About Me

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Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
I completed the 2016 Summer Program in the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. I received a BS Degree in Radio/TV from ASU and a MA Degree in Technical and Expository Writing from UALR. As a Cancer Survivor and a Widow, I hope I can help others through my Blog http://leslieinlittlerock.blogspot.com/ Twitter @leslieinlr and Instagram @leslieinlittlerock accounts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fall 2011 Movie Reviews for Anonymous, Jack and Jill, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Footloose, & Abduction

 Anonymous


Starring: Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I, Joely Richardson as Young Queen Elizabeth I, Rhys Ifans as Earl of Oxford, and Xavier Samuel as Earl of Southampton

Release Date:  Friday, October 28, 2011

Running Time:  130 minutes

Rated:  PG13, Drama

Brief Description: A political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford who penned Shakespeare's plays; set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her.

Leslie's Notes:  My 14-year-old daughter, Sara, really wanted to see this movie when it came out on my birthday, but we didn't see it until two weeks later, after we saw both the new Harold and Kumar movie and Jack and Jill with Adam Sandler playing twins, a male and a female.  I figured that we needed at little Shakespeare to balance out those two comedies! This movie is an intense drama, but it also has good production value, including filming locations in Germany that looks like England in the 1600s. Another interesting fact is that Vanessa Redgrave plays an older Queen Elizabeth in the movie and her own daughter, Joely Richardson, plays the younger Queen Elizabeth.


Jack and Jill



Starring: Adam Sandler as Jack Sandelstein, Adam Sandler as Jill Sanelstein, Katie Holmes as Erin Sandelstein,  Al Pacino as himself

Release Date:  Friday, November 11, 2011

Running Time:  91 minutes

Rated:  PG, Comedy

Brief Description: Family guy Jack Sadelstein prepares for the annual event he dreads: the Thanksgiving visit of his twin sister, the needy and passive-aggressive Jill, who then refuses to leave.

Leslie's Notes:  Oh. My. Gosh!  What was Adam Sandler thinking when he agreed to make this movie?  And did Al Pacino lose some kind of bet?  Why does Katie Holmes look like she is in a trance during the entire movie? This movie has a few funny scenes and many cameo appearances by different celebrities.  Some you will recognize right away, and others you won't!  Toward the end of the movie, the family goes on a Caribbean Christmas Cruise, and Sara told me that it was filmed on an actual cruise ship, right after our family went on a 2010 Caribbean Christmas Cruise too!

This movie has received a lot of bad reviews, but my 14-year-old daughter really loved it!


A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

Starring:  John Cho as Harold and Kal Penn as Kumar

Release Date:  Friday, November 4, 2011

Running Time:  90 minutes

Rated:  R, Comedy

Brief Description:  Six years after their Guantanamo Bay adventure, stoner buds Harold Lee and Kumar Patel cause a holiday fracas by inadvertently burning down Harold's father-in-law's prize Christmas tree.

Leslie's Notes: This movie is really funny!  Yes, it probably contains more "PC" topics (drug use, sexual situations, graphic nudity, pervasive language) than any other movie, but it's really funny!

As anyone who knows me or has read any of my past movies reviews either on Facebook or in my blog, I always try to incorporate funny facts and interesting trivia into my reviews. I have two interesting items about this movie.  The first one is that my 18-year-old daughter, Lauren, went to Horace Mann Arts & Sciences Middle School in Little Rock with a friend named Christina Kim whose family used to live in Los Angeles and went to the same church as John Cho, who plays Harold. 

And the second one involves a scene where someone says something to the character, Kumar, about working at the White House.  Sara told while we were watching the movie that the actor really did work at the White House, so I looked it up on IMDB and read that actor Kal Penn accepted a position as the associate director in the White House's Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs on April 7, 2009.

I have included a spoiler about this movie, but I listed it at the end of this blog in case some people don't want to know!


