The Experience of ‘Gravity’: My Spoiler-Free Review


gravity movie reviewJust. Wow.

Add a huge exhale of bated breath, and that’s pretty much the feeling I walked out with after watching Alfonso Cuarón’s sci-fi and hugely action-packed ‘Gravity’ starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. If you’re looking for a movie to scare your pants off, leave you in dumbfounded awe and maybe even make you shed a tear, this one will do it. Reviews of of this blockbuster can be found abound, so I’ll spare you the intelligent breakdown of why and why not everyone succeeded to deliver a great movie and just tell you my thoughts walking in, watching and walking out. No spoilers, promise.

My Expectations of ‘Gravity’

When I first saw the trailer for ‘Gravity’ a couple of months ago, I was skeptical of how good the movie was going to be. The entire trailer was action-packed, and there didn’t seem to be any build-up to the plot. It was made pretty clear early on that the main characters suffer some catastrophic event in space that leaves their lives in peril — but that was pretty much it. No back story, no ambiguous reference to the outcome, just — boom — the thick of the plot. The grave state of things actually seemed a bit melodramatic and cheesy at first. But what did pique my interest were the names behind the movie. With only two main actors, and they being Sandra Bullock and George Clooney — two people who are synonymous with acclaimed performances in serious roles — I was definitely interested. They wouldn’t just sign on for any old cheesy sci-fi flick. And then another name grabbed my attention: Alfonso Cuarón.

Now, I’m not going to lie — the first thing I thought when I saw his name was ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’, but let’s not forget that this was a pretty big hit. My interest rose even more. This was indeed a really unexpected mix of people behind a movie that could totally be super sensational movie about getting lost in space. But you had me at wondering, ‘Gravity’, you had me wondering!

The Experience of Watching ‘Gravity’

After hearing pretty good reviews about the movie and reading the reports of its opening success at the box office, I thought I’d finally go see what the fuss was all about. And if I was going to see an sci-fi movie taking place in space, I was going to do it right and watch it in IMAX 3D.

Best. Decision. Ever.

It made all the difference to watch something so heavily packed with special effects, beautiful cinematography and action sequences on a huge screen and in 3D. Watching ‘Gravity’ like this was truly an experience right off the bat. Being in space with Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kalowsky (George Clooney) was more like actually being in space with them — or as close as you could be, anyway. For a space nerd like me, it was hauntingly beautiful and a little frightening at the same time. The action sequences are just so larger than life with the surround sound and floor-to-ceiling IMAX screen that I don’t think watching the movie any other way is even doing it justice.

What you should know is that if you’re faint of heart, this really might not be the movie for you (especially not in IMAX 3D). The reason the trailer jumps straight into the plot is that the movie does too. There’s not a lot of guesswork here as to what the movie is about — pretty much from the get-go you know that shit just hit the fan in space. I was on the edge of my seat for almost the entirety of the 90 minutes with bated breath just waiting for the next succession of catastrophic events — and they are all pretty intense.

Also, Cuarón seemed to have really wanted you to “experience” this movie whether you watched it in IMAX 3D or at home on DVD because when I say you’re in space, I mean you are in space. Don’t expect the camera angles to adjust for your viewing pleasure when the characters are spinning around in weightlessness and doing things upside down and all topsy-turvy due to the lack of gravity. Your tolerance for motion sickness might also be something you should definitely take into consideration before buying a ticket.

Walking Out of ‘Gravity’

When I left the movie, I honestly felt like I had spent 90 minutes in another world. The entire movie takes place in space, no flashbacks to their lives before the mission, nothing. It was honestly the most overwhelming and unexpected feeling to be a little disoriented standing up and walking out with — well — gravity. It sounds bizarre, but try being completely lost in space with no one else for hours (like Bullock and Clooney pretty much are), and having the lights turn on to a theater full of people will feel a little strange to you too.

