Tag Archives: 2013

Review: Silver Linings Playbook (2013)

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*originally posted 5.10.2013 on my old WP blog*

The latest purchase I made from the big red machine known as Redbox was Silver Linings Playbook, and yes, I know I am late to this one. And I’m not sure why, given I’ve really enjoyed The Fighter and I♥ Huckabees, two of director David O. Russell’s previous films (or maybe it’s just the inclusion of Mark “Everything I Say is a Question” Wahlberg). But instead of Marky Mark, we have the equally talented Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Limitless) taking the lead with Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) starring opposite.

Since The Hangover, I’ve always appreciated Bradley Cooper, but he’s had the misfortune of playing the typical bravado-laced pretty boy throughout most of his career. His role as Pat Solitano, Jr., however, allowed him to show us he can be vulnerable, unhinged, volatile, and stubbornly determined despite any form of reason telling him to stop. He has goals to legitimately improve his life after being released from a mental hospital, and will stop at nothing to achieve them. What really rings home about Pat’s struggle is that we’ve all been there: We may have all not been in mental facilities (yet), but our lives have all taken turns for the worse at some point. But it’s those who create their own silver linings playbooks and get right back up that find true success and happiness. In this way, one could argue Pat Solitano, Jr. is the embodiment of the American dream (it’s no coincidence this story takes place in Philadelphia with eagle symbolism scattered throughout). Does he always do the right thing? Of course not. It wouldn’t be an interesting story if he did, and it wouldn’t be accurate either.

Pat eventually meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), his friend/coworker Ronnie’s sister-in-law, at the most awkward dinner party in recent memory (but thanks to their conversation, I now know which depression meds to take and to pitch). She’s edgy, visibly broken, and obviously still attached to her spouse, an obvious perfect fit for Pat. What makes Tiffany so interesting is that she is Pat’s first real challenge outside of his own little bubble, and he hers. In addition to their commonality (his wife Nikki has a restraining order against him, her cop husband was killed an accident), their friendship provides the material for the both of them to grow.

This is seen primarily in the second-half plot device in which Tiffany agrees to give Nikki Pat’s love letter if Pat enters a dance competition with her. Is it typical of the romantic comedy subgenre? Of course, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary and in its own way unique. Pat thinks Tiffany is simply a necessary step toward reconnecting with his wife, and Tiffany thinks Pat, at first anyway, is just one of the many sex-hungry guys she’s encountered since her husband’s death. Thanks to easily the best performance of Lawrence’s career so far, these two feel like one of the most “believable” couples put on screen in a long while, and one we can actually root for and not just  gloss over the way many are handled in most mass-marketed romcoms.

What really made me fall in love (joke unintended) with the film as a whole were pretty much all of the supporting characters. Jacki Weaver plays Dolores, a mother who is unconditionally supportive of her son but not afraid to tell it like it is, even when that means butting heads with Pat, Sr. Robert De Niro has been on an odd streak of supporting roles for the past decade, and honestly this might be my favorite of them. I can’t help but admire his character’s continual tough guy Italian bookie act, even though he’s 65 and feeling the brunt of the recession. That and his OCD-esque fixation with the Philadelphia Eagles, particularly his belief that Pat, Jr. is some kind of good luck charm to help them win, actually serves to bring them closer together, leading to a sincere and touching couple of moments between the two.

Outside of the family, Pat has Ronnie (John Ortiz) and Danny (Chris Tucker), a fellow patient from the mental hospital. These two don’t particularly provide anything thematically deep, rather just fun, hilarious performances and constant reminders that Pat is not alone. This is Tucker’s first on-screen appearance in years, and he doesn’t go absolutely Rush Hour on us, nor does he just phone it in. He gives a genuinely awesome portrayal of a man, like Pat, who needed help, got it, and is picking himself back up.

Perhaps his most important non-familial relationship, however, comes from his psychistrist Dr. Patel (Anupam Kher), who might honestly be both the coolest and the worst psychiatrist I’ve ever seen since Michael Fassbender played Carl Jung. He seems to consistently give Pat good advice but maintains a strong presence in his life outside of the doctor’s office, even going so far as to being involved with bet on Pat winning the dance competition during the film’s third act. This, of course, is forgivable given the ridiculous face paint we see him wearing at the Eagles game. Seriously, Dr. Patel is awesome.

Through this fantastic entry in his filmography, David O. Russell has proven yet again to be one of the most important writer-directors working today. He put his own personal spin on such a tired subgenre much like he did with his Micky Ecklund boxing biopic The Fighter (which yes, I will get around to discussing as well), providing a story and characters that no one can forget. Silver Linings Playbook is seriously one of my favorite new movies, and one I could honestly watch dozens upon dozens of times without getting tired of it. This gets a solid recommendation from me, and will soon be the silver lining of my Blu-ray collection…See what I did there?

