tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:/posts Marisa's Clips 2014-10-28T15:14:32Z Marisa LaScala tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/761486 2014-10-28T15:13:39Z 2014-10-28T15:14:32Z The Daily Traveler: Ghost Tours

Scariest Ghost Tours for Halloween

Explore haunted spaces, meet scary spirits, hear dark legends—and, yes, maybe learn a little history—on these ghost tours.

Boroughs of the Dead
New York City

Tour: The Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour takes guests through some of New York City's most famous haunts, including the "House of Death," (pictured) a house that is haunted by 22 spirits—including (possibly) the ghost of Mark Twain, who lived there for a year.

What Else You'll Pass: St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, McSorley's Tavern, the Public Theatre, the Merchant's House Museum, and Washington Square Park.

You Might Meet: A boy who haunts the sixth floor of Hayden Hall at New York University. He hanged himself there more than 20 years ago; now he spends his time opening and closing drawers and moving furniture around.

FYI: All of Boroughs of the Dead's tour guides are writers who specialize in horror and speculative fiction (and a few of them are actors, too)—so they know how to tell a good ghost story.

Tours meet at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, 131 E 10th St, New York, NY, 646-932-0680; boroughsofthedead.com. Tours last two hours and cost $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler

Photo Courtesy of Boroughs of the Dead

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/754744 2014-10-13T16:13:13Z 2014-10-13T16:13:13Z TV Review: 'Marry Me'

Does 'Marry Me' Mark the Year of the Rom-Sitcom?

...Even if The New Girl and The Mindy Project have modeled some success, 2014’s crop of TV rom-sitcoms—A to Z, Manhattan Love Story, and Selfie—will have to figure out what they would do if they were lucky enough to make it to a second season. Do they extend the will-they-or-won’t-they tensions, or is that just stringing audiences along? Or, might the couples get together in a season finalé, fundamentally changing the blueprint of the show for a sophomore season?

These longer-term questions aside, the single-camera Marry Me distinguishes itself by focusing on a couple who is together from the beginning. In the premiere episode, airing 14 October, Annie (Casey Wilson) and Jake (Ken Marino) have already been through their meet-cute, fallen in love, and spent six years together. The series premiere focuses on their bumpy engagement.

With this history in place, the show is free to focus on the comedy portion of the relationship, rather than the earliest, more sentimental stage. That doesn’t mean this rom-sitcom leaves out emotional moments; it’s clear that Annie and Jake really care for each other. Flashbacks to their initial meeting and the first time each says, “I love you” briefly deliver blushing first moments of love for viewers interested in that stage. That said, these early moments look ahead to the problems ahead, as Annie and Jake’s awkwardness gives way to scenes of abject embarrassment. Wilson and Marino are skilled enough performers that they can sell the tender scenes as well as the more exaggerated comedy... 

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.
 


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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/754690 2014-10-13T13:21:45Z 2014-10-13T13:21:46Z DVD Review: 'Obvious Child'

'Obvious Child' Looks at Unplanned Pregnancy from a New Angle

...If there’s a problem with Obvious Child, it’s born of the movie’s strengths. It’s a relief to see a movie that doesn’t treat abortion as a ordeal, and it’s refreshing to see a man in a romantic comedy be an idealized fantasy object. However, the combination of these two elements makes the film light on conflict. It’s important to Obvious Child to keep the abortion regret-free, so once the decision to end the pregnancy is made, it doesn’t continue to drive the narrative. The focus shifts to the relationship between Donna and Max, but he never seems to anger no matter how bad Donna’s behavior gets. Donna goes through ups and downs on her own accord, but nothing is too extreme...

Click through to read the full review on PopMatters.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/754688 2014-10-13T13:05:39Z 2014-10-13T13:05:58Z Bustle TV Coverage 10/6/2014 to 10/12/2014

I'm about to leave for vacation, but I was able to squeeze in a few Bustle posts before I go. Last week, I...

...speculated that Gotham will have Osborn Cobblepot turn into The Penguin sooner rather than later.

...uncovered Charles Michael Davis' pre-The Originals roles. You can totally tell he was a model.

