Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Procrastinator's Movie Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis

Release Date: January 10, 2014

Who was in that one again? Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garret Hedlund, Justin Timberlake

I can't remember the plot. The story follows a down-on-his-luck folk singer in the winter of 1961. Llewyn bums nights on his friend's couches and tries to make his folk singing solo act the real deal, even though his work in a duo was better...before his partner committed suicide. It's only a couple of days, but anything that could go wrong for Llewyn does, and everyone he knows really doesn't like him. That's about it.

The review: I was hoping for more in this movie, but it just ended up being a movie about a schmuck. A schmuck who ends up with a cat for the first half of the movie, and then goes on a road trip for another part of the movie, and then everything goes to pot in the last part of the movie.

Thank goodness this movie had some songs in it, because Isaac is a very talented performer. He does four or five songs here, and they're all very soulful. You're more convinced that he's a folk singer than Timberlake, whose pop/hip-hop qualities in his singing voice are hard to hide here.

MVP: I would say the cat, for showing more connection to a human being than any other character on the screen, but I'll be different and say Isaac's voice and guitar.

Blurb Musing Rating (out of five): One-and-a-half cats.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Avoiding the Double Standard of the World Cup vs. the Olympics

I am incredibly guilty.

I have a huge obsession with the Olympics - summer and winter - and don't really understand the huge popularity of the World Cup.

I could come here and give you a bunch of reasons why the Olympics are better than the World Cup, but in the grand scheme of things aren't they the same?

Both are run by organizations who proclaim peace, love, and sportsmanship, but then spend most of their efforts accepting bribes and sucking money out of the host city while alienating that same city.

Both create grand arenas for the games played, which most of the time end up being used only for the grand event, and then aren't used at all and become huge eyesores. That is what will probably end up happening to the arena in Manaus, Brazil, where the US team has been playing matches. And that is exactly what happened to many of the venues used in Olympics as recently as Beijing and Greece. (This video shows some of the abandonement.)

Both have the eyes of the world focused on one particular location for a month or so, and then everyone pulls out, leaving a gaping hole.

Both feature the best players on the planet, but both also feature players whose actions are deplorable and put that country in a bad light. (See: biting another player, trashing hotel rooms, performance-enhancing drugs, etc.)

So why exactly do I prefer one over the other? Honestly, it's just personal preference. There isn't any gigantic reason or reasons why I feel like the Olympics are better than the World Cup.

If I had to put my finger on why I like the Olympics more, I guess I would have to say it is because the World Cup doesn't really need my support to be a big success. Futbol is a global mainstay, and there isn't anything that will detract from that - not even the NFL.

The Olympics seems to be an event that is the underdog. People lament the Games before they start and forget they even happened moments after they conclude. Athletes of lesser-known events fade back into obscurity, despite their best efforts to stay in the spotlight (i.e. Dancing With the Stars, reality shows, TMZ, etc.). Futbol players don't need that stuff - they are stars all the time in their home countries.

If I have no allegiance to a team, I like to root for the underdog. In the match of Olympics vs. World Cup, the Olympics are most definitely the underdog, and I have no problem giving it all my love and support.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Showing My Disney Side

A couple of weeks ago, I was chosen to be a new blogger for the website TouringPlans.com, a blog that provides vacationers to the Disney and Universal Parks tips and hints to help them have a successful holiday. In my new position, I hope to give some of my own insight and tips to vacation planners as they try to make their trips happy, unique, and fun. 

But how did I get to this point? How was I able to secure a job on a (mostly) Disney Parks-oriented blogging site? What life experiences have I achieved in order to attain this position?

Take a walk with me, will you? 

1988...

I am a mere 3 years old. My parents decide it's high time that my family visit That Place Everyone Always Talks About - AKA Walt Disney World. And being the smart parents that they are, they ask my grandparents to come along to help with the kiddos. (My brother was 6 and my sister was 1.) 

I didn't get too much out of this vacation (being that I was 3), but I do know one story that has been passed down from my mother and father. Since there were two children under the age of 4, we had two strollers. (And not those ginormous leisure-mobiles that they have nowadays. We had the strollers that were pretty much four plastic poles with wheels on the bottom and a piece of fabric for your rear and back that were always thisclose to folding shut...when we were still in it.) When my Mom and Dad had control, they were zipping around slower parents and children while on a mission to get to Dumbo ASAP. 

