Posts Tagged ‘review’

Album Review: The Maine- Forever Halloween Deluxe Edition

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I often think back to the Can’t Stop Won’t Stop days of The Maine and sit baffled. This band never fails to impress me with something new. I don’t know why I keep questioning that they won’t be able to top their latest work. At this point, the only option is to embrace the sheer brilliance that is The Maine.

That being said, Forever Halloween was a fantastic album. Since I never posted the review on this site, take my word for it, Forever Halloween was The Maine’s best album to date. Although I was sure nothing could top Pioneer, I was totally wrong. This re-release did just that again.

I was pretty skeptical of a re-release because sometimes they can feel, frankly, pointless. The point of this re-release was very clear. If The Maine hadn’t sold you on the power and solidity of their rock roots yet, after listening to this re-release there is no way around it.

The deluxe edition features five new songs that are a perfect mix of punk influences (see Ice Cave if you don’t believe me) and familiar pop-rock tunes from The Maine. Although the sound of these songs is very familiar to the band, they are nothing like we have heard before. These songs are pure rock and roll. I am a firm believer that this band will never stop impressing me.

If The Maine fell off of your radar, stop what you’re doing and put them back on. This re-release only has me craving more from this talented quintet. I have learned, and hopefully you have to, that this band is capable of anything. Of the five tracks, those that are most standout to me are Ice Cave, a fan favorite from live performances that finally has the studio release it deserves, and Bliss, a rock tune that’s pop influences are comfortably woven through. So Criminal, the first of the five, is probably the best mix of the band’s former work with their more recent releases. The sound of this song feels like The Maine.

It always seems that the everlasting question that arises with The Maine is: what more can they really do? This release coupled with that of the original Forever Halloween debunks all skepticism that I may have had lingering (though, at this point, it was slim to none).

 

The Maine- Forever Halloween Deluxe Edition: 10/10

The Fault in Our Stars: Book to Movie Review

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On June 6th, The Fault in Our Stars was released in theaters with Shailene Woodley playing Hazel Grace Lancaster and Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters. Initially, I had planned to review this movie as I had others in the past, but this deserved a special post due to the fact that I am such a huge fan and have far too much original bias.

Let me forewarn you: This is a book to movie review, so if you have not read the book and plan to do so, you may want to stop reading now. Also, I included very large spoilers in this review. You have been warned.

The story is based off of the novel by the spectacular John Green, as if you didn’t already know. Let’s be real: this book is freaking huge. When I read it upon its release in 2012, I knew it was something special. I was already a huge Green fan due to the immense love I have for his first novel Looking for Alaska. It is safe to say, when I heard that there was going to be a TFiOS movie, I panicked.

My panic slowly subsided as production and filming began. Josh Boone was coined the director and I felt sheer bliss. Boone wrote and directed Stuck in Love which is on my mental All Time Favorite Movies list. Next, the casting began and I was panicked once again. The acting from Shailene Woodley in Descendants was phenomenal, I admit, but something in the back of my brain could not stop putting her in that Secret Life of the American Teenager box. Dear Shailene Woodley, I was fucking wrong.

The movie started out just as the book had: a quick glimpse into Hazel’s boring, cancer-filled, ANTM watching life. With one-liners like “I’m the Keith Richards of cancer kids” spilling out, I was sold. Shailene Woodley was Hazel Grace. The movie added a sense of innocence that made me feel alive. In the first ten minutes, I had teary eyes simply due to the fact that the characters I held so closely were coming to life.

While I was in a state of joy watching the film, I couldn’t help but pick apart at the missing details. I don’t want to linger on those, though, because the movie was, overall, a beautiful adaptation of one of my favorite books. The Amsterdam scenes were flawless and the meeting with Van Houten was practically word for word. The Anne Frank House kiss was everything I had dreamed it would be.

By far, two of my favorite scenes in the movie that I felt not only did the book justice, but in some ways topped the novel was the sex scene in Amsterdam and the egging of Monica’s car. The egging scene in the book was, while hilarious, fairly rushed and didn’t give me the feeling of being alive like the movie egging scene did. Augustus’ statement about “four eyes, five legs, and two sets of working lungs” felt so Augustian that I felt the joy and love for the character that I did upon my first read of the book. The sex scene felt so intimate and real. As far as movie sex scenes go, this one was one of the most honest and splendidly awkward I had ever experienced.

