'Interstellar' (2014)

 I've always enjoyed Christopher Nolan's films for its originality and thought provoking storyline. His new film did not disappoint. It was the best movie I've seen in the theaters this year. True, I didn't get to go the movies as much as I would've liked this year, but I'm still giving the nod to 'Interstellar'. It has everything you look for in a well made film. It makes you smile, think, stare in awe, gasp, and even tear up a little.
 Set in the future, earth is running out of resources to feed its population. Staying put would mean starving to death. In order to ensure the survival of the species, the only option is to venture out into the unknown to find a new home. Matthew McConaughey plays an astronaut turned farmer who is given the burden of finding a new home for humanity and his family.
 McConaughey, Hathaway, Chastain, Caine, and rest of the cast all give a powerful performance. I was entertained by the science and theories involved in space travel. It was like watching sci fi channel on steroids. Whether or not you buy in all the science and sci-fi theme in the movie, the core of the film showcases humanity's capacity to love and the will to survive when pushed to the edge.

IMDB- 8.9/10
Metacritic- 74%
Rotten Tomatoes- 73%
Yong's rating- 5/5


La Vie En Rose

Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

 I think deep down even the most pessimistic of us out there would like to believe there's some magic left in the world. The important question is, how far are you willing to go to let yourself be completely immersed in it. In the latest Woody Allen film, he explores how love can affect even the most cynical of us. Colin Firth plays a famous magician with the speciality of debunking fake mystics. When he is asked by a close friend to help him debunk a young American girl (played by Emma Stone) who is about to swindle a wealthy family of their fortune, he agrees to prove that there is no such thing as real magic in the world. His interactions with the young, beautiful American makes him question his dark view of the world and makes him wonder whether there is some magic in the world after all.

Metascore- 54/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 50% Audience- 56%
Yong's Rating- 3/5 Stars.


Bright Eyes playlist.

I've been meaning to write up reviews for 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and 'Magic in the Moonlight' but I've been lazy. I'm sure they'll get done eventually. In the meantime, I tried to pick my top 10 favorite Bright Eyes/ Conor Oberst songs, but it was too hard. So, here's my list, slightly over 10 songs in no particular order.
'First Day of My Life', 'Let's Not Shit Ourselves', 'Trees get wheeled away', 'We are nowhere and it's now', 'Bowl of Oranges', 'The Happiest Place on Earth', 'An Attempt to Tip the Scale', 'Take it easy', 'Loose Leaves', 'False Advertising', 'The Calendar Hung Itself', 'Hit the Switch', 'Zigzagging Towards the Light'.
For all the Conor fans, did I miss any of your favorites?


Conor Oberst

I have been really enjoying Conor's new album. Hope he continues to make beautiful music.


Thanks for all the memories and laughter...

I was shocked to hear about Robin Williams passing away today. I feel that entertainers as talented as Williams become part of our lives whether we realize it or not. We grow up watching them, sometimes we watch them grow up in front of our eyes. And in some silly way, we come to believe that we know them better than some of our own friends. They enter our lives through televisions and the big screens. They delight us with their bigger than life personalities. They make us laugh, think, and cry. For a brief period of time, they help us forget about whatever distractions and worries we have in our lives.
Often times, I make the mistake of believing that the big Hollywood stars live in a perfect fantasy world that us regular folks can only dream of. But, the harsh reality is that even the stars must face and battle with the same demons that all of us struggle with in our daily lives. Robin Williams always seemed invincible to me with his bigger than life personality and his big smile and laughter that always seemed to fill up the room. I was very sad to read about the personal struggles that he has been facing in his life and his battle with addiction. I hope he has found peace. I will always remember his big, bright smile and all the beautiful memories he has given us through the years.


'We Bought a Zoo' (2011)

In 'We Bought a Zoo', Matt Damon plays a widowed father trying to create a fresh start for his kids following the loss of his wife. While searching for a new home, he comes across a perfect house to create a new life for his family. There is just one catch. The house is in a zoo, and the owner must take care of the zoo and its high maintenance occupants. Ben (Damon) sees the zoo as the perfect challenge for his family.
'We Bought a Zoo' is a heartwarming family film that I found to be very enjoyable. The film touches on many story lines that all come together very well. The rocky relationship between father and rebellious teenaged son. Challenge of being in charge of a zoo and bringing the place up to code in order to reopen it. Feelings of being utterly lost. Finding joy and love in life. And learning that sometimes twenty seconds of insane courage is all you need to discovery something amazing.
 'We Bought a Zoo' is a movie that kids and adults of all ages can enjoy, and it will leave you with a warm smile. There's nothing wrong with that.