A couple of times they handed the reigns over to my Nana, who didn't have a "hurry" gene in her DNA. Her idea of getting from place to place was as slow as the people in front of her. 

Needless to say, Nana didn't get to take control of the strollers too often.

What I learned: Don't let slow-moving people slow you down. Do the stuff you want to do - then relax!

1992...

I am now a seven-year-old, and the idea of going to Disneyland makes me super excited. My mother is pregnant with my little brother, and this excursion to the Happiest Place on Earth is simply one of the stops on a gigantic multi-state, multi-week road trip that my family took many times and we still somehow never killed each other. 

I didn't have too much with which to compare Disneyland, so I enjoyed myself. One picture I do have is my Dad, brother, and sister with Donald in Tomorrowland. I was convinced for a long time that this picture was taken in Walt Disney World, but as my Disney-Force was growing, I soon realized that we were posing in front of Star Tours, which was in Disneyland...but not in the Magic Kingdom.

What I learned: Each park is different. No matter what people may say, the Magic Kingdom is not Disneyland-East. 

1995...

This was the Big Trip. We were staying at WDW for multiple days at the Fort Wilderness cabins and my Dad planned this trip for weeks before we went. I remember reading through the Birmbaum Guides: Walt Disney World 1995 and getting soooooo excited for the trip. That guide had tips for how to have the most fun at the parks, color pictures of the attractions, a guide to each ride, and cute cartoons around the sides of the pages! I was hooked!

The trip was fantastic. We saw "Spectromagic" and "Fantasmic!" I refused to ride Space Mountain because I thought it had a monster inside (turns out I was mixing up the Space Mountain and Matterhorn...from Disneyland), but did end up going on The Haunted Mansion - which I believe I closed my eyes for most of it.

But there was one day that I remember in particular. Even though my father had planned a lot of stuff (what park we'd go to, if we had a special meal, etc.) he didn't tell us when we would get to the parks. Usually we arrived mid-morning and still had a good time. But one day we got to the Magic Kingdom before the park opened! (*gasp!*) and were determined to be one of the first to ride Splash Mountain for the day. (It that time Splash Mountain was still a "new" attraction, opening the previous year.)

We got down Main Street and were being held by a rope and a Cast Member at the entrance to Adventureland. If I recall correctly, it was my Mom, sister (8), brother (13), and myself (10). There was a crowd at the rope with us, and I think my Mom told my brother to keep an eye on me, and she'd stick with my sis. 

Anyway, this where the phrase "rope drop" comes from, because precisely at 9am, the Cast Member looked at us, said, "Please don't kill me," and dropped the rope. There was no bar you stayed behind as the Cast Member slowly walked you back to the attraction. No - it was every man for himself. And my brother and I were going to get on Splash Mountain first!

We sprinted to the attraction, and were one of the first boats to leave the station! It was only at that moment that I realized that there was a big drop at the end...uh-oh. (I survived. Barely.)

What I learned: Be at the Parks when they first open up. There will be minimal lines, and a greater chance of getting on the largest amount of rides in the shortest amount of time.

There was also the matter of my little bro (2). In all of our planning, we failed to realize that my little bro might get frightened of certain attractions, and the very first thing we did was go to Epcot '95 (for that is what it was called back then) and see Honey I Shrunk the Audience.

BIG mistake. BIG. HUGE.

He freaked out with the 3-D, the slithering snakes, and the giant lion head and promptly refused to go on any other attraction while we were there. I believe his quote was "I would like to go home now." We managed to get him on a few kid attractions, but not much else. 

What I learned: Make sure to know the age ranges of attractions. Don't take a child to a 3-D movie. 

2000...

I was in high school checking my e-mail if a message showed up from my father asking if I wanted to go to Walt Disney World again that summer. I believe this was my reply: 

"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

As you can see, my love for Walt Disney World hadn't changed in five years. The six of us took the long drive down and spent another week at the Fort Wilderness cabins and had the time of our lives! (Except for that one day...but enough about that.)

This was the time where I had my own camera and took as many pictures as I possibly could. I got some amazing shots of Cinderella's castle, Spaceship Earth, and the Tree of Life. My sister amazingly timed a picture of my mother and I on Dumbo as Cinderella's castle was behind us - I still don't know how she got that shot. And my big bro and I got to ride a Star Wars speederbike - one of my favorite pictures ever.