Footloose


Starring: Kenny Wormald as Ren, Julianne Hough as Ariel Moore, and Dennis Quaid & Andi MacDowell as Ariel's parents, Rev. Shaw and Vi Moore

Release Date:  Friday, October 14, 2011

Running Time:  113 minutes

Rated:  PG-13, Comedy/Drama/Music

Brief Description:  City kid Ren MacCormack moves to a small town where rock 'n' roll and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace.

Leslie's Notes:  Even though I said I would not see the new movie "Footloose", actually a remake of the 1984 hit starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, and John Lithgow, I did see it. On the first day it came out. AND I LOVED IT!   There are a few different things - Ren goes to live in the South with his Uncle's family and therefore everything has a country flair to it, including the songs and the line dancing.






Starring: Taylor Lautner as Nathan and Lily Collins as Karen

Release Date:  Friday, September 23, 2011

Running Time:  106 minutes

Rated:  PG-13, Action/Drama/Mystery

Brief Description:  A thriller centered on a young man who sets out to uncover the truth about his life after finding his baby photo on a missing persons website.

Leslie's Notes: This was the first of the "Fall 2011 Movies" I saw this year, but I'm still not really sure what it is about!  Sara showed me the trailer for the movie months ago and it looked really intense and interesting as well. 

When we saw the movie the weekend it came out, I remember thinking these things during the movie: How many times is Taylor Lautner going to take off his shirt?;  Why does actress Maria Bello look so pretty in her movies but looks and acts so rough in her new TV Show "Prime Suspect"?; I remember watching Phil Collins on MTV while in college in the 80's and my Chi Omega sorority sister Molly saying that he looked like Squiggy on "Laverne & Shirley"!  Now his daughter Lily is a popular movie star and has really pretty eye makeup on in this movie! Blah, blah, blah, let's just enjoy looking at another picture of Taylor Lautner (and not in a creepy way at all)!






Rambling Thoughts...

 

My friend Lynn created this Birthday card for me!
 

One of my favorite picture's of Darren taken by Sara!




Look!  It's a picture of Taylor with Lea Michele (Rachel) from Glee!

The spoiler for A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas is that Neil Patrick Harris appears in this new movie as himself, although technically he died in the last movie!  That part is explained and features some funny scenes and he is actually in the picture on the movie poster, along with John Cho as Harold and Kal Penn as Kumar.

I listed the movies in this blog in reverse order that I saw them.  For example I saw Abduction first, then Footloose, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, Jack and Jill, and Anonymous. Sara and I also saw Breaking Dawn at the midnight premiere last week, but I'm going to write a separate review for it.  I will say that I really liked it and I thought that both Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson did a great job in it!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spring/Summer 2011 Movie Recaps

Watching new movies in a movie theatre is one thing that both my daughters and I have loved doing for years. Also, when I went through cancer treatment ten years ago, both girls, then ages 4 and 8, and I enjoyed spending afternoons watching the Disney Channel and movies on DVDs. We also love to look up information about actors online using IMDB, see what movies and TV shows they were in before, and what upcoming productions they have already scheduled.

Usually when I see a new movie I'll post my comments about it on my Facebook so I can share it with my friends.  Originally I was going to write one BLOG entry that contained reviews for the Spring/Summer movies I've seen, upcoming Fall movies, and recaps of all ten 2011 Best Picture nominees but decided that would be WAY TOO LONG so I'm breaking it up into different entries. 

This first one covers the following ten movies I saw during this past spring and summer, including information about each movie along with some of my comments.  I listed them in the order that I liked them!

2011 EMMY AWARDS UPDATE:  When I originally started writing these movie recaps weeks ago, I commented on the performances of both Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids and Kyle Chandler in Super 8.  They both won Emmy's on Sunday night!

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint

Released: July 15, 2011

Brief Description: Harry, Ron and Hermione search for Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes in their effort to destroy the Dark Lord.

