Genre Grandeur – Freedom Writers (2007)

Kim @ Tranquil Dreams:

This month’s Genre Grandeur theme is war movies over at MovieRob. I’m not much of war movie person so I sat around thinking about what to write. After switching around in the last minute, I thought about Freedom Writers. I know that I had another review about it before but it is one of my favorite movies and one I find is underrated so I never give up on a chance to lets others hear about it. Its not a conventional war movie for sure but I promise I do give it a far reasoning as to why it is one.

If you would like to join in on MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur for this month, he is still accepting reviews till August 27th. And give him a follow if you haven’t already, Rob writes awesome reviews. Plus, you should check out the Hitchcock blogathon that he and another blogger, Zoe at The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger has going on right now.

As always, a huge thanks to Rob for putting this together :)

Originally posted on :

For our next entry for this month’s Genre Grandeur – War, here’s a review of Freedom Writers (2007) by Kim of Tranquil Dreams.  Her site is filled with movie reviews, travel pics and great recipes.  If don’t already follow her, I suggest you do so now!

If you’re still interested in joining in this month’s Genre Grandeur, send me an email to war@movierob.net by next Wednesday, 27th Aug.

On Sunday, I will send out an update of this month’s reviews (so far), plus reveal the new genre for September and the Blogger chosen to decide what genre will be featured!

Let’s see what Kim thought of Freedom Writers (2007)

freedom writers posterWar movies are not really my genre. I’m really not much of a person who likes to watch movies based on historical events, especially that of war between countries or cities. Usually its depressing and just sad. Maybe you can…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

This week, experiment with light and capture a silhouette.- The Daily Post

I believe there’s already been two other silhouette photo challenges I’ve done before so I’m not going to dive very far into my pictures.

Silhouettes are lovely things to capture.  It could be the reflection on the road.  I love taking the elongated version of myself with the sun shining behind me.  It could be the evening sun given a mysterious dark figure doing whatever they are doing.  I’d really like to catch a shot where its like a romantic moment silhouette in the sunset.  Now that might be the shot of my dreams.  Except I don’t like taking pictures of strangers.

Either way, my photos are nothing like that.

From some of this past year’s adventures :)

The most recent being the weekend getaway two weekends ago to Saguenay and my visit to an observation center at Saint David de Falardeau.  I’ll be posting up pictures of the trip once I find time to sit down and sort through everything :)

Centre d'observation Saint-David-de-Falardeau

Silhouettes of Emu at Centre d’observation Saint-David-de Falardeau

Not yet Halloween, but stores are starting to sell costumes.  It reminds me of the very dark event lit up with only Jack O’Lanterns of different sorts. You can see the silhouettes of the contours of the pumpkin with the dim light :)

pumpkin fest 13

Silhouettes of Lightly lit Jack O Lantern show at Pumpkin Fest ’13

Last I take you back to the Festival of Lights in Montreal in the Biodome at Nighttime.

The spotlight shining through the leaves brought not only a nice eerie atmosphere to the picture but also silhouettes for some leaves :)

Biodome at night for Lights Festival in Montreal

Silhouettes of leaves at Biodome at night for Lights Festival in Montreal

Here’s the silhouettes I thought of sharing. What do you think?

The Imp/A Long Journey Off A Short Pier/A Vampire at Christmas by Anthony Renfro

Welcome to the first BOOK month. If anything, its an EBOOK month because all of these books are distributed on ebooks and have been stowed away in my tablet for a various length of time.  I haven’t quite figured out if this is a one time deal or I’ll jump back in to do it.  It depends on so many things and we’ve just starts.  If you are joining us on this journey, I’m in a month(ish) long mission to read the ebooks in my tablet written by independent writers.  Maybe you are one, and you’d like to me check it out; maybe you have friends that have an amazing book you’d like me to check out, or maybe you just read one through word of mouth or even am just curious about some other ones, regardless, feel free to drop me a comment, email or even a tweet.  Whatever floats your boat :) I’m sure I’ll be hunting down some new material if not, I’ll just end this earlier than anticipated.  Still, the goal here is exactly like my recommendations page. Its for YOU.  Its to highlight the talented crowd in the blogosphere and I hope you enjoy it! 