If you’re hoping for a more well-developed story plot, you may be disappointed. This movie is what it looks like: an action-packed, sci-fi thriller. Not to say that there isn’t a secondary story, but it’s pretty much about surviving in weightless space. You will walk out with an immense appreciation for the special effects teams and Cuarón’s imaginative storytelling though, not to mention a mix of awe and deathly fear of space beyond Earth’s pretty blue skies. If there’s ever been a time when I felt completely at a loss for words for the mystery and magic that is the universe beyond our atmosphere, it was after watching ‘Gravity’. If you’ve ever even gandered a speculation as to what it would be like to really be “lost in space,” this movie will give you a pretty hair-raising scenario.

All in all, I really liked ‘Gravity’. I can’t say enough that it was definitely something you have to experience to really enjoy, and I highly recommend watching it in IMAX 3D if you have the option to really do the movie justice. Sandra Bullock’s performance is one for the books, and George Clooney does what he does the best — plays a good role and makes you fall in love with him. Definitely a movie worth spending a few extra bucks on to watch it right!

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‘N Sync at the 2013 MTV VMAs: My Life’s Full Circle Moment!


Photo Credit: Sevelina.org

Photo Credit: Sevelina.org

The Internet is abuzz with the news that the famous pop quintet of ‘N Sync will be reuniting on stage for a special performance at the 2013 MTV VMAs in Brooklyn. The New York Post’s Page Six broke the news on August 20 reporting that the delicious ’90s boy band are “set to reunite” according to information from sources. JT was already confirmed to be performing at the VMAs on August 25 after receiving this year’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award — but this is much bigger news! The last time the world ogled at the five ladykillers onstage was way back in 2003 during their last televised performance at the Grammy Awards. Oh, how our eyes and ears and have longed for them these last 10 years!

And in a bit of personal news, this announcement sent me reeling this morning because I actually have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be attending the VMAs because by some beautiful miracle I got my hands on a free ticket to be in The Pit! Considering I don’t even have a TV in my little hole of an apartment in Manhattan, I probably would have forgotten the awards were even on and missed them completely. And now?! I’ll be attending with possibly one of the best seats (or lack thereof since The Pit attendees get to stand the entire show) in the whole house! The drip-drops of sweat from Kanye West, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake — and now his four former playmates may very well be falling on my disbelieving face in just a few days!

The news of ‘N Sync’s possible reunion makes me feel, in some overly cheesy sense, that this is one of my life’s crazy full circle moments. It just so happens that with the exception of the absolutely amazing OneRepublic concert (check out the highlights video!) I just went to a couple of weeks ago, the last time I was at a big star-studded concert was none other than ‘N Sync’s…back in 2000. (My life isn’t all that worth bragging about.) And it would have been a memorable experience on its own — what with my being 10 years old going to a concert with my older sister to see the dreamiest guys of all time. But there was more to it! The night’s utter sense of perfection was brought to a sudden halt by a course of some unexpected, bizarre events that have always left me wondering, what if?

It went something like this…

It was the summer of 2000, and I woke up giddy with excitement; I was going to see ‘N Sync today! How I’d dreamed about Justin and and JC and Lance…Oh, especially Lance! That deep, sexy bass voice of his…! Why didn’t they ever let him sing alone? Justin and JC were so cute, but they got all the attention ALL the time. Even Joey and Chris sang alone a couple of times but never Lance. He was definitely my favorite, if not only just because he was so freakin’ good-looking but also because he was the underdog, and I always rooted for the underdog. Maybe at the concert he’ll finally sing solo and the world will finally know that the talent isn’t all just in Justin and JC. Ah the concert — can’t wait!

We lived in a small town in Texas, and my dad was driving us 3 hours to San Antonio so we could see the group. He said he’d stroll the town while we were there — always a good sport, my dad. But how I’d ever get through THREE hours of waiting in the car! Oh well, my sister and I had decided to bring along ‘N Sync’s latest “No Strings Attached” CD, so we could listen and know every single song before the show. Plus, what if by some God-given miracle we actually got to meet them or something crazy like that? We had the CD they could sign!

Yeah, right…that would never happen! But we could dream about it!