Leslie's Notes: This is the final movie based on the Harry Potter series of seven books written by J.K. Rowling.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was released in November 2010. We have seen all 8 movies; most of them at the midnight premiere.  I have loved every movie and so far "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" has been my favorite, but I think "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" is my new favorite!  It has suspense, humor, action, and drama all rolled into 130 minutes with an excellent conclusion to a well-loved saga. A friend of mine asked me this summer if he would understand this movie without seeing any of the other ones, and I told him yes.

Leslie's Side Note: Harry Potter has been a part of our lives for ten years. The first movie came out when my oldest daughter, Lauren, was 10 years old and this final movie was released when she was 18 years old. Lauren went to New York City on a trip with her friend Jennifer and Jennifer's family this summer and she was lucky enough to see Daniel Radcliffe as J. Pierrepont Finch in the musical "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying".  Even though she saw the play by herself and had to stand the entire time, she said it was amazing because Daniel Radcliffe was amazing!  Four days later, Sara and I met Darren Criss of Glee at Six Flags and the next day found out that he is taking over Daniel's role in the musical in January.


2.  Glee: The 3D Concert Movie

Starring the cast of Glee: Dianna Agron (Quinn), Chris Colfer (Kurt), Ashley Fink (Lauren), Lea Michele (Rachel), Heather Morris (Brittany), Cory Monteith (Finn), Chord Overstreet (Sam), Kevin McHale (Artie), Naya Rivera (Santana), Mark Salling (Puck), Harry Shum Jr (Mike Chang), Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina), Amber Riley (Mercedes), and the Dalton Academy Warblers: Darren Criss (Blaine), Jon Robert Hall, Riker Lynch (Jeff), Titus Makin Jr (David), Curt Mega (Nick), & Jaymz Tuaileva.

Released: August 12, 2011

Brief Description: A concert documentary filmed at East Rutherford, New Jersey during the Glee Live! In Concert! Summer 2011 tour.

Leslie's Notes: I saw this movie three times in less than one week, including seeing it at a Midnight Movie Premiere. My daughters and I have watched the TV show Glee since the pilot episode first aired on May 19, 2009, so we are big fans of the TV show. We also saw the Glee Live Concert in Chicago on June 4, so we were familiar with the concert, but it was still great seeing it in 3D!  In the movie, the members of the McKinley High School New Directions Glee Club perform 23 popular songs. If you love the TV series Glee, you will love this movie.



3. Midnight in Paris


Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Kathy Bates

Written and Directed by Woody Allen

Released: June 10, 2011

Brief Description: A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.

Leslie's Notes: If you love Rachel McAdams, you'll hate this movie! And Marion Cotillard (Glee's Kurt and Blaine's favorite Vogue cover appears in the movie as well!)  Although Lauren and I saw this movie at the Market Street Cinema, which shows Independent and Foreign films, Midnight in Paris was one of the top 10 box-office movies of the summer.


4.  Super 8


Starring: Kyle Chandler, Joel Courtney, and Elle Fanning

Released: June 10, 2011

Brief Description:  After witnessing a mysterious train crash, a group of friends in the summer of 1979 begin noticing strange happenings going around in their small town, and begin to investigate into the creepy phenomenon.

Leslie's Notes: Super 8 is one of my favorites movies of the summer.  This movie has suspense, action, mystery, comedy and an amazing sound track from the 70's!  When the song "Silly Love Songs" started playing during the diner scene, I looked around to see whose cell phone was going off with the Glee version of the song!



5. Bridesmaids


Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, and Jon Hamm

Released: May 13, 2011

Brief Description: Picked as her best friend's maid of honor, lovelorn and broke Annie looks to bluff her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals with an oddball group of bridesmaids.

Leslie's Notes: One of the funniest movies we've seen this year, thanks to Melissa McCarthy's performance as Megan, sister of the groom.  And Jon Hamm is in the movie too. I just found out that my friend Lynn went to high school in Illinois with Melissa McCarthy!  And Bridesmaids is now out on DVD.







6.  Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Starring: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, and Ryan Gosling

Released: July 29, 2011

Brief Description: A father's life unravels while he deals with a marital crisis and tries to manage his relationship with his children.

