Monday, June 24, 2013

Better Than Any Award


When I casually mentioned to Ian yesterday that I was nervous about the Los Angeles Press Club awards that were happening that night (L.A. Story was nominated but didn't end up winning in the blog category), CC overheard me and decided to draw me a picture.

I got so choked up when I saw it (above). I think I was overcome with just how mature the sentiment was. It was so beautiful ... and better than any award.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

'Ernest & Celestine' Review: LA Film Fest

"Ernest & Celestine" at the LA Film Fest
An unlikely friendship is at the heart of Ernest & Celestine, an animated film from France directed by St├ęphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner that's based on a Belgian children's book series. The story, about a down-on-his-luck bear named Ernest and an orphaned girl mouse named Celestine, is a kind of Romeo & Juliet story, with all of the prejudice and misunderstanding but without the romantic love and, well, death.

And while the story is kid-friendly (yet a bit morally ambiguous), parents of little kids should keep in mind that the film is in French with English subtitles, which could be frustrating for non- or early readers. (There's another screening today at 4:30 p.m. at LA Live.)

Celestine is a young girl mouse who lives in an orphanage run by an old rat who tells grisly (sorry) stories of menacing bears. They're clearly the enemy. Ernest, a bumbling, downtrodden bear, meanwhile, is always searching for his next bite to eat, hoping to get money as a street performer.

One night, while Celestine is working above ground searching for bears' teeth -- which perfectly match the incisors of the underground mice -- she is almost caught by a bear family (all of whom hate mice) and ends up trapped in a trash can. Along comes Ernest, who's searching trash cans for something to eat.

To avoid being eaten, the plucky Celestine shows Ernest where he can find a storage room full of goodies -- the basement of the bear family she narrowly escaped. The father bear happens to run a candy shop, and there's a ton of chocolates, lollipops and other sweets down below.

What's interesting, we find out, is that the mother bear owns a denture shop across the street for all the bears who've lost their teeth (presumably from eating too many of her husband's sweets.)

Well, with Ernest hungry and Celestine in need of teeth to bring back down to her mouse world, you can see how morality gets a little complicated for our heroes. Long story short, Ernest steals food and helps Celestine steal teeth, and the two go on the run to Ernest's house in the country, developing a stronger friendship along the way.

The movie is beautifully drawn, in what looks like pencils and watercolors, mimicking a storybook feel. There are clever touches, such as the mice down below doing exercises using a modified mouse trap as a workout machine. It's a story about overcoming differences and not necessarily listening to the people around you, who try to scare you away from things that are sometimes worth exploring.

My concern as a parent is the sense that despite doing something clearly wrong, our two heroes tried to justify it and the consequences are, well, you'll have to see for yourself. For CC, she wasn't crazy about the part where they are being held by the bear and mouse police.

For parents who want to skip the subtitles, director Benjamin Renner said the film will be coming to the US in October -- I'm only assuming that it will be dubbed.

Friday, June 21, 2013

'Levitated Mass' Review: LA Film Fest

"Levitated Mass" by doc director Doug Pray
It was a bold move for LACMA -- bold to the tune of $10 million -- to create an art exhibit designed by artist Michael Heizer that involved moving a 340-ton rock from a Riverside quarry to L.A.'s Miracle Mile.

But Levitated Mass succeeded (crazy succeeded!), and this huge chunk of solid earth made a lot of fans along its 100+ mile journey to L.A. County's art museum.

If you remember the serious hoopla that surrounded the rock's transport (pictured above), you might remember that exactly this time last year people in towns like Bixby Knolls and Chino were standing on sidewalks, on grassy patches of off ramps and in the street to watch this huge art project wind its way to L.A.

That's exactly what director Doug Pray captures in his new documentary, Levitated Mass: The Story of Michael Heizer's Monolithic Sculpture, which world premiered last night at the LA Film Fest (and at LACMA's Bing Theater, to boot!).

The film explores the mountains of red tape it took to actually get this boulder out of the quarry and transported to the museum -- as well as the reactions of people who watch it roll by, carefully wrapped and protected by thousands upon thousands of dollars of equipment and man power. And while the reactions of some people are often curious, there are some who are a little peeved that so much (private) money is going to something so seemingly frivolous as good jobs are escaping their grasp.

Then there's Heizer himself. Seen only in filmed interviews from the '60s and '80s for most of the film, he at first seems to be a mysterious and elusive figure, which is fitting considering his focus in art is negative space (hence the deep trench that lies beneath the rock at LACMA).

Pray covers a lot of bases in this film -- Heizer's art philosophy, the history of his works, the rock and its transport, and LACMA's process of just getting this off the ground (so to speak). There's a lot at stake, and Pray handles all of these story lines with ease.

While I would have loved to know a bit more of the art history and inspiration behind Levitated Mass as a piece of art, I did enjoy hearing all of the points of view -- and somehow that became part of the artwork itself.

