By Samantha Reid
The book behind the Oscar-winner: ‘Twelve Years a Slave’
It seems as if almost every movie is based on a book nowadays. Oscar-winning film “12 Years a Slave” is no exception. The movie, starring Brad Pitt and Lupita Nyong’o, is based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, a man kidnapped and sold into slavery. While the book is far from new, the release of the film has given Northup’s story renewed interest and pushed the written version of his story onto the New York Times best-seller list.
Modernized Snow White in ‘Boy, Snow, Bird’
Helen Oyeyemi’s highly anticipated novel gives a new spin on an old story, twisting the age-old tale of Snow White to take place in 1950s Massachusetts. Boy is the unintentionally wicked stepmother to Snow, who turns the family’s life upside down when she gives birth to a daughter, Bird. Bird’s dark-skinned appearance outs the family as African-Americans who had been passing as white –– until Bird, that is. The novel’s inventive plot begs the question: How important is what we see in the mirror?
‘How I Met Your Mother’ Series Finale
Ready for Ted to finally meet the mother? After nine seasons of waiting, fans will finally get their due in an hour-long series finale special. So set your DVRs for March 31, and get ready for the story to finally come full circle for your favorite group of TV friends. The episode is bound to be emotional, especially after a reveal almost a decade in the making.
‘Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey’
A documentary TV series hasn’t received this much hype in quite some time, but audiences seem taken with Neil Degrasse Tyson’s docu-series “Cosmos.” The series is only a few episodes into its 13 episode run, ending in June, so fans still have time to get caught up. Tyson, former host of the PBS science show “Nova,” wants to use “Cosmos” to make science more accessible to an everyday audience, making what he calls “textbook science” more memorable.
As with any biblically based film, there’s bound to be controversy. Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” is certainly no different, and it has Christian groups up in arms about departures from the original story. However, from a strictly cinematic stance, the film boasts impressive special effects and an all-star cast, including Russell Crowe and Emma Watson. The movie hits theaters March 28, when audiences can finally see for themselves the fast-paced new take on one of the oldest stories known to man.
‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ on DVD March 25
This week, “The Wolf of Wall Street” hits stores, meaning you can finally watch the long film in the comfort of your own home. Running at three hours, it can be nice to have pausing capability as you see the performance that garnered Leonardo DiCaprio yet another Oscar nomination. Based on the true story of corrupt stockbroker Jordan Belfort, the movie is chock full of luxury in excess and the morally bankrupt lifestyle that goes with it.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of the book “Lean In,” has another initiative she wants your attention on: Ban Bossy. Sandberg is urging us to retire the word “bossy,” instead telling young girls that they have “executive leadership skills.” A number of celebrities have gotten in on the women’s empowerment campaign, including Beyonce, Condoleezza Rice, Jennifer Garner and Victoria Beckham. Sandberg even uses the Ban Bossy website to offer leadership tips for young girls and their parents.
Skrillex on the cover of ‘Rolling Stone’
Sonny Moore, better known by his stage name Skrillex, had his first full-length album hit iTunes on March 18. “Recess” features collaborations with artists like Chance the Rapper and Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos. The album has landed Skrillex the coveted spot on the March 27 cover of Rolling Stone. In the issue, Skrillex discusses his new sound on the album, but assures fans that he sticks to the original dubstep style he’s known for.
Backstreet Boys touring with Avril Lavigne
Unleash your inner middle schooler, bust out your “Millenium” CD and re-memorize all the words to “Sk8er Boi,” because this is a tour you will not want to miss. This summer the Backstreet Boys will be touring alongside Avril Lavigne. Beginning in May, the BSB and Avril will be performing 23 U.S. shows, including a June 11 show at Northerly Island in Chicago. Fans should take a listen to BSB’s newest album, “In a World Like This,” before the show, as well as Avril’s self-titled album from last fall to get the full effect.
‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’
Broadway in Chicago has brought us yet another exciting performance this spring with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre from March 18 to 30, there’s still time to get in and see one of the final performances of this blockbuster show. Diana DeGarmo of “Hairspray” and “American Idol” fame, stars as the musical’s narrator and audiences can expect beautiful renditions of the long-enduring favorites.
Women’s History Month
March means a lot of things: St. Patrick’s Day, the official start of spring and Women’s History Month. Whether you’re celebrating by watching the acclaimed Sundance documentary “Miss Representation,” by attending one of the many events held around the country or by celebrating the women in your own life, there’s plenty of history to take note of. The United States has deemed 2014’s theme to be “Inspiring Change,” which memorializes the efforts of women like Amelia Earhart, Sally Ride and Rosa Parks.
35th Annual Shamrock Shuffle
St. Patrick’s Day may technically be over, but Chicago’s in the Irish spirit all month long with the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle taking place on March 30. The 8K is one of the 10 largest road races in the United States, and it’s a great way for runners to prepare themselves for the Chicago Marathon this summer. Runners can register for the event on the Bank of America website for a $45 fee, which includes participation and an event T-shirt.