Leslie's Notes: Lauren and I saw this movie together the first weekend it came out.  We love Emma Stone. And Steve Carell. And Julianne Moore.  And we loved this movie.









7.  The Help

Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, and Cicely Tyson.

Released: August 10, 2011

Brief Description: An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960's decides to write a book detailing the African American Maid's point of view on the White families they work for, and they hardships they go through on a day to day basis.

Leslie's Notes: Sara and I tried to see this movie two times when the first week it was released, but it was always sold out. I would like to read the book as well, but the movie was very well written and has several outstanding performances from the cast. 






8.  Soul Surfer

Starring:  AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, and Carrie Underwood

Released: April 8, 2011

Brief Description:  A teenage surfer girl summons the courage to go back into the ocean after losing an arm in a shark attack.

Leslie's Notes: Based on the true story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton.  Sara celebrated her 14th Birthday by taking 6 friends to see this movie the night it premiered. I really enjoyed this movie, especially the performances of AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany and Carrie Underwood as her church youth director.







9.  Bad Teacher

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, and Jason Segel

Released: June 24, 2011

Brief Description: A comedy centered around a foul-mouthed, junior high teacher who, after being dumped by her sugar daddy, begins to woo a colleague -- a move that pits her against a well-loved teacher.

Leslie's Notes: Kind of raunchy, it is rated R, but it has some funny scenes!

10. Prom

Starring: Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell, and DeVaugn Nixon (Never heard of any of them!)

But my 14-year-old daughter Sara recognized two Disney kids Nicholas Braun (well, he's 23 years old!) who was in Sky High and Minutemen and Danielle Campbell (who was in Star Struck) as also being in Prom.

Released: April 29, 2011

Brief Description: A group of teenagers get ready for their high school prom.

Leslie's Notes: Sara and I saw this movie the day before Lauren went to her Senior Prom.  At  Lauren's prom a girl from her school ended up in the Hospital Emergency Room because of alcohol poisoning. None of the "teen issues" such as underage drinking, sexual activity, or drugs are even mentioned in this movie.  And that's a good thing!



I'm really looking forward to seeing these new fall movies:

1. Abduction
Release Date: September 23, 2011
Starring Taylor Lautner and Lily Collins
A thriller centered on a young man who sets out to uncover the truth about his life after finding his baby photo on a missing persons website.


2.  Moneyball
Release Date: September 23, 2011
Starring Brad Pitt, Robin Wright, and Jonah Hill
The story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.


3. The Ides of March
Release Date: October 7, 2011
Starring George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, and Evan Rachel Wood
An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail. Based on the play by Beau Willimon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Think That Everyone Has A Twin...

Lynn McGee and Leslie Doan at Six Flags in St. Louis
I remember watching a TV movie in 1998 called Nightmare Street starring Sherilyn Fenn from the cult classic Twin Peaks as a young widow named Joanna who also exists in a Parallel Universe as another woman named Sarah. Years later, I’m still trying to figure out what happens in the end of this movie, but it made me think about Parallel Universes and Alternate Universes, where everyone has a twin.  Not someone who shares a physical resemblance with you but someone with who you have a lot in common. I often wondered if I have a twin out there and if so, where is she?  I found out this summer that I do have a twin and her name is Lynn!

It all started when my two teenage daughters, 18-year-old Lauren and 14-year-old Sara, and I flew to Chicago to attend the Glee Live concert on June 4.  As we were walking up to the arena the afternoon of the concert, I asked a teenage girl standing nearby if this was the line for the VIP tickets.  A lady who was the mother of the girl said she wasn’t sure, but we decided to try to find out ourselves and went inside the box office lobby, got our tickets and went back outside to the line.

We started talking and I found out that her name is Lynn McGee and she lives in Joliet, Illinois. I also discovered that she has two daughters the same ages as my girls and that her oldest daughter, Emma, just graduated from high school like Lauren and that her youngest, Hannah, just completed middle school like Sara.  By this time, all six of us had moved inside into a large room in the back of the arena for a pre-party for the Glee concert.

