Sunday, March 25, 2018

What's New on Netflix 2018

After watching the Golden Globes and Oscars you probably have a long list of movies you need to see. Here's a round up of 28 new films that you can find on netflix now. Did you know netflix is celebrating it's 20th anniversary this year?

I, Tonya
Here's the story of ice skater Tonya Harding and the most famous sports scandals in American history: the assault on rival Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 Winter Olympics. Allison Janney won an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. Margot Robbie had to use drugstore hair dye to get the right shade of blonde. There was a lot of controversy on Twitter for Margot taking Tonya Harding as her date to the Oscars. I mean would you invite OJ to an awards show for the TV show based on his life? lol 

Lady Bird
I loved this movie! It's a coming of age story set in 2002 of a lower middle-class, 17-year old girl in unglamorous Sacramento. She named herself Lady Bird, has a tumultuous relationship with her mother and wants to go to college in New York City against her mother's wishes. It's a slice of a suffocated teenage life. Directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. It was nominated for five Oscars. Won two Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy - Saoirse Ronan. 

The Post
I saw this in the movie theater and it was nominated for Best Picture at both the Oscars and Golden Globes. When the Washington Post agrees to publish the leaked Pentagon Papers, which point to a secret escalation of the Vietnam War, the Nixon administration tries to block publication, setting off an epic legal and political battle. Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep who plays Katharine Graham who was the first female publisher of a major American newspaper in 1963. She got the role after her husband's death and had to demand the respect of her male colleagues.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
I saw this in the movie theater and this dark, unique movie has a very captivating story line. When law enforcement fails to make headway on the months-long hunt for her daughter's killer, Mildred Hayes takes the drastic step of putting up three large signs questioning the motivation of the town's widely respected police chief. It won four Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Frances McDormand. It won two Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Frances McDormand  and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Sam Rockwell.

Roman Israel
You may have not heard of this movie as it only ran for a week in limited release and three weeks in wide release in November before disappearing from most theaters.  Denzel was nominated for both an Oscar and Golden Globe for Actor in a Leading Role. This is great movie because of its usual elements. It's about an adorable character (Roman played by Denzel) that does charity through his profession as a defense lawyer in Los Angeles while only being paid $500 a week. Roman seems to be on the autism spectrum although that is never mentioned in the movie.  He uses an old computer, his files are on index cards in lieu of law-office software, uses a flip phone and only eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Denzel had to gain 30 lbs for this role and his wardrobe consisted of looses fitting eighties vintage. When his firm closes he has to join a powerful law firm lead by Colin Farrell. The movie is about moral values in a world were profit is preventing us from making the right choices.

Wonder Woman
A female-led, big-budget superhero movie, when was the last time we had one of those? It was directed by a woman and gave middle-aged woman superhero roles in the movie. Including 50 year old Robin Wright who you see riding into battle and is a fierce fighter. The story line to the movie is that before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers and her true destiny. You don't have to be a fan of superhero action movies to like this movie.

The Shape of Water
It won four Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year and two Golden Globes. At a top secret U.S. government laboratory in the 1960s, a lonely cleaning lady forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity. Filmed in Baltimore and the color green played an important role in the movie as there were green walls, green lockers, green clothes, green cars, green jello pie, etc. I was expecting so much nudity in the film. Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, and Octavia Spencer. 

The Pirates of Somalia
This is the true story of aspiring journalist Jay Bahadur who travels to Somalia in 2008 to make contact with the pirates who are hijacking trade ships as they pass by the African coast. The closing credits identify the many Somali refugees in the cast and crew with the year they became a refugee. I really enjoyed this movie about Somalia as I learned a little bit about the culture and people. Other movies filmed in Somalia based on true stories that I've enjoyed are  Captain Phillips, Black Hawk Down, and Desert Flower.

A United Kingdom
Based on the true story of Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland who was studying law in Britain in the late 1940s in preparation for his eventual ascension to the throne. The prince falls in love with a white British woman named Ruth Williams. When they wed after a brief courtship, their interracial union sparks an international political crisis. His uncle disapproves of this union and Britain fears a backlash from neighboring country apartheid country South Africa. This ends up causing international opposition, a diplomatic firestorm and domestic political tumult. Against all odds, King Khama and Ruth struggle to maintain their love and help their people in a land that becomes the Republic of Botswana. It's a beautiful movie  starring David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike about a story I knew nothing about.