But there were many other Magical Moments during that trip. My little bro (7) and big bro (18) both got chosen for awesome Disney interactivity. Since my little bro was at "that age," he got selected to dance in the parade at the Magic Kingdom, plus he was brought out to dance during The Festival of the Lion King. He was cute doing it, as was expected. 

It was my big bro that had the big moment. He got chosen to be an Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular actor, simply by waving his giant safari hat around so the emcee spotted him. He had done a lot of plays and musicals in high school, so he wasn't timid at all - he knew how to play the audience. 3000 people? No problem for him. I was so envious.

What I learned: Even if you don't get picked to do something while your family or friends do, enjoy it for them! 

The Main Street Electrical Parade made its reappearance this year, and I remember absolutely falling in love with that parade. I had to get a postcard. I had to buy the soundtrack. I can now speak the entire opening in the proper rhythm. ("And electro-sythe-magnetic musical sounds...the Main Street Electrical Parade!") 

What I learned: Get obsessed. It's okay!

2010...

Ten years later, I was on my own. I'd just completed my first year of teaching in the States, and to celebrate I decided to go to the World with one of my friends, who was just as Disney-obsessed as I was! I didn't have to ask my parents "Can we go back pleeeeeease?" I just decided to go!

We stayed at Pop Century, which was really all we needed, because we didn't hang out too much at the resorts anyway. We planned like a boss (to quote my students): what park, when we'd leave the hotel, where we'd eat lunch, what rides we'd go on, when we'd go back to the hotel for a break, when we would hop to another resort, which rides would get Fastpass, you get it. 

This trip was probably the best trip I've ever had (including the ones after it) because we had total control. There were only two of us, and we'd done all the sorting out of what to do before the trip even started. We did Star Wars Weekends and got a shot of Jedi Mickey, Princess Minnie and R2-MK. We saw "Fantasmic!" and I cried because it was so awesome. We ate Dole Whips. We found the paint brush at Tom Sawyer's Island that gave us free Fastpasses. And we followed a Touring Plan (from the site mentioned above) and saw everything we wanted to see. 

What I learned: Planning isn't bad. Planning helps you get the most out of your trip. DO IT.

2010...

Again? Yup! We got Annual Passes and made a Thanksgiving trip with a third friend. I loved this, because it meant I got to see all of the Parks in Christmas mode. I brought an MP3 recorder and used it to record all the special stories that were told at Epcot and say all my personal stories. 

This was also the first trip where I spent a lot of time on my own. My friends were interested in drinking around Epcot, and each day they would get a couple of drinks in World Showcase. I had no interest in this, so I wandered around on my own and had no problem with it. I also arrived later than they did, which meant I got to do the big reveal of Cinderella's castle all done up in Christmas lights on my own. It didn't make it any less wonderful, in my opinion. 

What I learned: Make sure to visit the Parks at different times of the year. They're always changing things!

2011...

This final trip of my Annual Pass was with yet another friend. We tried a few more sit down dining areas, including Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Via Napoli in Epcot. (Both were delicious!) We watched the Wishes fireworks from the Polynesian beach while eating Dole Whips. We went to Port Orleans - Riverside and caught Yee-Haw Bob's piano act. (It was hilarious!) And we did the Wishes dessert party - if I recall, we rolled back to the hotel.

This friend was different than my other two friends, and we were able to sample different things. But it also meant that some of the things I was used to doing were not going to be done this time.

What I learned: Always do some new stuff on every trip. Also: be mindful of your friend's wishes and preferences. 

2012...

My final trip was a brief stop during my Spring Break visit to Clearwater and the Detroit Tigers' Spring Training games. I stayed at an off-resort hotel, only saw the Magic Kingdom, and was only there for 24 hours (evening, morning, and afternoon). 

However, since I was by myself I had control of my schedule. I brought a video recorder with me, since I could stop and go with no one rushing me. I didn't follow a Touring Plan this time, and just wandered. I ate sushi at the top of the Contemporary resort, saw the Main Street Electrical Parade twice in one night, ate a chicken/spinach waffle wrap (surprisingly delicious!), and sat. Just sat. I'm very glad I did it, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again. 

What I learned: If you've done Touring Plans for a few trips, don't hesitate to slow it down once in a while. Even if it means just sitting!

2014!!!