Score: 9/10

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Update and thoughts on Les Mills COMBAT so far

So sorry for the absence! It’s been a hectic past couple of weeks, but rest assured I have been getting my workouts in except for 3 days when I was out of town at a convention, busy as heck and low energy. However, I’m back on track with COMBAT and currently doing a 3 day Shakeology cleanse to kickstart my nutrition back up. I also have a cold though, so working out has been the LAST thing I want to do, but I’ve been pushing play anyway.

So, I have to say that Les Mills COMBAT might honestly be what my Beachbody Coach calls a “soulmate” workout: a program that you actually kind of look forward to doing on a daily basis. I thought INSANITY was my soulmate workout, but I just don’t really have the same passion for it that I do for COMBAT. I keep saying this, but I just love the sense of control and power it inspires without wearing me down mercilessly or taking up a ton of my time. I’m most likely going to be doing a Les Mills PUMP-COMBAT hybrid this fall, which I’m really looking forward to even though I don’t love PUMP quite as much as COMBAT. I’m confident the addition of more weights will be good for my body. Hell, I might just do a P90X-COMBAT hybrid instead. Hmmm, we shall see.

I can’t promise I’ll be updating daily during the coming weeks due to some big changes going on in my life, but I will chime in whenever inspiration strikes. I owe it to you guys, and myself.

Keep it real and *kisses fist* stay with the fight.

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Les Mills COMBAT Day 9: Power HIIT 1 and T-Rex Tuesday!

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Greetings, Nonathletes!

Today, I met my nemesis in battle again, and while I may not have been able to perform every single burpee-pushup-jump-squat and had to modify the occasional lunge and lower my weights again, I did a LOT better this time around than before!

This should have been more obvious since I did INSANITY, but I’ve found that the secret to overcoming high intensity interval training, especially workouts like this which utilize both calisthenics and fast-paced weight training, is a clear mind and an absolute determination pre-workout. That applies to any and all workouts, sure, but personally, these plyometrics and clean and presses required me to psych the hell up and NEED to win, NEED to finish as much as I can, NEED to meet my friend fatigue head on!

Oh, and I may not have completely overcome the workout, but don’t worry…I’m doing it again on Thursday. Oh, joy.

My nutrition today was spot on, although I got another really bad craving, this time for Buffalo Wild Wings and their infamous Wing Tuesday, or as I like to call it, T-Rex Tuesday (Chickens evolved from T-Rexes, right?). I’ve been getting nightly cravings a LOT recently, and tonight’s was stronger than ever. I wanted nothing more than to slam 12 wings, tossed in their signature Hot sauce, juicy and falling off the bone, accompanied by some crispy and soft potato wedges covered in cheddar, paired with a nice little side of blue cheese dressing and some Seagram’s 7 whiskey.

But as I’ve said, I want to transform my body, my soul, and my mind more than I want a quick junk food fix, and that’s why I didn’t eat that despite wanting it more than ever. It takes strength to prioritize what’s important long term over what’s important in the heat of the moment, and I might slip up and indulge now and again, but not tonight. And not tomorrow. Not anytime soon. Not until I feel that I truly have EARNED the right to indulge, after I’ve put in work and done something GOOD for myself because that’s what I deserve. That’s what we all deserve.

Keep it real and *kisses fist* stay with the fight.

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Les Mills COMBAT Day 8: Combat 60

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I have to say, doing Combat 60 (which is more like Combat 54, but that’s ok), I felt like a phoenix rising from the ashes of the night before. I felt powerful, unstoppable, completely focused. My front and back kick combos were on point, my footwork was getting noticeably faster, and in general I had a really solid workout. While the MMA workouts might not be as excruciatingly exhausting as INSANITY (that’s what we have the HIIT workouts for), they require an intense amount of focus and discipline if you want to burn as many calories as possible. Maybe it’s in my head, but thanks to LMC, I’m already noticing myself slim down a bit.

Later that night, I had some cravings again. It’s always in the evenings, I very rarely want Taco Bell in the morning or afternoon. I guess it’s just the psychology of wanting a reward like that at the end of the day, since I’d reward myself with food like that almost all the time after class ended during college. But you know what I did? I talked to my Beachbody Coach. She’s always been there for me and is an amazingly kind, intuitive and strong individual, and she helped break down why I was craving that food, and explained that eating crap like that isn’t cool or awesome or funny, it’s disgusting and not indicative of what makes a person strong. Now working out 5-6 days a week and eating things your body loves, now that’s a different story. I just want to take this time to thank her from the bottom of my heart, and thank all of you for the likes. Feel free to comment and engage in discussion as well, this blog isn’t just for me, it’s for nonathletes (AND athletes!) everywhere who have something on their minds.

Keep it real and *kisses fist* stay with the fight.

