perry is giving Lady Gaga a run for her money as fashion and music pop icon of the moment.

With intentionally "Lolita" style imagery and generally elaborate costuming, set and animation, Katy Perry's videos are in as constant play in the music video circuit as Katy Perry songs are on the radio.

Explore 3 of the best Katy Perry music videos that showcase her perfect pop music with her quirky style sense and the sultry naughty vibe that gets her all the press.

"Firework"

As a metaphor for breaking through barriers and letting your heart shine, Katy Perry's bra explodes in her fabulous music video for one of the best Katy Perry songs, "Firework." A moving and inspiring song with lyrics that motivate the listener to be their best, the music video for "Firework" has images of people who do something bold, even if it might be unacceptable. For the big girls out there, there is a scene with a sort of big girl breaking through her apprehensions and stripping down and jumping into the pool in her skivvies.

"California Gurls"

Featuring the iconic Snoop Dogg and a theme reminiscent of the board game "Candyland," Katy Perry's "California Gurls" is a deliciously humorous and naughty tribute to California fashion, with a touch of sticky sweetness. The cupcake bikini tops are particularly charming. With the silly feel that goes on throughout the whole video, "California Gurls" is one of Katy Perry's subtly sexiest videos as well as her best.

"Teenage Dream"

An exhilarating video taking the viewer on a no-holds-barred car ride with Katy Perry, "Teenage Dream" is a song about intense teenaged love, the kind you would run away from home to pursue. This song also has an infectious and driving dance beat and a fabulous bridge that pumps up the song to the next video. Though most Katy Perry videos are subtly sultry, this one has some makeout scenes, so it is not the best Katy Perry video for kids.

Katy Perry's musical talent as well as her skill in handling the media have made her a top talent in the music video world. If

CaringBridge for Times of Family Distress

Discovering CaringBridge for times of family distress was a truly eye opening experience for me, my family and friends. Every person, every family passes through difficult times in the course of a year or a life time. In this age of computer technology I guess it shouldn't be a surprise to discover how truly incredible computer websites can be when it comes to dispersing information and keeping people connected even in times of high stress. Discovering CaringBridge has so much to offer,in so many trying situations.

Not surprisingly CaringBridge Website grew out of the personal tragedy of a single family. Trying to keep people informed about the medical progress, prognosis and end results could have put a great deal of additional stress on a family dealing with the birth of premature baby. But a technically savvy friend gave this struggling family the lift they needed by producing a website which enabled them to send out information and receive messages of support simply and securely. The success of this project was multiplied when a memorial fund was donated to St. Paul's Children's Hospital in Minnesota to help set up a free website for use by patients and their families to keep connected during difficult times.

Out of this very localized success has come widespread development that has seen CaringBridge mushroom over the last 12 years since this effort began. According to statistics compiled by CaringBridge more than 155,000 sites have been created to manage the important flow of information and personal messages between patients and their families and friends. An incredible 30 million people have visited the CaringBridge site in the last 12 months alone. Still, until you have faced a catastrophic situation as an individual or family you may be unaware of the wonderful service that CaringBridge can offer you, for free.

When a close friend of mine developed cancer I was invited to participate in what is an ever burgeoning net-work of friends and family. For my friend and his family this means no more well meaning but often tiring and irksome phone calls to contend with and no more unexpected and taxing personal visits. For friends who have signed on to this personal website via CaringBridge it means that we receive an automatic notice every time our friend or his family has a status report they want to share. We can read it , re-read it and it …

The Genesis of Reggae Music

Reggae is prevalent and influential in the American music culture. Reggae itself appeared in the West Indies, primarily in the vacation island of Jamaica.

In the 1930s, Jamaica initiated and became the center of the anti-colonial national liberation movement. The movement was symbolic of the struggle for independence and the rights of blacks. It was led by Marcus Le Havre who was a devout follower of the Bible. He foretold that the blacks of Jamaica would be saved from the oppression of the white by one great black leader of African origin.

And would you believe it, in 1930, the world witnessed the arrival of Ras Tafari. Those who believed in the words of Marcus Le Havre, believed that his prediction has came true. He was recognized as a living deity and those who believed in him became known as Rastafarians. Rasta did not consume meat, nor did he smoke tobacco. He didn't drink wine, nor did he consume salt. People believed that his long hair, which were more like sticks, were antennas connecting him to the spiritual world.

