Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring Toy Reviews


Telestrations is the visual equivalent of the classic school-yard game "telephone." It's a fun-filled sketching game in which everyone's attempts at "art" can turn hilarious. The game starts with a secret word that is passed from player to player. As the word is sketched, interpreted, and then sketched again, it undergoes a visual transformation that will surprise and delight everyone. Designed for players ages 13 and up, Telestrations is sure to be a hit at parties.

Telestrations still keeps Usaopoly at the top of our games list as one of the Best Board game companies out there. We played this game recently at a friends house and we could not put it down after we started to play it. Its so funny how one can draw one thing and 3 to 7 people later it could come out something totally different. Its a more creative version of the old game "telephone". We went to duck to chicken pox in one game or sometimes we got close like rocket ship and it came out flying saucer. So it depends who and how many people you play with that makes this game the amazing game that it is. Its recommended for ages 10 years and up, for 4-8 players and retails for $29.99. We gave this game five stars for its fun, creativity, imaginative and family values. For more information on this game go to

Word on the Street

On each turn, one team flips over a category card. Team members frantically brainstorm words that fit the category while the opposition tries to sidetrack them. The team must agree on a word and pull each letter of that word one lane closer to their side of the street, all before the time runs out. Word on the Street will have you in the fast lane to fun. The first team to get eight letters across the street to their side wins!!!!

We played this game a few weeks ago and was shocked that it was a lot of fun. The name makes it sound a little bleak but when you play the game you see its really a fun game to play with friends/family. One thing Irealized is that its not as easy as it seems, we tried coming up with words that made sense but it dos not always work with the letters they have. This game is recommended for ages We gave this game three stars for its fun, creative and family values.

the chain game
The Quick-Thinking Linking Game, race to say a common phrase using one word from the previous phrase. Keeps the chain going and you keep your links. If the horn blows, the time is up, and you lose a link. The next player reads a new card and the fun continues. The chain game will be the link that brings your friends and family together. Quickly say a phrase that uses either Cat or Fish. House Cat, Fishfry, Catnap, Swordfish will all work! Quick and easy word play for 4 to 8 players. Includes over 200 cards, 36 chain links, and a horn. Improves vocabulary and rewards creative thinking.

We loved this game because of its team and family value. It teaches kids to work together to solve problems and win the game. Its fun to see what weird word combonations the teams come up with to keep the chains going. The more players the more competitive the game gets, but its still lots of fun either way. The kids will love this game because it teaches them how to put words together, or associate one word with another. This game is for kids 12 and up, good for 2-4 players and retails for $24.99. We gave this game four stars for its fun, educational, and family values.

Backseat Drawing

Two teams race to identify drawings done by their own team members. But, the artists don’t know what they are drawing--they can only follow the instructions given by another team member. Laughter erupts as players attempt to follow direction and to guess what is being drawn. With backseat drawing, there's no time to stop and ask directions-- the fun never stops.

This game reminds me of the old TV game show Win,Lose or draw, where celberities would compete with each other in teams to see who is the better at drawing. I loved the concept of the show but not the actual show. The difference between the show and this game is here its like the opposite of the TV game show. The artists or one who is drawing does not know the word/s. The artist here only can do what he is told to help him figure out the answer. We gave this game four stars for its fun, creative, and imagination values. Recommended for ages 12 and up, good for 4-10 players. and retails for $24.99. You can follow up on these or any other games from Out of the Box Games at

Beat the Parents
Imagination Beat the Parents Board Game, find out who’s really the boss in the family - the kids or the parents - as parents are asked questions most kids can answer, and the kids are asked questions most parents can answer. Do the grown-ups know what school Harry Potter attends? Can the kids guess how many C’s are in the word cappuccino? And watch out for the Wild Card spaces: Land on one and you could be sent back or forward on the board. The first player or team to cross the board with all of their tokens wins the game.

This, game is very difficult because most children don't know adult stuff and most adults dont know kids stuff. It was really hard to review this product, even if we did like it, because the game is a little hard for kids to understand. But overall we give this game three stars for its fun and family values.