Pixar's magical animation lights up this colorful tale of adventure that follows Miguel Rivera, a 12-year-old Mexican boy who unlocks a long-hidden family mystery after he ends up in the Land of the Dead.

Justice League
We have Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg all in the same movie! The first hour was an introduction to each of them, which means the actual story was only an hour. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes, it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions. Starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jason Momoa and Connie Nielsen. I didn't find it as good as the movie Wonder Woman.

Feeling that their lives are out of control, a husband and wife decide to be reduced to tiny size to make life more affordable and leave a smaller carbon footprint. Unfortunately, after he undergoes the procedure, his spouse backs out. Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, and Christoph Waltz.

The Mountain Between Us

Kate Winslet and Idris Elba star in a drama based on Charles Martin's novel. When a plane they've chartered to beat a storm crashes in a remote mountain area, two strangers must trust each other in order to survive the extreme elements. With little hope of rescue, they begin a perilous journey that will shape the course of their lives. I wasn't sure I'd like a movie that was starring only 2 people in a remote location but it was a very poetic movie with stunning landscape.

Girls Trip
When four lifelong friends (Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Queen Latifah) travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there's enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make the Big Easy blush. I was surprised I actually liked this movie and Tiffany is hilarious!

Military related films:

Thank You for Your Service
This movie chronicles the experiences of three U.S. military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder following their service in Iraq focusing on their struggle to reintegrate with the civilian world. This is not a war movie but a film of what war does to you and how it affects you after you are no longer in physical war but your mind stays in mental war and no one understands. This is a film about those veterans who are not supported by the psychological services of the Veterans Administration due to lack of funding. Amy Schumer has a small role as a wife in this movie and donated all the money she earned from it to army war vet foundations. The movie was based on real people who you see at the end of the film. 

Megan Leavey
Based on the true life story of a young Marine corporal (played by Kate Mara) and her bomb-sniffing dog who sees them through more than 100 missions during the Iraq War until an improvised explosive device injures them both. 

Movies that were just meh

Get Out

I hated this movie, but it won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year. And at the Golden Globes it was nominated for Best Motion Picture. The story line is a young African-American (Daniel Kaluuya) visits his white girlfriend's (Allison Williams) parents for the weekend in a posh suburb where he learns that young African-American men like himself have been vanishing from. It's a cheesy, suspenseful horror movie with lots of eyes bugging out and hidden messages.

Home Again 
Set in Los Angeles, this romantic comedy follows a recently divorced single mother (Reese Witherspoon) as she defies common sense and takes in three young male boarders who become part of her unconventional family. The premise of the story was unbelievable.   

In this big-screen adaptation of the popular TV drama, the hard-bodied lifeguards who patrol a sun-soaked Florida beach uncover a criminal plot that could destroy the bay where they work. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron. Priyanka Chopra, and Charlotte McKinney. I was disappointed they changed the beat to the theme song.

Rough Night

Preparing for a seriously crazy bachelorette party, five friends rent a Miami beach house for the weekend and hire a male stripper to get things started. But what they didn't expect was that the stud would end up a stiff. Starring Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon with an Australian accent.

Atomic Blonde
When an MI6 agent is murdered in 1989 Berlin, fellow spy Lorraine Broughton is dispatched to investigate and retrieve the list of double agents he was carrying. But that means working with the Berlin station chief which could prove tricky. Starring Charlize Theron and John Goodman.


Worse movie ever, I fast forwarded through most of it. Cop Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) has been working both sides of the law for some time with a fair degree of success. But after he and his partner get caught stealing a drug kingpin's cocaine shipment, the life of Vincent's son is put in danger. 

Tulip Fever

As 17th-century Amsterdam is immersed in tulip mania, a struggling artist and a wealthy married woman fall in love when he's commissioned to paint her portrait. To pay for a new life together, they gamble on the tulip bulb market. Starring Alicia Vikander,  Judi Dench,  and Cara Delevingne.