CC at "Levitated Mass" at LACMA

Thursday, June 20, 2013

'Monsters University' Review

Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal) in "Monsters University" (Photo credit: Disney*Pixar)
Those precocious Pixar monsters are back -- this time in college. The adorable (yet not-so-ferocious) Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) takes center stage in Monsters University as a determined little monster (we see him as an eager but left-out grade schooler) who goes off to MU to major in scaring.

But instead of being BFF with James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman), as he was in 2001's Monsters, Inc., this time the guys are monstrous rivals who try to one-up each other in the scaring department.

Check out my review of the Disney*Pixar film on mom.me. While the movie itself is gorgeously animated, I thought some of the themes were a little over the heads of the typical younger audience. Also, CC got scared at a particular sequence toward the end. That surprised me, too.

Take a look! The film also screened this week at the LA Film Fest, which is running through June 23.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day, a Baptism and the Culver Hotel (in that order)

Baby Will gets baptized!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Father's Day weekend! Although we celebrated Ian and how great he is as a dad, it was Baby Will who nabbed most of the spotlight on Sunday. Our little guy was baptized, and man, was he a trooper.

He was quiet and curious throughout the mass (cooing sometimes through his paci), and he didn't even cry when the priest poured water over his head. Yay Will!

Our friends came down from Seattle to be his godparents, and it was such a special weekend. Ian even took us over to the Culver Hotel, where they had a Father's Day brunch. (Double yay!) If you haven't been, it's a great place for drinks or brunch. It's small (in a good way) and reminds me a bit of the Algonquin Hotel in New York.

Bonus: Did you know that's also where the Munchkin actors stayed when they were filming The Wizard of Oz at what is now the nearby Sony lot? Wonder if they were "a little" rowdy. :) Couldn't resist.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Los Angeles Film Festival Shows Off Its Family-Friendly Side



The Los Angeles Film Festival, the city's biggest movie fest, opens today at L.A. Live, and there's a fun selection of family-friendly movies this year, toplined by CC's must-see My Little Pony Equestria Girls.

The festival, which runs through June 23, will host its free Family Day (courtesy of Hasbro Studios) on Saturday, June 15 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. This year, the spotlight's on My Little Pony, and kids are invited to check out such family-friendly activities as balloon animals, face painting, along with MLP character appearances (CC will go nuts!).

Family Day will be capped off by the world premiere of My Little Pony Equestria Girls at 4 p.m. (Keep in mind that only Rush Line tickets ($13) are available.)  If you haven't seen the trailer for this movie, be prepared for a gasp from your littlest pony fan. In the movie, when a crown is stolen from the Crystal Empire, Twilight Sparkle must venture into an alternate universe to nab the culprit. That alternate universe? High school—and the ponies turn into teen girls. Yikes! Wonder what CC will think of that!



Other family-friendly films on the LAFF lineup are:


Monsters University (June 18; 7:30 p.m.; $13) -- This Monsters, Inc prequel pits future friends Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal) and James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) against each other, as they compete in the Scare program at Monsters University.


The Moo Man (June 14; 7:10 p.m. & June 16; 9:10 p.m.; $13) -- For kids who love animals, and cows especially, they'll love checking out this doc about an English dairy farmer and his beloved "girls."


Ernest & Celestine (June 21; 7:10 p.m. & June 22; 4:30 p.m.; $13) -- Based on the book series by Belgian author/illustrator Gabrielle Vincent, Ernest & Celestine follows two unlikely friends -- a mouse named Celestine and a bear named Ernest. (French with English subtitles)


Levitated Mass (June 20; 7:30 p.m.; LACMA; $20) -- This doc is perfect for LA kids, who might have seen the Levitated Mass exhibit (by artist Michael Heizer) at LACMA. (Stay tuned for pics of CC under the big rock!) Director Doug Pray follows the process of moving a 340-ton boulder from Riverside to the Wilshire Boulevard museum and the reaction that follows. (You might remember this from last year!)

There are also tons of movies that would be great for parents' night out! Check here for listings.

Los Angeles Film Festival
June 13-23
L.A. Live (downtown)
Ticket and Pass Info

Chris O'Donnell Talks Father's Day

Chris O'Donnell (image courtesy of mom.me)
Yes, I'll admit it. When I was in high school, I had a mad crush on actor Chris O'Donnell. I think it was because of the movie Scent of a Woman. (And he looks kind of like Ian, right? :)

Well, I had the chance to interview the father of five for mom.me. And, in honor of Father's Day, I wanted to share what he had to say about the holiday ... and how he squeezes in a little "us" time with his wife, Caroline.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Coming Attraction: Hong Kong Live at The Grove


Indulge your wanderlust without having to go very far, as Hong Kong takes over The Grove this weekend, June 14-16, showing Angelenos just how fun a visit to the Asian city can be.

The lineup for "Hong Kong Live at The Grove" includes cooking demonstrations from a trio of Michelin-starred chefs, who will be flown out from the city to show L.A. dwellers the perfect way to make dim sum. Yum!

Also on the menu will be a lion dance, complete with drums, gongs and symbols; dragon dancers; face changers, who don masks that mysteriously change with a flick of the fan; Tai Chi instruction and an Asian fusion band.

