CB Reviews “Adventureland”: An 80′s Coming of Age Ride

Eighties nostalgia, young love, and the horrors of summer jobs describe the cinematic ride, Adventureland.

Although written and directed by Greg Mottola, best known for the comedic hit Superbad (2007), this film can only be loosely called a comedy. (And if you are expecting a laugh-filled movie experience like his last film, then Adventureland is not for you.) Instead, Mottola delivers a coming of age story set in Pittsburgh in the 1980s.

Adventureland is the story of college graduate, James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) who has big plans to move to New York City and attend Columbia University’s graduate school. He wants to become a travel essayist and thinks a master’s degree in journalism will help him because the field is “still an old boys’ network.”

However, James’s big plans and lifelong dreams fall flat when he finds out that his parents are broke. Not only is his college graduation gift of traveling through Europe with his buddy cancelled, but his parents also tell him he needs to get a summer job to save money.

After rounds of applications to every menial and entry-level job in town, Brennan finds he isn’t qualified for anything, except a “games” job at the local amusement park, “Adventureland.” So, tucking his highly educated tail between his legs, he attempts to make the best of the situation.

James soon finds there are some upsides to his rather brainless job. He develops friendships with people who are crazier and more socially awkward than he is. In fact, in some of his summer circles, James becomes the “almost-cool kid.” He also meets a girl, Em (Kristen Stewart) who is the sad, often depressed, and girl-next-door plain. Yet, she is sexy enough to tug at his heart strings. (And if you are wondering who is Kristen Stewart, you must not have seen the latest vampire film sensation, Twilight. She is the young actress who starred in this movie and has become a major success.)

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CB’s Green Report: Restore The Delta Says Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Water Challenges Can Be Solved

sacramento-san-joaquin-delta

This week the American Rivers released its America’s Most Endangered Rivers reports and lists the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta in California, which nearly 25 million Californians depend on for drinking water, in the number one spot. Thousands of farmers as well as the commercial and recreational fishing industries also depend on California’s single most important natural resource, according to the report.

American Rivers claims that this Delta is in bad shape because of the “outdated water supply and flood management systems have put at risk the ecosystem and thousands of Californian families and businesses that depend upon it.” The report also cites years of mismanagement, neglect and conflict as part of the Delta’s problem.

To save the natural resource, the report said that the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other water users must develop a workable, sustainable plan “to restore the ecosystem, secure water supplies and reduce the risk of floods.”

Many would call this water issue in the Central Valley of California a challenge. Others say there is an impossible fight being waged over the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta. Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, the Campaign Director of Restore the Delta, sums up the entire situation by saying: “It’s the day of reckoning.”

At first glance, her statement may sound harsh. However, Barrigan-Parrilla explains that the major problem for the Delta is that the state water resources control board over the years has implemented water projects through the years, which move water in California from north to south, that granted water rights at about 8 1/2 times the total amount of water available – and that’s in a wet year.

“The way water rights have been distributed in California, and who has truthful access, is basically the equivalent of a ponzi scheme,” says Barrigan-Parrilla. “And that is the number one problem.”

With so little water available, there is no wonder people are fighting over it. And then, the situation gets even more complicated with increased pressures from population growth, water contamination due to farming practices, climate change and drought conditions (which are debatable according to Restore the Delta and Michael Fitzgerald of RecordNet.com.)

The fight for water comes from many concerned and effected parties in the Delta and beyond. And this is where Barrigan-Parrilla’s organization has gotten involved. According to Restore the Delta, their two and a half year old organization is attempting to work with all the groups – Delta residents, business leaders, civic organizations, community group, faith-based communities, union locals, farmers, fishermen and environmentalists – “to make the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable” for California. The group with more than 2,500 supporters also “seeks to strengthen the health of the estuary” and the Delta communities as well as “improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.” Given the situation, their goals sound not only incompatible but also somewhat impossible.

