Sunday, February 27, 2011

...and the award goes to....

Hello Everyone!

Later today the biggest film awards shows will begin: The Academy Awards. Some people see it as a popularity contest and never watch it, while others throw elaborate Oscar parties with having their own voting & tallying process. For me: I have been watching the Academy Awards since I was little - waiting mostly to see what people will be wearing and what they will say if they win. I do think many actors get passed over and some win based on some previous acting performances. On the whole, I don't hold much importance to the awards, per se, but I do think these awards shows have helped expose some great films that otherwise may not have been seen by many.

I have not seen all the movies that received nominations but I do have a few favorites who I think will win.

Have you seen all the movies? Do you have some idea who will win tonight? Tell us who you think will win.

Tired of Previews?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Fighter

Directed by David O. Russell, Closest to the Hole Productions, 2010. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo.

Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport.

Question: What’s keeping you from seeing The Fighter? Maybe you think of Rocky and worry it will be a similar story, so why bother? I am here to tell you that they are not the same - at all!

Boxing is probably my least favorite sport. I just don't care to watch two people that beat each other to a bloody pulp. It's probably a girl thing but I just don't like it. That is why I avoided The Fighter until now. I decided to go yesterday since I am reviewing Oscar nominated (past and present) movies this week and kept hearing about the unbelievable acting jobs by some members of the cast. I had to see for myself and I am so glad I did.

The Fighter is not about boxing, per se. It is about a man (Micky) who is forced to put up a fight against the people he loves. He fights to be heard and fights to make his own decisions, etc… That is The Fighter - the boxing is secondary in the story. So if you had the same preconceived notions that I did, wipe them away and go see it.

Mark Walhberg plays Micky Ward, the boxer, and does a wonderful job but the other three leads in the cast outshine some of the best acting I have ever seen:

1.      Melissa Leo, who I am not very familiar with, plays Micky's mother and after seeing her in real life I now understand why she is up for all these awards. Fantastic!

2.      Amy Adams surely goes against type with playing Micky's girlfriend and does so well I couldn't even relate her to this same person who played Giselle in Enchanted. Wonderful performance!

3.      But the shining star in this movie is Christian Bale. WOW! What a transformation. He played Dicky, Micky's older brother, who is addicted to crack and his brother's trainer. As I was watching the movie, I couldn't even imagine that the same actor standing there was Batman a couple of years ago. He really deserves all the accolades - really!!

Go see The Fighter - it is worth it!

My favorite thing: Christian Bale

My least favorite: Boxing scenes - but that is just me. I just don't like seeing people getting hit even though it is make believe. But don't let that stop you.

Sequel Possibility? No

Did the previews show too much? Maybe a tiny bit. A few of the important lines I had already seen but it didn't ruin it for me.

Rating: R
Length: 115 minutes

Review: 9 out of 10

The Fighter - DVD Pre-order

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Slumdog Millionaire

Directed by Danny Boyle, Celador Films, 2008. Starring Dev Patel, Freida Pinto,  Irrfan Khan and Anil Kapoor.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Question: Do you ever have those days that everything seems to go wrong? It's draining, right? Well, I had one of those days yesterday. All I am going to say is that I hate hackers!! Anyway, what do you do to unwind or let go of those bad days? My remedy: watch a movie and yesterday I chose the right one to counteract the crappy day I had: Slumdog Millionaire.

I may be one of only a handful of people who did not see the movie when it first came out even after all the accolades and awards. Sometimes, I avoid a movie once it starts getting too much good press. An odd reaction, I know, but it happens. So, after the day I had I looked at my DVR movie list and saw that one, which I had recorded over a year ago, and my husband was shocked I hadn't seen it. He told me to watch it because he loved it!

Let me tell you that it was the perfect antidote to my bad day. After watching the first fifteen minutes I realized I have it pretty good and shouldn't complain.  My worries just melted away because Slumdog Millionaire shows you that even after having a horrific upbringing you can still get what you want. No complaining, no whining, no giving-up.

If you haven't seen it yet - rent it, download it, or even buy it to watch again when you need a reminder that giving up is not an option.

I apologize if this isn't my typical review. Movies are my passion and when a movie helps me out of a funk or exposes me to something that helps me get over my bad mood, I find it important to share so anyone can get the same relief from their rotten days. This is why I love movies - they can either put a mirror up to your face or help you escape your reality for a while and doesn't everyone needs that from time to time?

My favorite thing: realizing I shouldn't complain about one bad day.

My least favorite: Some scenes were a little tough to watch when they were young children.

Sequel possibility?Nno - perfect complete story.

Did the previews ruin it by showing too much? Not one bit.

