Lu Galasso's Blog

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Couple’s Retreat: Successful Couples 101

It’s been a while since I’ve been around, but I’m back, I’ve found time again and I wanted to write a review of a movie that I saw about a week ago.  I know it’s a little late…but what the hey, better late than never right…right?!

Everybody knows those couples.  The ones where you ask yourself: How can these two be married?  What do they see in each other??  Is there ever a time when they’re not arguing???  Unfortunately more times than not these situations rarely ever have good endings.  couples_retreat_1When you’re looking back at the broken relationship with your broken hearted friend, whether boy our girl, one of the things they will often ask themselves is: I wonder if I would have benefited from some kind of therapy?  Well…at least the friends I know who’ve experienced this have asked that question.

Well Couple Therapy, in its happy go lucky humorous way does NOT answer these questions, but boy is there something to relate to for most couples on one level or another in this movie.  Now for those who don’t know the premise of this movie, it’s basically four couples who go on a tropical island paradise vacation that is intended to be a couples retreat/therapy week long session.  Jason and Cynthia, played by the witty Jason Bateman and ever beautiful  Kristen Bell, are the ones who initiate this trip, as they get a better deal with three other couples. They are the one who are trying to work out their problems, while the other couples don’t believe they have any problems to a level that needs to be brought up in counseling.  Needless to say it all hits the proverbial fan, when the trip takes place.

Now, was this movie riddled with brilliant performances, breathtaking acting skills and/or comedic off your chair, stomach workout, laughter? No. But I must say it had what felt like the right amount of humour, drama and romance to make this movie the success it was in its opening weekend.  Vince Vaughn, arguably the main attraction of the film still hasn’t given the performance I think he’s capable of giving.  I think we’re all yearning for the Vince of old (i.e. Old School, or even as far back as Swingers). But it was sufficient to carry a movie of this magnitude and he does have the majority of funny moments in the film.  Jon Favreau was great as the back up to Vince as he normally is, and Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell were great as well. The others are noteworthy but nothing overly exciting to make note of.

The story was great and something I think everybody can relate to today. In that sense It’s guaranteed to pick up the audience that will carry this movie as one of more successful comedies of 2009.  Will it make “The Hangover” type noise? Probably not.  But it’s a fun movie that I think most will enjoy.

-Lu Galasso

October 20, 2009 Posted by | movies, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lu Galasso on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Okay, so I have always been a Harry Potter girl. The first book came out when I was somewhere around the age of 10 and I fell in love. I read the first, second and third as soon as they came out. When the fourth came out I got half way through it and because I was older then I had more homework I had to complete so Harry, Ron and Hermione got put on the back burner. Then the movies began coming out and that resparked my interest. I watched the first 3 films and still didn’t repick up the book. Then I watched the fourth movie and thought, why did I never finish that book? That’s when I finished that book and made sure I read every other one as soon as they came out.

That being said, I have been excited for the release of the 6th film since I heard about its original release date. I was heartbroken when they pushed the date until nearly a year later. Over the weekend I was finally able to go and see it. Now, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it. I knew what was going to happen and so there were no surprises but I had read mixed reviews on the film. After seeing it I understood what was goingLu Galasso - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on in the reviews. Those who did not like it (mostly critics) and those who called in “slow” or “uneventful” were those we had clearly never read the books, or at least they had never read the 6th book. I’m no expert but the impression I got from reading the 6th book and then the 7th was that the 6th book was positioned to set up everything that was going to happen in the 7th and final book. It was if the 6th and 7th book were written together and then seperated in the middle. The 6th book is all about being able to figure out how Voldermort can be defeated so that the 7th can be all about trying to defeat him. The 6th book is a catalyst for Harry to become, for lack of better words, “his own wizard” and for him to come to terms with the fact that he really is “the chosen one”. It is all about Harry and his two best friends to establish to the readers and the other characters that they have grown up. They aren’t little kids anymore. It’s time to bring out the big magic!

