Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Twilight" - a Review (*Spoilers*)

Disclaimer: I went to this movie (at midnight like a Twiharder 13-year old,) KNOWING I would like it. I know that if there were flying pigs and talking cats I would still like it as long as they stuck to the world's sappiest love story that is Edward and Bella. Not that the movie was without its faults - it wasn' on...

I read all four books in the Twilight Saga in about 3 weeks. I couldn't put them down. The author, Stephanie Meyer, got crazy lucky with this amazing, different love story. The writing sometimes left a bit to be desired - it was mushy and repetitive and catered to the tween fanbase. But, once it sucks you in you never get out. 

So, making a movie based on a book that is so popular with so many diehard fans is risky - you better stay true to the beloved book or you will be tarred and feathered in a public forum. The director, Catherine Hardwicke, was a good girl - she stayed as true to the book as humanly possible. The production company, Summit, is an indie company, so the movie only had a modest (by Hollywood standards) budget - $37 million. This is where the movie lacks - special effects....

MAJOR SPOILERS - Edward, our beloved Edward, is supposed to sparkle in the sun. There is such a clear picture painted in the book for this scene. It is one of those parts of a book that are written so there is NO mistaking how it should play out if it were, say, real, or made into a movie. Well, he sparkled in the sun in the movie, but he sure as hell didn't dazzle. This scene, along with the whole meadow scene right after Bella puts the pieces together and realizes Edward is *GASP* immortal, are so pivotal to this story - you can pull all the other pieces down around it and these scenes will stand on their own - not so much in the film, though. The whole scene was kind of thrown together to get it over with - 
"I know what you are." "Say it..out loud (Rob Pattinson is the sex when he is demanding.)" "Vampire." "OOOh, ok, check me out in the sun light." Cue cheesy special effect that resembled shiny, teen acne. 

Ok, so, that was about all that bothered me, really. Other than that, I was in love with the movie. Some things that stand out: 

In the book, I loved Charlie and Bella's relationship - you could tell they cared for and loved each other, but they were just so shy and awkward around each other. Their relationship translated so well into film - Bella and Charlie had some of the best scenes together. It was just very touching. 

Also, Bella's friends from Forks High School are total scene stealers - Jessica, Mike, Eric, and Angela - especially Jessica and Mike. Total cut ups. As one reviewer put it, ..."they reminded us of the life Bella would give up to be with Edward..." 

The scenes when Bella goes to the Cullen's house are heartwarming and hysterical - Rosalie steals the one cooking scene. Also, Edward taking Bella through the treetops is magical - on of the better special effects and it really shows the viewer how they feel without using words. Cue Bella's lullaby during this scene - I loved it. 

I couldn't really picture any music in my head for the lullaby while reading the book. But, the movie got it so right. It was powerful and passionate, kind of like their relationship. And it fit great in that particular scene. I liked all the music in the film, as I know a lot of people didn't like it or thought it was too much, whatever. I dug it. 

As for the whole Cullen family, they were great. Carlisle was breathtaking when he first walked on screen. Jasper kind of reminded me of Edward Scissorhands with his aloof facial expressions - trying not to breath in Bella's human scent. Rosalie was beautiful, as she was meant to be, and quite bitchy - I love it. Alice was how I pictured - perky, cute and to-the-point. Emmet was big and goofy and just kind of looking for a good time. Esme was cute and underused, I think. Hopefully she will be more prominent in the next film(s). I think they got the family spot-on. 
And, when they walked into the lunchroom and Bella saw them for the first time - it was so dramatic! I was like, "Oh, snap! The Cullens!! You better recognize!"

Then, Edward walked in. I couldn't picture Edward while reading the book. I kept changing him in my head. Then, I saw Rob Pattinson and knew they casted him in the movie role and I was like, "OK, this kid is a cutie. I can deal with that." Then, he did some photo shoots and looked like, well, like Edward should look - perfection. He is so amazing as Edward. There were some parts I wouldn't have thought to play that way. (Example: The biology scene where Bella meets him for the first time and he smells her: people laughed, even me, and I don't think it was meant to be funny - he looked like he was going to blow chunks. I pictured him as white-knuckled, almost angry. But, whatevs.) He is gorgeous - you can't deny it. Edward is supposed to be gorgeous. He has a unique voice (He is a Brit playing an American accent, so that helps.) He plays the whole "I'm so torn between leaving Bella alone and being miserable or loving her and possibly eating her" thing well. In the books, Edward was very demanding - borderline sexist. He just wanted to protect Bella. Well, it is kind of hot, ok? That is part of his appeal - he kind of lets Bella know what is what. I loved his performance and was totally a 13 year old girl when he walked on screen for the first time. 