Coming out in April in DVD

The Greatest Showman
Behind "The Greatest Show on Earth" was one of history's greatest showmen, P.T. Barnum. This musical biopic centers on Barnum's creation of the three-ring circus and his infatuation with Swedish songbird Jenny Lind. Starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, and Zendaya.

All the money in the world
In a crime that rivets the American public for months in 1973, members of an Italian paramilitary organization kidnap John Paul Getty III. When his oil-rich grandfather balks at paying the ransom, the bad guys up the stakes dramatically. Starring Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg.

The Commuter
Insurance salesman Michael Woolrich's (Liam Neeson) quiet train ride home turns into a terrifying situation when a mysterious woman forces him to find a specific passenger before the last stop, entangling Woolrich in a deadly conspiracy. 

Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
After her heroics in "The Force Awakens," space wanderer Rey carries on her quest to discover her origins. When she learns the possible location of the long-missing Luke Skywalker, Rey and her allies begin a journey rife with perils.

12 Strong
This tense military drama follows the first American forces to land in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks: a small band of elite soldiers who travel on horseback through deadly territory to help coordinate the efforts of anti-Taliban forces. Starring Chris Hemsworth, his wife Elsa Pataky, and Trevante Rhodes from Moonlight.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and the main research center for Congress. The U.S. Copyright Office is also located in the library.  Founded in 1800, the library has millions of books, maps, manuscripts, photographs, films, drawings and 800 miles of bookshelves. Half of the library’s book collections are in foreign languages. The books are shelved in three buildings. The manuscript division holds papers from 23 Presidents. They have the Gutenberg Bible, one of the rarest books in the world. The library also collects documentation on  American Indian music and spoken word. It’s free to visit and use and a great resource for scholars and researchers. Since it's a research library, the books are only allowed to be used on the premises. Anyone over the age of 16 may use the collections, you just have to get a free reader card with your photo on it. 

When I was a kid my mother used to always take me to the Library of Congress to study as we lived nearby and I haven't been back in many years. On my recent visit to the Thomas Jefferson Building, the highlight was the Great Hall which is 75 feet tall made of a marble floor and has a stained glass ceiling. It's a beautiful building with marble columns, staircases, mosaics and paintings. The building was full of tourists, many taking the free guided tours offered several times a day. 

Some of the most historic items in the Library's collection are on display in the halls of the Thomas Jefferson Building. You can see the "original rough draft" of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln's First Inaugural Address,  handwritten speeches from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, oral accounts from 9/11 First Responders and an Apostles Edition of The Saint John’s Bible which measures 2 x 3 feet when open with 160 illuminations. Alexander Hamilton's papers are available online. 

President Jefferson signed into law legislation to establish a permanent building for the Library of Congress and also a permanent Librarian of Congress was appointed to oversee the Library. Two years ago Carla Hayden, became both the first female and first black person to hold the position of Librarian of Congress.

The Jefferson Building has a coat check and lockers to keep your bags. They also have wifi. The Library buildings are fully accessible and wheelchairs are provided at the Jefferson Building ground floor information desk. 

Thomas Jefferson Building
10 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20540
Monday - Saturday 
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Spring Cleaning Your Closet

Even though the weather is still really cold, spring is on the way as evident by the blooming magnolia and cherry blossom trees. Spring is the perfect time to really clean out your closet. This has been something I've been wanting to do for a long time but absolutely dreading it. But I have so many clothes I need to toss that I don't wear anymore. One of my new years resolutions was to have a tranquil home. My goal for my home is to be light and airy and not overflowing. I want to be able to find what I'm looking for and have my home always be company ready. I think this will help me live a calmer life. I'm relying on the lessons I learned in Marie Kondo's books on decluttering.

Rule #1 for Kondo is to not waste money on organizational solutions. The most important principle of the book is that you must purge before your organize. She frowns on the idea of buying organizing bins because that only encourages you to store more unnecessary things. So I pulled out the storage bags I had under my bed and emptied out the clothes that I have been storing but haven't worn in years and have no plans to wear again!