After standing in line for what seemed like EVER, we finally made it into the arena. Crap, our seats were this high up? Well, that’s okay…we were here! Omg, omg, omg, this was soo exciting!

The show started with some opening acts, and then they announced that Joey was “sick” and wasn’t at the show. What! That sucks! Oh well, I guess. The other 4 were still performing, and OMG here they were!! Wow, I couldn’t believe those little guys down there singing my favorite songs like “This I Promise You” and “Bye, Bye, Bye” were ACTUALLY ‘N Sync! I could just die.

A few hours later, my sister and I trudged out of the stadium in a state of bliss and depression. What an experience — to be that close and yet so far away; to have listened to their music in a way I’d never forget and yet it was already hard to remember every detail. I had never experienced something so exciting and COOL! But now it was over…sigh.

My dad came to pick us up, and we made the long 3-hour ride back home. It was dark, and I was half asleep in the back dreaming sweet dreams about the boys when my dad exited off to a gas station in the middle of nowhere to fill up and grab a cup o’ Jo. I made my routine exit to the bathroom and grabbed my usual Little Debbie snack completely unaware of what was going on around me.

My dad was waiting in line behind someone, I knew that, rummaging through his wallet for the right amount of change. I needed to hurry up and make my choice. Okay, Swiss Rolls it was.

“That was him, that was him!!!!” The female clerk was going bananas to one of her co-workers.

Wait, what, who??? My sister, dad and I were looking around frantically like we had just missed a ghost sighting.

“Lance from ‘N Sync was just in here! That was him who was just in line right now!”

What.

“Ooooh, you know I swear I thought he looked like someone famous, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it,” my dad piped in.

WHAT.

I learned in retrospect that my sister and my dad had known (or at least speculated) that ‘N Sync’s tour buses had been driving in front of us for a while and had also exited off to that Nowheresville pit stop at about 1:00 a.m. Yet no one thought to themselves — what if…? The one crazy person who would later grow up to get Jay Sean to dance with her, Oprah to pluck her out of her audience for a backstage chat and Anderson Cooper to call on her to talk in his audience was in a hazy sleep-induced stage to do NOTHING about this…

Why, God, why?!

And with that, we walked back to our car, ‘N Sync’s tour busses teasing us from less than a 100 yards away, and we drove away. The dream of a 10-year-old admirer sadly climaxing to a tragic stop. The group broke up shortly after, and the rest is history.

And here we are again, 10 years later, and my chance of meeting the boys ‘N Sync has landed in my lap again. It’s not great, I know — there will be more than a thousand people in The Pit with me — but I do have an uncanny record of being chosen from a crowd. Who knows? This could very well be one of my life’s full circle moments?

Love You Like a Love Song: 8 of the Most Romantic Ballads Ever


Cover of "Wicked Game"

If there was something I definitely could not live without, it would be music (also, lotion — really neurotic about this, but I’ll save it for another post…) — it keeps me going for almost every minute of everyday: getting ready in the mornings, on my way to work, at work, shopping, on the way home from work — and even as I write this post. Music is the spark that keeps my embers burning. For me, it’s more than a distraction from the incessant buzz of the outside world; its words, a hypnotic beat — a mantra, even, (if it’s that type of day) pulsating through my body, creating an unbroken connection between the music and me. The song doesn’t have to be deep for the connection to happen, but this is what music is for me.

Given that deep down I’m just a hopeless romantic like any starry-eyed girl out there, there are a handful of love songs that I’ve come to really love over the years. You know, the type of songs that when you hear, you can’t help but just melt a little because they make your heart flutter a bit?

I should warn you, they’re not all happy love songs — but no less, they’re pretty romantic — I promise! Here are my picks for the most heart-clenching, romantic love songs:

1. “Push” — Sarah McLachlan

Okay, I know Sarah McLachlan gets a lot of bad rep for being the woman who makes people think of homeless and sick animals, but forget (the also beautiful song) “Angel” if you can for a moment, and listen to this song. It’s probably my favorite on the list, and the lyrics paired with Sarah McLachlan’s soulful vocals makes for a simply beautiful ballad that couldn’t be more romantic — and happy, for that matter, aka completely opposite of “Angel.”

