He SAID: Little Man = BIG Movie

Scott F. Evans

Of all the various studios in town making comic book superhero movies, none of them quite ‘get it’ like Marvel Studios. They know their properties, and how to sell them to audiences. They also know that the Marvel brand is such a draw, that they can dig deep into their catalog and make critical and financial hits with even C-list characters. antman2

Their latest?

Ant-Man.

Who?

Exactly.

The character has been around for more than fifty years, debuting in 1962 in the comic book Tales to Astonish. Even as a founding member of The Avengers, the character has never really reached the public consciousness in any significant way. At least, not until now.

antman1This is what a ‘fun’ movie should be. Even though it clocks in at just under two hours, it breezes by with a solid pace that never feels rushed. Although it’s the most obvious comedy in the Marvel filmography so far, Ant-Man never plays it broad. Not that it wouldn’t have been easy for Reed and the four credited screenwriters (Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and star Paul Rudd) to go in that direction. The humor comes from character and dialogue, not from situation. There’s also just enough drama, with themes of familial ties aantman4nd human redemption, to prevent Ant-Man from turning into the superhero version of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. It’s charm and wit that carries this film. This, so far, has been the Marvel formula. And once again, it simply works.

Paul Rudd plays the film’s lead Scott Lang, a reformed thief who becomes the titular character. On the surface, Rudd as a superhero seems like an odd choice. But Lang was tailor made for him, perfectly molded to fit the actor’s strengths. Known almost strictly for his comedies, Rudd is still physical enough to pull off the action here. He’s believable as an affablantman5e burglar and later, an affable superhero. Of course he’s funny, but never broadly comedic. And his easygoing charisma makes it easy to root for him.

Ant-Man also features a strong supporting cast. Topping that list is Michael Douglas as original Ant-Man and Lang mentor, Dr. Hank Pym. Douglas brings an old school gravitas to the proceedings. He does fine work here and is absolutely believable as a scientist, industrialist and retired hero. Evangeline Lilly also clocks in as Pym’s daughter Hope van Dyne. She’s the skeptic for much of the film, so it’s largely a thankless role. Bantman6ut there’s a nice setup during a post-credits scene that should serve to make her character much more essential going forward. Corey Stoll is good as the film’s fairly stock villain Darren Cross. He is given a little dramatic weight as Pym’s spurned apprentice and eventual rival, but this is a Marvel film so the villain is practically an afterthought. Michael Pena nearly steals the show as Luis, one of Lang’s crew. Luis is comic relief in a film that’s mostly a comedy anyway so he goes a little broad occasionally. But Pena handles the role with assurance. You can see the actor having fun walking that line, but never stepping over into caricature.

Ant-Man had a troubled production, losing the original director and writer team of Wright and Cornish three months before principal photography was supposed to begin. That Reed, McKay and Rudd were able to salvage it (particularly rewriting the script at such a late stage) and still turn in such an excellent film, is a remarkable accomplishment.

antman2Ant-Man is truly a fun, popcorn, summer movie, with solid writing, acting, directing and action. You don’t have to “turn off your brain” or make excuses for it because it delivers exactly what it promises, another winner for Marvel Studios.

RATING: Theater

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She SAID: Kombucha Crave

Shahada Karim

I’m an admitted Kombucha addict. This is an interesting fact, considering that once upon a not-so-long-ago, I shunned the idea of any additional ‘boosts’ (read: caffeine) and abhorred the addictive nature of many coffee addicts. Since I neither like the taste or smell of coffee, it was easy to take such a righteous stance. If one could not get through one’s day without a jolt, then perhaps one should evaluate one’s life choices. Right? Wrong.

I happened upon Kombucha with affiliation of some controversy: the oft legally challenged Lindsay Lohan had been arrested for some thing or another, and blamed Kombucha for her problems. The miniscule amount of fermentation in this yeast-based drink allegedly possessed just enough intoxicant to inform her system that she ought to act as if there was something much stronger coursing through her veins (and let’s be honest, there probably was). Anyway, curiosity led to investigation, and eventually a taste of this drink that in fact does NOT contain enough fermentation to produce an alcoholic result.