Have outrageous fun with your friends and family playing Quelf, the board game where you'll use your creativity, wit and humor in ways you've never imagined. Whether you're answering hilarious trivia, performing ridiculous stunts or obeying silly rules, you'll be hard pressed to find a more unpredictably fun and exciting party game! But the outcome of Quelf is anything but simple. As you move around the gameboard, crazy things start to happen. Players start talking weirdly. Your friend's face is wrapped in toilet paper. Your mom is talking like Dracula with her thumb on her forehead. You're sitting underneath the kitchen table until someone rolls a "4". And when the dust settles, the laughing finally stops and someone crawls away the winner, you realize you've never had this much fun playing a board game in your life!

This game was so much fun we could not put it down once we started, Its one of those games you will tell your friends about and that the next week everyone should have one. We gave this game three and a half stars for its fun, family and creativity values. Recommended for ages 13 and up, for 3-8 players and retails for $25.00. For these games and others like them go to their website at

Truth be Told

Truth Be Told is a laugh out loud, pretend to know your friends game. A player reads a card aloud, and that player answers truthfully, while all other players bluff, trying to answer as the card holder would. All of the answers are read aloud, and players choose the answer they think the card reader wrote. Points are awarded for correctly identifying the card reader's answer. Points are also scored by bluffing players if their answers are voted for.

This game is another one of those bluffing games out there and is only fun if you have a lot of players. The more players you have playing the game the crazier it can get so go ahead make a party, I dare you!!!!! We gave this game four stars for its fun, creative and imaginative values. We recommend this games for ages 14 and up and its good for 3-8 players and retails for $24.00-$30.00. For this game and others from Buffalo games look at their website at

Stix and Stones
Stix and Stones - A prehistoric picture-making race. Use sticks and stones to convey specific words-caveman style. Perfect for mixed-age groups, children and adults, single or team play. No drawing skills required. Players roll to bid on how many pieces their team will use to make the assigned picture from the challenge card. The lowest bidder has to build the image with the fewest number of sticks and stones. The team who correctly guesses the picture before time runs out scores points to win.

This is just another take on all the pictionary type games out there where one has to draw or sculpt a picture and others have to guess what it is. We love the fact that its not your average way of doing it and even more that its sticks and stones like caveman. So we give this product five stars for its unique fun, creative and imaginative values.For 2 or more players or teams.and recommended for ages 7 and up and retails for $24.99.

Hot Dotz jr Cards and Ace the Talking Dog Pens

36 colorfully illustrated doubled-sided cards provide 72 early learning activities for shape identification, matching, and vocabulary, plus answer key. A great way to get ready for school! And the pen talks, glows and makes fun sounds with slim line design. Use with other hot dots cards or books and provides immediate feedback. This amazing new Hot Dots Pen talks, glows bigger and brighter, and makes more of the fun sounds kids love. You select what you want to hear: cool phrases, wild sound effects, or both! Plus, the new slimline design makes it easy to use. Uses 2 "AAA" batteries, not included.

Kids love these products because of the shape of the pen like a dog and the sounds it makes. Kids love products that interact with them, that make sounds, light up talk and etc.So kids loved this product but parents love it too. One parent said "that she loved this product because it taught her kids how to learn in a cute and fun way." So we give this product 4 stars for its fun, creative and educational values. Its recommendedfor ages four and up and retails from $9.99 and up for pens and boxed sets of Hot Dotz. For these products and other fun products from Eductional Insights look at their website at

Friday, July 10, 2009


Thursday, February 12, 2009

winter 09 reviews

Zoobie Pets

Bedtime is now fun time in my house with Zoobie pets.
My children love the idea of snuggling in with their very own bed time buddy.
My 4yr old daughter who is quiet the little monkey herself has grown attached to Mashakah the monkey from the safari collection. Meshakah is also good for long drives and much needed nap time. The blanket zippers in for easy storage and you don’t have to worry about where you are going to store it when your little one wakes up. It goes right into Mahakah’s tummy and makes for a very snuggly friend.
Going to bed is no longer a drag because it is now a safari adventure. Jafaru the giraffe is also part of our family. He goes to bed with my 7 yr. old daughter. After a hard day at school, she can stretch her imagination as high up as his neck and settle in for playful dreams exploring all she can see from way up. The detailed stitching on these critters are so lovely, it really makes me want to go get one all for myself.
I highly recommend Zoobie pets for every gift occasion. *****

Tziporah A. Jaeger.
Mother of two, ages 7 and 4.

