Thursday, January 9, 2014

2013 Highlights

Last year was full of ups and downs just like any other. I hate to be one of those people who constantly bitch about the negative things in their life or one of the people who pretend their life is perfect. Nothing is without faults, especially life! Every new year brings us a chance to start fresh. I’m not crazy about resolutions so I don’t make them. My goal is to always be a good person no matter what and not make it into a contest or condition. I am just very grateful to have had another year with my wonderful family and friends. I can only hope for another happy & healthy year. Without sounding too braggadocious, I thought I’d share some key highlights for me.

In no particular order:

Texas Frightmare Weekend 2013
I’ve always wanted to go to Texas Frightmare Weekend, but never got a chance. Last year we were lucky enough to win tickets. It was a ton of fun! I got to see so many great horror icons like Tom Savini, Danny Trejo, Virginia Madsen, and Chris Sarandon. It was also nice to get out of town for a bit. I got to eat breakfast at Grandy’s which was one of my favorite places to eat as a kid. I certainly hope we get to make it out this year!

My Bloody Valentine
I love MBV and was so bummed I missed them last they came to town. I was not missing them this time. Kenny and I had a great time at the show. After all these years, they still sound great. They were so loud; I could feel it in my teeth!

Washington DC
Last summer, we got to visit my friend John and his wife Erin in DC. We had a wonderful time catching the sights and watching fireworks on the Mall for Fourth of July. More importantly, it was great to catch up with old friends. I really love to travel and hope to do more of it in the future.

New Order
I was fortunate enough to see New Order in 2012 with my friend Ruth & her husband. Less than a year later we got to see them again, this time in Austin. I can’t even decide which set I enjoyed more because they were both incredible. However, this time around they did play my all time favorite song, “Regret.” I can’t tell you what an awesome experience it was.

Arizona Adventure
We try to make it back to Arizona at least once a year to visit Ross’ family. Due to work constraints, we haven’t been back for Christmas in nearly five years. The weather in Tucson was just lovely this time around. This also marked Zira's first visit to Arizona. We had a great time celebrating the holiday with family and friends. I come from a very small family and our holidays are very low key. Ross has a lot of extended family so we had a few parties to attend. It’s really nice to be apart of that because truth be told, I miss it sometimes. We also got to spend some time in Bisbee and Tombstone.

We’ve been to Tombstone before and had a great time. We watched the shootout at the O.K. Corral again which is always fun. We also did the tour of the Birdcage Theater Museum and the Tombstone Ghosts and Legends Tour which was my favorite.

Bisbee is an awesome little town filled with antique shops and other tourist attractions. The highlight was the ghost tour we went on at night. Before our tour, we wandered around exploring various locations. We came across this empty city park in the middle of the town. As we walked around I got such an eerie feeling about the place. How could a place for children to play be so creepy? Come to find out on the tour, the park is the former location of Bisbee’s cemetery. They moved all the graves to another site with the exception of a few unmarked graves that were unable to be found. Totally creepy! Ghost tours are awesome and a favorite activity of mine. Even if you don’t believe in supernatural occurrences, you end up learning a lot about the place you visit.

Austin Comic Con
I usually go to comic con every year and this year was bigger than ever. I’ve never seen that many people in the convention center (except for SXSW). There were so many great guests including Stan Lee, James Marsters, Robert Rodriguez, and Bruce Campbell. Bruce Campbell’s panel was by far the best panel I have ever been to. My biggest pet peeve about conventions is the asinine questions people get up to ask. Eighty percent of questions are things one could find out by reading IMDb or watching audio commentary. The other twenty percent of questions are wasted on professions of love and shameless ass kissing. Bruce Campbell ripped all these questions apart! He’s even funnier than I ever thought. If this whole acting thing doesn’t pan out for him, he has a solid career in stand-up comedy.

ACL Fest
I know I have denounced ACL Fest and the people who attend it many, many times. I still stand by my arguments. On the other hand, I couldn’t miss an opportunity to see Depeche Mode AND The Cure in one weekend.

Depeche Mode played all the hits and let me tell you, Dave Gahan can still shake it like nobody’s business.. Even Martin Gore looked good! The dog video during “Precious” was amazing; it even had a pug! I thought my head would explode from excitement.