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CB Reviews “Duplicity”: Finally! The Sophisticated Sexy Thriller We’ve Been Waiting For

Everyone loves a good love story. How about adding some twists and turns as well as some tricks and tests between two star-crossed spies? That’s the recipe for Duplicity, the sophisticated, cleverly written romantic thriller starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen that doesn’t disappoint.

Like most Hollywood love stories, the secret affair between Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts) and Ray Koval (Clive Owen) begins with the guy spewing some clever pick-up lines – to which Stenwick denies at first. However, after a bit of back and forth between the two, they end up doing the horizontal tango in the most beautiful and luxurious of places, a decadent hotel room in Dubai on Independence Day in 2003.

This chance encounter develops into a clandestine love affair that spans five to six years on screen – although it’s not told chronologically. Rather, it simply sets the stage and tempo for the espionage story that unravels. Duplicity takes the viewer on a seductive path to figure out who is going to win in a knockdown, drag out “corporate death match” between two battling pharmaceutical companies to develop a one-of-a-kind product first. Their longstanding competition and race to win requires teams of spies, double agents and former CIA operatives. And that’s where Claire Stenwick, Ex-CIA, and Ray Koval, Ex-MI6, get a piece of the action. The two are hired to spy on each other’s company but are secretly in cohorts. Because after all says Stenwick, “All we have to do is find the product. If we get there first, we make a fortune.” Their scheming and maneuvering takes the audience on a thrilling ride.

Written and directed by Tony Gilroy who worked his same magic in Michael Clayton and The Bourne Identity series, Duplicity delivers sophisticated, action-packed and perfectly paced scenes as well as sharp writing and well-timed comebacks.

In addition to the artfully writing which leaves you on the edge of your seat attempting to solve the mystery (which you can’t), Duplicity characters are cast flawlessly. The hilarious, ultra-competitive CEO, Richard Garsik, is played perfectly by the Sideways (2004) star, Paul Giamatti. And British actor, Tom Wilkinson (most recently seen in Valkyrie with Tom Cruise) carries off the calm, collected and scheming role of Garsik’s arch nemesis. The opening scene with two characters locked in a physical, slow motion, middle aged men fight is hilarious, unexpected and a pleasure to watch.

And of course, the pairing of Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, seen together before in Closer (2004), is pure genius. The two light up the screen with genuine chemistry that is both exciting, enticing and sexy. Roberts, who’s an unbelievable forty-one years old, proves that she’s still a knockout and a box office hit.

Although the relationship between Stenwick and Koval is full of sparks and lustful encounters, it’s not for the lighthearted. The basic components of a good relationship – love and trust – are continuously tested on a personal and business basis for them. From worries about the other cheating while undercover to wondering if they are each keeping their part of the bargain, the mere concept of trust is never taken for granted. “Admit it. You don’t trust me either,” said by Stenwick to Koval, which just about sums up their liaison.

And if your eyes get tired of watching two of the hottest stars on the screen – Roberts and Owen (which would be hard to believe) – the beautiful Condé Nast Traveler-like locales are a feast to behold. Duplicity takes the viewer on a visual smorgasbord and broke travelers dream with scenes in Dubai, Rome, Miami, Zurich and London. The cobblestone streets, Roman architecture, and clear blue seas are just a few of the treats.

Suspenseful, sexy and full of espionage – Duplicity keeps you guessing right until the very end. The guy gets the girl but do they pass go, reach the goal and collect their reward? Who gets gamed? You will definitely want to know. And besides, it’s a lot of fun to watch.




Los Angeles Unified School District Is Leading the Way In Solar Education

With the current economic crisis, rising unemployment and dwindling oil reserves, many people including President Obama are talking about developing a green economy. One Los Angeles school district is well on its way to training tomorrow’s green workers. Check out the video.




The Caramel Bella is Blogging Live from Ted “Ideas Empowered” Conference..