Much like Edward, I could never picture Bella. Ok, not true, I always pictured myself as Bella. I must have not been home when they came to the door with the movie offer, though. Kristen Stewart would not have been my first choice b/c she always seems indifferent or bothered or something. But, she was good. She had some obnoxious lines, but she played them well. The only part that I wanted to smack her at was in the hospital when Edward said she should live with her mom - when she said, "No no - don't say that to me, I want you, blah blah." It seemed like she was TRYING to act poorly in this part. It wasn't good and it could have been great. So, boo to you for that, Kristen (I'm not bitter.) She WAS good in the venom scene. She didn't glam up the tortured pain - she actually looked like she was in pain. I like that - realism. 

OOOh, the fight scene - it was short, but it was so good. Another spot where the effects were pretty kick-ass. And Edward comes swooping in being a hero - I love it!! Speaking of Edward saving Bella's life, they left the scene where Bella is attacked in the city and Edward comes to save her. I am glad they left it in and they did it so well. Edward's rage, his driving, Bella finally realizing Edward is kind of different. 

Jacob wasn't in it that much, which didn't bother me. I don't like him. The kid that played him was super cute, though. 

Ok, I loved the friggin movie. I am going to see it again next week. I can't help myself. It won't win any Oscars, but people love it. They love the books and they love the story and they love RPatz (he is my future 2nd husband, so I can call him that.) I think with the greenlight for Summit to make New Moon (OMG - we have to wait til 2010 - UGH!) and the $33million made on the opening day alone, you will be seeing/hearing/breathing/biting/dreaming/ Twilight for a long time to come. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wedding Vendor Reviews

Here they are...

Ceremony & Reception - Pleasantdale Chateau (West Orange, NJ) - A+: From the moment we arrived at the PC a little over a year ago to check it out, we felt special. It felt as though we were the only people who will ever get married there and everything they did was for us. It is an amazing property - the grounds are just beautiful. The chateau itself is plucked from a different part of time. There are so many hallways and turns and doors and secret rooms - it is just a fun place. And, you get to take over the whole thing. 

The food was more than plentiful - there was food in every corner of the house for cocktail hour and the viennese hour. There was something for everyone. And, it was soooo good. 

Laura was our banquet manager and she was the sweetest thing ever. She was very prompt about returning any calls or emails. She always kept me in check as far as deadlines, etc. She knew her job inside and out. She helped up pick out the most amazing menu. I could not have asked for more. 

Santiago was our maitre d'. He was so funny and so nice. He ran a tight ship, but totally made you feel comfortable and like you did not have to worry about a thing. He really helped orchestrate our ceremony, too. 

The professionalism of the whole staff was amazing. Everyone knew exactly what to do and they take so much pride in their jobs. I didn't worry about anything all day. 

Also, the rooms are amazing - the 8 rooms in the main house are all different and all have a unique charm to them. The 22 rooms in the guest house have just been renovated, so everything is fresh and clean. 

We did the brunch the next morning and that was delish, too- - best sausage I ever had! 

The one complaint I have is the heat. When my girls and I were getting ready, the heat was up to 100 (ok, maybe not 100, but it FELT that way.) And, when we got to our honeymoon suite we had to open all the windows b/c it was HOT! Other people that stayed there overnight complained about the heat, too. 

Flowers - Crest Florist (East Hanover, NJ) - B: My flowers were absolutely gorgeous. They were straight out of a fairy tale and more than I could ever ask for. And, they were everywhere. I have no problems with the flowers. There were just some little service things that irked me. 

First, let me tell you how great Crest is. We worked with the owner Matt and he knows his flowers. They have been in the business for a million years or something, and they are good. We told him what we wanted in terms of the feel and mood we were going for and he basically said, "This will work, we will put this here, etc..." And, he pulled off beautiful decor. His team was at the PC before ME setting up and getting ready for our day. It was like Santa's workshop in there. And, when they had a problem, they asked my opinion first. For example, we had to have our ceremony in the ballroom b/c it was chilly outside. SO, they couldn't leave our centerpieces outside like they normally would b/c they might die. So, they came upstairs and asked if it was ok to leave the CPs in the ballroom during the ceremony. Things like that might seem little, but it meant a lot to me that they asked first instead of just doing. We also got our overlays, napkins and gobo from Crest and they all tied in so well together. 