Setlist: Depeche Mode, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin, Texas, 10/11/13

1. “Welcome to My World”
2. “Angel”
3. “Walking in My Shoes”
4. “Precious”
5. “Behind the Wheel”
6. “World in My Eyes”
7. “But Not Tonight”
8. “A Pain That I’m Used To”
9. “A Question of Time”
10. “Enjoy the Silence”
11. “Personal Jesus”

12. “Shake the Disease”
13. “Just Can’t Get Enough”
14. “I Feel You”
15. “Never Let Me Down Again ”

The Cure played for more than two hours! They also churned out all the hits and several B-sides. After the first hour, it began to rain. At first, it was a bit surreal standing in the rain watching The Cure (how poetic). Obviously, the last song was “Boys Don’t Cry” and since they went over their set time, the sound was cut. Robert Smith kept grabbing microphones on the stage to see if they worked, but the whole audience kept singing along without missing a beat. It was truly a beautiful experience.

Setlist: The Cure, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin, Texas, 10/12/13

1. “Open”
2. “A Night Like This”
3. “The End of the World”
4. “Lovesong”
5. “Just Like Heaven”
6. “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea”
7. “Fascination Street”
8. “Pictures of You”
9. “Lullaby”
10. “High”
11. “The Lovecats”
12. “Close To Me”
13. “Hot Hot Hot”
14. “The Caterpillar”
15. “The Walk”
16. “Stop Dead”
17. “Push”
18. “Inbetween Days”
19. “Friday I’m In Love”
20. “Doing the Unstuck”
21. “Want”
22. “The Hungry Ghost”
23. “Wrong Number”
24. “One Hundred Years”
25. “Give Me It”
26. “End”
27. “Boys Don’t Cry”

Granted the torrential flooding was horrible and I would never do that again, but it was worth it to see two of my favorite bands. The best part about the third day being cancelled (we had no intention of going anyway) is that we got a partial refund!

Blake Schwarzenbach
It’s hard to say if this was a highlight for me; it certainly was out of the ordinary. Jawbreaker has always been important to me. It’s the backdrop to my adolescence and the soundtrack to my love life. I’ve supported every musical project Schwarzenbach has embarked on since Jawbreaker (especially JTB). I’m not sure if I can support his solo music efforts. Something about it seems so self indulgent and narcissistic almost like Morrissey (it’s appropriate & expected of Moz). Schwarzenbach has always written very sardonic songs (that’s what we love about him), but this performance just seemed a little awry. Is this a paltry ploy to stay relevant? I don’t know. What I do know is that I hope we don’t see a Jawbreaker reunion anytime soon. At this point, it will only tarnish a once beautiful thing. I could be wrong, and if I am please help me understand but I get the feeling it’s about making a buck now. You never want to see your heroes fall from grace.

Veronica Mars Kickstarter Party
I couldn’t be happier to see the Veronica Mars movie finally come to fruition. To see everyone rally around such a beloved show like this has truly been a Firefly moment. I’m so lucky to have been able to be apart of it. Rob Thomas hosted a party at the Dog & Duck Pub last spring to celebrate the close of the Kickstarter campaign. It was so much fun! No one really knew what to expect. As a surprise Jason Dohring flew in to celebrate with all of us. When he showed up, the whole bar erupted in high pitched screams (including my own). That’s right folks; I got to meet Logan Echolls himself. You can’t imagine how stoked I was!

Dr. Zira
As most of you know, I am an avid pug enthusiast. I’ve wanted a pug of my own for years. I had to wait a while due to housing constraints and funds; I needed to be completely ready for a new fur baby. My only condition was that I wanted a pug that needed a good home. I absolutely refuse to go through a breeder or worse, puppy mill. The adoption process is a long, stressful road, but in the end it was completely worth it. I can’t stress the importance of adopting a dog no matter how hard it can sometimes be. The process is often difficult because these dogs are coming from abused or neglected homes. The rescue groups want to be certain that this will never happen again. It was truly fate that Zira came to us and I could not imagine our lives without her. She fit in nicely with our little family. She loves us endlessly, even her big brother Spike. I think Spike would still like to be an only child, but he warmed up to her quickly. She keeps him active and young. It was a struggle at first getting her adjusted to her new home. In less than a year, we were Zira’s third home. Sometimes I wonder what her life was life before, but then I remember she will only have the best life possible with her fur ever home from now on. We still have challenges with Zira, but it takes patience to really take care of a dog. I look forward to our years together.