Rating: R
Length: 120 minutes

Review: 9 out of 10

Q & A, the novel - the book Slumdog Millionaire was based on.
Slumdog Millionaire - DVD & Instant Video

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Reader

Directed by Stephen Daldry.The Weinstein Company, 2008. Starring Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes and David Kross.

Genre: Drama, Romance.

Based on the book: "Der Vorleser" by Bernhard Schlink. 

Since the Oscars are right around the corner, I am in the mood to talk about some past Academy Award participants. The Reader had about 5 nominations and one win for Kate Winslett for Best Female Actress in a Leading Role. I had heard so much about this film then but I did not see it until last night.

The Reader is an emotionally draining tale that was beautifully told and may not be for every movie-goer. I really don't want to go into too much detail because the unknowing about certain facts helped me delve even further into the drama of the story. I will say Kate Winslett did a fantastic job - obviously, but it was her facial expressions, not so much how she delivered the lines, is how she won the award.

Secrecy, ignorance and shame is the basis of this movie's theme. However, many reviewers talked about the sexual relationship that occurs between the two main characters in the beginning of the film. It brought a lot of attention to The Reader but I actually prefer to focus on the second half of the movie because of the two actors, who play Michael Berg, and their emotional journey with their relationship to Hannah Schmitz (Kate Winslett).

My only criticism is the cast of the two actors to play Michael - They look nothing alike. Both actors did a wonderful job - don't get me wrong but there was another actor today who could have played the role of the older Michael and it would have made a little bit more sense. (Can you guess who I am referring to?)

Rent The Reader - you won't be disappointed maybe a little emotionally drained but not disappointed!

My favorite thing: The performance of the young Michael - David Kross.

My least favorite thing: The casting issue for Michael.

Sequel possibility? No.

Did the previews ruin it by showing too much? No. Even if you know what this is about it won't matter.

Rating: R
Length: 124 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

Der Vorleser  (The Reader)- book 
The Reader - DVD & Instant Video

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Knight and Day

Directed by James Mangold, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp, 2010. Starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Along with Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis and Paul Dano.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Thriller.

Question: Do you ever just want to watch a fun movie and not really worry about critiquing the plot, dialogue or acting? Do you just want to lose yourself in a fun story for a couple of hours? I do, all the time and I did when I finally saw Knight and Day.

I will admit that Tom Cruise makes decent movies on the most part. Don't you agree? I don't really care about his personal life and the past years where he has lost some fans with his public displays of "what was he thinking?" moments. Tom Cruise is one thing when it comes to movie making: a perfectionist and he will do everything he can to make a good movie.

Knight and Day came out last summer and I was reluctant to see it because he hadn't really made a movie in a while. But I like Cameron Diaz and it looked like it could be a fun ride. It was. The two of them had great chemistry and I was whisked away into the action and adventure of the story; and I was pleasantly surprised at how funny Knight and Day was. Perhaps the previews showed a few too many of the cool stunts but on the whole I really liked it.

This is a movie for both men and women to enjoy - this could be a good date night movie.

My favorite thing: How I enjoyed the movie when I wasn't planning on it.

My least favorite thing: A tiny bit predictable.

Possibility of a sequel? I think so but I hope for a really good script.

Did the previews show too much or ruin it? Not really although some of the cool stunts were shown.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 109 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

Knight and Day - DVD
Knight and Day - Instant Video

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Single Man

Directed by Tom Ford, Artina Films, 2009. Starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, and Matthew Goode.

Genre: Drama.

Question: Did you see The King's Speech yet? I assume you know that Colin Firth is up for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Well, last year he was up for the same award in A Single Man. (Based on the book by Christopher Isherwood)

A Single Man was a sweet film that shows one man in the final stages of grief after losing his long time companion in a car accident. This story takes place in the 1960's and shows a person who lost the love of their life and how secretly they have to hide their pain because their lifestyle wasn't seen as proper.
I have seen many of Colin Firth's performances prior to A Single Man and always thought he had the chops but he hadn't shown the range yet. But after seeing him in A Single Man I knew this man was a brilliant actor. He played the role with grace and gentility. You really feel this man's pain and his struggle of being alone, missing his partner desperately, and how he can't show or tell anyone.

Tom Ford -yes, the fashion designer - directed A Single Man and he proved he can take a scene just like a piece of fabric and design it from scratch to create something beautiful. His vision and attention to detail was a thing of beauty. And I will say some of the set designs - especially Charley’s (Julianne Moore) home - were stunning! Oh, the 60's furniture design was so fun! If you love mid-century architecture and design (Mad Men style) you will love the set design on A Single Man.

Although Colin Firth lost the Oscar to Sean Penn (Milk), I don't think anyone is going to beat him this year. If you haven't seen A Single Man yet, watch it before the Oscars so you can see how truly talented this actor is.

Rent: A Single Man

My favorite thing: Colin Firth and Charley's black and white dress.