...investigated a few TV stars' wives. Click through if you're looking for information about the spouses of Sleepy Hollow's Tom Mison (she's pretty crafty), or Supernatural's Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles (both actresses). 

Image: Jessica Miglio/FOX



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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/751244 2014-10-05T18:53:52Z 2014-10-05T18:55:12Z TV Review: 'Mulaney'
'Mulaney' Is Like Seinfeld, But Without Elaine

...Mulaney knows enough to feature a ringer or two, beginning with Martin Short, who plays his loopy comedian and game-show-host boss, Lou Cannon. Short is a tremendous physical comedian, and he can sell the gags that Mulaney can’t quite pull off. Thankfully, the show makes great use of Short’s talents. Not only does he careen around the set, he has ingenious comic timing. Cannon tells Mulaney that he likes “fast setups and slow punch-lines,” which seems to apply to Short himself, though there are times when his fast setups are followed by rapid-fire punch-lines, too.

Not every character is so well served by the material. Mulaney and Motif’s third roommate, Jane (Nasim Pedrad), is especially problematic. Though Pedrad doesn’t sound like a stand-up, Jane is obviously underdeveloped, and thrown into subplots that focus on typical—if not offensive—female storylines and stereotypes...The offense only gets worse when you realize that she’s the only one of the three roommates who, after the first few episodes, doesn’t have a clear profession. (Motif and Mulaney are both, predictably, comedians.) She’s another female character on TV who’s defined by her relationships with men, whether it’s her platonic friendship with Mulaney or her train-wreck romances. If Mulaney really seeks to emulate Seinfeld, it should seek to turn Jane into as vibrant and singular a character as Elaine Benes...

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.




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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/751188 2014-10-05T16:04:55Z 2014-10-05T16:04:56Z Bustle TV Coverage: 9/22/2014 to 10/5/2014

Fall TV means lots and lots of Bustle posts. Recently, I...


...marveled at how much British TV David Tennant has done that hasn't hopped the pond.

...coped with the loss of Trophy Wife by tracking down Michaela Watkins' other projects.

...discovered that it's super weird to see H. Jon Benjamin and Dan Mintz, who play Bob and Tina Belcher on Bob's Burgers, talking to each other in real life.

...traced the Elliott Gould's career highlights leading up to his across-the-hall hippie neighbor role on Mulaney.

...made a slideshow of all the guest stars coming to The Simpsons this season (including Don Hertzfeldt, an animator who did an amazing couch gag for the premiere).

...placed The Simpsons in the timeline of the longest-running shows on television (it's getting up there).

...uncovered Stephanie Beatriz's theater background before Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

...discovered Ryan Hansen's elusive wife, who was Kristen Bell's best friend and only witness at her wedding.

...caught up with both Sabrina and Jeremiah from Return to Amish.



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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/745062 2014-09-22T13:29:50Z 2014-09-22T13:29:50Z TV Review: 'Gotham"

'Gotham' Is No Place for Nice Guys

...From the series premiere, it looks like Gotham fits somewhere between Burton’s and Nolan’s creations, not quite as stylized as the former, but not quite as contemporary as the latter. It’s dark—even the daytime scenes feel overcast—and the streets feature little retro touches, like checkered cabs. The striking visuals make clear that Gotham really is about the city first and foremost. While the first episode mostly follows Gordon, it does so to explore the city’s institutions (legal and illegal), how they overlap with each other, how each vies for control.

The institutions are premised on the individuals they affect as well as those who wield power. And, like most first episodes, this one offers a quick overview of the series’ players. Gotham feels like a fully populated town, almost akin to The Simpsons’ Springfield. Batman fans will recognize a few of the names, like Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), Ivy Pepper (Clare Foley), and Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith). Since it’s too early in the Batman timeline for them to give in wholly to their villainous tendencies, right now they’re just townsfolk, however eccentric...

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/744877 2014-09-22T04:09:42Z 2014-09-22T04:09:42Z Bustle TV Coverage: 9/8/2014 to 9/21/2014

I was about to interview the creator of the WGN America series Manhattan. He told me about writing strong female characters, the crazy parties that happened in Los Alamos, and what might be in store for a second season (since the show isn't just about the bomb). 

I also...