There is another trip in the works! I'm going soon so I can write more blog articles about relevant topics, and not just what I recall from trips in previous years. If all goes according to plan, I might even be going to a Halloween party! (Ninth Doctor costume, here I come!) 

If you're curious, my TouringPlans.com blogs will be re-posted here a couple of days after they are posted on to the site. But please go to that site if you have any inkling of visiting a Disney Park, or just really enjoy that sort of thing. You never know what you might learn!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Dragon Lover's Movie Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2

I can't believe I'm doing this, but SPOILERS AHEAD! Do not read this article if you don't want to find out what happens in the movie How To Train Your Dragon 2. It also has spoilers for the first movie, too. Just go and see them. They're amazing. Then come back and read this. M'kay?

How To Train Your Dragon 2


Release Date: June 13, 2014

Who was in that one again? The voice talents of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Kit Harrington, and Dijimon Hounsou 

I can't remember the plot of the first one. "This is Berk." Berk is a land full of viking warriors who are always battling dragons that are stealing food and animals. The son of the chief, Hiccup (Baruchel), shoots down and wounds an elusive Night Fury, whom he restores back to health in secret and befriends. Hiccup also learns how to ride a dragon instead of kill it, going against his father's (Butler) wishes. He ignores his "dragon training" and instead "trains dragons." His onetime crush and challenger, Astrid (Ferrera) eventually learns his secret and appreciates the dragons too, along with their friends. Eventually the dragons and the vikings come together to defeat the Alpha dragon that controls a large nest, and the dragons live with the vikings in Berk happily ever after. 


What happens now? "This is Berk"...except now it's a happy village where the vikings are content with their new pets, and the dragons are happy with their new owners. The chief, Stoic, wants to announce Hiccup as the next chief, but Hiccup isn't sure he's up to it. He'd rather explore new lands and be with his girlfriend Astrid. But the two of them come across dragon hunters, led by Eret (Harrington) who deliver dragons to a man named Drago (Hounsou) for his large dragon army. Stoic has met Drago before, and urges Hiccup to avoid confrontation with Drago. Hiccup wants to be a negotiator with Drago and not resort to violence, but Drago refuses and brings the wrath of his dragon army (with its own dragon-controlling Alpha) to Berk. Meanwhile, Hiccup comes across his mother, a dragon master!

The review: This movie does a fantastic job taking the characters on a new path. It is five years after the first movie, and all the teenagers are now 20 and somewhat grown up (Snotlout and Fishlegs both have facial hair and pine for Ruffnut). Hiccup has really grown up, and I haven't had this much of a crush on a cartoon character since Aladdin. 


Toothless - Hiccup's dragon - also keeps his personality of an affectionate friend to Hiccup, while still resorting to his animal instincts at the tense moments. It's fun to see Hiccup's mother Valka (Blanchett) reflect many of Hiccup's personalities, confirming to him where he gets his dragon training abilities. Her movements at the beginning show that she's been with the dragons for a long time, and I'm glad the animators used those movements for her. 

Some of the new characters - including Eret - seemed a bit overshadowed by the main players, which is too bad. Drago only appears in the first half of the movie as a flashback, and I think it would have been better if his character and plot were in more of the first half of the movie. 

I loved this movie from the very start. It has its share of comedic moments that aren't lowbrow, while also bringing some dark moments (Toothless! Stoic!). There are points in the movie that might drag for young children, but don't see this with someone younger than 7. But for adults who enjoyed the first movie, those "drag" moments are just characters developing.

Definitely see this movie in 3D. My mother and I saw the first one in 2D and regretted not seeing those flying scenes in 3D. This time around, the two of us went again and saw it in 3D. 

MVP: Ever since I heard that the movements of Tootlhess (when he's not flying) were based on a cat's movements, that dragon has been my favorite character. His challenge of the Alpha at the end was incredibly appropriate, and brought out a new blue side of him!

Blurb Musing Rating (out of five): Four-and-a-half adorable dragon babies!!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Elusive Baseball Tale

When a child goes to a Major League ballpark for the first time, often they come with a glove. The glove - large or small - is already strapped to that child's hand as they enter the park, hundreds of feet away from any actual baseballs being thrown. The child is excited because their dad or mom has told them "You might catch a baseball tonight!"

Do you know how many of those children come away from the game with a game-used baseball?

According to the Fake Book of Statistics, about 2%. The rest of them wonder why in the world they brought this sticky piece of leather in the first place, forget their glove at the bathroom, cry that they never got a ball, or leave with a baseball...that their parents bought for too much money at the team store.