Feel free to follow Zira & Spike's adventures on Instagram!

I hope you guys have a wonderful year full of happiness!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Most Anticipated Films of 2014

There are a ton of films I am looking forward to this year, including some that were scheduled to be released in 2013 but didn’t quite make it out for some reason or another. I am still waiting to see NYMPHOMANIAC (which is apparently a two part film now), THE GOLDEN SUICIDES (still in development according to IMDb), and all three new Terrance Malick films that are pending. My most anticipated film of 2013, HORNS is promised to be released this year and I am on the edge of my seat for that one. It tested very well at TIFF last year. I also cannot stress how much I want to see ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE either.

I’m really interested in UNBROKEN (directed by Angelina Jolie and written by the Coen brothers), LUCY (the latest film from Luc Besson), and CHILD 44 (starring Gary Oldman, Bane, and Lisbeth Salander).

As far as big budget, mainstream films go, I would like to see INTERSTELLAR and TRANSCENDENCE. I also want to catch the new CAPTAIN AMERICA film; I wasn’t too impressed with the first one, but this one looks promising. I also can’t wait to see the new Terry Gilliam film, ZERO THEOREM which has already received much praise at last year’s Fantastic Fest.

Here is my list:


A Chechen Muslim illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught up in the international war on terror.

Anton Corbijn is mostly known for directing music videos. He’s created some of the most iconic videos for bands like Depeche Mode. In 2007, he directed his first feature film, CONTROL about Joy Division’s own Ian Curtis. CONTROL was visually stunning as well as captivating. A MOST WANTED MAN has a strong cast with notables like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Willem Dafoe, and Robin Wright. I look forward to seeing Corbijn grow as a film director, after all David Fincher started out as a music video director and look where he is now.


A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is a much revered director in his home country of Mexico for films like AMORES PERROS and BIUTIFUL which both garnered Oscar nominations. You may even recall his English language films like BABEL and 21 GRAMS. It will be interesting to see how he handles an actual comedy film. Edward Norton and Michael Keaton both have supporting roles.


In Los Angeles in 1970, drug-fueled detective Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.
I am a huge proponent of Paul Thomas Anderson, but I must say THE MASTER did not impress me one bit. I’m hoping he redeems himself with INHERENT VICE. Once again he teams up with Joaquin Phoenix. Jenna Malone, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, and Benicio Del Toro also star in this film based on a novel by Thomas Pynchon. This will also mark PTA’s first time working with his real life wife, Maya Rudolph.


A single mother is swept into a dark underworld, while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret underwater town.
Hey Girl is often stigmatized for his good looks and Disney past. I think he’s a truly incredible actor who dives into roles wholeheartedly. HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER is his first foray at writing and directing. Christina Hendricks, Eva Mendes, and horror legend Barbara Steele star in this fantasy thriller. I’m sure this film will gain much attention since it also stars Matt Smith aka The Eleventh Doctor. JGL proved himself with DON JON last year, let’s see if Hey Girl can match him.


A drama centered on the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.
I know I said Tim Burton was dead to me after that abomination that was DARK SHADOWS, but he somewhat redeemed himself with FRANKENWEENIE. This is literally his last chance to restore my faith in a man who created some of the greatest films of my childhood. Fortunately, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter will not be apart of this production. Christoph Waltz and Jason Schwartzman star alongside Amy Adams and Krysten Ritter. As per usual, Danny Elfman will be handling music duties. Longtime Burton collaborator and Oscar winner, Colleen Atwood will helm the costume design. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.


The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.
Wes Anderson continues to delight audiences with his quirky, sentimental, and whimsical films. His last film MOONRISE KINGDOM was received with much praise and even nominated for an Oscar. He’s got a formula that seems to work every time. All the usual suspects will be apart of this ensemble cast including Bill Murray. Another thing I love about Anderson is that he has a beautiful way of incorporating the perfect music into his scenes. His soundtracks are nearly as synonymous as Tarantino’s. This is definitely a must see for all.