...loved Donal Logue's Bullock in Gotham so much, I traced the other Bullocks from movies and TV. 

...explored the charms of Reid Scott, who plays Dan Egan on Veep.

...speculated about the chances for renewal for You're the Worst and Married, and about whether the move to Sunday would be good or bad for Brooklyn Nine-Nine (illustrated with a lot of amazing Andy Samberg faces).

...found out who created the Miss America pageant, and what the winner gets.

Photo Credit: WGN


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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/740253 2014-09-11T19:49:26Z 2014-09-11T19:49:26Z Travel: The Ocean House in Rhode Island

A travel piece about the amazing Ocean House in Rhode Island. Download the PDF above, or read it online here.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/738706 2014-09-09T13:59:11Z 2014-09-09T13:59:11Z Q&A: Jonathan Tropper of 'This Is Where I Leave You'

I interviewed Jonathan Tropper, novelist and screenwriter behind This Is Where I Leave You. You can download the PDF above, or read it online here.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/738680 2014-09-09T13:21:01Z 2014-09-09T13:21:01Z Fall Arts Preview

One of my favorite assignments of the year is the annual Fall Arts Preview, where I look ahead at the season's upcoming cultural events. You can download the PDF above, or read it online here.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/737827 2014-09-07T19:35:37Z 2014-09-07T19:35:38Z Bustle: 8/25/2014 to 9/7/2014

Boardwalk Empire returns tonight for its last season!

For Bustle, I wrote an appreciation of Sally Wheet, Patricia Arquette's character. Between Boardwalk Empire and Boyhood, Arquette is having a heck of a year.


I also...

...wrote about how Frozen is the highest-grossing movie by a female (co-)director. It's sitting at No. 5 right now, and the next woman is at No. 74.

...explained what the whole Stand Up to Cancer thing was (and why it's worthy).

...became really jealous about Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele's job as creative director of Chopard jewelry.

...opined that we still have a long wait before Sherlock and True Detective return.

...wrote about the time that the director of Factory Girl called Brittany Murphy's husband "a con artist and a bad man."

Image: Macall Pollay



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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/731752 2014-08-25T14:22:05Z 2014-08-25T14:22:05Z Bustle TV Coverage: The 2014 MTV VMAs.

For Bustle, I answered a lot of burning question about the MTV VMAs, including:

Which videos should have been nominated?

Why is the awards statue a moonman?

Why is there no host this year?

Who votes on the VMAs, anyway?

Who won Video of the Year?

How do these VMAs compare to last year?

Are Ariana Grande and Big Sean dating?


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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/731750 2014-08-24T23:46:30Z 2014-08-24T23:46:30Z Bustle TV Coverage: 8/11/2014 to 8/24/2014

Recently, on Bustle, I...

...wondered what's next for Anna Paquin after True Blood.

...opined that I want a BFF like Tina Majorino.

...contemplated the complexities of making a historical show with entirely fictional characters, like Manhattan.

...rejoiced that Miss J is no longer fired from America's Next Top Model.

...told the fashionable cord-cutters how to watch America's Next Top Model online.

...then explained to the unfashionable Project Runway fans who YouTube fashion icon Bethany Mota is.

Photo courtesy of HBO.




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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/730507 2014-08-21T14:16:24Z 2014-08-21T14:16:24Z DVD Review: 'Transcendence'

'Transcendence' Is a High-Tech Mess of Subplots

In Transcendence, Evelyn Caster (Rebecca Hall) is introduced as the classic mad scientist, someone who moves forward with experimental technology without stopping to consider the consequences. Of course, she has a good reason to do so: love. Her husband, the brilliant scientist Will Caster (Johnny Depp), was making breakthroughs in the field of self-aware artificial intelligence when an anti-A.I. group, Revolutionary Independence from Technology (R.I.F.T.), assassinates him with radioactive poisoning. Since it’s such a villainously slow death, Evelyn has enough time to copy his brain activity and upload his “consciousness” into the A.I. supercomputer he created. Friend and fellow scientist Max (Paul Bettany) has reservations about copying Will’s consciousness and hooking it up to the world’s network of computers, but Evelyn considers it a sound scientific plan, since a digital husband is better than no husband at all.

