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The Mummy: A Review

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a review of any kind, so why not now? We’re in a bit of a movie drought right now since they don’t generally bring new films during Ramadan. We got lucky though (sort of), because they launched The Mummy midway through. We went to see it, not because we were that excited about it, but because it was something new to watch.

I think I’d only seen one of the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies, so I didn’t really remember anything about them to think about whether I was supposed to be comparing one to the other. The most I’d done with that series is hit the ride at Universal Studios. I remember it being super cheesy and a “we won’t take ourselves too seriously” kind of movie.

I have no idea what the hell happened with this Mummy movie. Tom Cruise was… Tom Cruise. He plays basically the same character in all of his action movies. This time he was also a grave robber. It was one part super cheese, thank you Jake Johnson (best known in my world for New Girl). The other parts were an attempt at something deep and serious – Cruise’s relationship with Annabelle Wallis‘s character; the danger of looming evil through Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (honestly, it was so obvious and dull); and Tom Cruise’s asshole character having to come to grips with himself. [cue eye roll]

Speaking of eyes – the whole two irises in one eyeball was hella weird and gross.

The worst part? They have clearly left an opening for a sequel.

Movie Review: Concussion

American football has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. It was the only common ground I could find with my stepfather for a long while (well, that and golf) and even with my dad. When I lived 3,000 miles from my dad, I’d call him up on a Sunday during a Detroit Lions game (so sad me that I’m a fan of theirs) and we’d sit quietly while the plays were in motion and chat during the commercials and between plays about the game. Maybe not the most earth-shattering conversation, but it worked for us.

I did wonder about the players’ health when I watched the weekly recaps of the worst hits in the league. They have always made me cringe. I get that they’re padded up, but there are limits on what pads can do.

“Concussion” is all about what happens to players due to repeated hits to the head. The movie is inspired by the true story of the Nigerian American physician (who Will Smith does not resemble at all) responsible for the autopsy of former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster in 2002. His obsession with why Webster died (not just how) led to the investigation of several other former football player deaths. He concluded that the deaths came about as a result of chronic traumatic encephalopathy – repeated blows to the head suffered during the game.

What struck me was the ridiculousness that it took a non-American who wasn’t even interested in the sport to do something beneficial for the players. It’s gross that we would be willing to sacrifice the lives of so many men for sport. It would have been one thing if the players had known what was happening to them and were willing undertaking the risk (still gross, but not as terrible). But the NFL was actively covering up research to that effect.

People harassed Dr. Omalu for conducting the research and pursuing the investigation. Still, with the support of his wife, he persisted. We are all better for it.

This is definitely a movie worth checking out if you’re a fan of American football. It really makes you think twice about the game. Will Smith turns in a somewhat convincing performance as Omalu. The supporting cast was really great – Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw were engaging, intense, and awesome to watch.

Book Review: Terms of Use by Scott Allan Morrison

This book will definitely make you re-think your social media use. I’m not saying it’ll push you off of using it altogether, but it shows the dark underbelly of the companies behind it and how we may be getting used/manipulated without knowing it.

The book is about a man called Sergio who’s been into computers his whole life. His latest job is a social media site called Circles (oddly enough, this book is not related to The Cirle by Dave Eggers). It’s like Facebook, but more connected. They want people to use Circles for everything – bank information, everything social, and eventually voting.

However, an executive is murdered after he learns something the company needs to have kept secret in order to move forward into China. Sergio figures out what the executive knew and is determined to pursue the case on his own. His new friend, Malina, insists on helping.

The action is fast-paced and keeps the pages turning. Sergio and Malina escape death over and over, leaving bodies behind them. The characters are interesting and the reader gets to learn a lot about them throughout the book. Everyone’s history plays a role in the final outcome of the book.

If you’re a fan of The Circle, thrillers featuring computer stuff, or smart action, check this book out.

You can also check out my Goodreads review.

2015 Recap

Another year, another recap. This time before the ball drops!