Laura Dern, who played Hazel’s mother, was simply impeccable. I cannot relay how much I enjoyed the character of Hazel’s mother and how well Laura Dern portrayed her. Another standout character, and personal favorite actor of mine, was Nat Wolff who brought Isaac to life. Isaac’s wit fell from Wolff’s mouth as if the character was made for him.

As this is a book to movie review, I have to mention the facets of the novel that I felt needed to be included in the movie in some way. First, let me preface this by saying that I understand a movie can only be so long and that things must be omitted. I fully understand and acknowledge this. That being said, why didn’t they sell the swing set?! I was waiting for the “vaguely pedophilic” line and the way Augustus cheered Hazel up by proposing such an outlandish act. It was such a monumental scene that I was disappointed that it was omitted.

The movie did such justice in allowing for the quotes that readers loved to be included in the dialogue, but one of the most influential and significant quotes, “My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations”, was removed from the otherwise fully read letter at the end of the film. This quote, I believe should have made its way into the film. The omission of “I do, Augustus. I do” bothered me for a while after the film ended but once I began to think about it, I feel that “okay” was a perfect ending for those who had only experienced the film. (Although I still love this line and its connotations of Hazel and Augustus being together in the afterlife.)

Possibly the most disappointment I felt was in Augustus’ death. In his death in the book we had weeks of gradual and painful loss. Augustus turned into Gus and became bitter in his demise. This honest account of death was moving to me and the movie did not show the slow and painful side of death that we often feel. Though the post-Amsterdam scenes were all some of the most important and most moving, I wished for more, simply. Again, I realize that time limits this and that is something I am okay to live with.

As a movie from one of my favorite books, I can easily say that The Fault in Our Stars surpassed my expectations. The soundtrack of the film was a perfect testament for Hazel and Augustus’s love. The acting from Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort both felt so honest to the characters in the book. In reading other reviews, I noticed a lack of mention to Elgort’s performance as Augustus. Personally, Elgort portrayed the arrogant, charming, goofy boy just as I had imagined him in my head. Also, can we mention how perfectly accurate the crooked smile was during the first scene at Funky Bones? I am so grateful to both Woodley and Elgort for bringing my characters to life and portraying them with such grace and accuracy.

The movie felt so well done that I cannot wait to see it again, and maybe not be as picky this time. The Fault in Our Stars was a beautiful little infinity for me to enjoy… I cannot tell you have thankful I am for that.

 

Book to Movie Adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars: 8/10

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation

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First things first, we need to get the whole skin tone situation down before we go any further into this… I am fair. I mean, really fair. I jokingly state that I have two shades: my summer shade, “white AF”, and my winter shade, “is that a ghost or a girl?”. Needless to say, finding a foundation that works and looks amazing on such fair skin isn’t an easy task. Generally speaking, pale people tend to have pink undertones with the occasional yellow-toned girl. I find myself to be neutral and can’t use anything that comes off unnaturally yellow or pink.

I have found my holy grail. Yep, I said it. While I haven’t tried every foundation in the world, this one kicks some serious ass. The Tarte Amazonian Clay foundations had so much hype surrounding them that I knew I needed to give it a try and see if I felt as attached to this product as the seemingly rest of the free world did. I picked up the shade “Fair Sand”, which is described as fair skin with yellow undertones. Personally, this foundation blends flawlessly into my skin and doesn’t come across as “too yellow”. The girl in Ulta wanted to shade match me before I made the purchase and she agreed, this foundation was made for my lifelessly pale skin.

Beware: photo of me fresh-faced is now going to be inserted.

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As you can see, my skin is generally clear from acne, although I do suffer from time-of-the-month-mountain-on-face syndrome and I always get small pimples after I get my brows waxed (does this happen to anyone else?).  My biggest concerns are some discoloration around my chin, awful dark circles, and redness.

I have been using my Real Techniques Blending Sponge to apply the product and it seems to do the trick. I put the foundation in small dots around my face and then just stipple it out. After one very thin coat this is what my face looked like:

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When I say thin coat, this is probably a pea-sized amount of product on my face. I don’t believe I have found a foundation that compares in dark circle coverage. This foundation is a perfect match for my skin tone as well. The look, even without primer, is flawless.