Coming Soon at 1 p.m. Caramel Bella Live Blogging for CNN at Ted “Ideas Empowered” Conference

Today I will be blogging live for CNN at the Ted “Ideas Empowered” conference being held at USC. The stated goal:

“To bring together leading minds from USC and beyond to share ideas, hear entertaining and thought-provoking talks on important and surprising topics, and inspire innovation that will ultimately make real impact. A partial list of this year’s speakers and performers include a rock star that has sold more than 25 million albums, one of the creators of the most complex scientific instrument in the world, and an inventor who is restoring sight to the blind.”

The topic is somewhat of a mystery. To peak your interest a bit, I’ve been told we’re discussing issues like the Big Bang theory, saving the world, breeding fish, and a whole bunch of other topics.

Here is a sample of what you can expect to hear about from a previous conference in March.

Stay tuned. The event begins at 1 p.m. today (PST) / 4 p.m. (EST). Don’t miss my live blogging — get a heads up on what today’s thought leaders are thinking.

See you at 1 p.m.,

The Caramel Bella




First Video Blog: CB’s Green Report

As promised, I’m beginning my foray into video blogging. I’ve decided to start with my Green Reports. If you have a couple of moments, please watch my first episode of The Caramel Bella’s Green Report. And check out my YouTube channel, which will be my show’s home! I’d love to hear your comments. And I promise.. they’ll get better over time.

Smooches,

The Caramel Bella




CB’s Green Report: Drought Conditions Worsen Southwest Water Crisis

As if the fight over water from the Colorado River and Lake Mead could get any worse in the Southwest, the area is facing extreme drought conditions. A recent USA Today article reports that January and February 2009 are the driest beginning of any year since America started keeping precipitation records over a century ago. These low water levels are causing severe droughts in Texas and California, which exacerbates the water crisis in the Southwest.

USA-Today-drought-map-320.jpg

The map reflects the exceptional (brown-red), extreme (orange) and severe (dark yellow) water problems in California, Nevada and Texas.

USA-Today-Precipitation-Map320.jpg

Richard Heim, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center told USA Today that the 2.69-inch average rainfall across the U.S. in January and February is the least amount of moisture in those months since NOAA began keeping records in 1895.

USA-Today-Drought-Record-sm.jpg

The current dry spell started in Central Texas in 2007, and hit California along with the rest of the Southwest in 2006. Los Angeles only received 3 inches of rain during 2006-2007, its driest year on record.

As a result of these prolonged drought conditions in California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a drought emergency in February 2009.  For the first time in 15 years, Los Angeles is planning to implement a water rationing system – achieved “through price-enforced household conservation and tough new lawn watering restrictions.”

“The level of severity of this drought is something we haven’t seen since the early 1970s,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in unveiling his city’s drought plan, which also would put more water cops on the beat.

And to save endangered fish populations, the courts are reducing the amount of water taken from rivers (Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water source in Northern California). Water officials also decided to cut their Sierra Mountains water source pumped to cities and irrigation districts by 85 percent according to Reuters. These measures highlights the growing tensions between farms/agricultural water uses and animals as well farms/agricultural versus urban/metropolitan water needs.

Thus, another major loser in the water fight are farmers and ranchers.

California farmers lost more than $300 million in 2008 and economic losses may accelerate to 10 times that this year as 95,000 people lose their jobs. Farmers will get zero water from the main federal supplier (Reuters).

As farms continue to suffer, major Southwest cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix are growing in population. People are moving to the warm sunbelt.

“For the last few years, the driest states, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, have been the fastest growing. And you know that can’t be sustained,” said James Powell to Reuters.  Powell is the author of “Dead Pool,” a book about global warming and water in the U.S. West.

It’s not surprising that California, the world’s eighth-largest economy, uses enough water to cover the state of Washington in a foot of water.  And approximately 80 percent of the water is used by farms growing crops like organic lettuce and rice. The drought induced water cutback to the farms will cause a dramatic decrease in California’s agricultural production —- which has serious economic implications as well as food supply ramifications.