The film was done in exactly the same pace as the story. With lots of detail, the addition of new characters and providing new pieces to the puzzle. Although the book always provides more information and better detail than can fit in a film, the film wasn’t too shabby. If you’re a Harry Potter lover, you’ll like this one too. For those who aren’t, well Ron and Harry have certainly grown up. Ron’s even got some muscles now. There’s a little big of magic, a little bit of romance, some mystery and you won’t want to miss the unexpected ending!

Lu Galasso

July 29, 2009 Posted by | movies | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lu Galasso on Julie & Julia

In August, a film entitled Julie & Julia will be released in theatres. The film stars Meryl Streep as the infamous Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell, a blogger who for one full year would cook Julia’s recipes and write about them on her blog. What interested me about this film is that my mother has Child’s cookbook in her kitchen and growing up it always just seemed like the essential reference guide everyone should have around (that and The Joy of Cooking). The movie shows the lives of the two women, who have never met in person, and how Child’s influenced Powell’s success. The Globe and Mail did an interview with a long time friend and publisher of Child’s (Child passed away in 2004) about the upcoming film and how the cookbook came to be.

Sarah Hampson

From Monday’s Globe and Mail Sunday, Jul. 26, 2009 05:06PM EDT

Judith Jones arrives, perfectly edited.

The 85-year-old wears a tailored turquoise linen suit, her white hair in a neat bob and low-heeled Ferragamo pumps on her feet. Her slim legs are crossed elegantly at the knee and at her neck, a colourful scarf is arranged artfully over her shoulder.

Her words, too, are carefully chosen. She knows just what to describe and what to omit.

The legendary editor and vice-president at Knopf in New York, who still works part-time at the publishing house where she has been employed for close to 50 years, is very much in control of what gets shown, what gets said and how she lives.Lu Galasso - Julie and Julia

At this particular moment, she is discussing Julie & Julia , a delightfully engaging film to be released in early August, about the late cookbook author, Julia Child, and a young woman in New York, Julie Powell, who wrote a popular year-long blog about cooking her way through Ms. Child’s ground-breaking 1961 book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking . It was Ms. Jones who had brought Ms. Child’s book to the American public after the manuscript had been rejected by other publishers.

Based on Ms. Powell’s 2005 book, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen , the screenplay by Nora Ephron plays up the parallels between the two women’s lives, even though they never met before Ms. Child, played by Meryl Streep, died in 2004. It is also clear in the film that Ms. Child, who had been informed about the younger woman’s blog at the height of its popularity in 2002, did not approve. She refused to have contact with her.

Asked why that was, Ms. Jones, who remained friends with Ms. Child throughout her life, produces a demure smile and offers a perfectly measured diplomatic response. “We looked at [the blog], and Julia said, ‘I don’t think she is very serious about cooking and I don’t want to have anything to do with it.’ It was partly the use of four-letter words to describe food. It was just offensive. In our generation, we don’t throw them around quite as easily. But I think if she had met Julie, and seen some of her personality …,” she says, trailing off, shrugging her shoulders a little.

Long before Ms. Jones discovered Julia Child, she had earned some fame for insisting that The Diary of Anne Frank be published in the United States. After the war, she was working for Doubleday in Paris. “I was just a girl Friday, answering the mail, and my boss one day went off to lunch, and said, ‘There’s a pile of manuscripts I’ve looked at. Would you get rid of them?’ One was a book in French, but it hadn’t been published. It was a bound galley, and I was drawn to it because of the face on the cover. It had a picture of Anne Frank. I started reading and I read all afternoon, and when my boss came back, I said, ‘We have to get this book to New York. This has to be published.’ And he said, ‘What? That book by that kid?’ A lot of editors had turned it down in New York.”

Almost a decade later, in the summer of 1959, she was back in New York when another overlooked publishing opportunity landed on her desk at Knopf. It was a huge manuscript from three unknown women: Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The two French women, Ms. Beck and Ms. Bertholle, had met Ms. Child in Paris, where she was living with her diplomat husband, Paul. Smitten by French cooking, Ms. Child, who was born in California and educated at Smith College, soon became fluent enough in French to start Cordon Bleu courses. The two French women asked her to help them adapt the classic cuisine for the American housewife. Their exhaustive two-volume manuscript was rejected as too complex for the average housewife. But when Ms. Jones looked at it, and subsequently tried out the boeuf bourguignon recipe at home, she had a hunch that its timing was perfect.

