Review: Northside Social – Falls Church

On a bright, cold day during the polar vortex (AKA today), the boyfriend and I went to a local coffee shop I’d been wanting to try. It was Northside Social, whose Falls Church branch opened in summer 2018. As I just returned to the area for the foreseeable future in December 2018 after a year and a half in North Carolina, I hadn’t yet had a chance to try the new location. Ben and I are coffee people, and try to support small businesses whenever wallets and time allow.

The Falls Church City location of Northside Social is larger than the original in Arlington. However, the parking situation is almost as abysmal. The lot upon which Northside Social sits has parking spaces, though these are barred from use by Northside Social patrons. There is limited street parking, public parking across the street, and the apartment building across the street has a few spots for Northside Social patrons to use. All in all, without previous knowledge, the parking situation at both locations is quite aggravating.

The inside of the shop is very charming. We sat in the part that was once an old house. The walls seemed to have been stripped down to the bare wood, giving the space an unfinished, yet homey, vibe. There was a lot of wood throughout the space, which added a sense of warmth to the otherwise modern, industrial decor. The music played was not too loud and was unobtrusive in nature. There was, of course, that typical delicious hum of a coffeehouse, of people talking and laughing, and plates and cups and silverware clack-ing and tinkling.

The coffee was good, but the pastry was excellent. I had a mocha and a Nutella pastry. The mocha was a tiny bit bitter, which I prefer when it comes to chocolate. The Nutella pastry, though, stole the show. There was a layer of Nutella slathered atop it, and some inside the flaky, light, buttery pastry, the edges of which crunched delightfully.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Northside Social’s Falls Church City location. However, I would caution the reader about the parking situation – as in any city of any size, be sure to read the signs carefully regarding parking. I would recommend the coffee and most definitely the Nutella pastry. I will be returning.

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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

(DISCLAIMER: Spoilers!)

I recently saw the sequel to Mamma Mia! And boy, do I have a lot of feelings about it. Some are positive, some are negative.

Let us begin with the title of the movie: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. At first glance, this is simply a clever way to name a sequel besides putting a number at the end of the original title. But, as any ABBA fan knows, it is a lyric from the song “Mamma Mia.”

Some of the songs in the sequel were the same as those used in the first musical, but there were many others, mostly lesser-known, used as well. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is more music-heavy than the original, whose songs were clearly picked from ABBA’s greatest hits.

I fell in love with Donna in this movie, which was not helped by the fact that she was played by my very favorite actress, Lily James. James is not only a good actress, singer, and dancer, she is also gorgeous and one of the few non-natural blondes who can pull off blonde hair. Donna played by James in this prequel/sequel was utterly charming. She was sweet, reckless, romantic, adventurous, and ambitious – a devastating mixture. No wonder she had three men fall completely in love with her over a period of a week or two. Frankly, I’m quite surprised it wasn’t more.

But. There were a few issues I had with the movie in relation to its original. Firstly, in the original Mamma Mia! movie it is mentioned that Donna’s mother instills “Catholic guilt” in her. This seems unlikely, as it is revealed in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again that Donna’s mother is largely absent, performing in Las Vegas to adoring crowds. Not to make assumptions, but if Donna’s mother was constantly playing Vegas, she was most likely not a regular church-goer, because of her schedule. More likely and more defensible is the fact that if Donna’s mother was constantly performing and jetting off all over the world, she wasn’t with Donna enough to instill an innate sense of guilt based on Catholicism within her daughter.

Then there was my biggest issue: the timeline. The original stage musical took place in the nineties, which made sense, as Donna was supposed to have had Sophie very young in the late seventies/early eighties. This time period was the one during which ABBA was most popular. Sophie in the original movie is twenty years old, placing the original around the turn of the twenty-first century. In the sequel, Donna graduates college, then goes on to have Sophie soon after. So, assuming Donna is twenty-two or twenty-three when she has Sophie, when Sophie is getting married at twenty Donna should only be in her early forties. This is confusing, because she was played by the then-fifty-nine-year-old Meryl Streep (though I will admit I really love and admire her immense talent). Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again supposedly takes place five years after Mamma Mia!, but the technology is quite advanced, with many of the characters using some of the latest iPhones. Amanda Seyfried, who plays Sophie in both movies, while beautiful and still rather young, does not look ten years after the original movie like she is a twenty-five-year-old – mainly because she is not a twenty-five-year-old. All in all the timeline and casting were so messed up and confusing that the combination truly upset me, which distracted me from enjoying the movie a little bit.

Another, much smaller issue, was the fact that playboy Bill mentioned an elderly aunt on the island, and in the first movie it is explained that Donna inherited the inn she runs from an elderly woman she cared for on the island for the beginning of Sophie’s life. This elderly aunt never appears but in passing mention in the second movie, and Donna is given the inn by a kind middle-aged local woman.

In the end, the music was excellent, the visuals were stunning, the acting was good, the dancing great, the story incredibly touching. I definitely found myself stifling sobs in the theater during the end of the movie, something that has only happened once before during The Fault in Our Stars (but that was an open sobbing).

I would recommend this movie a million times over. It was fun and pretty and good. And, if it had major flaws, these flaws did not prevent enjoyment of the movie too much. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a movie that I am glad I saw in theaters, whose soundtrack I listen to ad nauseum, and a DVD I will ask for for Christmas. That is my recommendation.

Did you see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again? Did you like it? Did you find any of the flaws or more than I found?