The finish is very natural, due to the Amazonian Clay, and leaves my face feeling as if I am not wearing foundation at all.

Website Claims:

“Achieve flawless skin that looks healthy and natural. This supremely blendable, buildable and full coverage formula delivers up to 12 hours of satin-matte coverage with a weightless texture. Reduce the appearance of pores, discolorations and imperfections and ensure a perfectly flawless complexion every time with this best seller.”

Final Opinion:

Okay, I couldn’t save my final opinion for the end. If you are reading this far you know that I love this foundation. The color match is flawless and with the multiple shades they offer, I think anyone would be able to find a match. The coverage is full and flawless. The claim I was worried about was the 12-Hour because I purchased this foundation specifically for my outside graduation in Florida. If you have ever been to Florida in June, you know the humidity is no joke. I wore this and felt that it stayed put throughout the sweat and lasted all evening. I prefer a satin to matte finish anyway, so this foundation was perfect for me. There are also 1.7 fl oz in this foundation which is almost unheard of. I mean seriously, that is a lot of product. As the cheap skate I am, this helped me pull the metaphorical trigger and splurge.

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In this ridiculously close shot of my face you can tell that the spots around my chin are almost completely gone and my pores are less visible. I like my freckles to still be prominent on my face because I feel like they make me feel natural and like myself so this coverage is perfect for me.

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Here is my completed face with some basic every day makeup on (all hail the concealer gods). I love this foundation and would recommend that if you have been thinking about it, as I had for months, go purchase it!

Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation. SPF 15. $38.00 USD.

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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After reading Eleanor and Park (you can check out my review of it here), I knew I had to read every single one of Rainbow Rowell’s books. My next conquest: Fangirl.

Fangirl is a story about two twins, Cather and Wren, who move away to college and leave their particularly scatter-brained father as they start their journey in the big, bad world of college. Cather, the protagonist and overall beautifully written character, is denying these changes at once and does all she can to avoid the college experience. By this, I don’t mean simply avoiding frat parties or making minimal friends (although this happens as well), but this brand of avoidance is more like eating protein bars because she is too afraid to ask where the Dining Hall is type of thing. Wren, eccentric, daring, and ultimately careless, chooses to do what the girls have never experienced before: live apart from Cath.

This story, though, is more than a tale of a girl who learns to blossom in her college years and step out of her encumbering awkwardness. While Cath is undeniably reserved, she releases her inner thoughts and passions in the form of fanfiction. Cath writes Simon Snow (which is a story inside of a story that revolves around two boys, arch nemeses, in a world of danger and magic. Think Harry Potter, but with vampires) fanfiction and she is damn good at it. In the book, Rowell includes snippets of the actual Simon Snow books as well as portions of Cath’s fanfiction. Personally, I enjoyed Cath’s bits of writing more than the Simon Snow excerpts.

The school year begins and the only class Cath particularly looks forward to attending is her Advanced Fiction Writing course, which she placed into based on her skills. As she finds out how to be Cath-without-Wren she also learns what it means to be a writer of something other than fanfiction. The struggle Cath finds in writing something that doesn’t involve Simon and Baz (the stars of her wildly popular fanfic and the Simon Snow novels) is something I believe every young writer struggles with.

The story is filled with love, first experiences, and heartbreak (both of the familial and romantic variety). Rowell, once again, writes a story that is timeless. Cath’s words and emotions feel as though I were the one telling this familiar story and living Cath’s life. As everything and everyone around Cath changes, especially her partner in crime/twin sister/best friend Wren, she finds that she is more herself than she ever knew.

Fangirl exceeded all expectations. If you enjoyed Eleanor and Park, get ready to fall in love with Fangirl. At times that were not exceptionally sad, I was crying ugly tears simply because of the way I related to Cath and her emotions. Rowell creates characters that resonate and become a part of you. Through her tales of friend making, love embracing, and story writing, Rowell (through Cath) describes the teenage condition with legitimate honesty. Not too often do you find a story of a girl who writes fanfiction, and not too often do you find a story about a boy who embraces the different in a girl (yes, people, this is also a hopelessly beautiful love story).