“People were travelling more. Even a secretary could put away her pennies and go to Europe on an economy flight and have her first bistro dinner,” she says. “And [when the book was published] the Kennedys had a French chef in the White House.”

In her memoir about her life in publishing, The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food , Ms. Jones said she was “ boulversée ” upon reading what became Mastering the Art of French Cooking . “There was nothing like it,” she says now. “It was a unique book, and it changed the way that we think about cookbooks, which is that it isn’t so much about the recipes, it’s the techniques.”

Lu Galasso - Julie and JuliaThe book ushered in fame for Ms. Child, a tall, mannish-looking woman whose playful personality belied her arch upper-class appearance. “As Julia would say, ‘I am quite a ham,’” Ms. Jones recalls. “She was totally spontaneous. When she would fish out a little herb bouquet, and it was all grey, and she’d toss it in the garbage, and say, ‘It looks like a dead mouse,’ that’s what she was thinking.”

That authenticity is far rarer in the foodie industry now, Ms. Jones says. “It’s gone the other way now. You have to be a celebrity. I find it offensive because I don’t think they are really teaching and enabling the home cook. So much of it is show-off cooking. I don’t think it’s a competition. To really understand cooking, well, it’s a very subtle art,” she says, folding her hands neatly on her lap.

She believes the movie’s depiction of Ms. Child’s passion and determination, mirrored by Ms. Powell’s, close to 50 years later will bring about a renewed appreciation for classic food preparation. “It may help to bring us back to our senses,” she says in her staunch New England accent. “And it shows a generation, who doesn’t really quite even know, who Julia Child was. It brings her very much to life.”

Ms. Jones parlays her love of the meticulous into many aspects of her life. She describes her regimen for staying fit and elegant in a nonsensical manner and seems bemused that anyone would find it extraordinary. She does yoga every night. When she is in Vermont, where she has a house, she swims in a pond, the length of a football field, twice a day. Her swimming prowess saved her life in 1997, the year after her husband, Evan, died. She was driving along a country road in the rain when a small stream suddenly turned into a torrent. She escaped by swimming. “I also do weights to fight osteoporosis,” she adds. And to keep her brain fit, she memorizes lines of poetry.

Widowhood is also manageable, she says, because she never lost her love for cooking, even for one. In September, her cookbook, The Pleasures of Cooking for One , will be published.

Preparation of dinner is a highlight of her day, she says. “It’s really one of the sacred things in life.”

She nods her head slightly, almost imperceptibly. It appears that the word sacred was exactly, precisely, what she meant.

The article can be found here

— Lu Galasso

July 27, 2009 Posted by | movies | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lu Galasso on Showtime/HBO

Okay, so I will admit that this wasn’t an original idea. I was reading http://www.torontoist.com and they/he/she wrote a post about television shows. That got me thinking about the shows I like to watch and I realized that the majority of the TV shows I like are on HBO and Showtime. So I thought I would share with you some of these shows and provide a description of each of them.

HBO:

Big Love

The story of Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton), a polygamist who lives in suburban Salt Lake City with his three wives (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin) and now-eight children. As the new season opens, Bill, who last season bought a gaming-machine business to supplement his Home Plus superstores, is looking to diversify even further in the face of a flat do-it-yourself market and a crackdown on polygamists around the country (a trend echoed in real life with several headline-making polygamist busts this year).