Think big with WalkAroo II By air Kicks, GEOSPACE.
These stilts really excited the neighborhood children. It occupied them for nearly two hours, and they could have kept going.
Taking turns, the kids outside ages 4 – 12 had a blast. They stomped around discovering a new world way up high as they towered from above.
The stilts encourage motivation for coordination and balance. This is a fun way to get your little one to slow down and focus. The only trouble I seem to be having now is keeping my little ones out of my top cabinets! It looked like so much fun I couldn’t be left out. It is challenging and very rewarding to master this skill. The rubber feet lets me be worry free about scuffed floors and enables me to just sit back and literally watch my children reach for the stars. It was a little difficult for my younger daughter but after a little practice she caught on. Seeing the older children master it really helped.****

Tziporah A. Jaeger
Mother of two, ages 7 and 4

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Our first ever Video Game review,

Halo 3 is a First Person Shooter video game set in the Halo Universe. It was developed by Bungie Studios and published by Microsoft. Halo 3 concludes the Halo trilogy by wrapping up the story that the previous two games began. It involves John-117 or the Master Chief joining forces with his previously sworn enemy, the Arbiter, returning to Earth to stop the Prophet of Truth from activating The Ark which if activated would in turn exterminate all forms of life in the universe. The Master Chief must also retrieve Cortana from the clutches of the dreaded Gravemind and, as in the previous games, he must contend with the arrival of the Flood on Earth.

Halo 3’s campaign may not top the original Halo’s epic story mode but, in all honesty, neither does anything else. Halo, one of the greatest games of all time, cannot be matched, and Halo 3 does not attempt to do so. The campaign is an enjoyable mode that does not try to outdo its original. The newly added 4 person campaign feature is a perfect way to make up for any of the game’s shortcomings with hours and hours of fun with multiple friends. On top of that, the point total mini-game adds a little extra competition for you and your friends. Now you can see who can accumulate more points while you’re working together to beat the game, and who doesn’t appreciate some extra competition amongst friends? But… Let’s be honest, who bases a Halo game’s value on its campaign mode. That’s right, Halo’s always exciting, always enjoyable, always intense multiplayer is back, and it’s back with a vengeance! Halo 3 brings back all of the good features that made Halo 2’s multiplayer mode one of the most popular multiplayer games of all time and attempts to fix all of its flaws. The new weapons, vehicles and maps together with some revitalized returning ones give Halo 3 a new and improved feel with a strong connection to what made the previous games such successes. But wait, there’s more.
Halo 3 comes complete with a map editor! That’s right, a map editor! If you get bored of playing the maps the way Bungie made them, or get tired or your friends exploiting cheap little mistakes on maps during custom games, FIX THEM! Edit the maps to your liking and the game will never get old. Where to go from there? How about to, “Halo 3, now you’re just showing off.” Ever have an amazing kill, a funny sight, an unbelievable moment that you just know none of your friends will ever believe? All you hear is, “yea, I’m sure that happened, great for you.” All of that comes to an end in Halo 3. After one of these unbelievable things happen, simply just wait for the game to end and go into the theater and save the film of the game so that you are able to cut the clip out and message it to your friends later. That’s right! I said, cut the clip out of the game film and message it to your friends. Make these unbelievable moments believable.

Halo 3 is a great addition to any gamer’s library. It lives up to its namesake and is a great way for the Halo trilogy to finish. The best way to define an amazing game would be to say, “many new games come out all the time, and while they may capture your attention for a week, a month, or even a couple of months at a time you will always return to just one of them,” and that’s Halo 3.

fall 2008 products

Due to personal circumstances I did not have time to write up some reviews from the spring, so I apologize and here they are:

We start of with a company that i grew up on Playmobil, its like having you own little town of people and you are in control of what they do. I mean they have made every thing you can think of up for kids to imagine with. There is pirates and treasure hunting, there is police, fire and paramedics to save the town. There are hotels, stores, bars and etc to make streets, oh and of course houses, mansions, parks and skyscrapers. There are also cars, boats, yachts and planes to travel in. So that is part of what makes this company so special for kids. The cornerstone of all Playmobil activities is the two and three quarter inch figure which can bend, sit, stand, turn its head and move its arms. The hands, which can grasp, rotate and carry accessories, are what make realistic play possible. The figures also have a smiley face that suits just about any play situation. All Playmobil men, women, children and animals are compatible will all other Playmobil vehicles, accessories and environments.

