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Why You Need to See—And Read—”Wild”

Written on July 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm , by

It’s been more than a year since Cheryl Strayed released her gripping memoir, Wild, about her solo 1,100-mile trek across the Pacific Crest Trail. The book is a New York Times bestseller for a reason, so if you haven’t read it yet, do it now. Strayed’s  tale is gripping, and the honest look at herself as a person throughout her painful hike (literally painful—the speed at which she loses toenails makes me cringe) is refreshing. So when I found out Reese Witherspoon, one of my favorite actresses, would star in the film adaptation, I may have shrieked with joy.

The movie doesn’t hit theaters until December 5, but the official trailer has just been released. Watch:

Now, everyone knows the film version is rarely as good as the book, but I honestly think those working in film are stepping up their game. And while Witherspoon has a lot to live up to, I think she can handle it. Director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) fortunately doesn’t make us sit through two straight hours of a girl lugging a 50-pound pack through the woods, but rather bounces back to the story of why the heck this woman decided to go it alone. And believe me, that’s a twisted story you want to know about. I’ve only seen the trailer and I already see a myriad of awards in Reese’s future.

But more importantly, go see Wild because in a world of men in hardcore, badass lead roles (I’m looking at you, Captain Phillips), there’s now a strong (albeit unlikable) female in the mix doing something physically—not to mention mentally and emotionally—trying. For me, it serves as a little reminder that I don’t have to follow the crowd, and I can conquer a crazy-hard trail, and all that that comes with, just as well as any man.

But you tell me: have you read the book? Did you love it or hate it? And either way, will you see the movie? 

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Relive the 2012 London Olympics with a “FIRST” of Its Kind Sports Documentary

Written on June 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm , by

Caroline Rowland at the London Olympics for FIRST film

“I fell a little in love with every one of the athletes featured in FIRST,” Director Caroline Rowland says. Photo courtesy of New Moon.

If you thought the buzz about the London Olympics ended last summer, we have news for you: There’s a brand-new sports documentary that chronicles the journey of 12 first-time Olympians, including Americans Missy Franklin and John Orozco. Aptly titled “FIRST: The Official Film of the London 2012 Olympics” the two-hour film is a real treat for anyone who enjoys the emotional personal stories, montages set to killer soundtracks, and gripping recaps that accompany the Olympics. Last Thursday, select theaters screened the film, but you can watch it on NBC on July 27 or buy the DVD here.

During the Olympic Games in London, Caroline Rowland—the film’s director and the Executive Creative Director of New Moon—was granted special access to exclusive areas by the International Olympic Committee. Here she shares some behind-the-scenes insights into her behind-the-scenes film.

Why do this film now, instead of four or eight years ago? What makes this the right time to film and release FIRST?

CR: Throughout the history of the modern Olympic Games, each Games has been immortalized on film. But the London 2012 Olympic Games made a specific commitment to inspiring a generation—so it’s fitting that FIRST focuses on young people and their transition into adulthood through their experience of being an elite athlete at their first Olympic Games.

What were some of the biggest challenges in creating/filming FIRST?

CR: It’s always challenging to film at major sporting events, but the challenges of creating a feature film—using the technology and approach that would typically be used in a more controlled environment— certainly kept the entire production team on their toes!  Between 26 sports, 10,500 athletes, hundreds of thousands of spectators, and unpredictable outcomes…it was all challenging.  But at the heart of it were 12 superstars who kept us all immersed in the experience and we were able to confront everything that was thrown at us.

What were your favorite parts in creating/filming FIRST?

CR: Having the opportunity to be at the London 2012 Olympic Games for 17 days, 17 hours a day, at the heart of the action was unforgettable.  I fell a little in love with every one of the athletes featured in FIRST. Getting to know them ahead of their events meant that I had a very special interest in their performances.

What do you think this film means for the athletes in it, as well as other Olympians?

CR: Several of the athletes in the film have commented on how the film has given them a prism through which to see their own Olympic experience, after they emerged from the most heady and defining experience of their young lives.  FIRST is the sort of story that any athlete—amateur or professional—can relate to. It is about triumph and adversity and the very human experience of being vulnerable in the face of unseen forces.

What’s the one takeaway you hope the audience will get, upon watching the film?

CR: I hope that FIRST is an uplifting, inspirational film that reaffirms all the things that make it incredible to be human—and specifically, an athlete.

FITNESS had a chance to screen the film and we loved it! So make sure to tune in on July 27…and in the meantime, we’re going to try and hunt down some of the songs from the fab soundtrack! For more info, like /OlympicsFilm on Facebook.