Kids can definitely get in on the action, as the Grove's Kids' Club will give little ones the opportunity to learn the lion dance, Tai Chi and watch a face changer work his magic.

Summer vacation is about to kick off (CC's last day of kindergarten is on Friday), so what better way to escape L.A. without having to pack a single change of clothes? A cool Asian city is actually coming to you!

Click here for the complete schedule.

Hong Kong Live at The Grove
June 14-16
The Grove
189 The Grove Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Monday, June 10, 2013

Birthday Parties in L.A.: Pony Rides and Yoga

A pony ride in Agoura Hills
Birthday parties seem to come in waves, and this weekend was jam-packed with fun festivities for kids. Saturday morning, we headed out first to Agoura Hills for CC's friend's pony party.

Instead of the usual 405-to-the-101 route, I opted instead for Malibu Canyon Road, which winds its way around gorgeous mountains starting from Pepperdine through the canyon to Calabasas. It's a beautiful drive, and I'd recommend it for a lazy weekend jaunt.

At the Shad Ranch in Agoura Hills, CC got up close and personal with a few horses, even snagging a pony ride -- which she loved.

For some reason, as we were driving up to the ranch, she convinced herself that she wouldn't be able to ride a horse. (No idea why.) All of a sudden, I heard a disappointed voice from the back seat say, "Am I going to have to ride a goat?"

I can't explain that one, but I laughed so hard.

Zooga Yoga
After the pony ride, we headed down to Culver City for a yoga birthday party for one of CC's school friends. I literally drive by Zooga Yoga all the time, and I was looking forward to a peek inside.

The party was adorable. The first hour was a class, complete with yoga mats for each of the girls. They moved seemlessly into different animal poses, as an instructor took them on an imaginative and musical journey through jungles and pirate territory. The kids were really into it.

We might have to check out a class or two again. They even have Mommy and Me yoga. Bet Baby Will would love that.

At the end of the day, I was completely exhausted. (Yes, I took a nap. Don't judge. :) But I think I'm going to have to get my little girl on another pony sometime soon.

She just looked so happy.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Coming Attraction: Street Food Cinema Family Night


How fun does this sound? Street Food Cinema, L.A.'s summer outdoor movie-food truck-music extravaganza, is featuring family night under the stars this weekend. Grab the kiddos, blankets and pillows, and watch animated pic Escape From Planet Earth on an outdoor big screen!

Enjoy eats from food trucks including Downtown Dog, Reuben Truck, The Melt Bus and more. And don't forget about the free Slurpees!

Here's more info from the press release:

Watch great movies under the stars at the Street Food Cinema, every Saturday night from May 25-Aug. 17. Bring your friends, family, and even fido (they’re dog friendly) to enjoy great movie classics with cinema quality sound on a large outdoor screen. Street Food Cinema brings together the best food trucks, bands, comedians, and more to keep you full, happy and entertained the entire summer. All screenings are “always on the grass” helping you transition from a cool picnic and concert in the park into a comfortable movie going experience.

FAMILY NIGHT: ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH

STREET FOOD CINEMA is Los Angeles' ULTIMATE summer event series with cool outdoor movies, tasty food trucks and live music set.
Join us – June 8th (Grand Hope Park) or June 9th (Exposition Park) for an outdoor screening of Escape from Planet Earth. Enjoy watching Astronaut Scorch Supernova become the national hero to the blue alien population in this family film. 
There will be kid friendly food trucks, family friendly audience games & band as well as movie themed giveaways… while supplies last (which is code for get there early!).
Grab your family, friends and the dog, pack your picnic blankets, snacks and games and join us for a movie under the stars in the park!
Share the Best Outdoor Movie-Going Experience with STREET FOOD CINEMA!
Opens: 5:30 PM
Band: 6:30 PM
Movie: Sundown

Tickets:
General Admission $10
Reserved Seating $15
Ages 6-12 $5
Ages 5 and under FREE
Season Pass $99

Happy National Doughnut Day!

Image via mom.me

Yes, it's that amazing time of year again, when donuts (however you spell it) take center stage. So, as you grab your free Krispy Kreme donut today, why not check out these fun facts I pulled together for mom.me!

Did you know funny lady and mom Tina Fey loves donuts from a certain Brooklyn bakery?

Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

CC Checks in on 'Barbie Is Moving' Tour


You might have heard that Barbie's gotten a little bored of Malibu (how is that possible?!), and she's looking across the country (and Canada) for new digs. She kicked off her "Barbie Is Moving" tour at the Grove last weekend, and the popular event gave CC the chance to get all "dolled" up. (OK, couldn't resist.)

Mattel announced in February that Barbie would be hitting the road to cities including Boston, Philly, Dallas and New York to get a view from outside the 'bu.

On her tour, the Barbie bonanza will offer a fun runway, complete with feather boas and shades (as you can see above), Mega Bloks activities, fashion designing and gifts galore.

CC and I had a lot of fun at the packed Grove event -- we even ran into a few friends. It was also cute watching her sashay down the mini runway.

And as far as where Barbie will be calling home, we'll have to wait until the end of July to find out!

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