The first set we will talk about is the Circus Ring set.This is a fun Circus Ring with trapeze artists. Seats approximately 30 visitors. The opening of the big top is adjustable. Includes 7 characters. LED lights. Great for imaginative play. It also come with ticket booths and all the right pieces to make this circus look realistic. The thing we love about this company is the add on sets they add to it like for this series you can add on more people who can come visit, animals to be in the circus, the different acts, clowns, and the places where one stores the animals. We gave this to a kid ot play and came back hours later and she was still playing with it and not bored at all. The only bad thing about these sets, which is not a bad thing, is that you need more add ons or sets to really enjoy playing with this. We gave this product four out of five stars for its imaginative, fun and creative values.

Next up we have the Horse Farm Pony ranch. This is a real fun set for those kids who love farming or animals, especially horses. Every Pony Ranch needs a farm. Horse Farm comes with three figures, two horses, a pony and kiosk. Lots of accessories are included. Though the actual product does not look like a farm it looks like most stables. So its part of a farm. Again this product is great for kids to play with for hours but when you add the extras on it will make a whole different world. We love these products and they are very cute. It comes with everything you need to make a stable work. Recommended for ages 4 and up. We give this product three stars for its fun, creative and imaginative values. Its just not as exciting as the circus. For more info on these or other products from playmobil please check out their website at

Next we have International Playthings Inc. The primary mission of IPI is to deveop and supply innovative and entertaining products with superior play value and chile developmental qualities to consumers. They have many different companies they represent and many different products they manufacture. We recently reviewed one of their products and here is the review:

Imaginetics are very cool products with a cool concept but not unique. This product ischunky, sturdy magnetic pieces that kids can move around on a colorful playboard to creat stories and play games. These play sets are perfect for keeping your kids busy while you travel. The one we revieved was a Thomas the Tank Engine set, which comes with Thomas and other characters from the book/tv series which your kids can make different scenes up with their favorite engine. These products are perfect for kids 3 & up. We give this product three stars for its creative, fun and imaginative values.

Techno Source is the next company we will talk about. They introduce a new version of an amazing product thats been out for years, its called Rubik's Revolution. Test your speed and smarts with this new spin on the world's #1 cube game. An electronic version of the best-selling Rubik's Cube. Multiple challenging levels. 6 addictive, fast-paced electronic games in one. Games include Light Speed, Rapid Recharge, Pattern Panic, Code Cracker, Multiplayer Madness and Cube Catcher. Features lights and sound effects. Conquer one level and the cube unlocks another. Take your cube concentration to the next level - but watch out, you may not be able to put it down! We tried this game and we had to have it pryed out of our hands for us to stop, even though we did not get past level 2!!! But we give this product three and a half stars for its fun, family and challenge values. For more info on this or other products from Techno Source please check out

Finally for now we will review products from Think Fun!!! Its the amazing company that brought you Rush Hour and Tip Over.

First we got the game called Serpentiles. In this spatial visualization game the winding path must begin and end at the same place, creating a continuous, unbroken path. Using the challenge cards, players select the appropriate tiles, and then begin to line them up, green against green and blue against blue. This game has some major twists and turns. Which is why kids of all ages love this game and parents love it because it make the kids think of what to do next. Made for ages 8 and up. We give this product three stars for its creative, fun and challenge values.

Next is the game called Ducks in a Row. This competitive board game is like a wacky version of checkers. Kids will giggle at the colorful beach board and plucky duck characters. After deciding whether they want to be the duck that surfs or the one that water skis, the two opponents face off, and try to be the first to line up four ducks in a row. Players can move up and down, side to side, and diagonally, but they can't jump themselves or their opponent. A fun strategy game, players have to pay attention to their opponent's moves, as well as their own. Another one of their wonderful games that kids are challanged with. The kids can play this game all day long and switch characters on and off and not get bored. This game is for kids ages 5 years and up. We give this product a four stars for its fun, creative, family and challenge values.