My least favorite: my jealousy of Charley's home

Possibility of a sequel? No - great ending.

Did the previews ruin it or show too much? Not one bit.

Rating: R
Length: 99 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

A Single Man - DVD
A Single Man - novel

Videos on Demand

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Me and Orson Welles

Directed by Richard Linklater. CinemaNX, 2008. Starring Zac Efron, Claire Danes and Christian McKay.

Genre: Drama

Me and Orson Welles

Me and Orson Welles - the book

Question:  Have you ever been a part of a school play, an off Broadway production or been lucky enough to reach the pinnacle of Broadway? If the answer is yes - you will totally understand Me and Orson Welles. No matter if you were a stagehand, understudy or principal player, I also believe you would like this film.

It is based on the novel by Robert Kaplow. The movie shows you a week before a play is to open in the late 1930's with Orson Welles as the director, producer and lead actor for Julius Caesar by Shakespeare. The movie is filled with over-the-top egos to people desperate to be a part of the creative arts, and how all those people work to create magic for their audiences.

Christian McKay plays Orson Welles and it is uncanny how he fully embodies the legendary actor. Stunning -absolutely stunning. Zac Efron's character, Richard, desperately wants to be an actor and does a convincing job as the young man in his first professional play. I do think all of Zac Efron's adoring fans will still appreciate all the screen time he receives.

On the whole, the story was a little slow and I wasn't sucked into each character's dilemmas as much as I should have been. However, as in the theatre world, when the lights dim everything just seems to meld into a cohesive work of art as everyone catches their collective breath. It is a magical time. And I will say it again: If you have ever participated in theatre you will really appreciate this movie - especially the last third.

My favorite part: Christian McKay

My least favorite part: How it lagged a bit in the middle.

Possibility of a sequel? No

Did the previews ruin it or show too much? No - actually when I saw the previews I was intrigued to rent it.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 114 minutes

Review: 6 out of 10

Me and Orson Welles - novel
Me and Orson Welles - DVD

Videos on Demand

Friday, February 18, 2011

True Grit

Directed (and screenplay) by Joel & Ethan Coen, Paramount Pictures, 2010. Starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Hailee Steinfeld.

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Western.

Question: Are you a fan of westerns? No? How about adventure movies? Not those either? Well, how about a movie that shows you how great actors can be no matter what the subject matter is? True Grit is that movie.

I will admit out of the 15 or so movies Joel and Ethan Coen have made together, I have thoroughly enjoyed over 10 of them. That's a pretty good average. They may not be mainstream filmmakers; and their subject matter never seems to be the same. However, there is always one common element with all of their films: fascinating characters. And in order to have these extraordinary character driven pieces - they must hire actors with tremendous talent. Well, in True Grit, they succeeded - big time!

Newcomer, Hailee Steinfeld absolutely stole the show as 14 year-old Mattie Ross. She even outshone Jeff Bridges, who did an outstanding job as Reuben J. "Rooster" Coburn - originally made famous by none other than The Duke: John Wayne. Matt Damon also took on his role with finesse and it was definitely a departure for him not being the lead character in a movie. However, Hailee’s portrayal helped me enjoy this western, a genre which has never been my favorite. Her ability to handle this mature, quick-witted and head-strong character had me thinking there was no way she was really 13 at the time. Unbelievable!

The film was great but the ending blew me away. I must admit that there were some moments where I thought a scene was a little too long or slow but overall True Grit is a fantastic film.

My favorite thing: Hailee Steinfeld! She was awesome.

My least favorite thing: The obvious lack of dental work on most of the characters. The make-up department did a great job but yuk! It looked so real.

Possibility of a sequel? No, and there is no need for one. Perfect ending!

Did the previews ruin it or show too much? NOT ONE BIT!!

Rating: PG-13
Length: 110 minutes

Review: 8 out of 10

True Grit - the novel

Videos on Demand

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I AM NUMBER FOUR interview with Callan McAuliffe

Here is an exclusive interview with I AM NUMBER FOUR star Callan McAuliffe from Reel Movie News. Interviewed by Alyssa Caverley. Movie opening February 18th, 2011

Callan McAuliffe is just 16-years-old, but he's already making waves in America with his performance in the upcoming I Am Number Four, alongside Alex Pettyfer and Dianna Agron.

McAuliffe is originally from Australia and admits he kind of just fell into acting, but he's not taking it for granted.  He understands he is doing what a lot of kids his age would kill for.

We asked him about his Australian accent and how he manages to change it for his American films.

"It doesn't seem to be too difficult for Australian or British people to do an American accent," he says. "I'm not sure if that's because you guys pronounce things the way they're spelled and we don't, so it's kind of like going up a step in intelligence when you do an American accent."

What was his favorite part of filming I Am Number Four?