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Les Mills COMBAT Day 2: Power HIIT 1

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Good day, Nonathletes! I want to take a moment to thank everyone for the likes so far. I’m new at this blogging thing and I appreciate the support so far and being able to connect with others going through their own fitness journeys.

Today, I completed Power HIIT 1, a non-MMA themed workout designed around high rep weighted workouts and calisthenics. It’s also one of the toughest workouts I’ve ever done in my entire life. Not even kidding.

The short warmup alone will get you soaking with sweat, especially from its its body weighted squats to its suicide runs. I was shocked at how quickly I broke a sweat, especially considering it takes me longer do to do with INSANITY. Then the weights came out, and Dan the Man made me do deadrows, cleans, and a LOT of clean and presses and power presses. My arms were fried like bacon after this, and I had to temporarily downgrade my weights from 20 to 15 just to get through it. Then he and the crew threw in some plyo lunges just to make me suffer a tiny bit more. They must have been able to see I was still breathing a tiny amount and were like, “F*** that noise, jump around some more!”

And then there were the burpee-pushup-squats. Fast ones, no less. That should be self-explanatory enough to tell you about the terror my body went through. I did maybe 3 or 4 whole ones and modified a few more when I wasn’t on the floor gasping for air. Then Dan started jumping between his squats. I almost sent my Powerblock flying at him through the TV.

My food consisted of:

Vegan Chocolate Shakeology, almond butter, almond milk

Almond chicken and grilled veggies x 2 (plus half  a sweet potato)

Greenberry Shakeology and a Promax bar

You might think that because of how I just described it, I must hate Power HIIT 1. But I don’t, I actually love the challenge it gave me. I thought this would be a breeze given I’ve done both INSANITY and some Les Mills PUMP, the former with its emphasis on super speed and the latter with its constant use of high reps.

Imagine having those two elements combined in one workout, going from an extreme amount of high reps to plyo lunges to burpee-pushup-squat-jumps. Set to a tempo. It ain’t easy, I can tell you that. But instead of making me feel dejected, it makes me want to improve and kick the workout’s @$$ next time. It’s like Dan says in the video: “The burn is called fatigue, and fatigue is my friend. ‘Hey fatigue, would you like to go to dinner?’ ‘Yeah, I’d love to!'”

Fatigue and I will be having dinner 6 days a week for the next 60 days.

Keep it real and *kisses fist* stay with the fight.

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Les Mills COMBAT Day 1: Combat 30 Live

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I couldn’t have asked for a better first day of my Les Mills COMBAT journey. Overall I was surprised that I had very few cravings throughout the day. Even as I type this at night when the cravings are the worst, I feel full, hydrated, and ready to kick it into high gear for tomorrow’s workout!

The calendar calls for Combat 30: Kick Start but I chose to do Combat 30 Live instead just to see how much I enjoy it in comparison, and it’s a real @$$-kicker of a workout. Having said that, it went by remarkably quickly and I really fed off the energy that Dan, Rach and the crew were exuding in front of the live crowd in Bristol.

As I briefly mentioned before, I’m coming off of INSANITY (rather, the first month of it again), so I’m used to working out to the point of total exhaustion and pushing myself further despite it, which is a fantastic way to burn calories. COMBAT isn’t like this at all. You’re pushing yourself and digging deep throughout, absolutely, but you always feel like you’re in control. The proper coordination of the punches, kicks, etc. really adds to that feeling, and when you’re using your back muscles to dip and perform a sick uppercut, you know you’re getting a solid workout.

One area in which I surprisingly succeeded was performing back kicks, something I thought I needed to practice more given my general lack of coordination. They’re not perfect but they get the job done. I do feel I need to improve my quick footwork, especially moving forward for the front kicks as well as those high impact jump kicks. Oh well, that will definitely come in time, and I feel that INSANITY has already prepared me for such agility anyway.

My food consisted of:
Vegan Chocolate Shakeology with almond milk and almond butter
Chicken bacon salad and low carb yogurt
Chicken with a crushed almond crust, a few steamed vegetables and a sweet potato
Greenberry Shakeology and a protein bar

Not a bad day diet-wise. I feel like I could’ve introduced more vegetables into meal 4 but the two shakes more than made up for it. I also added my daily green tea extract in the morning and two servings of apple cider vinegar throughout the day, plus a lot of water.

I’m really excited about doing HIIT 1: Power since it’s been a while since I’ve lifted. The moves seem to be very closely related to Les Mills PUMP with a little more cardio/plyo thrown in. I have the PUMP barbell but I’ll be using my Powerblocks instead to properly break them in. More on all of that tomorrow, though.

Thanks for reading, fellow nonathletes, and be sure to check out tomorrow’s recep and my upcoming posts about fitness issues I find the most important. Keep it real and *kisses fist* stay with the fight!

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