Similarly, on paper, Transcendence seems like it should be good idea. It’s an original sci-fi concept, not based on a pre-existing franchise property. Wally Pfister, longtime director of photography for Christopher Nolan, chose it as his directorial debut. (In one of the wan bonus features, someone calls Pfister a veteran with the passion and energy of a first-timer.) The cast also features members of the Christopher Nolan Repertory Company, including Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy. With all of these factors in place, it wouldn’t seem unreasonable to expect a movie on the level of Nolan’s Inception. But, like Dr. Caster’s experiments, Transcendence is much smarter in theory than it is in practice.

Not that the movie should be blamed for trying. Many recent films have focused on Transcendence‘s two main themes: the practical applications of self-aware artificial intelligence, and humanity’s relationship to it. Just a few months before the film’s release, for example, Spike Jonze‘s Her covered similar ground. But while Her focused in an emotional, one-on-one human interaction, Transcendence‘s view is more macro, centered on the power of A.I. that has access to the world’s accumulated knowledge in a plugged-in society. Or was it more of a political view, telling the story of the struggle between the people who barrel forward with new technology too quickly versus the people who rally against it entirely? Or is it about whether or not humans can form a romantic relationship with A.I. created from the exact neural pathways of someone they once loved? And, if scientists can create A.I. from the exact neural pathways of a living human, what makes that A.I. different from the original? In short: What makes us human, and can it be copied or created?

These are big questions, and Transcendence tries to tackle all of them without ever really getting a bead on any of them...

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/730004 2014-08-20T13:07:49Z 2014-08-20T13:07:49Z DVD Review: Disney's 'Ichabod and Mr. Toad' and 'Fun and Fancy Free'

A Small Sampling of Disney: 'The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad' and 'Fun and Fancy Free'

...It would have been neat if the Blu-ray gave viewers a choice to either watch the movies as two distinct features in their original forms, or as a series of shorts that could be accessed separately and watched in any order. Yet if you want to go from “Sleepy Hollow” to “Bongo”, you have to stop Ichabod and Mr. Toad, head to the top menu, select Fun and Fancy Free, select play from that menu, and fast-forward through the overlong introductory material with Jiminey Cricket.

Format nitpicking aside—and I realize it is a lot to ask Disney to slice-and-dice its beloved feature films—this Blu-Ray two-movie collection has charm to spare. For the most part, the shorts are some of Disney’s strongest, and taken as a whole they offer a variety of animation styles, characters and tones...

Click through to see the full review at PopMatters.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/725677 2014-08-10T23:21:37Z 2014-08-10T23:21:38Z DVD Review: 'Need for Speed'

'Need for Speed' Is About the Thrill of the Ride, Not the Script

...In other words, this is a car movie, one made for people who love cars, and for people who love other car movies. Enthusiasts get to gawk at Marshall’s Ford Mustang GT500 and other exotic cars, like a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento or a Koenigsegg Agera R.

These cars are treated (and shot) with a lot of love. Director Scott Waugh, in his commentary with Paul, mentions that he favors practical effects over CGI, and you can tell; the cars have heft and weight to them, and the most interesting visuals in the film are done in the service of the driving scenes. The cars are also the subject of most of the Blu-ray’s features, which do everything from break down the biggest stunts to analyze the different rumbles that each car makes.

But besides just lavishing attention on the cars, Waugh loves placing them in the context of other, classic driving movies, from Bullitt to American Graffiti. In the commentary, Waugh and Paul point out many of these references (and, yes, video game Easter eggs, too), down to the tiniest background details. (A stunt coordinator and son of a stunt coordinator, Waugh also likes to give shout-outs to all of the stunt drivers and their previous films.) When Bullitt is playing in the background of a drive-in theater during one of the opening scenes of the film, Waugh mentions that he was afraid the movie would come across as a period film, since he puts in so many references to the ‘60s and ‘70s...

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.