As we have learned, balancing his professional and personal lives can be tough on Bill, and this season it only gets more frazzling. Over the course of Season Three, Bill will try to convince a native-American tribe to partner on a Mormon-friendly casino; woo a fourth-wife prospect (could it be Ana?) through unorthodox group-dating rituals; face unexpected repercussions from the imprisonment of “prophet” Roman Grant and the ascension of his scheming son Alby; deal with escalating hostilities involving mother Lois, father Frank, brother Joey and sister-in-law Wanda; and navigate crises involving his children Sarah, Ben and Tancy. And that’s just the tip of the Henrickson iceberg in what shapes up to be the most scandalous, entertaining season of Big Love ever.

Eastbound and Down

HBO premieres a new half-hour series about an arrogant, burned-out, former major-league pitcher named Kenny Powers (Danny McBride), who is forced to return home to North Carolina to teach Phys Ed at the middle school he once attended. While wreaking havoc at school with his boorish behavior, Kenny crashes at the home of his brother Dustin (John Hawkes); plots a triumphant return to the big leagues; and makes a pre-emptive romantic strike on former high-school squeeze April Buchanon (Katy Mixon), now a teacher engaged to principal Terrence Cutler (Andrew Daly). The series is executive produced by Will Ferrell (guest staring in two episodes), Adam McKay, Chris Henchy, Jody Hill, Danny McBride and Ben Best.

Entourage

Entourage takes a none-too-serious look at the day-to-day life of Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier), an incandescent young Hollywood actor, and the three buddies he’s brought from their hometown in Queens, NY: manager Eric (Kevin Connolly), half-brother/actor Drama (Kevin Dillon), and party pal Turtle (Jerry Ferrara). Also starring Golden Globe and three-time Emmy-winner Jeremy Piven as Ari, Vince’s frenetic agent, Entourage draws on the experiences of industry insiders to illustrate the excesses of today’s celebrity lifestyle, as well as the difficulty of maintaining relationships and artistic fulfillment in the show-biz fast track.

This season, after weathering a series of professional storms, Vince has bounced back after the opening of Gatsby, his new film directed by Martin Scorsese. Meanwhile, the guys each take steps to develop their own careers, and Ari looks to build up his agency with the help of a new partner, Andrew Klein (Gary Cole).

Entourage airs Sunday nights at 10:30pm

Flight of the Conchords

HBO presents the Season Two premiere of the “delightfully quirky” (Boston Herald) musical-comedy series co-conceived (with James Bobin) and performed by Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, the folk-comedy duo from New Zealand whose live stage shows and CDs as Flight of the Conchords have won them a worldwide cult following, a 2005 One Night Stand on HBO, and a 2007 Grammy for Best Comedy Album.

Over the course of ten new episodes this season, Bret and Jemaine (playing fictionalized versions of themselves) find their sophomore year living in the East Village at least as challenging as the first, and resort to a variety of desperate tactics to jump-start their lives and career. These include: turning to prostitution as a way to pay bills; starting up a gang; impersonating Simon & Garfunkel in a look-alike contest; falling for the same girl (what else is new?); even dating an Australian (a taboo in New Zealand). As usual, the duo’s misguided efforts to find romance or land a gig rarely yield dividends, but they do spawn all-new Conchord tunes about life, love, and the pursuit of an elusive music video.

Hung

Years ago in high school, Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane) was athletic, popular, and destined for success. Now, as a high-school teacher and basketball coach, he’s underpaid, uninsured, and embittered that his wife of 20 years (Anne Heche) has left him for her dermatologist. After a fire damages the rundown Detroit home he inherited from his parents, Ray’s fortunes reach an all-time low when his twin children, who had been living with him, move in with their mom and her clean-freak hubby. Lonely, run-down and at wit’s end, Ray attends a local self-help class whose mantra is to identify a personal “winning tool” to market for financial success. After a not-so-fulfilling encounter with a fellow attendee – an ex-flame and would-be poet named Tanya (Jane Adams) – Ray has a “eureka” moment. With the help of Tanya, Ray resolves to take advantage of his greatest asset, in hopes of changing his fortunes in a big way.

