Movie: The Cabin in the Woods
The Cabin in the Woods starts as an exciting and thrilling horror movie, but turns into an outlandish sci-fi/horror by the end. The movie was actually filmed five years ago, but the production studio, MGM, had to file for bankruptcy so the release was delayed. It tells the story of five teenagers (played by Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz and Jesse Williams) who take a break from school to escape to an abandoned cabin in the middle of the woods.
But what they don’t know is that video cameras surround the house and a secret government facility is controlling what occurs in their environment. As the college students start of their weekend of fun, they discover an underground basement filled with belongings left from the family who inhabited the house in the early 1900s.
The teens triggering the source of their own deaths, and the zombies of the old family come to wreak havoc. Back in the control room, the two technicians behind the operation continue to add in obstacles that further endanger the lives of the friends. The mystery of the experiment continues as the teens struggle to get out of the horrific woods—a force field stops them from doing so —and to discover why a clan of zombies seem bent on killing all of them.
Hemsworth obviously leads the group as the alpha-male and perfectly captures the academic jock. His bubbly girlfriend, played by Hutchison, is the epitome of the happy-go-lucky party girl. Williams and Connolly both gave compelling performances as the sane, reliable individuals of the group.
But overall, the favorite character for the audience is the goofy and lovable Kranz. Although he spends most of the movie smoking a pipe, his adorable tangents and hilarious one-liners help balance out the movie nicely.
The storyline goes south about half-way through the movie, however, when ancient gods and sacrifices are randomly inserted into the plot. Overall, the characters and the story entertain the audience throughout the movie with a great mix of scary and funny, but by the end, you’ll wish the writers had not chosen the ancient myth plot twist.
Restaurant: Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery
6055 Sherry Lane
When I first walk in to Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery, the only other customer in the store is a gluten-intolerant woman who, since the bakery’s March establishment in Dallas, has visited Tu-Lu’s—I kid you not—every single day for her bread and dessert fix. After sampling some of what the bakery has to offer, I come to the same conclusion that this enthusiastic customer has evidently reached: Tu-Lu’s is pretty darn good.
Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery first opened in 2009 in New York City, where it had so much success that the owners decided to open a second location here in Dallas. The bakery offers a wide variety of sweets—including cupcakes, brownies, cookies, you name it—as well as granola and paninis on freshly baked bread. As the bakery’s name would suggest, all of its offerings are gluten-free; many are dairy-free, vegan and/or sugar-free as well.
Obviously, gluten intolerance will not be an issue at Tu-Lu’s. But peanuts? No problem. As the guy behind the counter remarks, “We kind of cater to allergies here.” I follow another’s customer’s lead and ask for a dark chocolate brownie. Though you’ll definitely need a napkin to catch the crumbs, it’s an excellent choice—the brownie is impeccably chocolaty, slightly chewy and slightly crunchy.
I move on, eager to sample more. The oatmeal, cranberry, white and semisweet chocolate cookies are, according to the guy behind the counter, the bakery’s best-selling item. I understand why. Not only do those ingredients make a great combo, but the cookies are sweet, but not overpoweringly so; crisp on the outside, but soft in the middle. Judging by the contents of the menu, cake and cupcakes are a big attraction as well. I went for the mini cupcakes, which are absolutely adorable and perfect if you want to enjoy several different flavors. They taste wonderful too—the cake, though delicious, is a tad dry, but the rich, flavorful icing definitely makes up for it.
Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery, though created with the gluten-intolerant in mind, is for everyone.
Tu-Lu’s is open Monday-Friday 9 am-6:30 pm and Saturday and Sunday 10 am-6:30 pm. For more information visit their website: tu-lusbakery.com
Book: Billy Flynn’s Long Halftime Walk
In Ben Fountain’s first published novel, Billy Flynn, the nineteen year-old protagonist, a celebrated Iraq war hero, spends his last day on leave with his squad watching a Cowboys football game in the old Texas Stadium. Most of the novel takes place in Billy’s head – this is not an action packed thriller. Instead, the book is driven by Billy’s reflections as he talks to his squad members, tours the stadium, and meets local celebrities (including one who has a suspicious resemblance to Jerry Jones). Billy describes everything in amazing detail, makes snarky social commentary, and generally mocks everything Texan.
Fountain’s language is beautiful – he aims for Tom-Wolfe style stream-of-consciousness, and he frequently succeeds. Occasionally, however, his flow stutters, and the writing just seems overwrought. The thing that’s attractive (or repulsive, depending on your perspective) about the book is its focus and commentary on Dallas, our little corner of Texas. It’s fun to read scenes in places you’ve been, with people you know (or know of), to shout “I’ve been there!” as you read.
At the same time, Fountain and his protagonist agree that “there” – that Dallas – is not a fun place to be. Every line of description is some sort of critique –of Texas, of conservatives, of racial politics, of the media, of the military, of the U.S., the list just goes on and on. At first, this is insightful and clever, but as the book continues, the criticism takes on a whiny tone. Most books have some sort of social or political message within their plot; in this book, that message is really the only plot. The bottom line is, it’s a well-written Dallas war novel that wears its bleeding liberal heart on its sleeve.
Music: The Scotch Tape
With an audience comprised almost exclusively of college and high school students, Timeflies, a music duo with a microphone and a synthesizer, creates tracks that serve as anthems to what all students live for: the weekend.
Their debut album, “The Scotch Tape,” does not fail to supply ample pump-up lyrics that motivate the listener to “Get the Glory,” “Win the Fight” and “Take Tonight.” Known for their “Timeflies Tuesdays” videos on Youtube, Cal and Rez, the famous duo, became a sensation for both their remixes and original tracks.
As of April 2012, their Youtube channel had received over 18 million views, and, within 24 hours of dropping, “The Scotch Tape” soared to No. 2 on the iTunes pop chart. With a “Voice Like Nicotine,” the Timeflies duo has successfully become an “Addiction.”