2. “Back at One” — Brian McKnight

Oh, whatever happened to men like Brian McKnight? This guy was a staple in the 90’s and early 2000’s, and his smooth voice and sweet lyrics make me melt every time. (I’m a sap — told you.) Plus, who can resist a man playing the piano? I’d have to argue that R&B music of this era was the best, and Brian McKnight was in the throne, leading the realm with this sweet melody…

3. “Wicked Game” — Chris Isaak

I’d probably seen the episode of Friends when Ross and Rachel have their first date and get frisky in the planetarium about a million time before I finally got hold of this song. (Yes, that’s where you’ve heard it.) More than this song is romantic, it’s incredibly sensual — can you honestly resist that voice?! But once you listen to the song, you’ll be hooked to the music, lyrics — everything! It’s a one for the books, I promise. This is a song that rarely, if ever, gets skipped on my iPod/iTunes when it’s on shuffle.

4.  “Forever and For Always” — Shania Twain

There’s got to be something said about a country gal singin’ a love song — there’s nothing like it (unless you’re a country fella). Shania Twain is not only beautiful, but her music is timeless country-pop music, and just like this song — it always makes you feel good — and that impresses me much!

5. “Broken” — Lifehouse

Ah, here is one of those sad love songs I was talking about, but I couldn’t resist because it’s a great song, and the lead singer’s voice is irresistible. The song is relatable to a lot of people in one way or another, and you don’t have to be in a million pieces to think it’s a great tune!

6. “Halo” — Beyonce´

You didn’t honestly expect a list of the most romantic love songs and this song not be on there, right? Beyonce´ singing OneRepublic front man Ryan Tedder’s lyrics would have made for one helluva amazing love song by itself, but the music production behind this composition was also ingenious. Who expected the piano, drums and synths combo? The song was a little over-played for a while, but you have to admit — it is one. great. love song.

7. “A Thousand Years” — Christina Perri

Yes, it was Edward and Bella’s wedding song, but I promise that had nothing to do with its place on the list. I don’t even remember the song in the movie (yes, I’ve read and watched all the books/movie — guilty, as charged!), and heard this beautiful ballad for the first time when Christina Perri performed it live on Ellen. Forget the Twilight mumbo-jumbo, and take a chance — her voice, the lyrics, the piano — it’s all very sweet!

8. “Ancient Love” — Anoushka Sharma

To round out the list, I picked a song most of you have probably have never heard of and by an artist that is a favorite of mine. This one also has no words — surprise! There is something very sensual and romantic about the snaky flutes, slow sitar picks and tabla beats that I absolutely love about this piece. If you’ve never heard of Anoushka Sharma’s music, today might be the day. Maybe you’ve heard of her famous family: dad and famous Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar, or her well-known half-sister and blues singer Norah Jones?

What did you think of my picks? Leave me a comment and let me know, and tell me what your favorite love songs are!

Those Dirty Brits


A recent study by The Wellcome Trust had me reeling the other day. We all know the countless germs we pass on from our hands to objects that we touch on a minutely basis (and vice versa): doorknobs, keyboards, remotes, and of course — our phones. But, can you think of something else very dirty you may be touching in between all the rest?

Ahh — yes, it is gasp-worthy dirty, but probably not THAT which you are thinking…

One in six cell phones in this study was found with something very dirty on it. Watch below to find out what it is. You’ll be saying, “Shame, shame!” to those jolly, ol’ chaps.

Will and Jada Divorce is ‘False information,’ Son Tweets


If the East coast felt the earth shudder with a 5.8 magnitude quake the morning of August 23, the West coast was dealing with the ‘world shattering news’ that Hollywood’s favorite couple, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, were separating.