It's assumed by children that eventually they or their parents will get that piece of game-used spherical glory. The end result is me - a near-30-year-old who has been to many games in her life, yet never came away with any ball of any kind. That type of adult is one who still dives for balls over actual human beings, makes their friends or complete strangers hold their legs while they go over the wall to grab a rolling foul ball, or still brings that oversized softball glove to games.

My story begins with a trip with my father to Tiger Stadium back in the late '90s. It was just him and me - a rarity when I was a kid, but eventually commonplace as we attended Michigan football, Detroit Red Wings, and Detroit Tigers games as the Dynamic Duo. At this point in my life, it was totally cool! My siblings were home with Mom, and I got to stay out late and watch baseball. If I recall correctly, this game featured Juan Encarnacion hitting a grand slam and me choking on ice cream.

But before all that, my Dad and I were walking from our seats on the third base side to left field, hoping to catch a batting practice home run. As we were about to get there, someone sends a ball straight past us and down the tunnel that lead to the concourse. Honestly, I never knew my father could run so fast. He bolted towards the rolling ball, determined to grab it for his daughter. And whaddya know...another father and his son were walking up the tunnel, and the ball came to a halt at his feet. All he did was pick it up. And my father was dejected.

Did I mention my father had never gotten a game-used ball either?

Another example of an opportunity lost came in 2012, when I went to Lakeland, Florida for the Detroit Tigers' Spring Training. I went to a Tigers-Yankees game at Joker Marchant Stadium with a friend, and we sat in the outfield grass. During the game, a Yankee home run ball came straight for us and landed right in front of us on the grass. We both dove down to it - my friend even touched it, I believe - but the people in front of us managed to snatch it from the green grass.

There are many examples of chivalrous actions being done by adults when a ball comes to them (giving it to a girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/grandparent/child nearby) but as the years passed and I kept being eluded by those game-used baseballs, I seriously began to doubt that I would be at all chivalrous.

I kept imagining scenarios when I would finally get the ball, and next to me would be a six-year-old in full on Bambi-mode, looking at me with wide eyes and pouty lips, and I would turn into the Grinch and say, "Just you wait 20 years and you'll know how I feel right now; you are NOT getting this ball!" Then everyone would boo me, and I would be stubborn, and people would throw stuff at me until I left.

My craving for a baseball was now becoming a nightmare.

Then came Wednesday.

I was in Pittsburgh visiting my sister for a couple of days, and even though she isn't a huge baseball fan, she got us tickets to the Pirates-Cubs game at PNC Park. I was thrilled to bits. I put on my Tigers' jersey, Tigers' hat, and Tigers' drawstring backpack, and we parked downtown.

Even though the park is on the North Side of Pittsburgh, we parked downtown because they close down one of the Three Sisters' Bridges (now called the Roberto Clemente Bridge) so pedestrians can use it. For us, this was a treat, since the only other time we can wander down the middle of a busy road is on Memorial Day after the parade in our hometown.


As we walked to the North Side, we noticed storm clouds gathering above Mt. Washington, meaning they were going to be passing over Pittsburgh next. We got out our umbrellas when the first drops started to fall, and then went under a walkway that connected two buildings when the rain came down harder.

Eventually the rain turned into an insane severe thunderstorm, and that turned into a downpour. We had taken shelter in a bar during the severe weather, but entered PNC Park when it was back to rain. Everyone was in the concourse eating, and we did the same. We did the entire loop of the stadium, and determined that if nothing had been announced about the game by 8:00, we would leave.


Wouldn't you know, ten minutes before 8:00 the grounds crew came out and took off the tarp. At that point we decided to stay for at least part of the game, even though the official start time wasn't until 8:40.

Because we had about 45 minutes to go, my sister suggested we get a helmet ice cream, so that I could get my souvenir. (I've been collecting them this summer.) The Sweet Spot was located behind home plate, so we got some delicious ice cream there. The nice lady who scooped our ice cream (I wish I knew her name; she was integral to the story) gave us way more than we were supposed to get, since she saw we were going to share. How nice!

This did mean that we had an overflowing helmet of ice cream, and our seats were out in center field. The two of us decided to just find a seat in the section behind home plate, finish our ice cream, and then head out to our seats.