5 Reasons You Need to See ‘The Great Gatsby’

Written on May 10, 2013 at 9:51 am , by

It’s likely the most talked about movie since The Hunger Games–at least it is in the FITNESS office. And one of the perks of working here is getting the chance to see movies before they hit theaters. So on Tuesday night I made my way to the Ziegfeld theater in NYC, popped on my 3-D shades and was transported into one of the most beloved stories in American literature. If that’s not reason enough for you to go see The Great Gatsby, here are five more:

(Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers)

1. Leonardo Dicaprio. The man has been making our hearts flutter since Romeo + Juliet, and we swear he just gets better (acting-wise and come on, looks-wise) with age. If you didn’t know, Baz Luhrmann, the director of Gatsby, worked with Leo way back then on R+J. Once we watched him on screen, we saw exactly why Luhrmann wanted to collaborate with the actor again: love or hate him, Leo was the perfect guy to play the complicated role of Jay Gatsby. The love, confidence and desperation of his character all seep through, and he had us chastising Daisy Buchanan for her crazy amounts of indecision.

2. Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway) and Leonardo Dicaprio (Jay Gatsby)’s bromance. It’s real, both on and off-screen. We can’t get enough of it.

3. The fashion. This period wasn’t called the Roaring 20s for nothing. It was the tip of the iceberg for women exploring new dress lengths (short, short, short!), hairstyles and lots of sparkle—and you know we love sparkle. Fun fact: costume designer Catherine Martin worked with Brooks Brothers for many of the male costumes—think 2,000 garments + 200 tuxedos—who actually sold clothing to Fitzgerald back in the day.

4. Isla Fisher and Carey Mulligan. Our May cover girl plays Myrtle, Tom Buchanan’s mistress who lives in the Valley of Ashes and wants the glamorous life. Although her role is small, Fisher knows how to make a big impact. Mulligan takes on the iconic role of Daisy Buchanan, and delivers flawlessly. The woman knows how to be alluring, and we love that she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. What we don’t love: Daisy’s inability to make a decision and stick with it. Just watch the movie and you’ll see what we mean.

5. The music. Just as he did in R+J, Luhrmann took Gatsby, a very classic story, and blended it with contemporary music. Now we’ll admit, this is the part we were most skeptical about. Sure, we love blasting Jay-Z, Florence + The Machine and Lana Del Rey during our workouts, but would it work in a movie set in the 20s? Surprisingly, it does. In fact, we say it’s what makes the movie that much better. Bringing contemporary beats to the party scenes helped us make a connection with all of the characters and the fun they were having. Think about it: if you were ready to get your dance on tonight, would you blast music from the 20s and feel jazzed; ready to rock? We didn’t think so. This blend of eras made the story more relatable so we could really be immersed in the story. Smart move, Luhrmann. Smart move.

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Music Monday: Songs For Your Inner Superhero

Written on July 16, 2012 at 9:20 am , by

Ready to transform into your alter ego? (Photo by Peter Ardito)

It feels like this is the summer for heroes. We kicked off the season with The Avengers, and The Amazing Spider-Man was a huge box office hit more recently. And later this week, Batman is back in The Dark Knight Rises.

Want to channel your inner superhero during your next workout? Download these songs and get ready to feel triumphant—no cape required!

 Now tell us: Which song makes you feel like you possess superpowers?

Fit Links: How to Shape Up at Your Desk and 10 Outrageous Road Races to Try

Written on May 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm , by

Stop stressing and start stretching! (Photo by Sarah Forrest)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Hot Topic Tuesday: How Medically-Accurate is Pop Culture?

Written on May 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm , by

Your doctor may not look like McDreamy, but you should trust him more than the actor! (Photo by Susan Pittard)

“Ten blade—stat!” You’ve likely followed along (or tried to) as the paramedics rush patients in from ambulance to emergency room to operating room, all the while shouting precise medical terms to each other, on intense shows like Grey’s Anatomy and ER. It’s fun to get a peek into the powerful world of life-saving, and medical TV shows, movies and other pop culture references allow us to do just that (minus the real-life pain and blood).

But those of us who aren’t doctors have a tough time distinguishing what could be real and what is just drama. A recent New York Times article called out the new HBO series Girls for disseminating inaccurate information about the sexually transmitted infection HPV. The writer claims that an episode of Girls misinformed viewers about the prevalence of HPV (it is so common that at least 50 percent of  sexually active individuals get it at some point in their lives, according to the CDC), the severity of it and what is involved in testing and treatment for the STI.

Now tell us: Is this taking fictional dramas too seriously? Or do writers on health programs owe it to their viewers to have medical advisors on staff to guarantee the accuracy of their content?

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