Then I attacked my bathroom cabinet and dumped out the storage bins that have a tons of makeup samples and half used products that I will never use again. I filled a whole grocery bag with that stuff! Next up I emptied the junk drawer in my kitchen, that was such an easy, doable task. And then I tackled my entryway with my collection of free tote bags. You know they all seem so useful, but I don't need 50, right? Then I cleared off the kitchen counters of paper clutter. With the easy stuff out of the way, I felt a bit accomplished and ready to do the hard work in the closet.

Reduce the Amount of Clothes You Own
Kondo says to not  keep something just because it might become useful and to be confident in your decision to throw things out. Kondo recommends you do a "joy check" on your clothes, put them on and ask yourself will you really wear them again. If no, thank the clothes for the wonderful memories they gave you. My next steps was to discard old coats, my high school prom dress, and college sorority gowns.  I got rid of all of my birthday dresses because those were one time occasion dresses no matter how sentimental.  I got rid of  most of my cheap necklaces. Then I took every shirt out, tried it on, and decided what to toss.

I've had some luck selling clothes on Tradesy but decided it was just easier to bag everything to donate. I requested a donation bag from Thredup which is an online consignment store. They send you a huge plastic bag that you can fill with clothes. It has a pre-paid printed FedEx label on it.
They will either sell it on their site, taking the photos for you or donate it to the charity of your choice. It's super easy and simple!

My activewear collection has gotten a little out of control and spilling out of my drawer. I seem to tire of things quickly and always buying more yet never getting rid of anything. That's one of the most popular things ThredUp sells so I threw a bunch in my donation bag.

Previously I tossed all my old electronics. What I haven't tossed yet: old purses, books, cds, free t-shirts, "painting clothes", and old costumes. I'll save that for my next clean out session. I found how easy  it can be to tackle one small task in the name of a better home. As everything I accomplished here I did on a Sunday afternoon. I've set up a system to help me not end up with an overflowing closet again. I've cut back on my clothes spending and set a policy of tossing one article of clothing for every new one I buy. I still use the stylebook app religiously to see what is in my closet. It tracks what dates I've worn what clothing so I know what hasn't been worn in awhile.

At the end of the day you have to realize that you don’t need all of this stuff. It won’t make you happier. And your home should not make you feel overwhelmed or stressed.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Visit to the Portrait Gallery

With all the rainy weekends we had last month I found a lot of indoor activities to keep me busy. You might have seen on the news that the Obama's official portraits were unveiled and now on display at the Portrait Gallery.  On the second floor of the museum is the "America's Presidents" exhibition which just reopened last fall with portrait paintings of all the Presidents. The line was so long to see Obama's portrait they had to move his portrait to the third floor. The line is to have your picture taken with his portrait, but if you don't want that, you can do a quick walk by picture like I did. The guards don't allow you to stop! lol There's a separate line for Michelle's portrait on the first level.

The Obamas' selected two African-American artists to paint their portrait. Michelle's portrait was painted by Amy Sherald who is a portrait artist who only paints African-Americans in paintings that address social justice. President Obama's painting is by Kehinde Wiley who has a similar background to Obama. Wiley was born to an American mother and Nigerian father and he did meet his father until he was an adult. He is a portrait painter who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of African-Americans. The floral background is full of chrysanthe­mums the official flower of Chicago, jasmine from Hawaii, and the African blue lilies are for his late Kenyan father.

Also on exhibit through April 15, 2018, is the Marlene Dietrich: Dressed for the Image. It's a photography exhibition celebrating the life and unconventional fashion of the German film icon.

My favorite long time exhibit is the Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, by Nam June Paik. It consists of  300 TV screens outlined by neon lights where the TVs in each state show clips from that state such as the Wizard of Oz and Martin Luther King. The pic below is from last year.

The museum has lots of interesting events. Last fall they had a Day of the Dead celebration with traditional Mexican dance and food. Last month they had events for the Chinese New Year celebration. Admission to the museum is free as are their events.

National Portrait Gallery
8th and F Streets NW (G street entrance has a handicap ramp, the other side of the building has a lot of steps)
Washington, DC 20001
11:30 AM - 7:00 PM daily
Closed December 25
There are free lockers to keep your coat. Backpacks are not allowed to be worn.
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