Tag Archives: review

Bring Your Tissues To See ‘Just Mercy’

The new film Just Mercy chronicles the true story of lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) as he fights for wrongly convicted inmate Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) on death row. Jordan delivers a solid performance as Stevenson, who graduates from Harvard and immediately moves to Alabama to provide free legal assistance to death row inmates. When Stevenson meets McMillian and hears his story, Stevenson cannot forget about the case and knows that McMillian is innocent. Stevenson vows to free McMillian and begins the arduous journey of uncovering the truth (and gross corruption) about how McMillian got to death row. With help from his assistant Eva Ansley (Brie Larson), Stevenson fights to exonerate McMillian and others awaiting their fate. 

While Jordan and Foxx give fantastic performances, the true beauty comes from the performances of two supporting actors, Tim Blake Nelson, and Rob Morgan. Nelson’s work as the physically deformed, convicted felon Ralph Meyers was truly stunning, and will no doubt stick with viewers long after the credits roll. Nelson fully transforms as he twitches, stutters, and emotes his way through a challenging character. Somehow, he demands sympathy from the audience for a character who might not deserve it.

Morgan, on the other hand, turns in a breathtaking rendering of his character, Herbert Richardson, a PTSD-stricken war vet fighting for a stay of execution. His last scenes were the most gut-wrenching, yet fascinating, that I’ve seen in a while.

Just Mercy gives viewers a deeper look into how racism seeps into our justice system to this day. I had to remind myself multiple times that the film (and the case itself) didn’t take place in the 50s or during the Civil Rights Movement, but rather from 1987-1993, just two years before I was born. It is easy for some to believe that the days of racism and police corruption are just far-off stories in our history books, but learning about Walter McMillian’s story should remind audiences that the work is far from over. Bryan Stevenson has not forgotten, and he’s stayed hard at work fighting these injustices through his nonprofit organization, The Equal Justice Initiative (or EJI). For more information on EJI, visit https://eji.org/about/

Viewers may not leave Just Mercy feeling overwhelming happiness or joy. But, hopefully, they’ll leave having learned something. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll want to join the fight for a better tomorrow.

~Katie

TWSM Pork Chili Verde Review

Pork Chili Verde

Sharing 50/50 custody on a 7/7 schedule with my 15 year old son’s father allows me the opportunity to spend quality and valuable time with close friends. On a rainy night too long ago, my friend Kathleen and I made plans to catch up at a local taproom known for their burgers and wood fired pizzas. However as we skimmed the menu over gossip and news of our children, Kathleen mentioned the pork chili verde. Always anxious to try a new menu item and mindful of the weather, I took a chance on a bowl. Topped with sour cream and served with tortilla chips, the chili verde was a lovely bite. Enough so I had to try to recreate it at home.

A few days later, armed with a free afternoon and my good friend Google, I went in search of a good recipe. Elise at Simply Recipes delivered. I trust her recipes to be tested thoroughly. Her pork chili verde was no exception, and all of the ingredients are readily available.

Tomatillos sound exotic and difficult to find, but they are merely a tomato relative. They often hang out near the avocados, garlic, shallots, or tomatoes in the produce section of your local grocery store. If you can’t find them there, try a natural foods store. Peeling the husks of tomatillos is an interesting experience as well. Those little suckers are sticky under the husks!

I was so excited about trying a bowl of chili verde with my dear friend River who is also a foodie, that once completed, I froze two servings until we saw each other later in the week. Freezing the chili worked wonderfully. No texture was lost. We both agreed that the soup was a perfect early after a day of exploring the winter farmer’s market and attending a craft show.

Sour cream on top of the chili verde is a must. The dairy helps cut the slight acid of the tomatillos and the heat of jalapenos and poblano peppers. Tortilla chips add a nice crunch. River and I both felt some added cumin for some smokiness would be a nice touch. We also would have preferred more heat, but there is opportunity to control that by including another jalapeno in the verde sauce.  I feel the pork could also be substituted with chicken.

All in all this is a solid recipe for pork chili verde by Simply Recipes and excellent alternative to to a red chili or beef stew on a cold winter evening when you’re craving comfort food.

~Laura

Almost Family Leaves Us with Two Major Cliffhangers

If you haven’t been keeping up with FOX’s new series Almost Family, you should be. The show, adapted from an Australian version of the same moniker, follows Julia Bechley (Brittany Snow), a young woman who finds out her father, Dr. Leon Bechley (Timothy Hutton), went rogue at his Fertility clinic. For years, he used his own…specimen to impregnate his clients. The scenario is a bit far-fetched (and honestly, kind of creepy), but the show brings enough heart to overcome the unsavory plotline.

