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.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Movie Review for The Lucky One

Starring: Zac Efron as Logan    

Also Starring: Taylor Schilling as Beth; Blythe Danner as Ellie;
and Riley Thomas Stewart as Ben

Release Date:  Friday, April 20, 2012

Running Time:  101 minutes

Genre:  Drama

Director: Scott Hicks

Writers: Will Fetters (screenplay)  Nicholas Sparks (novel)

Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence

Brief Description: A Marine travels to Louisiana after serving three tours in Iraq and searches for the unknown woman he believes was his good luck charm during the war.

I just recently saw a commercial for this movie and wanted to see it because  it stars Zac Efron. As the mother of two teenage daughters, I've watched Zac since he was 16 years old and appeared as Cameron in the TV series Summerland starring Lori Loughlin. At 18, he starred as Troy in the Disney TV movie, High School Musical. And the rest, as they say, is history. He went on and starred in two more High School Musical movies and then, at the age of 19, landed the role of Link Larkin in the 2007 hit film Hairspray.  He has continued to appear in other comedies including 17 Again and New Year's Eve. I think it was his role as a young man struggling with his brother's death in the movie Charlie St. Cloud that convinced me that he had successfully made the transition from cute Disney star to accomplished film actor.

And then last night I found out that movie The Lucky One is based on a novel written by author Nicholas Sparks. Duh, I should have guessed that by watching the previews: Attractive but lonely guy finds girl, overcomes obstacles, someone dies and then he gets girl at the end of the movie.  Seems like this same situation has been the pattern for most of the other novels Sparks has written that have also been turned into tearjerker movies (The Last Song, Dear John).

I purchased tickets ahead of time for the 7:15 showing of The Lucky One on the day it came out and I'm glad I did because the theater was full and several people had trouble finding seats. I took Sara and her friend Natalie where they met two other girls at the theater. Most of the people there were teenagers, although I did see a few older people and those in their twenties.

The movie opens with Zac's character Logan as a Marine fighting in Iraq. Amid all the bombs in the war zone, he finds a picture of a pretty, blond young woman. At first I wondered if I could believe Zac Efron looks old enough to play a soldier convincingly, but he does. He turns 25 this year and looks like he has been working out since playing basketball as Troy Bolton in HSM. His character Logan returns to the US and begins his search for the girl in the picture, along with his German shepherd Zeus.

Thanks to the Internet and part of a lighthouse in the picture, he discovers that the picture was taken in Hammond, Louisiana. So he walks from his sister's home in Colorado to Louisiana with his dog. This part I don't really believe. I guess he might have walked through Arkansas on his way to Louisiana? He actually finds the girl, Beth (Taylor Schilling), who runs a family dog kennel with her amusing grandmother Ellie (Blythe Danner).

I think one of the best things about this movie is the casting. The character of Beth is a single mom and Taylor Schilling does an excellent job of handling the daily duties of running the dog kennel, being mom to her adorable 10-year-old son Ben who would rather play his violin then play baseball, and struggling to get along with her jerk of an ex-husband. She is a pretty actress but also plays a strong character.

I also liked Blythe Danner in this movie and almost forgot that she is Gwyneth Paltrow's mother. And the actor who plays Beth's son is also very good, without being annoying.

This movie was filmed in Louisiana and the locations shots are beautiful. There are many scenes filmed outdoors, both on sunny days and during the pouring rain. Overall, I really enjoyed watching The Lucky One and I thought it was a very good movie with a good storyline, great acting by a strong cast, and excellent production value.

Taylor Schilling and Zac Efron appear together at an event for The Lucky One

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Movie Review for The Hunger Games

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna.

Release Date:  Friday, March 23, 2012

Running Time:  142 minutes

Genres:  Action/Drama/Sci-Fi

Director: Gary Ross

Writers: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray

Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens.

Brief Description: Set in futuristic North America, The Hunger Games tells the tale of Katniss Everdeen, the teenage girl from her district who must go to the Capitol for a deadly fight.

Our family went to Orange Beach, Alabama for Spring Break this year. Lauren looked online and saw that there was a midnight showing of The Hunger Games at the Rave Movie Theater in The Wharf  Shopping Center in Orange Beach. So we bought tickets for the Midnight Premiere that afternoon and went back to the theater around 11:00 pm. Sara talked to her friends Daniella and Beth who were also at Orange Beach during Spring Break and they met us at the theater. The movie theater has a huge Ferris Wheel in front of it and the inside looks just like the Rave here in Little Rock!

Lauren and Sara in front of the Rave Movie Theater
Orange Beach, Alabama
Early morning on March 23, 2012

If you are not familiar with the series of books or with the movie, it's basically kids killing kids.  Lauren read the first book (The Hunger Games) and had started reading the second book (Catching Fire), but accidentally left it on the airplane during our trip to Hawaii in January! Sara hasn't read the books, but actually had me send in a headshot and acting resume when the movie was being cast last Spring.  It was filmed in North Caroline during the summer of 2011, and she remembers seeing online messages looking for extras for the movie.

The movie was shown on several screens that night and they all seemed full. I was really impressed with the casting and production value of the movie during the first half, but when the actual games started, I had to leave the theater.  I went out to the lobby and wrote random notes for this review while also watching an episode of Glee on my iPad!

  • This movie reminded me of that film I had to watch in Junior High called "The Lottery" where everyone in town gets together one day a year to see who will be stoned to death that day.
  • Wes Bentley, who plays Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane, is from Arkansas and as a teen appeared in a student short film, Serendipity Lane, in which my brother, Chuck Smith, served as Director of Photography.
  • Woody from Cheers and musician Lenny Kravitz are both in this movie and are great as mentors/advisors to Katniss and Peeta.
  • I think I'm probably one of twelve people who actually saw Jennifer Lawrence in the Oscar nominated film Winter's Bone. I read recently that she is tired of playing roles where her character is poor and spends a lot of time running through the woods!
  • Australian Liam Hemsworth is Miley Cyrus' boyfriend and appeared with her in the 2010 movie The Last Song.
  • Josh Hutcherson, a native of Union, Kentucky played the character Laser in the movie The Kids Are All Right, one of our favorite movies from 2010.
  • Most of the people in the theater that night looked like high school and college students on Spring Break.  I saw a few parents in the crowd along with some younger children.  Lauren sat with Sara and her two friends during the previews, but all four girls moved up a few rows to sit with me because there was a mouse on the floor by their seats!
  • I read a few days later that the movie grossed more than $155,000,000 during its Opening Weekend.
  • I may not agree with some of the content of this movie, but I think it's great that a lot of young people are reading more books such as The Hunger Games, along with the Harry Potter series and The Twilight Saga that are then made into movies.
  • I talked to all four girls after the movie was over, and they all liked it! Lauren said that some parts of the movie were a little different than the book and that she is really looking forward to the next movie, Catching Fire!

Sara took this cool picture of the Ferris Wheel
in front of the movie theater in Orange Beach!

To celebrate the return of Glee on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 I am writing my next blog entry as a recap of our trip to Chicago to see Glee Live on June 4, 2011.  Here's a picture my friend Lynn took from her seat on the 3rd row!