Last but not least we have a game called Top This. This is where you will be challenged and delighted in this game that confounds your ability to visualize and match patterns. Game cards specify different orange and blue puzzle shapes. You must create identical shapes by stacking orange pieces on top of blue pieces, or vice versa. This surprisingly tricky game will have you slapping your forehead in happy exasperation. Intermediate and expert levels offer more challenging fun with greater numbers of game pieces. It features forty mind challenge cards with solutions, twenty shape pieces, card holder, and game-go bag. This is a fun and challenging game for the whole family. The more you win a challenge the more you want to do the next one. So its a little addictive. That is why kids love it. This product is made for kids ages 8 years and up and we gave it three stars for its challenging, creative and addictive values. For more information on these or other Think Fun products check out their website at

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

ny film festival by goldy moldavsky

Art house films, as opposed to regular films, are kind of a big thing at film festivals. In fact it wouldn’t be a festival without at least some sampling of foreign language, abstract or experimental fare. And the New York Film Festival, now in its 45th year, has been known to pluck out the most art house of films to showcase. This year’s crop, however, features some big movies with distributors and buzz and just a touch of artsy cred get to come and show off how shiny they are.

Honored as an opening night selection, The Darjeeling Limited, dazzlingly filmed by dazzling film maker Wes Anderson, stars Adrian Brody, Owen Wilson, and the always winsome Jason Schwartzman as brothers on a trip to find themselves (and their wayward mother) while riding across India on the richly-colored titular train. Like the rest of Anderson’s pictures, the movie relies on quirk- an abundance of which is equally distributed to all parts of the production from character personalities to set design- but with a surprisingly sweet and heartwarming filling at its core. Hotel Chevalier, a short film meant to accompany the movie, gives a glimpse into Schwartzman’s character’s backstory involving a Parisian tryst with a deep-talking and scantily clad Natalie Portman.I’m Not There, Todd Hayne’s multiple personality take on the life and times of Bob Dylan is truer art house fair; meaning it’ll confuse the hell out of you and probably bore you all the while if you’re not big on the thoughtful, avant garde brand of film making. The movie follows six different actors (Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, and Richard Gere among them) as they portray Dylan in different epochs of his life. It’s the kind of movie you sort of have to read up on before seeing since there’s hardly any effort made to have the actors resemble Dylan at all- one part of the movie even imagines the iconic troubadour as Billy the Kid in an out-of-left-field Western. The movie’s gotten a lot of buzz and will probably get even more award trophies but any attention or praise should all be directed to Cate Blanchett in her stunning portrayal as the only true Dylan pantomime. Her being a woman probably makes her the least likely candidate to take on the elusive folk man but upon one viewing it’s clear that any and all movies about Bob Dylan should be played only be her.

Foreign films are also a film festival staple and this year I Just Didnt Do It, a Japanese film about a man fighting a claim that he’d groped a young girl on one of Japan’s overly crowded trains seemed to get a lot of attention. Too bad fighting to declare a man’s innocence apparently means stretching out the paragraph-long premise into a two and a half hour-long drab fest. Better procedural dramas could be found on network TV, with welcoming commercial breaks to boot.

Also featuring films such as Margot at the Wedding and Married Life in their collection of 28 movies this year the NY film festival did a good job of garnering buzz for itself. They’re still art house, just a little more mainstream.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

our newest project

c/o jason
1012 avenue i
Brooklyn, NY 11230

My name is YussieWolf and i am in charge of doing events for the Young Israel of Flatbush. We are doing our 2nd annual camp packages project. We are putting togetherour camp packages for kids who come to our center and kids with cancer. We will be making about 150 bags which will be 75 for each. We will be looking for anything from stationary products, to travel games, card games, cute little knick knacks, cosmetics for kids or teens, novelty products, plush, sporting good products, etc.. We are hoping we can get everything for free so there is no cost for this project, since we are donating them to the kids and not selling it for money. We will need all products by June 15th or so, so we can give them out before the kids leave to camps or on trips. Any questions please email me at or

The Young Israel of Flatbush is a non profit that does many different event for all kinds of kids. We do a toy drive, which we now collecting around 18,000 toys, for five years now. We have many programs at our building including karate, dancing, weekend programs, arts and craft nights, costume parties, charity events, etc,,, So we do four big events a year and this will be a third for 2007, with the last and final one being our annual toy drive.