The section worker was busy wiping down all the seats, so we didn't have to get our tickets checked. We simply settled into our seats and started eating.

The section worker did end up coming to the two of us and asked us kindly, "So are these your seats?" My sister - also integral to the story - was honest and said that we were out in section 139. I explained that we were just trying to eat our ice cream here before it melted. The worker said, "...Do you really want to go out to section 139?" My sister replied, "Not really," and he said, "Okay?"

That meant we were allowed to sit behind home plate! The worker told us that his name was Jim, and anything we needed we could ask. What a cool guy! No one came to claim the seats, so we stuck around in that spot.

The innings that we stayed for were great. In the first inning Andrew McCutchen hit a 2-run home run, and the centerfield wall exploded with fireworks while a building across the river lit up their roof in rainbow colors! There were chants of "Let's Go Bucs!" all around us, and everyone who stuck around in the rain delay was excited to see some baseball.

Then came the top of the 2nd inning. Pirates pitcher Brandon Cumpton was facing Cubs left fielder Chris Coghlan. Our ice cream conquered and my All-Star punchout card punched, we had settled in to watch the game. Cumpton pitched, Coghlan made contact...and the ball flew back, over the fencing and STRAIGHT FOR US.

I remember myself audibly saying, "OH MAN" as the ball came closer, and I watched as it went to the seats right across the row from us. The man sitting there tried to cradle it at his chest, but the ball bounced out and rolled into the aisle.

Which meant I was closest to a baseball as I had ever been before.

Even though my sister was in the aisle seat, I jumped up, leaned over her, scraped my left elbow against the chair in front of us, tracked it with my eyes, and before the man could reach down and get the ball, snatched it from his grasp!

As my fingers finally enveloped my elusive Golden Snitch, I could hear the angels singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" and my heart swelled. I had done it!!! I got a game-used MLB baseball!!!!


My sister texted my dad, and he replied, "Did she knock over four kids to get to it?" No, Dad, I did not. As a matter of fact, the nearest kids were several seats away, and none of them (bless their little hearts) came over to ask me for the ball. I got to revel in my shock and elation with my sister and Jim! He came over and said wryly, "Aren't you glad I didn't make you move to section 139?" Um, yes, Jim! He was outstanding. I made sure to get a picture of him with the ball.

My long baseball drought is now over. After years of failures and close calls, I have achieved a life-long dream of mine, and I can hardly believe it.

Thanks to the rain, the ice cream lady, my sister, and Jim all doing just the right things at just the right time, I completed the task.

Now that I have that baseball, my chivalry can now come out. If I get another ball and a child is next to me, I will hand it over with a gleam in my eye.

Of course, if my father is with me, he's going to get it. He's waited longer than I have.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Procrastinator's Movie Review: Rush

Rush

Release Date: September 27, 2013

Who was in that one again? Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruehl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara

I can't remember the plot. Two Formula One racers compete against each other in the 1970s - based on a true story of racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Hunt (Hemsworth) is a brash playboy from Great Britain and Lauda (Bruehl) is a focused, self-serving Austrian. Both have ups and downs, but Lauda ends up in a horrific accident during a race in Germany, and still comes back to race at the end of the season.

The review: Formula One racing is not very well-known in the States, but this movie does its best to explain in simple terms how it works. It doesn't dwell too much on the cars and more on the character development. Hunt is shown as a man driven by speed and women, but he can be understanding of his rivals. Lauda is driven by his ueber-knowledge of the sport, but develops a weakness when he meets (dun Dun DUN!) a woman!

I liked the movie - it was quickly paced and didn't dwell too much on any scene or character. The race scenes are done well - even the scenes that take place in rain. The movie was overseen by the real Niki Lauda, and his character is more fleshed out than Hunt. The epilogue about Hunt shows that, even though he had a respect for Lauda that is shown, he never grew out of his fast and loose ways. The relationship between Lauda and his girlfriend is much more interesting to watch than Hunt and his wife.

MVP: It might be easy to see in the paragraph above, but Daniel Bruehl did a great job as Lauda. He often talks down to his crew and the press (and pretty much everyone) because he knows he is better than everyone else. Bruehl pulls that smugness very well, and even while doing that, I found myself rooting more for Lauda than Hunt (even though Hunt was played by Hemsworth!).

Blurb Musing Rating (out of five): Three-and-a-half F1 vehicles. If it's on TV, you should check it out.