HuffingtonPost.com, TMZ.com, and PerezHilton.com were buzzing with reports that the couple married 13 years and parents to three, were indeed divorcing. They all, however, pointed fingers at gossip mag In Touch Weekly, who ‘exclusively’ broke the news.

Perhaps more magnanimous than the news itself was the reaction of millions of fans hoping and pleading that the news didn’t hold true.

While the magazine may not be as notorious as other tabloids of blatantly lying about celebrity news, it does have a history of falsifying a number of stories in the past.

To name a few instances, In Touch Weekly reported that Kate and Jon Gosselin were getting re-engaged in 2009, which was refuted immediately by a ‘close source’. Reality goddess Kim Kardashian has also felt the wrath of the gossipy glossy and threatened to sue earlier this summer when they claimed she was ‘caught cheating’ on her now husband, Kris Humphries.

Unconvinced? The magazine also attacked Jay-Z in June 2011 with infidelity accusations, and claimed that “Octo-Mom” Nadya Suleman gave them an exclusive interview around the same time. All empty claims.

Will’s eldest son from his previous marriage, Trey Smith, turned to Twitter to defend his dad and stepmom’s marriage and their family. These reports, he says, are completely false and his stealthy efforts  to set records straight are most likely partially due to the near-panic that this magazine has caused across the world. A current worldwide trend on Twitter has his parents’ name in it, right above ‘D.C. Earthquake.’

“Did [Will and Jada] split? No they did NOT split ! False information ..its not true RETWEET!!!” Trey Smith announced through his official Twitter handle, TheRealTrey. “Everyone can think what they want ..even if its not true #Lame.”

Feel the Fusion


Those of us who have passionately followed Oscar-winning music composer A.R. Rahman since his early days of composing Bollywood film scores weren’t a bit surprised when he took the West by storm too. The score to 2008’s top winner, “Slumdog Millionaire” was a huge step for Indian-inspired beats to join the top dog music genres in the West. Perhaps even more so, though,  it was a (excuse the cliché) a giant leap for a new breed of fusion tunes to burgeon and bloom.

A conglomeration of earthy drums and Indian classical melodies mixed with electronic synths and hip-hop beats were laced through hard rhymes and throaty ragas. The result: a mind-blowing, gives-you-goosebumps soundtrack that had you tripping, moving, and meditating at once.

As much as Rahman’s God-given musical talents were behind the making of the edgy score, other artists have been in the field to mix the various genres for years and have received much less attention. It would be unfair to compare them to Rahman who has a track record of being the modern-day Indian Beethoven, but kudos is well in order for these brilliant musicians.

If you enjoyed tracks like “Liquid Dance” and “O…Saya” from the Slumdog album or have any passion for Indian folk-inspired music and/or electronica, check out some of my absolute favorite tracks by artists like Bombay Dub Orchestra, Midival Punditz, Anoushka Shankar, and Karsh Kale.

As always, let me know what you think!


(Couldn’t upload these to the player, but they are incredibly noteworthy. Listen to them through YouTube!)

“Slither” by Anoushka Shankar & Karsh Kale (Breathing Under Water)

“Abyss” by Anoushka Shankar & Karsh Kale (Breathing Under Water)

Anne Hathaway: Lil’ Wayne Style


The world fell in love with her as the awkward, girl-next-door/happens-to-be-princess Mia Thermompolis in “Princess Diaries.” Anne Hathaway has since delivered a few surprises to her performing talents – most recently by  her role as the new Catwoman in the latest installment of the Batman franchise, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Little did anyone know, though, that the actress was so multi-faceted. Did you know, for instance, that she was a bonafide lyricist, looking to the likes of rapper Lil’ Wayne for inspiration? Quirky and bubbly she’ll always be, but Anne proved that she’s not afraid to step into another realm of entertainment when she spit out some rhymes to Conan O’ Brien’s audience on August 16.

Watch below for her performance. The world may need to prepare itself for the next hip-hop queen. Move over Nicki Minaj, it’s Lil’ Annie…Hm, she’ll have to work on that name, but I have to say this was impressive!