And to make matters even worse, the droughts are making California more vulnerable to wildfires.  Last year, a record 500,000 Southern Californians had to vacate their homes because of fires.

State officials are using prison inmate crews to clear away brush and create fire breaks around communities to reduce the risk of wildfires, said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (USA Today).

A water shortage, drought conditions, fewer crops and the potential for fires is a red flag for an impending disaster.




CB Reviews “Watchmen”: It’s A Smiley Face Turned Upside-Down!

It’s really bad when the state of humanity hinges on a bunch of pseudo-sadomasochists parading around as costumed heroes who haphazardly decide to save the world for mere kicks and giggles.  This is the twisted sense of humor and entire point of the mystery adventure Watchman.

This 2009 American superhero film is based on DC Comics’ award-winning, limited series graphic novel (1986-1987) illustrated by Dave Gibbons. Zack Snyder, who is famous for the adaptation of the 300 graphic novel, directed the movie. And Lawrence Gordon (Die Hard), Lloyd Levin (United 93) and Deborah Snyder (300) had a hand in producing it.  However viewers should not expect the same level of cinematic beauty or the type of compelling storytelling in Watchmen that Snyder showed us was possible in 300. Instead, the long and needlessly drawn out film, which lasts a restless 2 hours and 43 minutes, has the audience wishing for their own superhero powers to teleport themselves out of the theater.

Watchmen begins in the year of 1985, and tells the tale of a group of former vigilantes who used to dress up as superheroes. Although the somewhat-counterfeit crime fighters have “retired,” a couple of them decide to pay attention to the nuclear threat (read: end of world scenario) and tension between the United States and Russia.

The stakes are high but the audience’s investment in the protagonists or their success is relatively low. This weak story drags on for a full hour and forty minutes and consists of confession after confession from weary and depressed individuals who must decide if they are really going to solve the weak mystery, which is somehow connected to the complete obliteration of mankind (for the remaining hour).

smile

And here is where this artificial set of superheroes is exposed. Aren’t most superheroes like Superman concerned with unnecessary violence and killing people? Don’t most champions of justice risk their lives to save others and humanity? And don’t all superheroes have a special power or two that us mere mortals could only dream of?

On these accounts, viewers could legitimately question whether the movie had any bona fide superheroes at all. The protagonists, with the exception of the neon blue Dr. Manhattan, actually lacked any “real” or perceived super powers. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) can see into the future and teleport himself all over the universe after a science lab mistake. Next to him, the other hero hopefuls are pretty laughable. Heck, all they want to do is fight for fun and stave off boredom.

And speaking of characters, there were only a few that are truly memorable. There was the demented and bloodthirsty Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), whose street name was Walter Kovacs. Although his journal accounts provide the framework for the story, the inkblot masked Rorschach’s killing scenes will make the audience wonder if the film was written or produced by Quentin Tarantino.

And then there’s Laurie Jupiter (Malin Akerman), whose action hero’s name is Silk Spectre II. She had only one bona fide power — her drop dead gorgeous looks that captured the attention of her fellow superheroes. Other than a decent left hook and a swift kick, she disappointed the audience who expected a more Wonder Woman-like performance due to their close resemblance achieved through casting, makeup and wardrobe. (more…)




Dwayne Johnson as the Angry “Rock Obama” on Saturday Night Live

Since his entry into the national political landscape, most of us have been wondering when will the ultra smooth, never ruffled President Barack Obama lose his cool? Well, Saturday Night Live and Dwayne Johnson (“The Rock”) answer this question for us in a recent skit. A staffer prods President Obama to get angry with Republican Senators who oppose his bills. After a round of questions peppered with baby insults, Obama finally gets mad (in a “Hulk-like” fashion). So now people know… when Barack Obama becomes angry — he really turns into the “Rock Obama.” Check out the video.




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my luvs

My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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Bad drivers, cranky and moody people, lack of sleep, crime, filth

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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