Pixar’s ‘Coco’ inspires in spite of controversy

By now, you’ve probably heard about Coco, the delightful, music-filled feature film from Pixar. You’ve probably also red the news about John Lasseter, Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer, who recently took a leave of absence after mutliple allegations of unwanted touching and sexual harrassment at work. The news of Lasseter’s leave coincided with the release of Coco, Pixar’s first film about a real, human family. Lasseter’s leave combined with harsh criticism of Disney’s attempt to trademark the term “Dia de los Muertos” and Rashida Jones’ departure from a Pixar project because of unaddressed issues of racism and sexism gave the premiere of Coco a rocky start.

But Coco persevered despite Pixar’s big missteps.

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Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” is the movie to see this holiday season.

Lady Bird‘s premise is one that could easily be overdone: a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in the early 2000’s. Starring Saorise Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, the film centers around Ronan’s character, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a spirited, imaginative and outgoing teenager who has a conflicting relationship with her working-class family.

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Sally Field shines in ‘Hello, My Name is Doris’

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The premise for the new film Hello, My Name Is Doris sounds a bit like a Lifetime movie special–a woman of a certain age falls for a man who is thirty years her junior. Would you watch this movie? I probably wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t already known that the lead is the remarkable Sally Field (of Norma Rae and Gidget and The Flying Nun, among many, many others), and the love interest is the charming and hilarious Max Greenfield (of New Girl fame). I was hooked, and I think you’ll be hooked, too.

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‘Hamilton’ cast album: recommended for everyone

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I think it’s safe to say that when I get into something, I get really into it. This is definitely the case with the Hamilton cast album. Since tickets are sold out until basically forever, I’ve been indulging my fixation by obsessively listening to the cast album and watching videos of the cast (ahem, #bam4ham).

Since music may be the only way–for right now, at least!–that many people will be able to experience this show, I think it’s worth saying that this is my favorite album in recent memory. A greater accomplishment is that this album tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of Treasury, founder of the Fed, founder of the Coast Guard and the New York Post, essentially in rap and hip-hop. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer and actor who plays Hamilton, has always maintained that “it’s a hip hop story”, connecting Hamilton’s extensive writings and his meteoric rise to the topmost ranks of government from being a poor, orphaned immigrant to the similar stories of hip-hop and rap artists today. Continue reading

Samantha Bee’s late night show is magnificent

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The first thing I noticed about Full Frontal with Samantha Bee was the lack of a desk. That’s when I knew I was going to like this show.

An alumna of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, Bee has earned a reputation for being a charming and opinionated correspondent with the penchant to calmly explain abortion rights, gay rights and racism to less-than-charming elected officials and other assorted idiots. When she left The Daily Show, she took her immense talent to TBS to develop her own late night show. Enter Full Frontal.

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A short review of “Between the World and Me”

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Ta-Nehise Coates’ book Between the World and Me clocks in at a cool 150-some pages, but packs a punch like none ever seen before. The book reads like a philosopher’s stream-of-consciousness late-night writing, but the text is written as such for a reason: to make an impact. To stay with us. To keep us returning to it. To change us.

Recent years have made Coates a household name. As a writer for the Atlantic, he wrote “A Case for Reparations,” one of the most talked about magazine piece in the last decade. But Between the World and Me has made Coates a celebrity in his own right.

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Some fun things because winter.

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I’m going to be honest: in the winter, I get super down in the dumps. I eat a lot of terrible food, watch crappy TV and don’t really want to go out. The last few years, I’ve put together a plan to help myself manage the winter blues. There are so many fun things to read, watch, listen to and DO! Here are some things I’ve been doing to beat the blues (or at least make them a little better):

Listening to Serial! The every other week schedule is a downer, because I’m super into this story, but when it comes out on Thursday, I almost always am excited to listen to it on my commute.

Shopping. A lot. I know telling people to spend money is lame, but it makes me feel better. some recent purchases I’ve loved are my brand spankin’ new Bean Boots and this teeny gold ring. (The boots are a little pricey, but they come with a lifetime warranty!)

Cooking! I’m trying to make new recipes that are fairly healthy. I made pad thai in my new wok, this shepherd’s pie and this incredible Moroccan dish.

Yoga-ing. Some nights, I’m not feeling up to going for a run or going to the gym, so I’ll pop on the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel. She. Is. Amazing. I’m doing the Yoga Camp videos. Sometimes I’ll do them after a run, or just one their own. It’s a bonus if you light pretty candles and play some soft music while you practice. It’s insanely relaxing and feels so good when you’re done.

Slowly watching Oscar movies. I know the Oscars are going through some controversy right now, but I still want to watch good movies! Last week, I saw Spotlight and last night, I saw Room. I loved them both–Brie Larson’s performance in Room is a truly incredible thing to behold. Anyone else watching Oscar movies before the big event?

Making plans! I’m trying my darndest to get together with friends lately. Since I’ve moved, I’ve made a handful of good friends that I’m trying to get together with. Philly is doing a restaurant week this January, so I’ll be partaking in that.

Listening to dumb music. Nothing makes me feel better than listening to Carly Rae Jepsen in the car.

What about you guys? Do you get the blues in the winter? What helps?

(The image above is by Gemma Correll, a wonderful illustrator. You can see more of her work here.)

Judging ‘The Bachelor’ contestants

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Monday night, the 20th season of “The Bachelor” aired on ABC, and of course I sat down with a big bowl of ice cream and watched every embarrassing second of it. Half a country away, my sister did the same thing, and we spent the whole time snap-judging the contestants. Just a small example below:

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Needless to say, this season premier was capital W Weird, but it seems to be an entertaining upcoming season. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year, readers! Thanks for making this first year of Bite Size so great. I’m taking a bit of a break to host some out-of-town friends, but I’ll be back in 2016. Meanwhile, here’s some stuff for your New Year’s celebrations…

My favorite New Year’s Eve scene in the history of film.

This incredible interview with Ta Nehisi-Coates on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Some recipes for New Years Eve.

My new favorite Instagram account.

My friend wrote a book of poetry!

*The festive balloons are from Urban Outfitters. Sadly, they are sold out, but they have a ton of others. Check them out here.

‘Making a Murderer’: Netflix’s ambition grows wider

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Last week, in one of its most ambitious moves yet, Netflix released a grisly true crime documentary series that took all of our collective breaths away. “Making a Murderer” tells the true story of Steven Avery, a man who was exonerated using DNA evidence after serving 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Two years after his release, Avery was once again convicted of a crime that he still maintains he didn’t commit. It’s a pretty wild, infuriating ride.

If you remember way back when, Netflix was a DVD delivery service where you created a queue and they delivered your movies to your house. Since those days, the service has transformed to a streaming service and again to a fully fledged production company. The huge popularity of “House of Cards” brought forth a slew of Netflix original series, including “Orange is the New Black” and the wonderful “Master of None.”

With “Making a Murderer,” the former DVD delivery company dips its toe into the true crime genre that has swept the nation in the last year or so. In a similar style of the podcast “Serial” and the HBO documentary series “The Jinx”, Netflix begins to weave a conflicting narrative that leaves you hurtling through each hour-long episode, culminating in the one of the saddest, most convoluted criminal cases of our time.

“Making a Murderer” is available on Netflix now!