The savage murders of three young children sparks a controversial trial of three teenagers accused of killing the kids as part of a satanic ritual.
After four documentaries, a couple books, and extensive research into this case I am still completely engrossed by it. Even with the 2011 release of the wrongfully convicted West Memphis 3, the story does not end there. There are still so many unanswered questions and child murder(s) on the loose. Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth star in this small budget picture. It will be interesting to see how the key players will be portrayed on film.


A biography of the civil-rights activist and labor organizer Cesar Chavez.
Growing up in a Hispanic household, I was made aware at an early age that Cesar Chavez was a great civil rights leader. I always thought it was such a shame that a film had not yet been made about his struggles. We have films about Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Abraham Lincoln. I’m so glad Diego Luna took on this project because I know it will be made with plenty of passion and love. Michael Pena, Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, and John Malkovich star in this depiction of a real American hero. Sí, se puede!


A woman mysteriously disappears on the day of her wedding anniversary. Based on the novel, "Gone Girl."
Gone Girl is one of the best books I read last year; I could not put it down once I started reading. I am so excited to see that David Fincher will be directing the film adaption of this amazing read. Author, Gillian Flynn is even writing the screenplay in case any one has any misgivings about book to film adaptations. In fact, all three of Flynn’s incredible novels will eventually become films. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike star as the tragic couple, Nick & Amy Dunne. I can’t stress enough that you should read this book (and the other two) before watching the film.


Veronica Mars returns home -- just in time for her high school reunion -- in order to help her old flame Logan Echolls, who has been accused of murdering his girlfriend.
The first and only time I have ever donated money to Kickstarter was for VM. I’ve been anticipating this film almost as much as Kristen Bell has. I loved this series so much when it was on; it helped me cope when BTVS ended. However, I never felt any closure when season three ended. Thank you so much to Rob Thomas for never letting go of this idea. I was fortunate enough to attend the Kickstarter party Rob Thomas hosted last spring here in Austin. The surprise guest was none other than Logan Echolls himself! And yours truly got to meet him. I know this film will be everything I love about VM and crew. I only hope that Rob Thomas goes on to make that Party Down movie.


It’s very difficult to narrow down this list so I need to add a few honorable mentions.


A journalist is detained in Iran for more than 100 days and brutally interrogated in prison.
Directed by Jon Stewart and starring my boyfriend, Gael Garcia Bernal.


The latest Woody Allen film starring Colin Firth.


In the history of aviation, there have been only 14 of them: sole survivors of a commercial aviation disaster. Most have never spoken publicly about the loss, the guilt, the immense pressure of feeling "spared." Who, after all, could ever truly understand? The answer is only each other. Sole Survivor brings four of them together (George Lamson, Cecilia Cichan, Bahia Bakari and Jim Polehinke) to share their very complex, personal stories for the first time. They revisit the most harrowing moments of their lives in an effort to heal and overcome their most perplexing questions.

There it is folks, my most anticipated films of 2014. All synopsizes are courtesy of so don’t sue me or anything. What are you looking forward to this year?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Best FIlms of 2013

A new year is upon us friends! As tradition dictates I thought I would share my favorite films of 2013. I saw so many fantastic films this year.

For me, 2013 might be the year of the documentary because I watched some really good ones. I also saw some really huge turds like SPRING BREAKERS and PASSION. Alas, I’ll save that list for another post. I absolutely loved AMERICAN HUSTLE, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, and BLUE JASMINE. Even big budget blockbusters like IRON MAN 3, PACIFIC RIM, and THOR 2 were pretty enjoyable.

Here is my list:

I missed this film in theaters, but caught it on DVD. I had not even heard of it until it was mentioned by QT. I saw director, Joe Swanberg in YOU’RE NEXT and he was my favorite character. I love the cameo by director Ti West; he even reps a Lawrence Arms t-shirt! At a distance, looking at this film nothing really stands out. However, the whole film was completely improvised with no script. A vague outline was given to the actors much like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Anyone familiar with acting or performing knows that improv is not an easy task. The acting in this film was fantastic and the characters were very relatable. DRINKING BUDDIES reminded me of my early 20s. Much like this film those years were very carefree and fun.