The following is the address where all products should be sent:

jason wolf
c/o yif
1012 avenue i
brooklyn ny 11230
to see last years pictures of us putting together the packages heres the link. the cancer camp does not take pictures of the kids due to contracts with parents:

tribeca film festival article, coming soon book expo reviews

For 12 days last week, movie-lovers of New York got a chance to experience the frenzy, passion, and fun of choosing from over 150 new films to screen as the Tribeca Film Festival took over Manhattan.

Now in its sixth year, the annual festival was started by Robert De Niro and producer, Jane Rosenthal as a way to bring people back to Tribeca; not only one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city but also the hardest-hit in 911. There’s no better example of the fest’s ability to meld the celebration of film and Tribeca pride than the opening night event where an enthusiastic crowd of 1000 revisited the nostalgic classic, Dirty Dancing, at a free outdoor screening just a block away from Ground Zero. An oddly appropriate kickoff for the little film festival that could. This year it extended its velvet ropes across all of NYC, screening movies in uptown Manhattan and even holding events in other boroughs like Queens where it hosted the premiere of Spiderman 3.

Films from 47 countries were showcased at the fest but some didnt stray too far from home.

Like the rest of his movies, the Woody Allen-esque actor-writer-director Edward Burns set his latest effort in New York City, even filming chunks of the movie in Tribeca itself. Purple Violets tells the story of Brian and Patti (Patrick Wilson and Selma Blair), an old college couple who find each other after twelve years, both unhappy with their careers and trying to write the next great American novel. While Blair and Wilson are always great to watch, it’s Burns who steals all the scenes as Murph, Brian’s lawyer best friend, who spends the film making blunt observations in his charming Queens accent while trying to win Debra Messing’s heart.

Also set in New York City is Day Zero, a drama imaging a post 911 America where the draft is reinstated. Elijah Wood, Chris Klein, and newcomer Jon Bernthal play three childhood friends, all with very different lives, who find themselves drafted for the war in Iraq with only 30 days to report for duty. “One of the great things this movie investigates is the implication of a draft coming up, effecting people no matter where they’re from,” said Klein, who plays a young lawyer and husband. “I go back to the question, ‘What if this were a reality?’”

Holding it’s world premiere at the festival, Suburban Girl stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as an associate book editor trying to climb the ranks of the New York publishing world. Adapted from Melissa Bank’s greatly popular book, The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, the film also stars Alec Baldwin as Gellar’s love interest and some-time publishing mentor. His first movie since the recent scandal involving his now infamous Father of the Year voicemail rant, Baldwin’s involvement in the film proved to inevitably, unfortunately, mar it. Dialogue like “You told me that your daughter wasn’t speaking to you” – “I left her a message” were so relevant they elicited laughs from the audience at the unintentionally funny parts.

Gellar’s second film to premier at this year’s festival fared a little better. The concept behind The Air I Breathe, a film by Jieho Lee, breaks life down into four emotional cornerstones (love, sorrow, pleasure, happiness), with the four lead characters (played by Kevin Bacon, Gellar, Brendan Fraser, and Forest Whitaker, respectively) representing one each. Although we follow each character’s storyline as unrelated to the other, they don’t stay separate for long. Soon, every character is intricately connected, playing pivotal roles in each other’s lives. Having played the role of a tragic popstar, Gellar now knows she doesn’t envy that particular lifestyle. “Way too long in the makeup chair and the outfits were way too short,” she joked. “That is not a life I aspire to.” Having two movies premiere at the festival in as many days, Gellar was relishing her double-feature Tribeca experience.“It’s exciting, it’s overwhelming,” she said on the mile-long red carpet for the much buzzed-about Breathe. “I’m starting to lose my voice a little bit but I’m just happy to be here.”

Nobel Son also stars a cast of notable names in an ensemble story of a pompous Nobel prize winner, numerous kidnaping schemes, sons with daddy issues and just a touch of your garden variety faux cannibalism. Brain Greenberg (of TV’s October Road) plays Barkley, the son of Chemistry prize winner Eli (Harry Potter’s Snape) and victim of a kidnaping by someone who is non too amused by Eli’s ill-gotten award. Fast-paced and shot in a nitty-gritty style, the movie piles on schemes, twists, and unnecessary deaths all while trying to maintain a measure of dark humor. At one point, a character receives a rather gruesome part of his girlfriend’s anatomy in the mail, though unbeknownst to him, the fleshy looking thing is made of marzipan. Marzipan. What was supposed to be dramatic, unpredictable and intense ends up being an overly sugary concoction in disguise. Much like the movie itself.