Ok, so, we met with Matt 4 times or so before the wedding. And, each time he would forget something major, like, they were doing our gobo or something. We'd remind him and he'd be like, "Oh, yea, of course." It just wasn't comforting at times. He also was not there the day of the wedding which freaked me out a bit b/c we worked with him personally for a year and it would have been nice if I had questions or whatever. There were also some tiny details they forgot, which we didn't even notice the day of the wedding, to be honest, but looking back we were like, "Hmmm...oooh, yeaaaa."

Entertainment - Barry Herman Entertainment - Fantasy (Livingston, NJ) - B+: I should probably split this grade for service from the company vs. service from the band. We went into Barry Herman's with the intentions of booking a DJ. We never wanted a band. BUT, we heard this band and decided we had to have a band. OK, so, trying to get an email back from Barry was like pulling teeth. His assistant or whoever, Greg, was usually the one who got back to me. This was fine, I like Greg. Barry was a nice guy, but it just seemed sometimes like he wasn't really sure of the answers to my questions, or maybe he was just too busy. He also tried to push a lot of extra stuff like spotlights, etc. at our final meeting and we just couldn't deal with all the sales pitching at that point. 

The band was great. I enjoyed them so much. They played all the songs we asked for. They learned our first dance song and it sounded so good. The band leader was so nice and a pleasure to work with. I was iffy b/c they are limited to what they can play, vs. a DJ, but there is nothing like live music. 

Photography/Videography - Allan Reider Studio (Union, NJ) - A+ (So, far.) : I do not have my pictures back yet and I haven't picked up my video yet (which is ready,) so I can only comment on the service the day of the wedding.  I only met Allan once and that was when we went in for our first meeting. I honestly do not remember him, but he was nice and laid out the packages pretty well for us. We booked with his photographer Gina b/c we heard such great things about her. So, I set up a meeting with Gina early one morning before work. And, it was bad planning on my part b/c I couldn't wait around too long b/c I had a meeting and she got stuck in traffic that day. So, I had to leave before she got there. The poor woman was so apologetic and felt so bad. It broke my heart - she was so sweet about it. So, when we finally met I fell in love with her. We just clicked. She is such an amazing person. And to work with her was great - she is so focused and no-nonsense. And her and her assistants totally calmed me throughout the whole night. She told me exactly what to do, she didn't get mad at me when I was late for pictures. The videographer was the same way - so nice and non-intrusive. They were a great team to work with. I cannot wait to get everything back and start picking album pics. 

Save-the-Dates & Invitations - Hyland Creative Design (Verona, NJ) - B: I had the most beautiful Save-the-Dates with a watercolor of the Pleasantdale and the most gorgeous invitations ever. Melissa is very creative and knows how to take an idea and run with it. She is not, however, good at keeping in touch. She took days, weeks sometimes to return an email. We had her do some extra invites for us, so when we went to go pick them up she was still putting them together. She said she forgot. So, I sat in her studio for 45 minutes. She is sweet, but a little, I don't know, she isn't flaky or anything. Whatever, my invites were gorg. 

Day-of-Coordinator and Paper Products - Platinum Events & Design (Northern, NJ) - A+: I loved working with Becky b/c the girl is funny and all of our meetings were at Starbucks. Seriously, I hired Becky when I couldn't deal with Melissa Hyland anymore. She was originally just going to do my menus, place cards and table numbers, but I hired her as my DOC b/c she really eased my mind. She set up our day of timeline and it helped so much b/c I was freaking out about that. There were a lot of coordinators, banquet managers, maitre d' types at the PC, but I was happy to have someone "on my side," (Not that it ever came down to that.) And, our paper products were gorgeous. Even Laura from the PC said they were the nicest she has ever seen! It's the little details that bring a wedding together and Becky totally got it right. 

Cardbox - Creative Custom Cardboxes (Northern NJ) - A+: Marni really helped me out in a bind. Jay and I were going to make a picture frame cardbox and after our 2nd attempt and super glue in my HAIR, I decided it was time to outsource. I saw Marni's boxes on the Knot and they were perfect - simple, yet elegant. So, I think it was one or two weeks before the wedding and she totally did a rush order for me. The colors were perfect. The box was so cute. Everyone thought it was such a unique idea! 