It was love at first sip.

I started slow, with something easy and pedestrian like Reeds. The mild blend goes down beautifullykombucha1 and tastes a lot like flat soda. Goji Ginger was my favorite, and set me up to get a little more involved in the benefits of enjoying this fermented drink. I started to buy Reeds by the case, unable to have just one per day. They became my preferred drink, whether alone or accompanied with a meal.

I eventually graduated to Kejiwa, but at nearly $5 per 6-ounce bottle, that habit got to be really expensive, really quick. Plus, supplies were scarce. There’s some story about the makers blessing each bottle yada yada yada, and the result was that more often than not, those little bottles of exotic carbonated goodness simply weren’t available for purchase. If I were pressed, I’d have to admit that Kejiwa makes some of the best tasting kombucha… anywhere. But between long lulls between kombuchadeliveries, there was just no way to get a taste without jumping through a few rings of fire. Who has time for that?

Yoga teacher training happened sometime in 2014, and that’s when I came face to face with Health Ade. One of my teachers was a rep, and often carted the old-fashioned tonic bottles around with her. My first experience wasn’t the best. Since Health Ade is stronger than both Reeds and Kejiwa, the highly carbonated mix made its way directly to my sinus cavity and sent me into a sneezing fit.. The smell (like beer) wasn’t so pleasant either. But once I learned to sip it, my love for the blend grew. I went from the very pedestrian Pink Lady Apple (and now California Grape) to the much stronger Ginger/Lemon and Cayenne Cleanse (my favorite). It’s been about a year since I started drinking Health Ade consistently, and I show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

kombucha2Kombucha drinkers claim a myriad of health benefits, from introducing healthy bacteria into the gut, to providing mental clarity and flushing toxins from the body. You can take or leave any of these claims. But I’ll tell you what I know for sure: I’ve never felt better. Kombucha energizes me (it’s the caffeine. Shut up), keeps my system moving and relatively clean, probably keeps my skin clear, and honestly just tastes good. I’ve tried a few generic brands from my local Farmer’s Market, but found that even those home-grown recipes don’t hold a candle to Health Ade. It’s still an expensive habit ($5 a bottle seems to be the going rate), but the bottles are bigger (16 ounces) and I’ve learned to pace myself.

I still roll my eyes a bit at the hordes of coffee addicts lined up at any given café-du-jour, anxiously awaiting their bitter fix. But I smile inside with a bit of empathy as a clutch my hefty bottle of Health Ade, because I get it. We all have our little… habits. And let’s face it, like many an entertainer who found themselves in handcuffs and facing the possibility of rehab or worse, we could all be strung out on something a lot stronger.

*All health claims are the sole opinion of the author, and do not reflect any formal or independent study on considerations, potential positive/negative effects, or benefits of consuming Kombucha.

He SAID: Ballin’ Out of Control

Scott F. Evans

It’s short-sighted to call HBO’s new comedy series Ballers some form of ‘Entourage on the Gridiron.’ Sure there are similarities. The shows share a network and are produced ballers1by the same company. And yes, they both showcase the lives of the rich and shameless. But where Entourage hammers viewers over the head with how awesome white male privilege is within the entertainment industry, Ballers shows us the other side of fame and wealth.

The show stars Dwayne Johnson as Spencer Strassmore, a retired player turned financial advisor. Ballers is a good showcase for Johnson. He gets to be an actual human being here and not another one of the larger-than-life characters he normally plays in feature films. Johnson has always had loads ballers2of charisma and a strong screen presence. But with Ballers, he gets to truly act. The show is built around him, and he carries it with relative ease.

