I’m not one for sappy love movies but this one brought me to tears. Rachel McAdams knows what she is good at and she just continues taking these parts that make you feel the love she has for her co-star. McAdams plays a woman, Clare, who falls in love with a man she met when she was 6 in a meadow near her parent’s home. Henry, played by Eric Bana, learned his can time travel when he was 6-years-old and he and his mother were in a car accident. As Clare grows she sees Henry multiple times in her life leading up to when they meet and begin their relationship. You feel Clare’s pain of being in love with someone who at any time can disappear and never knowing when he will come back.
One place I love to find a new book is in an airport bookstore. They have the obvious: newest Danielle Steal or diet fad book to just hit the shelves. But then they also have those books, featured on book stands that you would never pick up if you were to go into an overwhelming Barnes and Noble or Boarders. The books that just stand out and yell, “read me now!”
That’s exactly what Jennifer Weiner’s newest novel “Best Friends Forever” did to me in an LAX bookstore before my Christmas trip home to Connecticut. (Ironically the same place Weiner herself grew up.) Since my move to L.A. I couldn’t help but feeling distant from some of my friends from home. A lot has changed in the nine months I have been in the sun and I guess I was feeling a little anxiety about having to actually face the change head on. This book, with two friends walking along the beach on the front cover, couldn’t help but make me feel like maybe it would be okay. So I picked it up.
The story of Addie Downs and Valerie Adler’s friendship is a rocky one. As childhood neighbors Valerie was one of the few people to give Addie a chance but when high school came and Val was put into the popular crowd, Addie’s best friend was gone faster than her midnight cookies. (She was a night time binge eater.) As time passed so did Val’s life. She lived all over the country while Addie just stayed cooped up in her parent’s home she had inherited until one night, when Val comes knocking on the door in need of help.
Not to ruin the ending for you but obviously it is a happy one. Addie, with her preparedness and calm attitude gets the two girls out of all of the sticky situations crazy Val puts them into.
While reading this book I couldn’t help but think of my friendships back at home. Although none of us are an Addie or a Val we are all growing, and in some cases that does mean growing apart. I hope I never have to know what not talking to my best friends for 15 years feels like, but if we are at all like these two ladies, I know that we would always be there for each other when we need it. And just because we don’t agree with each other or understand what each other are doing, it doesn’t mean we are drifting, it just means we are different. We are a loner and a cheerleader in two different circles but we will always have our neighborhood to go back to.
Sitting 1,600 feet above the Pacific Ocean in the quiet little town of San Simeon, Calif. is the massive vacation home of William Randolph Heart. Now a tourist spot along the central coast of California, the property consists of a main house, Casa Grande, three guest houses, outdoor pool, indoor pool, airport, and gardens as well as more than 300 animals. (An old fashion Hugh Hefner anyone?)
According to the soundtrack tour guide visitors listen to on their way up the 5 mile long windy driveway to the castle, at one point Hearst had the largest privately owned zoo in North America. With elks, deer, llama, zebra, and cows there are still animals on the property who are descendants of Hearst’s original zoo animals. While driving on the drive we spotted hundreds of cows, a fox and the bear cages which at one time housed polar bears.
The first stop of the Experience Tour is to the infamous Neptune pool. The ancient Greek and Roman inspired pool is surrounded by colonnades of marble which lead to marble statues at the base of a large staircase. The staircase leads up to a courtyard which is surrounded by the four main structures of the property: three guest houses and the main house. Each guest house has bedrooms, all with private baths (not the norm for the early 1900s) and sitting rooms. However none of the guest houses have kitchens. According to our tour guide, Tim, this is because Hearst wanted to spend time with his guests and meals were a time for socializing.
During the Experience tour visitors are taken through the first floor of the main house, or Casa Grande. You begin in the foyer and sitting room area. The enormous room was built totally symmetrical with matching windows on either side of the room, decorative pews on each side of the walls and an entry way across from a double mantled fireplace which sit right in the middle of the room. Tim said this is the place where Hearst and his guests would come before their dinner to have drinks and appetizers and become acquainted with one another before they moved into the dining room.
The gothic inspired dining room consists of a narrow table, purposely narrow to make conversing easier, and 22 chairs. Instead of sitting at the head of the table, Tim said, Hearst would sit in the middle of his dinner table so that he was in the middle of the conversations. Again, the totally symmetrical room has matching windows which line the top of the two longer walls. From dinner guests would work their way into another sitting room or a billiard room to enjoy after dinner drinks and more conversation. (A kid on the tour said it must of “sucked” not to have technology back then. I think I might have to agree.)
The final stop is a slightly less impressive indoor Roman pool. Inside a room, I can’t help but consider a little gaudy. From top to bottom, including the inside of the pool, covered in mosaic tiles. This Olympic sized pool is 10 feet deep from one end to the next but has the illusion on a sloping angle like most pools having a deep and shallow end.
At the end of the Experience Tour visitors are picked up by another bus and brought down the winding driveway one more time to the visitor’s center. This is one amazing place but the entire time I couldn’t help but think, is Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner our generation’s William Randolph Hearst? One day, are we going to be taking our kids to Beverly Hills and walking through the Playboy mansion, seeing Hef’s zoo, the playmate house and most impressive the grotto? Did Hearst ever think his favorite vacation home would be walked through by thousands of total strangers over 60 years after his death? Either way, Hearst was an impressive man, with eccentric and elaborate style.
With awards season in full swing Patrick, Shay and I have been in full movie mode. Watching all of the films Patrick’s mother receives from the Screen Actor’s Guild I couldn’t help but fall in love with some of the movies from 2010. Here is my top 5 list.
1. Black Swan: Natalie Portman did an absolutely amazing job portraying innocent Nina, a dedicated ballerina who lets her role take over her life and state of mind. The storyline keeps you on your toes with their “did that just happen” parts and constant shock factors.
2. The Town: Jeremy Renner steals the show with his bad boy style. You never know what is going to happen when he is in a scene. Ben Affleck and Rebecca Hall have great chemistry together and you truly feel her fall in love with him and her hurt when she finds out exactly who Affleck’s character really is.
3. The Social Network: The awkwardness of the real Mark Zuckerberg is accurately portrayed by quirky Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg and the rest of the cast show the growth of our generation through the birth of social media.
4. King’s Speech: The struggles and the pressures of a new king with a speech impediment at the start of the technology boom is shown through Colin Firth’s representation of King George VI. The weird angles and with too much head room and low shots give the film a documentary feel.
5. The Kids are All Right: This lesbian couple going through a little midlife crisis struggle to hold their family of two children together while dealing with a power struggle, infidelity and the fears of growing apart while their children grow more and more independent.