Soon after learning about her father’s choices, Julia starts the search for her siblings and bonds with her new sisters: childhood friend Edie (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and former Olympic gymnast, Roxy (Emily Osment). Throughout the last few episodes, each girl has been dealing with her own life chaos, until a midseason finale where some shocking twists were revealed. Spoiler alert: don’t keep reading if you want to start binging from the beginning (all episodes are available on Hulu!).

In the last few episodes, viewers were glad to see that Roxy entered rehab for her addiction to pills and came out with a newfound strength that propelled her to publicly accuse her past gymnastics coach, Nick (Jeff Hephner) of sexual assault. We’ve also seen Edie struggling with her decision to leave her husband, Tim (Mo McRae), for her rival lawyer, Amanda (Victoria Cartagena). But Julia takes the cake here, dealing with the newfound revelation that Leon is not her father. Whew.

The newest episode brought even more drama into the mix, leaving viewers with the Julia and Edie cliffhangers. Edie randomly hooks up with Tim again, which will no doubt have immense repercussions in her continuing to DTR with Amanda. Julia visits the dance studio her mom used to frequent and gets lost in the music. The episode ends with a shot of a man’s feet strolling into the studio watching Julia dance, but the audience does not get a clue as to who it may be.

Some viewers may think the mystery man is Donovan (Michael Stahl-David), who Julia had just amicably broken up with, but some are skeptical. The mystery man was wearing slacks and dress shoes, a look that Donovan never sported.

Although this show may seem like a soap-opera, with far-fetched storylines and high stakes, the performances are anything but cheesy. As someone who grew up watching Emily Osment and Brittany Snow, it’s nice to see them gracing the television screen once again. The writing of the show never seems too on the nose, and the show has pleasantly surprised viewers. If you’re looking for an easy watch, Almost Family provides the drama and just enough laughs to keep you hanging on for the next twist in the girls’ chaotic lives. At the forefront, the show is about family….however that may look. You can catch Almost Family on Wednesdays at 9/8c on FOX, or on next day streaming with Hulu.

~Katie

TWSM’s Book Review of ‘My One and Only’ by Kristan Higgins

Found this one to be romantic and dramatic with unexpected twists… “My One and Only” was a heartfelt and fun read! It is actually a bit addictive and hard to stop listening to. The characters are compelling and you are quickly woven into their lives.

The lead character, Harper is a top-notch divorce attorney which certainly helps skew her view on the institution of marriage. Add her failed marriage of less than a year many moons ago and you’ll begin to see why she views all things romance as better for somebody else.

Infamous and despised by many of the losing divorcees on Martha’s Vineyard, 30 year old Harper James is driving even the local priest crazy with her dry wit and scathing cynicism regarding all things ‘love’. Harper believes herself to be a ‘habitual realist’. That said, she proposes to her boyfriend at the beginning of the book with what is more like an opening statement in a court case rather than a romantic plea…needless to say it doesn’t go quite as planned…instead the phone rings and she finds out that her younger sister is going to marry her ex-husband’s brother in 2 weeks’ time. THIS is news since Harper didn’t even know they were DATING! Since Harper has not seen or spoken to her ex (Nick) since they spilt this throws her completely off her well-organized game.

We are then off and running with Harper on a series of adventures that takes us all over the country and end up teaching Harper how to become a better person. She is also confronted by the fact that she never really got over her first husband…and that is all that I am going to say about that!

Higgins again delivers us an excellent heroine in an engaging story full of what it really means to love people. Lots of making peace with the past in this one and I am quite certain that everyone will find something here to relate to.

Another book that I highly recommend! 🙂

***Although this isn’t part of the promotion, I am currently part of a paid sponsorship for Audible’s Romance Package. Also please note that I truthfully LOVE the books that I have been listening to and this endorsement has been one of my favorites!

The Past Is Not To Dictate The Future

Don’t let the past dictate your future.  Leave the it back there where it belongs, it served a purpose and now it’s time to move on.

There is something to learn from every thing that has happened to us.  If you are stuck on something from the past then ask for the lesson to reveal itself so that you can be freed from constantly reviewing history.

Often the holiday season will become a time for reviewing old situations or old circumstances, let’s not do that this year.  This Christmas season let’s remember what we are grateful for and start thinking about what we want to create for 2017.   Time to move on….