Rob Corddry co-stars as Joe, Strassmore’s partner at Anderson Financial. Corddry is funny, and plays it fairly broad. Sometimes he goes a bit too far in that direction, and feels like he’s part of a different program. But so far he’s kept to the show’s edges and isn’t too much of a distraction. Omar Benson Miller plays Charles Greane, another recently retired player. In many ways Miller is the heart of Ballers. We watch him struggle with being a car salesman who misses the game and the glamorous life that ballers3comes with it. John David Washington rounds out the supporting cast as Ricky Jerret, a spoiled star player who cannot get his personal life together. Washington is decent, and gives Jerret just enough charisma and humanity to keep viewers rooting for him (even though he doesn’t really deserve it).

Four episodes in, and without a doubt the shows biggest weakness is the use of actual athletes in several key and minor roles. They’re not actors, and it shows. Ballers is ballers5about football players, so having real players pop up occasionally might actually add authenticity. But watching them struggle to deliver lines with any semblance of talent is distracting, sometimes to the point of frustration.

Despite that, it’s worth your time to give Ballers a shot. It’s only a half hour, and it doesn’t insult your intelligence or beat you over the head with its opulence. Plus, Dwayne Johnson is actually putting in the work to become a better actor, one role at a time. And his effort is evident on this particular playing field.

ballers4HBO renewed the series for a second season, so they’ve got enough faith to keep the game going. For now, I’m along for the ride.

We SAID: Best Foot Forward

Staff Writer

‘Tis the season to kick off anything with a closed toe and let your feet come out and breathe. Before you panic at the state of your feet (sans pedicure since 2014… you know who you are), take foot3heart. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, you’ve got enough time to put your best foot forward this summer.

This routine works best at night to give everything a chance to work its magic, but with a few modifications you can do it anytime.

Schedule a few more minutes in the shower, grab a Diamancel Diamond Foot Buffer and get to work. The rubber handle makes it easy to hold onto and manipulate under water. The diamond pattern means you can buff it any which way, and you’ll still end up with smooth heels and toes. This buffer is washable and reusable, so can use it early and often to keep your feet in top shape.

Follow up with L’Occitane One Minute Hand Scrub. Forget about the hands part and foot1just use it on your feet. Your new skin will drink up the sugar and oil combination and immediately soften. Make this the last step before you get out of the shower (so you don’t slip). Apply, rub in circular motions (don’t forget the cuticles), and rinse. Step (carefully) out of the shower and immediately follow up with a strong moisturizer. Our favorite oldie but goodie is Burt’s Bees Hand Salve (R.I.P Dude). Again, forget about the ‘hands’ part. This works wonders on foot2the feet. Full of several different kinds of oils, including eucalyptus and lavender, it goes to work quickly and feels amazing. A little goes a long way, and using more will not make it more effective. So exercise a little restraint with quantity, and instead use some of that zeal to really massage it in and get the full benefit of the formula.

Pop on a pair of socks, moisturize the rest of your body, and go to bed. Overnight, your feet will have a chance to really soak in all that moisturizing goodness. You’ll wake up with the softest feet ever, and maybe feel a little better about exposing them in public.

She SAID: Post-Party Detox

Terri Kennerson

Who declared the 4th of July Holiday an indisputable cheat day?

*raises hand

If you did not declare that on America’s Independence Day you would eat and drink all that was before you (and then some) you’re probably alone. Millions of people gorged themselves on just about everything they could get their hands on in the spirit of independence (I declare thee free from… diets!), and those millions are likely paying for it today in the form of bloating, lethargy, constipation and general yuckiness. If ever there was a time to detox, it’s now.

EAT THIS:

No matter how you slice it, you really can’t go wrong with any dark green leafy vegetable.cheatdaydetox Broccoli, Spinach, Lettuce, Kale… all are fantastic sources of low-fat, high-fiber goodness. Besides nourishing the body with everything from folic acid to vitamin c, they’ll help push out all the madness consumed within the last 24 (48… okay 72) hours. Eat them raw, steam them, bake (yes, bake) them, or sauté them. Just don’t smother them in butter or cheese and you should be good to go (and by ‘go’, we mean don’t make any plans too far away from a clean, isolated bathroom).