What is reggae? Some believe it is the movement in music derived from ragged rhythm, more popularly known as Regid rhythm. Some others say "reggae" is a tribe that existed in Tanganyika who spoke the language of the Bantu.

The foremost character in the history of reggae was Robert Nesta Marley, more commonly known as Bob Marley. He was born of a simple Jamaican woman, and as a child all he wanted to do was sing. It was only in 1963 that Bob formed his own music band the Wailers, which included two of his friends, Neaill O'Reilly Livingston, who had the nickname Benny Ueyler, and Hubert McIntosh, now known as Peter Tosh.

Around the mid-'70s, these musicians disconnected from Bob Marley and continued their career independently while Marley joined the Rastafarians. After Marley's successful performances in the United States he became recognized as the "king of reggae." He used his music to preach and unite people for a cause. He became not only a fighter for the independence movement but also a talented musician.

The tremendous success of Marley in uniting people with the power of music and his passion to succeed has created a whole new legacy of musicians who propagate the use of reggae.

After the smashing success of reggae in the United States, its demand spilled over …

How to Plan a Successful Family Reunion

Many families these days plan large Family Reunions for their entire clan. These Reunions are a great way to reunite the entire family and spend some quality time together. Different families plan differently, but a four year interval is quite popular, and it’s always fun to see the new additions to the family in that time, and how grown up the children look from the last Reunion. However, planning a family Reunion can feel like an overwhelming and endless task, so here are a few tips of the trade to help with your next Family Reunion.

-You will need to decide on the time frame for the reunion. How long the Reunion is will designate the amount of food and refreshments to be purchased. This will also stipulate the amount to be paid by each person.

-Cooking & Food Preparation is dreaded by many at such an event. However, there is a simple and painless process. If each individual family unit is responsible for preparing, cooking, and cleaning up afterwards one meal than it is much less tiresome. It can be a good bonding time for the family unit, and one meal is relatively painless. Depending on the length of the Reunion and amount of people/families it may need to be increased to two but it is relatively simple overall. If you hang the cooking schedule up in the kitchen than everyone will know their designated time to feed the clan.

-Meals to Prepare. Keep the meals simple such as soup and salad, or barbeques. You don’t want to become too gourmet in your cooking when there are so many people of various ages to feed. It is also important to check for any food allergies within the group of people attending the Reunion.

-Put together an Activities schedule. You will want to have activities for children and adults, as it’s a family reunion it’s always important that there is something for everyone. Again, each family should help with the set up and running of at least one active. This will keep everyone involved in the events taking place at the reunion. A couple of ideas are:

  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Silent Auction (each family brings one item to donate to the auction)
  • Arts and Crafts for the Kids
  • Talent Show
  • Iron Chef Contest
  • Sing-along’s
  • Prepare a Family Cookbook by having each family bring one or two of their favourite family recipes.

The Social Network – Movie Review

I'll admit it – I'm a Facebook addict. So when I heard that a movie about how Facebook grew to have 500 million members was in theatres, I was thrilled.

From the very first scene, The Social Network pulled me in and kept ahold of me for the entire 120 minutes.

The Beginning

The movie didn't keep us waiting long before getting into how Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, came up with the idea for the website. Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) is obviously a computer genius and an expansive thinker. His people skills may be lacking but he makes for a character we root for. As Zuckerberg gets Facebook growing from one university to a dozen to a hundred to everyone worldwide, we get taken along on the ride.

 

Justin Timberlake

While I wouldn't consider myself a Justin Timberlake fan, he did a superb job playing the role of Sean Parker. Parker became a member of the Facebook team as it was spreading across the Atlantic Ocean to include universities in Europe. Parker brought a greater vision to Facebook than even Zuckerberg probably ever had and took the website into another realm of expansion. One could argue that Parker took Facebook from an American non-advertising website to a global one with paid advertisers; numerous, wealthy, profit-making advertisers. Whoever cast Timberlake as Sean Parker made an excellent choice.

The CFO

The second leading character after Zuckerberg is Eduardo Saverin (played by Andrew Garfield), the Chief Financial Officer of Facebook. He was a part of the project from the beginning and provided all of the money Zuckerberg needed to get the website up and running, perhaps all of it until Facebook became profitable. Like quirky Zuckerberg, Saverin is a lovable character, flawed yet one we grow to empathize with. When he is standing in Zuckerberg's laundry room, dripping wet from waiting in the rain for Mark to pick him up at the airport – which he never did – and we see how far apart the two men are, we feel for Saverin who has worked his butt off for Facebook since day one.