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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/725675 2014-08-10T23:08:55Z 2014-08-10T23:26:23Z Bustle TV Coverage: 7/28/14 to 8/10/14 Recently on Bustle, I

...tried to justify bringing Agent Peggy Carter onto Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just because she's awesome.
http://bsl.io/WKOP1e

...told Batman fans that they're not crazy for not knowing who Fish Mooney is, since she's new for Gotham.
http://bsl.io/1lXxFCR

...marveled -- in slideshow form -- that Manhattan has such a talented cast for a show no one I know watches.
http://bsl.io/1qKWJVs

...was surprised  by how normal Larry Jr. is, despite being the son of Theresa Caputo from Long Island Medium.
http://bsl.io/1nxPaJU

..got to the bottom of what Sugar Bear from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo really does for a living (besides act on a reality show).
http://bsl.io/1mn2QaS








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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/718973 2014-07-26T17:26:28Z 2014-07-26T17:26:28Z Bustle TV Coverage: 7/21/14 to 7/26/14

This week on Bustle, I...

...discovered how totally adorable The Fosters' Bailee Madison and Maia Mitchell are—and how much they really look like sisters.
http://bsl.io/Wvd2Zo

...realized that SoundClash host Diplo is behind more memes than you would think.
http://bsl.io/1sHJHYs

...got to the bottom of the big feud between Caroline and Caprice on Ladies of London
http://bsl.io/1kJfP6j

...and argued that Julia Ormond's "acting rut" was actually kind of awesome.
http://bsl.io/1oiMTXF


Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/716164 2014-07-20T15:01:35Z 2014-07-20T15:01:36Z Bustle TV Coverage: 7/13/14 to 7/20/14

This week on Bustle, I: 

...got "What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes stuck in my own head while looking into Make or Break Linda Perry's biggest hits.
http://bsl.io/1tG0jS3

...found out all the crazy stories you've heard about rumspringa are true.
http://bsl.io/UdQ32W

...looked back at the cheesy Lifetime movie that brought LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian together
http://bsl.io/1nyuJw0

...and discovered that the music behind 'Married" is by Ratatat and Broken Bells.
http://bsl.io/1mPOOBZ

Image: Prashant Gupta/FX

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/714258 2014-07-15T12:58:08Z 2014-07-15T12:58:08Z DVD Review: 'Under the Skin'

Mysterious Aliens and Inscrutable Humans: 'Under The Skin'

...We follow Laura as she drives around the streets of Glasgow in a van, luring and seducing men into her orbit, often to their detriment. For these scenes, Glazer uses a series of non-actors in largely improvised environments; the van is outfitted with up to 10 hidden-camera setups.

The result of these conditions—regular people having unscripted conversations in a natural setting without cameras reminding them they’re being filmed—should be naturalistic. However, they don’t entirely feel this way. While these scenes do feel authentic, Glazer heightens the action beyond the typical found-footage-style documentary. His images are more beautiful than something you’d expect from dashboard cameras. He also sets the scenes to a discordantly beautiful score by Mica Levi. You can feel the disconnect between Laura and the rest of humanity; everything feels distant and unsettled.

This is largely to the credit of Johansson. She’s capable of telegraphing both seduction and isolation simultaneously. She connects with the men she meets on the street, but you can tell that there’s an emotional disconnect. While there is dialogue throughout the film, Johansson is essentially giving a silent performance. The words that pass between her and the men are of no consequence to the arc of the film; they’re just to get the men in the van. The emotional core of the story—which comes more and more into focus as the film progresses—is almost entirely advanced through Johansson’s face...

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.
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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/714257 2014-07-15T12:54:59Z 2014-07-15T12:54:59Z Bustle TV Coverage: 6/29/14 to 7/12/14

This week on Bustle, I:

...explained how Welcome to Sweden is basically a lower-key Parks & Recreation
http://bsl.io/1njcLSW

...but lamented how little Amy Poehler will be on it
http://bsl.io/1rVr7fg

...speculated that Olaf will not be appearing on Once Upon a Time
http://bsl.io/U2euR7)

...reminded the world of Rising Star host Josh Groban's greatest accomplishment, his "I'm your Bieber now" tweet
http://bsl.io/1rZKh3s

...noticed what a difference a year or two has made in the life of Extant's Halle Berry
http://bsl.io/1ovtnVc

...and reminded everyone how holidays are always better if you add Muppets
http://bsl.io/1mv26Q3


Image: Getty



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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/710035 2014-07-02T20:16:04Z 2014-07-02T20:16:15Z The Daily Traveler: Rooftop Bars Around the World
Rooftop Bars Where You Can Drink In the View
When you want more than just a cocktail, head to one of these rooftop bars, where the price of a drink gets you access to some rarified scenery.