This is a documentary that really hits close to home. As a long time fan of The Descendents, it was heartwarming to finally see a documentary about them. We all know the songs, but we don’t know the stories behind the songs. I once got the chance to sit and have some beers with Stephen Eggerton and he was one of the most delightful people I’ve ever met. He indulged all my asinine questions about ALL and Descendents. Watching this film, I still gained so much more knowledge about this amazing band. This documentary is a love letter to such an influential band that will never cease to be an important part of my life.

Typically, sequels are never as good as the original film. Nonetheless, I loved BEFORE SUNRISE so much more than BEFORE SUNSET. Now I love BEFORE MIDNIGHT more than SUNSET if you can believe that. This is a perfect trilogy that chronicles the ups and downs of a true relationship. Life and love is not like THE NOTEBOOK, it’s disagreeable and uncertain. The chemistry between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy is electrifying. MIDNIGHT really exudes their wisdom as actors and the comfort they feel among each other. MIDNIGHT is a great end to Richard Linklater’s wonderful trilogy.

While Spike Lee was busy butchering Chan-wook Park’s masterpiece OLDBOY, Park was exhibiting his first English language film. STOKER made very little splash here in the US which is unfortunate because Park is one of the best directors currently in the game. The themes and color usage in this film were very subtle but absolutely important. Park has an understated way of telling his story; he makes you work for it and I am always happy to oblige.

I cannot for the life of me understand why this film was so critically panned. I truly loved it and I am the last person to support a Ridley Scott vehicle. Read my previous review and simply give it a chance. No spoilers, I promise.

This film should be called THE WOLF OF HOLLYWOOD because Leo is thirsty for Oscar blood. To tell you the truth, he deserves it. I feel like Leo has paid his dues for his teen heartthrob past and now he needs to be respected for the amazing actor he’s become. Scorsese brings out the best in Leo. I love the Leo/Scorsese team almost as much as I love the QT/Uma team. Normally I despise Jonah Hill, but he is ridiculously funny in WOLF. It’s as if his character from SUPERBAD grew up and became a stockbroker. This film pushes the envelope; it’s smart and funny. Just give Leo an Oscar already.

The greatest thing about this compelling documentary is the impact is has had on society. It has really opened the public’s eye to the cold hard facts that SeaWorld is a truly evil corporation. Several musicians have cancelled pending performances at SeaWorld parks as a direct result of this film. This is a small victory for an important issue.

Joss Whedon is flawless and so is this film.

I understand a lot of people don’t want to watch this film. It’s uncomfortable, heartbreaking, and difficult to watch. Remember that the topic at hand is slavery. There’s nothing pleasant about slavery. Having said that, I think the story of Solomon Northup is especially important and one that everyone should know.

I watched this film without knowing much about it other than the fact that it was directed by Derek Cianfrance who blew me away with BLUE VALENTINE. It’s a great story with a really unique format. Hey Girl is in top form and Eva Mendes poured her heart into this role. This film really flew under the radar, but now the rumor is that Mike Patton might get an Oscar nod for his amazing score. Take that Trent Reznor!

Some films that barely missed the cut:

JGL is no doubt an incredibly talented actor. His directorial debut really showcased his skills behind the camera. Let’s talk about how awesome Tony Danza was in this film! I really hope JGL continues to write and direct because he has so much potential.

I’ve been on the fence about Nicolas Winding Refn because I enjoyed BRONSON, but DRIVE fell very short for me. With ONLY GOD, I feel like he’s really coming into his own style as a director instead of just mimicking Gaspar Noe. You either love this film or you hate it; there’s no in between. I just couldn’t take my mind off this film after initially watching it. That is what makes a good film, something that stays with you days later. The cinematography is just gorgeous and I cannot say enough about Kristin Scott Thomas’ role. If you’re looking for a Hey Girl jerkfest, look elsewhere because he speaks only 17 lines total. There’s not much dialogue in this film because it’s meant to keep you guessing.

I really commend Sarah Polley’s courage to take on this project. To turn the camera inward and document the hard truth about your own family is a really brave thing to do. She tells the story of her life with a nonpartisanship that most others would find impossible. I look forward to other projects from Polley.

There it is folks, my favorite films from 2013! Thank you for another year of faithful readership, it is much appreciated. I hope you continue to enjoy my posts. Feel free to share your favorite films and let me know if I missed any.

Happy New Year!