My heart actually broke for Saverin when, through a series of documents and conniving actions by others, he is ousted. Even as a bystander to the story, you feel the blade of the knife in your back, too.

Lawsuits

The majority of the movie takes …

Music Bands that Blend Sounds

A new trend for bands is to combine a musical blend of styles from punk, rock, reggae and rap. These songs often make the top radio charts or are extremely hard to find unless you are capable of downloading them. Often you may not even be aware of a band's existence until a friend or family member points them out. No band actually stands out with the start of this phenomenal trend.

It could have been the famous white rapper Eminem who started it off when he did a song called "Stan" with the beautifully voiced Dido. Or maybe it happened when Eminem sang with Marilyn Manson on stage during a concert tour. The name of that song for the curious was "The way I am." Perhaps it started long before that in the underground places and garages where bands are born.

Many artists other than Eminem have proven they can sing as well as rap and mix other blends of sound. Just take a look at Kid Rock. He came off to the world as the bad boy rapper with songs like "Bawitaba", "Cowboy" and "I am the Bull God" but proved he could sing just as well as rap in songs like "Only God knows why" and his duet with Sheryl Crow with the song "Picture". Kid Rock's name is just one among many that are not just found in the rock or rap genre. Looking him up you would actually find that the genre his music falls into is rock, alternative, heavy metal, southern rock, country and rap rock.

Maybe it's just the current generation that has decided a blend of music styles is what the world wants to hear. Bands like Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, 311 and even Aerosmith have mixed music style blends. Aerosmith did a great song with the rap group Run D.M.C. long before the a-fore mentioned bands even thought to get together.

Some current bands that have blended a harmony of sound waves include Flobots with their song "No Handlebars" and a band just recently come upon called Rehab with there wonderfully funny song "The Bartender Song". Both bands have rhythm, rhyme and harmonies not found in one set genre of music.

Other bands that have either mixed styles or came out with mixed blends include but are not limited too:

Rage Against the Machine, Cypress Hill, Suicidal Tendencies, Boondox, The …

Sherlock Holmes Movie Review – The Scarlet Claw: With Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson

The ongoing popularity of Sherlock Holmes has led to many theatrical and movie adaptations of Conan Doyle’s stories. Guiness World Records regards him as the “most portrayed movie character” with more than 70 actors playing the fictional detective in over 200 films. Of these 70, one of the best remembered is Basil Rathbone.

Basil Rathbone as Holmes

In 1939 20th Century Fox released two Holmes movies, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Portraying the lead roles of Holmes and Dr. Watson were Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Both films were well received by audiences, in part due to the screen presence of both actors, particularly Rathbone.

The South African born Rathbone, who had often been cast as a villain in previous movies such as The Adventures of Robin Hood was an ideal choice to play the role. His height of 6-1, build, and facial features nearly matched the literary Holmes as described by Doyle. Trained on the Shakespearean stage, he was also able to bring a staid, dignified sophistication to the role.

Universal Studios Steps In

Shortly after the Fox movies were released, Rathbone and Bruce reprised their roles in a popular radio series based on the Doyle stories. Then in 1940 Universal Studios signed the two men to star in what would become a series of 12 Holmes movies, the last released in 1946.

The 12 movies were essentially low budget “B” or second feature films that ranged in storytelling from mediocre to quite good. The one which is still considered the best and holds up well today was the sixth in the series — The Scarlet Claw.

Synopsis of The Scarlet Claw

  • Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Miles Mander, Ian Wolfe, Gerald Hamer, Paul Cavanaugh, and Kay Harding
  • Director: Roy William Neill
  • Length: 74 minutes
  • Color: B&W

Holmes and Watson are in Montreal attending a conference with Lord Penrose when the latter receives a message that his wife has been found dead, her throat savagely torn out. The three go to the Lord’s small French-Canadian village of La Mort Rouge to discover that the town's residents are all convinced that the killing is the work of the legendary La Mort Rouge monster, which allegedly roams the marshes around the village.

Holmes, however, is skeptical, and quickly deducts that Lady Penrose, a former actress, is the victim of a revenge killing by …