Sonny's Soda Shoppe
New York City, New York

Don't let the name fool you—you won't be heading to Sonny's Soda Shoppe for an old-fashioned egg cream. Instead, this is where a well-heeled crowd gathers to sip cocktails and check out the view of lower Manhattan and beyond. It sits atop the modern Mondrian SoHo, but the design is meant to recall a 1950s Italian beach club, albeit with faux grass turf instead of sand.

To drink: We didn't say there were zero old-time soda fountain pleasures to be had. Sonny's Blood Orange Gelato Float combines Don Julio Añejo, Chartreuse, vanilla gelato, and blood orange soda.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/709141 2014-06-30T17:55:43Z 2014-06-30T17:55:44Z The Daily Traveler: Amazing Outdoor Film Screenings

A Hot Tub Cinema? Our Favorite Outdoor Movie Venues

Who needs a drive-in? No cars are required to enjoy these outdoor movie screenings—and, chances are, the view will be as good as the film. Enjoy a sunset screening all summer long in an historic Italian piazza, on the rooftop of a cinema in Athens, in a cemetery in Los Angeles, and yes, in a hot tub.

Sotto Le Stelle Del Cinema
Bologna, Italy

When the weather warms, Cineteca di Bologna turns the city’s Piazza Maggiore into one of the most historic outdoor movie venues, with Renaissance architecture surrounding the plaza on all sides and the dome of the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita rising behind the screen. Cineteca di Bologna holds 51 screenings under the stars throughout the summer, with eight nights dedicated to the “Il Cinema Ritrovato” (Cinema Rediscovered) series of classic movies. It also claims that the Piazza Maggiore's screen is one of the largest in Europe.

Coming Attractions: Jules and Jim, The Spirit of '45, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Click through to see the full slideshow at The Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Lorenzo Burlando






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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/708833 2014-06-29T20:05:18Z 2014-06-29T20:05:18Z Bustle TV Coverage

So, I picked up a freelance gig covering TV for Bustle! My first week, I... 

...geeked out about how much I loved the flawed women of Tom Perrotta
Meet Tom Perrotta's Leading Ladies

...took any excuse I could to post the "Donna Martin graduates!" video from Beverly Hills, 90210
Tag Team, Back Again

...watched a ton of YouTube videos starring my favorite So You Think You Can Dance contestant, tWitch
Catch Up with the Best 'SYTYCD' Contestant Ever

...got super-jealous of Moran Atias' Instagram account
She's Your Next Girl Crush

...and tried to figure out what the heck CeeLo's reality show is about
CeeLo Green's Reality Show Isn't Very Real

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/707149 2014-06-24T18:31:32Z 2014-06-24T18:31:33Z The Daily Traveler: Extreme Amusement Park Rides

The Craziest New Roller Coasters and Thrill Rides in the U.S.

Screw up your courage and take a ride on one of this year's new crop of roller coasters, drop towers, Ferris Wheels, and other amusement-park attractions—if you can stand the record-shattering speeds, mind-bending loops, and heart-stopping falls.

El Loco
Adventuredome; Las Vegas, Nevada

The small, four-person cars of the El Loco allow for tighter twist, turns, and rolls. The whole thing starts with a hairpin turn that rolls into a greater-than-straight-down dive, so riders experience what coaster nerds call a "negative 1.5 vertical G"—what a normal rider would call that feeling of floating up out of your seat. Plus, the Las Vegas Adventuredome, located in Circus Circus, is all indoors, so you can't use the weather as an excuse to chicken out.

Click through to read the full slideshow at the website of the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Denise Truscello





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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/707007 2014-06-24T13:00:18Z 2014-06-24T13:00:20Z DVD Review: Winter's Tale
'Winter's Tale' Is Blinded by the Light

The love story should be the heart of Winter’s Tale, but the movie is frequently caught up in the more supernatural elements of the story, and everything is consumed in its spiritual mumbo-jumbo. For example, at least two different characters are pressed into service to explain that Lake’s horse is “actually a dog”—specifically Athansor, the “Dog of the East”—that just sometimes takes the form of a horse. This information never comes to bear in the rest of the entire movie, as Athansor never appears as a dog; it’s just magical nonsense.