Hung airs Sunday nights at 10pm

In Treatment

HBO presents Season Two of In Treatment, the critically acclaimed half-hour drama series starring Gabriel Byrne (who won a Golden Globe in January for his role), and adapted from the popular Israeli series created by Hagai Levi (one of HBO’s executive producers, along with Stephen Levinson, Mark Wahlberg, Warren Leight, Paris Barclay and Rodrigo Garcia). Set within the highly charged confines of individual psychotherapy sessions, the series once again centers around Dr. Paul Weston (Byrne), who recently divorced his wife Kate, and has moved from Maryland to a brownstone in Brooklyn, New York (where this season is shot). Rebuilding his practice while wrestling with some of the demons he left behind — including a lawsuit filed by the father of Alex, a patient who died last year — Paul takes on several new patients, including the four seen in individual episodes each week. He also commutes to Maryland every Friday to continue his own sessions with Dr. Gina Toll (Emmy®/Oscar® winner Dianne Wiest).

Summer Heights High

HBO premieres a scripted comedy series written and starring Australian comedian/actor Chris Lilley, who masterfully portrays all three lead characters, each on their own journey at one “average” public high school. Over eight half-hour episodes, the series documents the public-school experience through the eyes of two students and one teacher. There’s “Jonah,” a charmingly unruly middle schooler; “Mr. G,” a delusional drama teacher; and “Ja’mie,” a conniving private-school exchange student obsessed with maintaining her “queen bee” status. Outrageous, politically incorrect and laugh-out-loud funny, Summer Heights High chronicles a world that we’ve all been a part of, one that’s full of characters that will make us cringe with recognition.

True Blood

Thanks to a Japanese scientist’s invention of synthetic blood, vampires have progressed from legendary monsters to fellow citizens overnight. And while humans have been safely removed from the menu, many remain apprehensive about these creatures “coming out of the coffin.” Religious leaders and government officials around the world have chosen their sides, but in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps, the jury is still out.

Local waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), however, knows how it feels to be an outcast. “Cursed” with the ability to listen in on people’s thoughts, she’s also open-minded about the integration of vampires — particularly when it comes to Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), a handsome 173-year-old living up the road. But at the service of Bill’s less virtuous vampire associates, Sookie is drawn into a series of catastrophes that will put their love to the test.

The latest hit series from ‘Six Feet Under’ creator Alan Ball, ‘True Blood’ delves into the meticulously-crafted world of novelist Charlaine Harris. Described by the Emmy®-winning Ball as “popcorn for smart people,” the first season of ‘True Blood’ caused an overnight sensation – and the new installments only build on his colorful cast of supernatural misfits.

True Blood airs Sunday nights at 9pm.

Showtime:

Californication

Californication is a Showtime TV series production created by Tom Kapinos, starring David Duchovny as Hank Moody, a troubled novelist whose move to California and his writer’s block complicate the relationships with his ex-girlfriend Karen (Natascha McElhone) and daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin).

Dexter

He’s smart, good looking, and he’s got a great sense of humor. Michael C. Hall stars as Dexter, everyone’s favorite serial killer. Miami forensics expert by day and murderer by night, this serial-killer killer is making the world a better place – one homicide at a time.

The Tudors

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is King Henry VIII as never seen before. With a lust for power and an appetite for love, the stunning young monarch ruled his kingdom as he lived his life – with ruthless abandon. This epic series reveals the untold story of the beloved tyrant whose reign was marked by treachery, betrayal and intrigue.

United States of Tara

One woman. Multiple personalities. From executive producer Steven Spielberg comes the new Showtime Original Series UNITED STATES OF TARA, starring Toni Collette. Between juggling family, career and her ever- altering personalities, Tara Gregson never knows what – or who – to expect next.

Weeds

Emmy® and Golden Globe® winner Mary-Louise Parker stars as the single mom who resorts to dealing pot after her husband dies suddenly . But when an off-beat way to make ends meet grows into a mini-empire, the mother of all dealers finds she may be in over her

head – an

d on the verge of taking everyone else with her.

Well that’s all I’ve got for you today. Let me know any other shows that you think are worth while and I’ll have to check them out!

– Lu Galasso

July 20, 2009 Posted by | movies | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment