Link Love

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Enjoy this week’s Link Love.

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This is one post every girl should read: remember, start a revolution and stop hating your body.

From Très Sugar, quick ways to avoid burning out this summer.

After the Russian spy scandal broke, The Frisky put together a list of real-life Bond Girls.

An excellent Polyvore tutorial from Michelle at Locked Out. Look for Polyvore sets in an upcoming post!

Searching for a new blog? This week I’ll be updating my friend Bruno’s blog: Some Here, There, and Nowhere. He has some pretty interesting stuff coming up, so be sure to check it out.

Calling all Harry Potter Fan Girls: you can make your own Hogwarts Student and play dress up here. There’s even a Sorting quiz! Apparently, I’m a Hufflepuff.

Is there any resemblance?

Video Love

Can we please discuss how epic Ben Affleck’s new movie, The Town, looks? The cast is solid, plus Gone Baby Gone and The Departed are two enthralling movies in their own right. Take a look:

Yesterday was my roommate Juliane’s 19th Birthday! One of her favorite movies is the 80’s classic Dirty Dancing. Check out the cheesy trailer- it’s hysterical. Don’t worry though, the movie is a lot better. 

My very cool and talented friend Isabela makes stop-motion animation movies. “Eraser Critters” is my favorite, but she has more playing on her Youtube Channel.

Which links do you love this week?

~ Sarah

Quickie Reviews

I’ve been on quite the DVD kick as of late, so I’ve watched four movies in a week. While I don’t really have the effort (or time) to write extensive reviews, I still want to write about all the good movies I watched. The solution: mini-reviews!

Waltz with Bashir (2008)

Quick Stats: Written, directed, and produced by Ari Folman. The American DVD includes both Hebrew and English audio tracks, as well as subtitles. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Plot: This animated documentary details Folman’s attempts to piece together his memories from the 1982 Lebanon War. It features interviews with other soldiers and flashbacks (both fact and fiction) to the war itself.

Verdict: Waltz with Bashir is one of the most stunning animated movies I’ve seen. I’m no expert on animation, so it’s hard for me to explain the style  but it’s refreshing to see non-CGI animation, especially as the medium for a documentary. The plot is also fixating, because the majority of the movie follows young men thrown into a horrible war. The film was met with controversy in the Middle East, so it’s important to note that while this is a documentary, it’s not meant to be a retrospective on the entire war. Instead, look at it was one man’s reflection on his involvement. There’s no right or wrong here- it just is what it is.

Pirate Radio (2009)

Quick Stats: Inspired by true events. Released outside North America as The Boat That Rocked. Written and directed by Richard Curtis, the man behind one of my favorite movies, Love Actually.

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans

Plot: Set in 1966, the movie follows a young man living on a pirate radio ship, Radio Rock. Since no stations in the U.K. play rock and roll, the pirates illegally broadcast rock music to the British masses. The station’s popularity pushes the stuffy government to try to shut them down.

Verdict: Pirate Radio is a fun look at the 60’s combined with the quirky and cheeky British humor I love. Although it’s (purposefully) historically inaccurate, it still covered an interesting subject I knew nothing about: pirate radio in Europe. As expected, the movie also has an awesome classic rock soundtrack.

Whip It (2009)

Quick Stats: Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut. She also produced.

Starring: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Kirsten Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Drew Barrymore, and Jimmy Fallon

Plot: Bliss, a small-town girl and would-be beauty queen, secretly joins a roller derby team in Austin, Texas.

Verdict: Whip It is an entertaining “chick flick” that didn’t follow the usual and boring romantic-comedy route. Page is tailor-fit for the lead, and the supporting cast is fun and fresh. This coming-of-age, indie dramedy overcomes its predictability with loads of Southern charm and a healthy dose of Girl Power. Don’t be surprised if you starting think of roller derby names after watching it.

An Education

Quick Stats: Nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actress

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Olivia Williams, and Emma Thompson

Plot: In post-war, pre-Beatles London (think: before Pirate Radio), Jenny, a bright schoolgirl with aspirations of attending Oxford University, begins a romantic friendship with a charming older man.

Verdict: An Education is a beautiful, intimate, and touching film. The acting is absolutely stellar. The cinematography and costume design are also great- this is one of those rare movies where every aspect is top-notch. After watching the movie, you’re left thinking and reflecting, not just on Jenny’s choices, but your own. I think it’s a very important movie for women especially to watch.

I would definitely recommend all of these movies, but they’re very different and each has its own merits. I can’t wait to pick up some more movies at the library this weekend.

Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think? Do you like this review format? Do you have any DVD recommendations?

~ Sarah

Girl Crush: Natalie Portman

Portman in the Jan. 2010 Issue of Marie Claire

I’m glad to announce the return of Girl Crush, a weekly feature in which I discuss a leading lady in show business: talented, admirable, and successful. And for the record this series isn’t meant to objectify women, but to empower them.

Natalie Portman at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival

When I was catching up on STAR WARS a couple weeks ago, it reminded me of just how awesome Miss Natalie Portman is. The first time I saw her on-screen in Episode I: The Phantom Menace as Queen Amidala, the ruler of Naboo. Even though that movie was cringe-worthy (JarJar Binks anyone?), Padmé Amidala quickly emerged as a capable leader and a take-charge heroine. In Episodes II and III, Padmé  further developed into a smart and strong woman.

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Portman as Queen Amidala

Padmé wasn’t Portman’s first role. The Israeli-American actress, born Natalie Hershlag in Jerusalem, made her film debut at the age of 13 in The Professional. Since then, she has appeared in over twenty films, and nearly always to much critical acclaim. For her 2004 film Closer- in which she co-starred alongside Clive Owen, Jude Law, and Julia Roberts- Portman was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.

Besides her role in the STAR WARS franchise, Portman is also known for portraying Evey Hammond in the dystopian thriller V for Vendetta. She famously shaved her head for the role, showing true commitment to her craft. Natalie also played Sam, Zach Braff’s love interest in Garden State. Sam’s quirkiness set her apart from most of Portman’s characters. She is usually portrays smart and mature women, which isn’t surprising when you consider Portman attended Harvard University, graduating with a degree in psychology.

Portman is more than brains and talent. She’s a vegan and is a supporter of animal rights. In the past, Portman has campaigned for Democratic politicians. She also works tirelessly for the Foundation for International Community Assistance, which provides microloans to women in the Third World so they can build small businesses to support themselves. This all shows that she does more than lend her celebrity status to a cause- she actually acts on it.

Right now, Natalie Portman is one of Hollywood’s elite young actresses, but she remains an enigma. She effortlessly radiates beauty and class.She’s managed to stay private and focus on her career, in an ambitious but unpretentious manner. It’s only a matter of time before she becomes one of film’s brightest stars.

What do you think? Do you love Natalie Portman? Do you have any suggestions for an upcoming Girl Crush?

~ Sarah