Sara, Leslie & Lauren Doan
As we all ate snacks and made ice cream sundaes, Lynn and I found out that we had more in common. We both brought our daughters to the Glee concert as a high school graduation gift for our oldest ones.  Not only are we both huge Glee fans, we also are both fans of actor/singer Darren Criss, who plays Blaine on Glee and in addition helps run a musical theater company called StarKids located in Chicago.

Hannah, Lynn & Emma McGee
My girls and I had seats on the 4th row on the floor, near where Lynn and her girls were sitting on the 3rd row.  Lynn and I talked again after the concert, exchanging Facebook accounts with each other and taking one last picture of all four girls together outside the Allstate Arena.

When we returned to Little Rock that weekend, we continued to connect with Lynn sharing dozens of pictures she took at the concert with me through Facebook.  The more we got to know each other, the more things we found out that we have in common, such as we both have calico cats named after Disney characters, we have daughters that are dancers, and we both work in some sort of capacity for a college. The similarities continued: we both count “Miracle on 34th Street”, “Grease” and “The King’s Speech” as a few of our favorite movies; Mark Ruffalo as one of our favorite actors; and we both have seen “Raiders of the Lost Ark” more than 100 times - Lynn because she’s a big fan of Harrison Ford, and I because I worked at a local movie theatre during the summer of 1981 that showed the movie!

Lauren & Sara Doan and Emma & Hannah McGee
Glee Live Concert, Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL June 4, 2011
A month after we first met, we met again, thanks to Darren Criss!  He was performing concerts at two Six Flags amusement parks in July and Lynn told me that she and her daughters already had tickets to the concert in St. Louis on July 21.  After a lot of planning and good luck, Sara and I drove seven hours to St. Louis and met Lynn, Emma, Hannah, and their friend Katie at Six Flags the day of the concert.  Thanks again to more good luck I acquired two “Meet & Greet” passes to meet Darren at 4:45 that afternoon!

Sara and I met Darren, who recorded a short "Video Hello" for Lauren who had been in New York and unable to make the trip to St. Louis.  He also signed Glee concert pictures and Sara’s Glee T-Shirt for us along with signing a pair of hot pink sunglasses and two Warblers CDs for Emma, Hannah, and Katie.

StarKids Fans Sara Doan, Hannah & Emma McGee and Katie Votik
Six Flags at St. Louis, July 21, 2011
Lynn and I visited more before the concert and found out that we have other things in common, including we have both had breast surgery and we both like to spend time talking about Movie & TV Trivia and meeting celebrities in amusement parks. It turns out that Lynn and her husband ran into country singer Clint Black three different times and that my daughters once rode a roller coaster with Rick Springfield!

We all had a great time at the concert and texted each other as we drove back on the way back to our different states the following morning.

The rest of the summer we continued to text and correspond through email and Facebook. Some of the things we share are big such as when I told her about my husband and I meeting Lauren and Sara in Washington, DC while they were on our FaithSpring Church youth group Music & Mission trip during the last week in July and Lynn told me when she took Emma and Hannah to a local movie theatre to meet actor Tom Felton from the Harry Potter movies and about their family vacation to Minneapolis in August. 

Other things are small, like the time when Lynn texted me that two male co-workers spent their whole lunch hour arguing about which actor was a better Batman!  Or the fact that we both sent each other the same text at the same time about Chris Colfer's upcoming appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Lynn once told me that her husband thinks it's fate that we met, and I know my daughters are glad that I have someone else besides them to share my obsessive love of Glee and innate TV and Movie Trivia. We both are counting the days until the Glee Season 3 Premiere on September 20!

We both have families, homes, jobs and responsibilities with church and kids’ activities and it has been nice to connect with someone who shares so many of the same interests.

What started out as a mutual adoration for a popular TV show has turned into a friendship that could last a lifetime.
Sara and I met Darren Criss at a "Meet & Greet" before his concert at Six Flags in St. Louis!