Enough of my rambling, lets start this!

First up, I’d like to introduce to you Anthony Renfro, a fellow blogger of ours.  You can find him and his fantastic blogs: Books, Movies, Poetry & his rather new one, A Zombie For The Holidays.

I’ve been following Anthony for a while now and I love reading his haikus for everything: movies, books, life, running, etc.  Its really fun to check it all out. I feel like its perfect timing because he just had a short story available for pre-order on Amazon called A Zombie Thanksgiving.  You can check it out right HERE on his site (give him a follow if you’d like) and follow the link to the Amazon page.

Anthony writes short stories and he did launch a novel recently which I have in my tablet and will read it before the end of next month.  However, I wanted to get this bundle of short stories taken care of first.  The Imp and A Vampire at Christmas are individual short stories whereas, Long Journey Off A Short Pier is a collection of 6 short stories including: A Zombie Christmas, Twenty Dollars, The Blade of Darkness, The Living Sand, Need to Feed, Joyride.

 

I really don’t know how to write anything about short stories.  I feel that to pack in a good story in a short time is hard.  What I loved about Anthony’s stories was that, although most of them touch the paranormal world ranging from spirits, zombies, vampires, possessed objects, they all give (for the most part) a positive twist of events.  There’s something to take from what he wants to say and there’s always a ray of hope somewhere.  I’m not going to say if it always ends with that ray of hope because then I’d be ruining it for you.  However, its all a very worthy read.  Short stories have that: its easy, its simple and straight forward and yet, it can still make you connect with it.

My favorites have to be A Zombie Christmas, The Imp, Need to Feed and The Living Sand are my personal favorites. :)

Now, please head on over to check out his sites (links above) and give him a follow!  Maybe even give his short stories a read as well! I enjoyed them a lot and I think you will also!

Is Summer Already Ending?

How’s weather for you lovely bloggers? This weekend has been ridiculously chilly in Montreal.  Its dropped to about 10-15C during the day.  Thats a huge difference to the beautiful weekend we had last week.  The sun is gone, the rain is falling hard and the wind is coming in a little also. At least Sunday afternoon warmed up a little more and I managed to do help with some painting and then went outside to scrap up the leaves from our trees that already started shedding in the front yard.

I’m struggling to find things that happened this past week that happened so I’m going to see what little bits I can come up with.

1) Guardians of the Galaxy and A Month Full of Anticipated Movies!

I’m definitely behind with all these movie reviews but truth is, I max out a little with writing these reviews so my brain is demanding a break.  Its the reason why I took so long to have the last review to wrap up Fantasia Festival (which I completed yesterday) and I saw Guardians of the Galaxy last week and totally forgot to mention it, even if the stranger next to me was super abnormal.  Thank you Cineplex for armrests that go up so that I could scoot closer to my boyfriend and enjoy the movie ;) Review for that coming up!

August is a beautiful month FULL of movies that I want to see: Expendables 3, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, If I Stay, The Giver.  I’ll have to make choices.  It looks like I’ll be giving up The Giver for now and I’m still on the fence for If I Stay.  It all depends on how much time life is going to give me ;)

mental fitness2) Week 1: Nike Training Club- Getting Lean Program

Last week, I started getting back into yoga.  On Monday, I seriously didn’t want to even think about starting the program again.  However, I thought about it and you know, its all in my head: If I believe I can do it, I know I can push through. 100% mental so its time to push.  I slacked off for 4 months, its time to pick up the pace and get back into the beat of things. Tuesday, I pushed myself to start  the program.

I’ve done the Getting Toned program before and that was pretty intense.  Somehow, I don’t know if its just that I haven’t done intense workouts in a long time but every single one in this Getting Lean (even the Dynamic Yoga) made me sweat buckets.  Its disgusting but at least I know my body is working hard and I’m being super nice and trying to rehydrate myself a lot.

Plus, did I tell you that I’ve been doing a 30 day detox from alcohol? I’m at my 3rd week and its been pretty awesome :) Its really just a personal thing since I had a bunch of parties and wedding and whatnot in July and I drank a lot more than usual.  I felt that my body needed a little break from it all.

3) Garden harvest

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As the weather is slowly getting chilly and reminding us that fall is getting closer, the upside is that we now have constant harvest.  Sure, I was really  just testing the waters this year so nothing seemed to be in abundance but although not shown here, my raspberries are getting ripe every few days and we always have 4 or 5 to try whenever we go harvest.  Then, I finally got fed up of my boyfriend not harvesting the lettuce so I went ahead and did it. Maybe we will have one more batch before it gets cold? Who knows.  A leaf stunted the growth of my Zucchini so I had to harvest it.  I did so some pruning of the leaves to give room to the four that seem to be growing :)

Gardeners, what are you harvests?

4) More TV!

On Friday night, I realized that Netflix is going to expire Pan Am in September so since it only had one season, I gave it a watch.

Pan Am

Pan Am gave me a few little surprises. One was that I was hooked and ended up watching it till 3am and then woke up and continued watching for another few hours.  After going out to take care of stuff for the house, I came home that night and finished it up. Second was that it has my absolute favorite French-Canadian star Karine Vanasse and she is absolutely lovely.  I adore her character. Third is the very handsome Mike Vogel, who reminds me that I need to catch up with the current season of Under the Dome :)

Then, I ask why did they cancel this series? It was so awesome! Classy and so much fun.  All the characters were great and the story was fantastic.

Of course that doesn’t end there.  On Friday night, I hung out with two friends watching TV and chatting.  We ended up watching reruns of Shark Tank and it reminded me that I hadn’t seen Dragon’s Den in ages and Netflix has it.

Dragon's Den

So there I was on Sunday starting to devour the 3 seasons available to me :) Still watching Season 6 right now but its pretty awesome!

Aside from that, the other series to expire is two seasons of Justified and a movie called Like Crazy.

Any series you’re catching up with now?

5) Ready to start the eventful months + Planning!

I always try to keep my blog busy and I’ve slowed down a little in the last 2 months just in general to not burnout from everything.  With life in full blaze and picking up the pace with my new house (painting, furniture, arranging and the garden) and work, its really hard to balance. These few months have given me time to think up a few little things and refocus.  I have a few projects I want to start by 2015 but whether you are new or not, I’m personally very proud of my little recommendations month and I’m happy that I’m extending that FINALLY to books.  I already made the official announcement on Friday but just in case, till the end of August, the primary focus will turn to books on my ebook reader from independent writers.  I actually have a perfect timing for the first author I’m about to talk about ;)

Moving on, I hope to continue into September with this and add on movies but seeing as I already did a Recommendations month earlier this year, I’m still deciding on that.

A little glimpse at whats coming up also is possibly the most popular month:

- October and Halloween month ;) I have an event ready and I’m deciding on what marathon to do.  I think I might have promised Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th BUT, that comes with the condition that I have to have finished moving and ALL my and my boyfriend’s DVDs have been organized.

- December and Christmas month..also wondering how to approach that this year since I’ve burnt through A LOT of Chrismas movies already.

Still, it’ll be busy and there will be lots of planning :)

6) ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

By now, a lot of you would have heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  My friend nominated me on Sunday evening for it so I asked my boyfriend to freeze up some ice and came over to help me film this last night.  I nominated three of my girl friends and hopefully they’ll carry forward with it ;)

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10154501204580504

I’m not very saavy with this so I’m hoping the link will work for you as well.  If not, I’ll figure out how to embed the video right after my boyfriend sends it to me.

Have you been called out to this challenge yet?

7) The Power of Music

1 song

I’ve always connected to music strongly so when I saw this quote, it has stuck to me.  Sometimes, I go back and look for music to commemorate a certain time in my life.  At times, I even subconsciously would do it for a renowned singer or just go back to music my dad and I would listen to when I was young.  Sometimes, it just the meaning of what the music meant to me back then.  Every relationship (not limited to love) can be related to at least one theme song and thats what makes life so awesome :)

 8) Epic Patty Cake Song

Looks so fun! :)

Thats all for me today! Its already taken me a few days to put this together!

HAPPY TUESDAY, MY LOVELIES!

Fantasia Film Festival 2014: That Demon Within (2014)

Finally at the LAST post for the Fantasia Film Festival 2014.  Fantasia has been over for more than a week and due to my own personal scheduling (and life in general), I haven’t gotten around to writing as quick as I’d like to.  The last movie I saw was last Tuesday with Hong Kong action psychological thriller, That Demon Within. It stars two of my favorite actors in the industry, one of them have really been picking up some amazing projects and I’m still trying to catch up with all of his recent works. Hong Kong flicks were scarce in this year’s festival and I stop to wonder if its appeal is really not there anymore. Either way, I hold a special love for the Hong Kong movie industry and I’ll talk a bit more about it when I dive into the review.

Lets start with a little synopsis first!

That Demon WithinDirector: Dante Lam

Cast: Nick Cheung, Daniel Wu, Ka Wah Lam, Kai Chi Liu, Andy On, Stephen Au

Dave Wong (Daniel Wu) is a generous and dutiful cop and despite all that, he has been transferred to many departments due to his unstable personality to bond.  His desire to follow the rules makes him into someone that others have a hard time working with, however, unknowingly, he ends up donating blood to the leader of the robbery gang leader, Hon Kong (Nick Cheung) and saving his life while the police, specifically Inspector Mok’s (Ka Wah Lam) team having been trying to track him down.  This causes Dave to become obsessed with trying to investigate the whereabouts of  Hon Kong and his crew called Demon King Gang, and in the process stirs up a few demons hidden within of his own from the past.

 

First of all, I’d like to say that I’m extremely happy that Hong Kong entertainment has started branching into this.  There is no doubt that Hong Kong action has had a lot of praise.  After all, we can the success just by the appeal that Jet Li and Jackie Chan has.  Both very different but nonetheless, very good at what they do, action and martial arts.  However, Jet Li and Jackie Chan may be great stunt and action stars but they are not very great actors however the industry has built on some very good actors and expanded the world of action and thrillers into the psychological area.  That is my favorite type and thats what makes me even more excited and its for exactly that reason that I chose to see this one.

That Demon Within

 

If you think I’m bad at directors in Hollywood, which I am, I’m even worse with the new ones thats surfaced in the last 10 years or so.  After doing some research on Dante Lam, I happen to own a few of his directing efforts.  On top of that, his last hit Unbeatable (which is sitting on my shelf waiting to be watched) hit the festival circuit and did very well from what I’ve heard.  He’s worked with a lot of Hong Kong stars that I love and honestly, I’m growing to like his style: the dark atmosphere he gives and the action is set up pretty good as well.  The whole world of stirring up demons, psychological issues, struggling with the inner demons is done very well here so I give him applause.

That Demon Within

 

 

Although Dante Lam has brought on Nick Cheung, the villain in this movie, for many of his projects before as his lead, in That Demon Within he is given a lesser role with less screen time but there is no doubt that his character is extremely important to play opposite that of Daniel Wu who plays the main lead.  Nick Cheung’s role as Hon Kong is chilling and crazy.  It impacts the audience maybe at times even more than the character development that Daniel Wu’s role Dave has to go through as he literally melts down from struggling to embrace his past and deal with his present.

That Demon Within

With that said, this is an ambitious concept and one that I truly love.  This is supposedly  inspired by a real case that occurred, however Dante Lam’s decision to add in the Demon King and the elements of fire make this movie intriguing to see.  There are certain meanings behind fire and Hell and it proves even deeper in the world of Buddhism and the many levels of Hell.  Even more than that, if you’ve dabbled in the Hong Kong movie world, you will know that this movie has a few veterans playing the Demon King gang and Inspector Mok and even a previous Shaw Brother actor in a small role as the father of Dave. There are some notable names in here.

That Demon Within

The Demon Within is a lot of things: a psychological character analysis, action thriller and some even would say its in the film noir/horror area as well.  Thats a lot of places to hit and it may be this reason that it hinders how I could possibly judge this movie. Mostly because when I step into a movie with each of these specific genre, my expectations prove to be different.  This one took me a little by surprise.  Plus, there are parts which stretches out a little too much, some useless and rather confusing parts were added. Although some people were laughing at the ending as they exited the theatre, for once, I actually believe it was the best way to do it.

that demon within

Overall, I appreciated The Demon Within.  I enjoyed what I saw and I liked what it was trying to do.  The setting, the atmosphere, the background music and even the casting of the main guys, Nick Cheung and Daniel Wu and even a few of the other roles was spot on.  My main issue was the length.  At about halfway, I started wondering if the story was going to ever start. Maybe the building up of the character development took longer than expected or maybe it felt like for a little bit there was a lot more details than I needed, but Dante Lam does take the time to wrap it up nicely and he does some very adrenaline pulsing and fantastic action scenes.  This is no doubt a dark movie and it will have you thinking of what direction its heading into.  I felt like it took a little while to find its footing but once it did, it picks up the movie and turns it into a whole lot more than you’d normally expect.

If you do like Dante Lam or Hong Kong action thrillers, I’d definitely recommend this one to you. Its really a refreshing take on adding more elements to the traditional action thriller making it more dark and deep in what its trying to say.  Sure, its by no means the best action thriller I’ve seen but its heart is in the right place and for that, I believe its worth a chance.

What do you look for in action thrillers? Do you like Hong Kong action movies and if so, have you seen a lot of them? Can a film be multiple genres and succeed or is that trying to be too much?

 

August Reading + Official Announcement!

August is already halfway done! So many things happened so far and it just went past me.  Even keeping track with my calender wasn’t quite enough.

However, if you did check out my previous recap for July! I had some special plans right after I finished A Game of Thrones.

I indeed did finish it a few day ago. So lets do a little review before giving you this official announcement :)

A GAME OF THRONES

By: George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones

Its been a while since I’ve read an 800+ page book.  Lets say Harry Potter long ago.  Nowadays I stick to smaller, easier and quicker reads. My brain just isn’t the way it was before and as much as I like fantasy worlds, some don’t quite work for me.  For example, I can appreciate the beauty of Lord of the Rings trilogy in movies but reading those novels were a chore.  It would take me half a year to finish one novel if not a year. The Hobbit read very differently though.  However, we are not here to discuss that.  Its merely an example.

A Game of Thrones is a long read and along the way, I truly felt like giving up.  What I liked about it was the order it had.  With the amount of characters, it gave the readers a chance to focus on a few.  Some characters had more notable stories with more memorable characteristics whereas others didn’t. When the book first started, learning about everyone was fun but once it was hitting a certain chunk in the middle, save for a few characters, I wanted to fall asleep over and over again.  It could be that I was just having less energy than usual from all the late nights at Fantasia but I still hold true that some characters only had their stories built up in the first one and really amounted to nothing much at the end.  However, once we enter in to the last 200 pages or so, things started getting interesting again.  We actually see “a game of thrones” emerging and it builds up to a pretty fantastic ending that has me wanting to see what happens next.

Maybe for some of you who have seen the show (which is a good group of you, I think), you can tell me if in fact, Catelyn, Tyrion, Eddard and Daenarys actually has as great a storyline and Jon actually gets a better one than the one in the book.  I can see everything in this book turning into the success the series has achieved because its ripe for that sort of media :)

Regardless, I’m happy thats done!

If you do want to read a more positive and detailed review of this book, Zoe at The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger  has written a lovely review for it right HERE!

NOW FOR THE OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:

my escape books

I’ve been giving a lot of spotlight to movies, especially with the last review of Fantasia Film Festival coming up very soon (probably later today).  I’m a bit behind with everything else but I think taking a little refreshing break for a book month is good.  I’ve had a bunch of novels sitting in my e-reader from independent writers from the bloggers among us.  Plus, I’ve had some writers reach out to me to review their books in the last few months which I have agreed to do but never actually got around to it.  I’m feeling extremely horrible about that so I need to remedy it with spending the next month or so, lets say till the end of September reading only these books.  I’ll write a full post as a review for each one because as much as I love established writers, some of these authors have written some of the best books I’ve read in the last few years.  I’m pretty excited about it.

I was supposed to do my Recommendations month over here for August but we’ll change things up a little.  For the rest of August, I’ll be focusing on books by independent writers.  No worries, I still have like 20 movies review backlogged to write up so those will still go up gradually.  In September, I’ll be back with Recommendations for both movies and books. At least thats the plan.  My list is endless since a lot of you have given me so many movie ideas in the comments you’ve left me since I’ve started blogging and I’ve gathered a good bunch now.

I’m pretty happy about this! If you or someone you know has written a novel that you’d like me to check out, just email me or comment below and I’ll go get myself a copy.  I’d be glad to give it a read. I’m sure I can fit it in within the next month and a half. :)

Saguenay: La Voie Maltee (Chicoutimi, Quebec)

This past weekend, I had a 3 day getaway with my boyfriend.  Although, we didn’t splurge too much on food, we always choose one day to eat out and enjoy ourselves at a restaurant.

La Voie Maltee

After some research, we came to the rather highly praised resto-bar/microbrewery called La Voie Maltee which actually has some award-winning beers to offer.  I’m personally not much of a beer drinker and well, seeing as I’m going gluten-free and going through a 30 day alcohol detox, there was none of that going into my system, but my boyfriend is not either of those things so he can.  Plus, the menu looked really awesome.  Although almost everything was malted in one way or another, which is weird because it doesn’t bother me when anything is malted, we decided to go.

La Voie Maltee has a nice little atmosphere once you enter.  It has some nice decorations and there is even a terasse near the back so that in the nice summer weather, its comfortable to enjoy a few drinks with friends.  For dinner, however, we preferred to be inside.

If you take a look at its menu, you will see some very interesting twists on various meals and its this that attracted us in the first place.

For appetizers:

La Voie Maltee

Lobster Rolls VM

I started with Lobster Rolls VM. They are mini hot dogs with shredded lobster, veggies and fine herbs along with the mayon-Ale “East Coast”.  Ever since last year in Maine, I’ve been a huge fans of lobster rolls.  These were not only cute to look at but they were delicious.  I don’t know what herbs they used but mixed with their mayon-Ale, it was absolutely delicious.

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Chili Cheese Sticks

As for my boyfriend, he started with Chili Cheese Sticks. These are spicy cheddar covered with crispy corn served with tzatziki sauce.

We both enjoyed these quite a bit.

Now for the main meal:

La Voie Maltee

Pulled Pork Sandwich

My boyfriend had the pulled pork sandwich. The pulled pork is mixed with “BBQ sauce Libertine” (not that I know what that means). Its served with fries and coleslaw. He really like this a lot. I remember him complimenting it a lot.

La Voie Maltee

Buccaneer Ribs

As expected, I’m a huge ribs lover so I took the Buccaneer Ribs. All these fancy terms that I don’t understand is what I’m thinking as I write this up.  These ribs are served with Stout BBQ sauce, fries and Caesar Salad. I must say that the taste of the ribs tastes some time to adapt to and the meat didn’t fall off the bones like I’m used to.  However, the taste does get increasingly good and the let me say, the fries are done so delicious.  I was absolutely hooked.

I wasn’t particularly fond of the waiter and the service he provided but he seemed to lighten up a little by the end of the meal.

Overall, a great meal in Chicoutimi and I think we made a very good choice in the restaurant.

What do you think of the food? Are you into drinking beer? What restaurant types do you go for when you travel?