It’s not just background nonsense, either; the movie goes out of its way to play up its spiritual angle. Light and its mystical properties, for example, is a major theme of the movie. Instead of just being a recurring visual motif, though, Goldsman makes sure the light is always front-and-center. This results in something onscreen twinkling right before an awe-inspiring event happens. It’s a constant primer that the audience doesn’t actually need.

The magical elements of the story come at the expense of developing real characters. By the time a second set of major characters is introduced in the 2014 timeline, Winter’s Tale doesn’t have enough time left to get invested in them as people. Instead, they become just another set of mystical objects in Lake’s quest for miracles.

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters



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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/701892 2014-06-09T14:29:30Z 2014-06-09T14:29:30Z DVD Review: Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit
Forget Boy Scout; Jack Ryan Is an Eagle Scout to the Extreme
...All of this happens in what is basically the prologue to the actual events of the film, which show how the squeaky-clean Ryan, following his injury, is recruited into the CIA, first as a data analyst at a financial firm in New York City, and then as an agent on his first field assignment to avert an act of financial terrorism in Russia. As Ryan progresses up the ranks of the CIA, though, the story doesn’t get any more nuanced. Ryan is always the most observant, most competent, most morally upstanding guy in the room. The Americans are the good guys; the Russians are the villains. It is, like its airport-novel origins, pretty boilerplate.

For something so formulaic, though, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is at least well done. Director Kenneth Branagh borrows from the best of recent thrillers. He throws in a Bourne-style fight scene here, a Mission:Impossible break-in-and-heist-sequence there, and some Zero Dark Thirty-like data analysis, along with a dash of his own classic, theatrical flourishes. (Branagh takes on the role of Russian baddie Viktor Cherevin, a cold-blooded killer who still makes time to talk about the novels of Mikhail Lermontov.)

With each of these sequences, Branagh changes his filmmaking style to match. The Bourne-like fistfight also borrows its director’s affinity for the shaky, handheld camera aesthetic. The longer heist scene has more fluid camera movements and quick cuts to ratchet up the tension. Throughout, Branagh makes everything sparkle: fluorescent lights of a city, reflections on smooth surfaces of modern architecture, blinking lights of a computer message. The elements of the story may be familiar, but everything looks shiny and new.

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.
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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/698154 2014-05-30T16:59:22Z 2014-05-30T16:59:22Z TV Review: Halt and Catch Fire

PC-Cloning Has Gone Mad in 'Halt and Catch Fire'
With the relationships among MacMillan, Clark, and Howe in the foreground, Halt and Catch Fire makes impressive use of its time period without treating it as an elbow-to-the-ribs joke. Sure, there’s the obligatory Return of the Jedi reference, but there are no Rubik’s cubes, day-glo colors, “Billie Jean,” or any of the other hackneyed ‘80s touchstones. Instead, 1983 appears here to be a transitional year that separates the ‘70s from the ‘80s, pivoting to the age of the personal computer, and the details designating this moment are specific rather than generic.

Click through to read the full review on PopMatters.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/690983 2014-05-14T13:29:59Z 2014-05-14T13:29:59Z The Daily Traveler: Urban Gardens
Beautiful Gardens in the Middle of Cities

You don't have to choose between bustling city life and serene nature. Next time you need a botanic pick-me-up, duck into one of these (gorgeous) public urban gardens—from Barcelona to Singapore, Rio to Rome. The roses and orchids are waiting...

Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore

Orchids have been hybridized at the Singapore Botanic Gardens since 1859, and now more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids are on display in the National Orchid Garden (including one named in honor of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Vanda William Catherine). That’s just one of the dazzling sights here: There's also a Swan Lake, a Fragrant Garden (known to attract butterflies as well as visitors), outdoor sculptures and sundials, and a section of rainforest home to 314 plant species. It’s no wonder that the garden is Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site nominee.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo courtesy of National Parks Board (NPARKS)
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Marisa LaScala