Favors - Totally Chocolate ( - A+: We got 1lb. chocolate bars with our names, wedding date and a picture of the PC on them. They were delish. The middle block was dark chocolate and the surrounding blocks were milk. We had a really hard time deciding on a favor. We really wanted something that we both liked and something people could take away and enjoy. Yay for chocolate. The people we worked with were so helpful and sent a 2lb. sample before we ordered. They were easy to get a hold of. They actually already did a mold for a PC wedding, so we only paid half the mold fee for our names and dates. 

Dress, Veil, Jewelry, Purse - Kleinfeld's (New York, NY) - B- : I knew that if I did not find "The Dress" at Kleinfeld's, I would not find it anywhere. I just knew this. So, I made an appointment and ripped some pics of dresses I liked from magazines. About 2 weeks before my appointment I saw the ad for Badgley Mischka and there was a girl wearing this dress ("Lauren" is the dress.) I fell in love. I was never all about the dress, I could care less, actually. I wasn't even looking forward to dress shopping. BUT, when I saw this dress I knew it had to be mine. And, if it wasn't right for my body or whatever, then damnitall to hell, I'd be getting married in jeans. It was this dress or no dress. 

Anywho, my saleswoman was Dianne. She was a little on the crazy side, which worked for me b/c it made me feel peaceful. I showed her a picture of THE dress and she pulled it plus some others. I tried THE dress on first and that was that. Dianne loved it, my mom loved it. She said it worked. She even brought Randy, the fashion director in and he loved it. She did make me try on one more - a big, poofy ballgown. It was NOT for me. So, that was that - easy as pie. I was not planning on a veil, but my mom really wanted to see me in a veil so they brought out this gorgeous beaded veil and I loved it as much as the dress. 

I went back months later for my first fitting. Stella was my fitter and she was so cute and so good. She was the sweetest thing and made me feel so comfortable. 

The dress came in withOUT the buttons down the back - the buttons that were my single-most favorite detail on the dress. Well, according to Nitsa, the alterations manager, the last 3 dresses of this style that came in were missing the buttons. She would order them. Ok, no problem. So, I go back for my second fitting. The buttons came in, but they were not on the dress yet. So, she brings the bag of buttons out - they were the wrong buttons. At this point, my dress is fitted and ready to be picked up before the wedding. So, Nitsa assured us she'd get the right buttons in and they would be on the dress by the time my mom went to pick it up ( I couldn't take off work.) So, I called everyday for a week and a half to make sure the right buttons came in. I NEVER got Nitsa on the phone. So, I put my blind faith in these people that they'd get the right buttons in and on the dress. I told my mother to rip the friggin buttons of the sample if they were not there. 

The buttons came in, they were on the dress, all is well that end's well. It was just extra stress I did not need 2 weeks before my wedding. 

Hair - La Sorella Bridal (Caldwell, NJ) - A+ : I love Mandy. She took care of my hair the year leading up to the wedding. She has done my hair for a couple of occasions throughout the year. I will keep going back to her for my cuts. She is very professional and focused. Her styles stay in and look so good. She is a dream maker with a curling iron. She was on time, did all my girls and myself. She came back after cocktail hour to touch my hair up - it didn't even really need it b/c it stayed in so well. 

Makeup - The Glam Fairy (Riverdale, NJ) - A+: Alexa is an artist. She knows what looks good and what doesn't look good. I have oily skin and she totally made me skin not oily. I got the airbrush makeup and it stayed on all night. I had to scrub to get it off. She is very funny and she doesn't hold back - I love that kind of environment. She too was on time and professional. She came back for the touch up and SHE was on time, but I had to be downstairs and so she had to rush do it quick. I felt bad making her come all the way back. But, she did it with a smile. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hello, Old Friend

So, I am married!! It has been an amazing month and a half - Jay and I got married, we went to Paris and we moved into our house! Life has been amazing. I need to post wedding vendor reviews AND the Paris trip report. 

I have to do these things soon before my thoughts are not fresh. I was so psyched to write the Twilight review, but I couldn't do it now without going back and re-reading the books. I AM going to re-read them eventually, but there are so many amazing books out there that I have to get to. I am in the middle of The Time Traveler's Wife and, so far, so good! 

So, maybe within the next week everything that has to be done will be, or at least close to it and I can start blogging again!