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

I went to The Netherlands. It was a blast! I’d never been anywhere that public transit works so well and is so ingrained in the culture. The number of people on bikes and the fact that bikes had their own traffic signals was amazing.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

 

LOL, apparently I didn’t make any resolutions last year and that trend will stay strong for next year. I failed at the 2015 Reading Challenge. I just didn’t get the books in the categories, though I read over 100 books. I found I just wanted to read what I wanted to read, not according to some list.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No, but I found out someone in the family is pregnant. That’s super cool.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My godmother’s husband died from a heart attack.

5. What countries did you visit?

Brazil and The Netherlands!

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

More energy. Less pain. I have no idea how those will happen, but I would like to get it figured out. I plan on going to Ireland in July. I’d like to be able to walk around more easily. Or, fine, really medicated.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

 

June 11 – Foot surgery. The surgery itself was fine. The recovery not so much.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Like last year I don’t really think I had one. I think making it through the year without losing it completely may count as an achievement. So much did not go as anticipated.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Maintaining expectations about…anything. I was consistently disappointed and it was my own fault.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

This question is just sort of comical. I haven’t had a pain-free day since January 28, 2014. I am perpetually sick. I have pain every day. The better question for me may be when I didn’t suffer illness or injury.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I love my iPhone 6. But I think all the cross-stitch stuff is pretty cool. It’s keeping me occupied and giving me a creative outlet.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Mr. Lyndsy still ranks in here. Being married to me cannot be easy with how often I’m sick and in pain. I think some of my friends have also done a great job being supportive of me while I’m trying to figure out how to live like this.

Some of my friends have also gone through a lot of shit this year and are still standing. That definitely deserves to be celebrated.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Keeping this from last year, “Also, what the hell is wrong with people? All over the internet I saw people who just have no respect or regard for their fellow human beings.”

14. Where did most of your money go?

Fucking student loans. Again.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Going to Brazil and meeting Mr. Lyndsy’s family, finally having foot surgery, and going to The Netherlands.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

Cookie Jar by Gym Class Heroes. That shit is hilarious.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

  • happier or sadder? Sadder
  • thinner or fatter?  I feel fatter. Fuck it.
  • richer or poorer? Richer in life, poorer in money.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Listening to my body. Also, I wish I’d saved money better.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I’d spent less money. I wish I’d gone to doctors more to get things sorted out. Not that that seems to work that well for me, but at least I’d feel like I tried.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?

Yes, with our crazy and ridiculous dog.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Criminal Minds, probably. Did binge watch How to Get Away with Murder. That shit is messed up.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Not anyone specific.

24. What was the best book you read?

Me Before You. Holy shit. I cried so much, but it was such a beautiful book. I’m excited to read the sequel.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Taylor Swift.

26. What did you want and get?

The stupid iPhone 6. I also got my mom and godmother on iPhones so now messaging and communicating with them is easier.

27. What did you want and not get?

A pink iPhone 6s. I don’t really need it, but it’s so pretty.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Inside Out, probably. I love Disney/Pixar movies. It made me cry. Damn them.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Dinner with friends at a Brazilian restaurant. So much meat. I’m the decrepit age of 34!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Having someone magically pay my loans off.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Quoting 2014: Lazy and comfortable because that’s how I roll. Most days now I don’t get out of my pajamas. Working from home has its benefits.

32. What kept you sane?

Cross-stitch, internet communications with friends, a couple trips to the US for things I miss, and Mr. Lyndsy.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

STILL Benedict Cumberbatch. That man. Hot damn.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Still the killings of unarmed black men by cops, continued idiocy over vaccinations.

35. Who did you miss?

My friends. All of them.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

This cat-loving crazy woman. Sadly, she wasn’t here long. Now I have to find a NEW cat-loving crazy woman.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.

Let go of expectation. Things will be what they’ll be. Just ride the tide.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“What do I have to do??”