I recommend Fangirl as highly as I recommend Eleanor and Park. This honest and heart-wrenching coming-of-age tale is one that is now a permanent favorite of mine.

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: 10/10

Movie Review: Neighbors

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Rating: R

96 mins. Comedy. May 9, 2014.

 

Initially, I was pretty excited to see Neighbors. I am, admittedly, a huge fan of Seth Rogen, although I was unsure about how Zac Efron’s role would play out and if he would be the downfall of the movie…boy was I wrong. In this comedy, Mac Radner (Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) move into a comfortable home in the suburbs to start their new family. The movie starts with their conflict to be more than a boring married couple. The couple decides that instead of settling into adulthood, they would simply incorporate their new, parental life in with their old, party lifestyle. This scene alone with the couple fighting to stay awake once they decided to take their infant to the club was simply hilarious. Rogen and Byrne had phenomenal chemistry. For once, a film actually showed young parents acting like young parents.

As the movie progresses, a fraternity, led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco’s characters Teddy and Pete, respectively, moves in next door to the Radner’s. Wanting to seem like they were “the cool neighbors”, the couple decided to approach the frat house and tell them casually (or not so casually) to keep the noise level down at times. The frat says they will oblige, but come the first night a wild ragger is already taking place. Mac and Kelly decide to go over and tell the frat to keep the noise down, but they end up partying with them.

The climax of the film takes place when the Radner’s decide that they can no longer have the frat living next door and they attempt to move them out. For me, the best character in the whole film was Kelly, the mother and wife. Rose Byrne was simply hilarious as she portrayed a young woman who actually acted like a young woman would. A reference is made to how their life is “not a Kevin James film” with her being the nagging wife and Mac being the reckless husband. This, to me, was one of the greatest debunking of a classic film stereotypes ever.

Possibly the most enjoyable aspect of this movies was that it actually contained a relatable plot. Often in comedies it is hard to find what “the point” of the hilarity actually was. In Neighbors, this is quite the opposite. Neighbors contains outrageous farce, sex, and absurdity, but also allows for some thought on the awkward times in life. Efron’s character is bridging the gap between college and “the real world”, while Rogen and Byrne are experiencing what is really like to venture into adulthood.

While Neighbors was one of the best comedies I had seen in a while, it fell short in some aspects for me. It is a hard movie to pinpoint its faults, but I left wanting just a bit more. Maybe a bit more outrageous tactics from the gang? For those who have seen it: come on, how epic was the takedown of Teddy and Pete? I’m not sure what I would have wanted to see more of, but I do know that I left only feeling satisfied, not utterly wowed (maybe with the exception of Rose Byrne’s character…have I raved about it enough?). I am quite picky when it comes to comedies, but as for Neighbors, I would recommend it and I would probably see it again…on DVD.

 

Neighbors: 7/10.

 

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

              

              After putting Eleanor & Park down, I felt like I had just loved for the first time, and given that I am currently eighteen years old, I am in the midst of truly loving for the first time. Eleanor & Park gives you the feeling that you too are in the stuffy school bus, disturbing gym room, or alone in Eleanor’s bedroom as she dreams of Park. Rainbow Rowell articulates the teenage condition flawlessly.

The story follows two teenagers living in Omaha in the 80s: Eleanor, a bigger girl with fire red hair, and Park, a half Asian boy who enjoys comics. Their first encounter is brash as Eleanor is picked on while boarding the school bus and Park begrudgingly allows her to sit with him. Through silent bus rides, they soon learn to bond over the reading of comics and their love of music.

Their journey, while never perfect, felt like falling in love. The words that Rowell wrote reminded me of the times I spent feeling the same emotions. Through Eleanor, Rowell displays the way that people who aren’t the prettiest learn to be comfortable with someone who means the world to them. Through Park, she articulates the way we must become bold and fearless for the ones we love.

This book made me believe. I laughed, I cried, I cringed, and yet, I believe in love even more now that I have read it.

“He knows I’ll like a song before I’ve heard it. He laughs before I even get to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes me want to let him open doors for me. There’s only one of him.” As you read Eleanor & Park, prepare to live your first love. Prepare to fall for the characters, the story, the sorrow, and even the “super gay” wearing of eyeliner.

 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: 9/10