DRINK THIS:

cheatdaydetox1Many of you will reach for a glass (or a gallon) of water. Consider reaching for coconut water as well. It’s low in calories, super hydrating and has more potassium than four bananas. Celebrity and athletic hype aside, coconut water is a natural diuretic, and might help move some of that Independence Day madness through your intestines and out of your body. Plus it’s a heck of a remedy for hangover.  Not that we’d know anything about that.

ENJOY THIS:

If you haven’t already, dig into a slice of watermelon. The sweet fruit is in season, and you’ve got the perfect excuse to enjoy it. One cup of watermelon will provide 17% of cheatdaydetox3vitamin A, 21% of vitamin C, 2% of iron and 1% of calcium needs for the day. It’s also full of healthy goodness like b-6, potassium, and zinc, and it contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable. Despite all of that, watermelon is still more than 90% water. And just like water (and coconut water) it’ll go a long way to clean out your insides. Plus, it just tastes good. Win/Win.

POP THIS:

If you’re like us, some of the food you consumed came from sources that couldn’t exactly be cheatdaydetox2confirmed. Prepackaged or processed meals often contain some kind of preservative to keep it fresher, longer. And let’s not even get into anything that your relative/friend/neighbor brought to the party. There’s no telling what they actually put in their famous 4th of July potato salad to make it so irresistible. Absorb some of the bad stuff with an activated charcoal tablet or two. Activated charcoal is typically used to absorb chemicals and toxins in the body.

Now that the fireworks, fanfare, and food are over we’re ready to get on the road to recovery.

Until next year… 😉

He SAID: Summer Style

Staff Writer

Summer hair should be like everything else this time of year: effortless and carefree. For those blessed with naturally bouncing and behaving hair, this is great news. But the rest of us need davidharringtona professional and a few hours, or risk walking around looking like birds have permanently taken up residence at the crown of our heads.

Or so we thought.

Hairstylist David Harrington is all about simplicity this season. So he’s divided styling options by time, hair length and hair type, to help us all make most of our style.

5 MINUTES:

If you’ve got five minutes, you’ve got time to style your hair. Harrington recommends a summerhair2quick ponytail, a bun or a top knot. The style will work for any texture or length; even the shortest hair can be enhanced with a ponytail add-on. The key is to use styling products that feature smoothing properties. If you have curly or textured hair, use products that enhance your curl pattern and reduce frizz.

10 MINUTES:

Got an extra five minutes to add to that? Work it out with a french twist or a ‘up/down’ style. Harrington recommends starting by using a curling iron to give your hair some texture (textured types can just start the braid right away with no prep needed). Finger comb your hair, twist it up and pin it in place. If you’ve got layers or a fringe, work with it and let the pieces that natural fall free frame your face. If you use any product at all, use something with a slight hold to keep the twist in place. If the twist comes out slightly messy, roll with it. ‘Tis the season to make it look like you’re not even trying to color inside the lines.
15 MINUTES
This is a great time to work on your braiding skills. Harrington believes in the braid, becausesummerhair it can take you from beach, to boating, to brunch with little to no trouble. Take a little extra time to French braid in any manner you like (inside/outside/fishtail). Use a holding product to keep the braids in place, and secure the ends with a hair-matching tie or band. Braids will work on any length, including shorter hair. But instead of keeping it, prep the hair with cornrows, then pull loose and finger comb with a light holding product. Or if you’re feeling it, keep the cornrows.
No matter what style you choose, spending less time on your hair protects it from over-manipulation and potential damage. Plus, it gives you even more time to soak up the Summer.
*A stylist with over 20 years experience, David Harrington has styled for Gucci and Escada. His artistry has been seen in Los Angeles Magazine, and on Entertainment Tonight, Univision and the British GQ Awards.