Book Review: Cries in the Night: A Low Country Ghost Story by Lori Roberts

Overall I found this book quite enjoyable. I don’t usually read ghost stories, but it was also a mystery which I do usually read. The combination intrigued me.

Two people move into a house, hoping it will be their dream home, only to find they’re not the only ones living there. The author does a great job introducing us to the characters and spreading their story throughout the book. You want them to be happy and figure out what’s going wrong in their home so they can live in peace. It gets surprisingly suspenseful given that they’re dealing with ghosts and not live people.

While the concept of the book was good, it had some difficulties as well. There were inconsistencies in descriptions (for example, the author wrote that the main character and her friend drove to pick up lunch, but in the next few pages they’re walking back from the sandwich shop) and typos which I found a bit distracting. When you have to go back a few pages to see if you’ve missed something, the books loses the rhythm it developed.

Even with the inconsistencies and typos I found it a fun read and would definitely read other works by the author.

Damn you, Disney/Pixar: The Good Dinosaur

Seriously, could you all make a movie that doesn’t make me cry? I really thought I was going to be able to get through The Good Dinosaur without shedding a tear. They did what Disney always does and kills off a parent (seriously – what’s up with that?) and I didn’t cry. I knew that shit was coming.

But then later on, with the weird little Spot human and all of it. I just couldn’t do it. My eyes misted up and I thought I might get away without actual full-blown crying. WRONG. Sopping mess by the end of it.

When I first saw the preview for the movie I thought I would skip it. It just didn’t seem to have the pull that most other Disney movies have for me. But my cousin went to see it and said it was great so I figured “what the hell?” I had some time to kill and the movie was showing at just the right time.

Doing the right thing in the face of family expectation isn’t easy. We so very much want to be accepted and loved by our parents, siblings, and extended family that doing what we know in our hearts to be the correct thing can seem almost impossible.

However, there is nothing that can replace the warm feelings we get inside when we follow our hearts. Sometimes the reward won’t seem as grand as it did in the movie (I know, duh), but there will always be a reward of some kind.

The short that introduces the movie is really done well and an important reminder for everyone about remembering culture and finding ways to incorporate it into our lives.

If you’re on the fence about seeing The Good Dinosaur, do it. Just remember to bring tissues.

Movie Review: The Intern

The Intern

Went to see this one yesterday with some friends of mine. With leads like Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway it’s pretty hard to go wrong. Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated, The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give) doesn’t veer too far from her norm, but why should she? What she does is working.

Ben (DeNiro) is a widowed retiree looking for something to do with his days. Jules (Hathaway) is the head of an online clothing company who is in a bit over her head. The company recruits senior-aged interns to bring experience to the very young company. Against Jules’ wishes, Ben is her intern.

The movie is a lot more complex and nuanced than the previews suggest. Jules has a lot going on in her life aside from her work. Like so many successful women these days, she’s trying to find balance. The movie highlights a lot of the double standards so prominent in American home life these days. It also contrasts the old way (Ben worked at a company that printed phone books for 40 years) and the new (an entirely online clothing store).

Will this movie win any awards? Probably not. It’s not a particularly novel concept, but it’s well-acted and heartwarming. The supporting cast turns in excellent performances as well. (It’s weird to see Adam DeVine – Bumper from Pitch Perfect – not busting into song but his character is pretty similar. The score and soundtrack are also quite good.

If you’re looking for a feel-good movie, this is definitely one to see.

Dose of Lyndsy: Approved

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Review: Hotel Transylvania 2

Hotel Transylvania Poster
(source)

I’m a big fan of animated movies. It helps that these days the people who write them are adding in content aimed at amusing adults since they generally aren’t just leaving kids at the movies by themselves.

If you’re not familiar with the first movie, Hotel Transylvania is about the vampire Dracula (Adam Sandler) who runs a hotel (clever title, no?) for monsters. A human, Jonny, (Andy Samberg) finds his way in and ends up falling in love with Dracula’s daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez). Obviously Dracula isn’t cool with this, but finds his way to acceptance by the end of the movie.