Metascore- 58/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Audience- 72%, Critics- 66%
Yong's Rating- 4/5 stars


somewhere i have never travelled

For Her,

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

- e.e. cummings


Conversation with a stranger

I had a very pleasant conversation with a retired 75 year old black gentleman from south side of Chicago on a recent plane ride. He was looking at homes in Florida for a winter home. He said he's getting way too old to spend his winters in Chicago. When he asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a dentist. He seemed surprised and asked me how old I was. I think he was trying to make sure I was old enough to be dentist (one of the downfalls of still looking like a high school senior). He asked me for advice on implants. He was interested in implants to replace his missing teeth. After I gave him some advice, he went on to give me some insightful life advices of his own. Just wanted to share some of his advices.

-"Travel as much as you can. Go and see as much of the world as you can. Always have your passport ready and just go when the opportunity presents itself. Trust me, you won't regret it."

-"Work hard and be passionate about your work. If you don't have passion for your work, then you're probably not happy with what you're doing. Don't waste your time doing something you don't enjoy. Find what makes you happy and do it with passion."

-"I love people. I chose to be happy everyday. The way I see it, why go through life being angry when you can be smiling."

-"Support your family. You may shake your head sometimes and call them idiots, but they're still you're family. Be there for them."

-"Don't rush into marriage. Find a good girl. There's a lot of pretty girls out there, but they're not always good for you. Don't let your lust get the best of you. Don't let a girl control your life. Wrong girl can give you a whole world of trouble. Always be true to yourself. Find a good woman, hold on to her and be good to her."

-"Save your money. Don't buy things you don't need. Invest your money. Material things may seem nice at first, but they fade."

-He told me there's only one thing he regrets about his life. That he didn't spend enough time with his kids. One of his son passed away from cancer when he was in his early 30's. He told me, "I wish I would've spent more time with my kids. At the time, I didn't realize it. But, looking back there's so much time I missed being with them. I realized too late that I had my priorities wrong. When you have kids, treasure your time with them because they are a blessing from God."

We both agreed that Derrick Rose was a nice kid from south side of Chicago and it's a terrible what's happened to him these past few years. We both hoped that he will come back healthy because that will be great for the city. I told him I've never been to a Bulls game, and I hoped to be season ticket holder in the future. He told me, "Hey, if that's what you want go for it."


'22 Jump Street' (2014)

The best thing about '22 Jump Street' is that it knows exactly what it is and isn't afraid to make fun of itself. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back again to solve a drug case very similar to their time in '21 Jump Street'. Only this time the two buddies are going to college. '22' doesn't have the quirky charm '21' did, but that's expected from a sequel. Like I mentioned earlier, this movie knows what it's meant to do and does a pretty good job sticking to the script.
This time, the budget, jokes, explosions are all bigger. Hill and Tatum share great comedic chemistry. The cast from the first film are all back in some form with bigger roles. However, I was very disappointed that Korean Jesus didn't make a cameo. If you enjoyed the first movie, then I'm sure you'll enjoy this one as well. If you are looking to just have a good time laughing for a few hours then you should go check out '22 Jump Street'. And don't forget to stick around for the credits!

Metascore- 71/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critic- 83% Audience- 90%
Yong's Rating- 3/5 stars


'X-Men: Days of Future Past' (2014)

  'X-Men: Days of the Future Past' continues where 'X-Men: First Class' left off. The audience find our heroes in a grim future world where both humans and mutants are targets of dangerous killing robots known as Sentinels. (When will the future learn creating giant all-powerful robots are never good idea for mankind.) Facing certain extinction at the hands of the Sentinels, the X-Men devise a plan to change the course of history by traveling back in time and making sure the Sentinels are never allowed to go into production.
 The core cast from 'First Class' returns for this film. Along with cameo appearances from cast members of the previous X-men franchise. The returning cast is very likable and the more you get to know about them, the more they grow on you. 'Days of the Future Past' has all the action that you want in a summer movie along with a good storyline. Which is always a plus. Even if you aren't fans of the previous X-men movies, I think there's still something there for you to enjoy. If you are a fan, then you've probably already seen this and had a good time doing so.

IMDB- 8.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes-  Audience- 95% Critics- 91%
Yong's Rating- 3.5/5 stars


Brandi Carlile

I've been listening to a lot of Brandi Carlile recently. I immediately fell in love with her sound and her beautiful lyrics. I would love to see her live when I get a chance. Just wanted to share one of her songs, 'Dying Days'. I believe everyone should have a chance to find at least one person who you can truly love with all your heart and soul until your dying days.


Love Lessons from Movies.

Here are a few lessons I've learned about love from movies.

Love makes you do some silly things.

 Love can be confusing. "I would never want to belong to a club that would have someone like me for a member"- Annie Hall.

Love doesn't always mean happily ever after. What a depressing thought. "Love fades..." Annie Hall.

But when you meet the right person, love can be special. "They say when you meet the love of your life time stops, and that's true."- Big Fish

If you are lucky enough, it could even be your best friend.

While you are still searching for your true love, you know your pet will be there to love you.

Love means there is someone out there for you to help you hide all your flaws and imperfections.

You know when you are ready when all you can think about is her/him.
"When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."- When Harry Met Sally

Most importantly, true love is worth fighting for. What could be more noble than that?