Palo Alto, a film by 20 year-old director Brad Leong, takes place on the last night of four high school buddies’-- now college freshmen-- Thanksgiving break. The movie is a throwback to the George Lucas classic, American Graffiti, where all four friends separate for the night to have their own adventures and rediscover who they are and who they’ve become. The movie presents a somewhat cliche cast of characters (the sexist player, the insecure loner, the wannabe jock, the uptight, no-fun, planned future type) but Leong (who also co-wrote the script with Tony Vallone), adds his own young touch to give the movie a sense of youth and realism. Cast member Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars), who saw the film for the first time at its premiere, was excited to be in Tribeca for the big event: “I love New York so much so it’s good to get to be here and experience the festival,” he said, adding jokingly, “De Niro, right?”

While the teens in Palo Alto do some mildly crazy things on their one-night adventure, they’re no match for the kids in Normal Adolescent Behavior, for whom the word “monogamy” has the sort of connotation that only a teen can manage to spin. The film presents a new angle on the behavior of the modern promiscuous teen but the film’s plot is too disjointed and secondary to the initial shock of what goes on behind clothes doors. In the title role as Charlie Bartlett, 18 year-old Anton Yelchin gives a hilariously bold performance as a privileged teen who dolls out prescription drugs to his classmates in an effort to be well-liked. Boasting another great teen performance is The Cake Eaters, the directorial debut of actress Mary Stuart Masterson. The film is about the return of a prodigal son but the immensely watchable Kristen Stewart steals the movie as a physically disabled girl who yearns for a companion and finds him in the town butcher’s shy son, played by X-Men’s Aaron Stanford.

Some of the most attention-grabbing and celebrated films at festivals tend to be documentaries, and two docs at Tribeca were notable for the high-profile stars behind them. Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother shows glimpses of a year in transgender Alex Arquette’s life– sibling to the more famous Patricia, Rosanna, and David Arquettes-- as he goes through the process of becoming a woman. The film is an hour and a half of the camera in Alexis’ face, without the novelty of linear story-telling. In the anti-climactic end, Alexis does not reveal weather or not she went through with the surgery to physically become a woman. “People expect it to be a before-and-after like The Swan,” she said. “A lot of [producers] we approached were trying to influence the documentary. That exploitative nature, to peer into something you’re going to giggle about, was not something we wanted to do.”

Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, the two Mexican actors who first came to fame in the film Y Tu Mama Tambien , teamed up yet again to produce (and in Luna’s case, direct) Chavez, a doc about fellow Mexican and boxing champ, Julio Cesar Chavez. For Luna, his directorial debut was an even bigger accomplishment since he got to tag along with his childhood hero. “I was lucky that Julio was alive and wanted to share his story,” said Luna. “Suddenly he was telling me everything- too much! My hero from childhood telling me about his life, it was unbelievable.”

Docs may have been the talk of the fest but one of the best movies showcased this year at Tribeca was a mockumentary satire about the underbelly of Hollywood and reality TV. Live! stars Eva Mendes as a network exec who lobbies to get a Russian roulette reality competition on the air where one unlucky contestant is rewarded with a bullet in the brain. What people in the upper ranks of the TV world let slide in order to allow the show on the air is shocking enough, but once the competition starts, all bets are off, and the tension-filled last act makes you ask yourself some tough questions about what you view as acceptable. Todd Stashwick, who plays a producer in the film, felt that the movie left the audience with a lot to ponder: “It was funny and it was sad and it was scary and you hope that it hits on all of those feelings.”
Whether they were funny, sad, or scary, the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival gave audiences every type of film they could ask for.

Monday, January 22, 2007

color my house

the color house is an excellent way to entertain a group of children with big fun. and i mean big! it is so big that multiple children can fit inside at one time. i used it at my daughters birthday party. the children used it as a hideaway from the grown ups. the color house freed up my time to focus on all the other aspects of the party. there is no adult supervision necessary for this item . a helpful suggesstion: you may want to replace the markers with a pack of crayons. This way, you don't have to worry about your walls or furniture.
the color house gets 3 stars for easy assembly and 3.5 stars for fun. I recommend the color house for all children events.