Hotel Transylvania 2 pretty much picks up where the first movie leaves off. The movie starts with Mavis and Jonny getting married and speeds through to them having a kid, Denisovitch, and focuses on Dracula’s obsession with whether his grandson is a vampire.

There weren’t a lot of people in the theater with me, which may have explained why I was the only person laughing most of the time. It could also just have been some cultural differences because there are a lot of American pop culture references. Either way, I thought the movie was hilarious.

The storyline is pretty classic so don’t expect anything surprising or particularly new. It’s basically “Can someone accept something they’re not familiar with?” But, I don’t think we’re always looking for something new and enlightening every time we go see a film. Sometimes you just want to be able to laugh at something silly for an hour and a half. If you’re in the mood for something light, with or without kids, check it out.

Dose of Lyndsy: Approved

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Review: Scott Pratt’s “Justice Redeemed”

As y’all know, I’m a huge reader. I connected with Scott Pratt over a typo in one of his books and we exchanged a few emails. I kept my cool but I won’t lie, I was sort of fan-girling a bit. He has a series with a character named Joe Dillard, which I love. They’re legal crime thrillers with a really good description of the law without talking down to the reader. Score. Helps that he went to law school I’m sure – knows how much it sucks to be talked down to.

Because I’d contacted him previously, he gave me an advance copy of “Justice Redeemed.” SO COOL. Naturally he asked me to review it and hoped I’d enjoy it. I review pretty much everything I read in one place or another (helps me keep track of what I’ve read), so it wasn’t a big deal.

HOT DAMN. The book is awesome. You get all parts of the criminal justice system – investigation, courts, and corrections – which is pretty rare. The writing is great and the book flows well. I can always tell when the writing is good because I just zoom through it without any idea how much time has passed.

Most important to me is character development and you definitely get that with the main character and some of the supporting characters as well. Pratt’s characters are real people – none is perfect or always does the right thing (especially not this main character). But you always know where they’re coming from.

The book is sort of disturbing too. Obviously there’s a lot going on these days with the U.S. criminal justice system. We don’t want to believe this kind of thing could happen, but we know it does.

If you like legal crime thrillers, this is definitely one to check out.

Dose of Lyndsy: Approved.

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Movie Review: Inside Out (2015)

Movie Review

(Clicking the star will take you to the trailer)

I know I’m super late to this party. However, in this part of the world Ramadan was happening when the movie first came out. During Ramadan, no new movies start playing. Then I was in Brazil for a month and the movie was only offered dubbed in Portuguese. My Portuguese is just not that strong. Fortunately it was still playing here when I got back to the sandbox.

Because everyone saw it before I did I knew I would cry. And  did. Multiple times. The main characters of the movie are the emotions of an 11-year old girl named Riley who is uprooted from her home in Minnesota and planted in San Francisco. The emotions are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). I don’t think they could have picked better voices for these emotions.

Like any Disney * Pixar movie, there is a lot thrown in just for the adults. I was the only person in the theater laughing a few times, but since I don’t embarrass I’m okay with that. At one point Sadness breaks down entirely and starts crying. Joy is concerned about the effect Sadness is having on Riley so she tries to make her stop. Sadness replies, “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.” It makes you laugh because if you don’t you’ll cry.

The movie really forces the adults who watch it to think back about their own lives some. I wondered a lot where my imaginary friends went or if I even had them in the first place since I can’t recall them at all. It made me wish I spent more time in my imagination and in a place where more things seem possible and not like I’m trapped on a set path.

I remember reading that there wasn’t really a villain in the movie and it turned out to be true. Our emotions are a core part of us and what the movie ultimately shows is that while we may not want them around, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust play complex roles in our lives. They weave together to create lives that are rich and full of meaning.

Like with Toy Story 3, I am sure that I will cry every time I watch it. But it’s a joyful sadness.

If you haven’t already seen it, rent it when it comes out. It’s a really good reminder that we can get our emotions to work for us instead of allowing them to work against us.