"I've always wanted to do an action film, I've always wanted to shoot something and now my dreams came true."
Check out the rest of his interview after the jump, including what super power he wants and how he found out he got the job in the sci-fi flick.

for more of the interview click link below:

Videos on Demand


Directed (and produced) by Clint Eastwood, Warner Bros. Pictures, 2009. Starring Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon and Tony Ggoroge.
Genre: Biography, Drama, History, Sport.
Question: What’s your favorite sports movie? Hoosiers, Bad News Bears, Bull Durham or Invincible (okay, I am an Eagles fan – I admit it). What’s the one thing they all have in common? It’s the triumphant story of the underdog team, right? Well, Invictus might have one of the best underdog victories ever.
Invictus is about a man, Nelson Mandela, and the true story about how he brought a nation together with their national pastime. I will admit I know very little of the history of South Africa and I know absolutely nothing about Rugby, but I got completely drawn into this story despite my lack of knowledge.
Invictus is based on the book by John Carlin “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation.”
Clint Eastwood did a fantastic job adapting the story for the screen. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon transformed themselves into their characters so well that at times I didn’t even recognize them. Their accents and their mannerisms were impeccable. Actually everyone was great in this movie.
This was a truly inspirational tale and I recommend it for everyone to see.
My favorite thing: Morgan Freeman
My least favorite: Just wish I knew a bit more about Rugby.
Possibility of a sequel? No.
Did the previews ruin it or show too much? Not one bit.
Rating: PG-13
Length: 134 minutes

Review: 8 out of 10

Invictus - the novel
Invictus - DVD

Videos on Demand

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Viewer's Choice Winner

Hello all:

Well, it was close and almost a tie between True Grit and No Strings Attached. However, True Grit is the winner!! I will view the movie and give my review this week.

Thanks to everyone who voted!

Tired of Previews?

Videos on Demand

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Escapist

Directed (and written) by Rupert Wyatt. Picture Farm, 2008. Starring Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Damian Lewis and Dominic Cooper.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Question: Have you ever wanted to write a screenplay? Well, the first thing you should learn how to do is to "show" not "tell" the story - which is very hard to do. If want to research how this is done very well then watch The Escapist.

I haven't enjoyed a stumbling upon a film this much since Once. It was such a shock to start the movie and get sucked in right away. There is very little dialogue in The Escapist but the story is so compelling because the film makers “showed” us the story rather than lengthy monologues and back and forth debates.

Yes, we have all seen dozens upon dozens of prison escape stories, but this one is by far one of my favorites now. You many not recognize many of the actors names but you should recognize their faces. This is a British film and, at times, the dialogue was a bit difficult to understand (for us Yanks) but it didn't bother me one bit. It wasn't about what they said but how their expressions and actions told the story. Brilliant!

The acting was superb! The cinematography was beautiful! Crisp and clear, not something I would have expected for such a gritty story. And the way it was told was indicative of Quentin Tarantino or Guy Richie which is very hard to pull off successfully, but they did it! Rent this, download this - do whatever you have to do - but see this film!

My favorite thing: Watching the faces of the characters - great acting!

My least favorite: Yeah, I missed a few words here and there due to the accent but that's about it.

Possibility of a sequel? No

Did the previews ruin it or show too much? I never saw a preview - just saw it on cable at 3:00am and recorded. What a find!

Rating: NR
Length: 102 minutes

Rating: 9 out of 10

The Escapist - DVD

Videos on Demand

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gnomeo & Juliet

Directed (and screenplay) by Kelly Asbury, Starz Animation, 2011. Starring James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen and Michael Caine. 

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Romance.

We all know the Shakespeare play: Romeo & Juliet but I bet you have never seen it told like this before. I took my kids yesterday to see Gnomeo & Juliet along with countless other families. The theatre was packed and my kids were anxiously waiting for the movie to start after seeing the previews for weeks.

I must confess that I studied theatre history in college and I am a huge fan of the Bard. Also, I have probably seen almost every film adaptation of his plays; and I have liked most of them - until now. The movie started out okay but as the story progressed, and after a few initial giggles, I found it to be rather boring and uninteresting. 

Yes, the main characters are there but with some additional ones and some removed but that was fine. It was the placement and selections of songs by Elton John that didn’t seem well thought out; and then there was an additional story that got wedged in to help modernize it, I suppose. It just didn’t work for me. As I have said before - why try to reinvent the wheel? Oh well.

Perhaps this is the perfect movie for the toddler range – a segment of the population who knows nothing of the original story. But with all that said I do think most kids will enjoy it.

My kid’s reviews:

Daughter, 9: 5 out of 10 – she said it was boring and that she knew most of the songs (that didn’t seem like a good thing). She liked the bunnies though.

Son, 11: 8 out of 10 – but he said if he was a few years younger he would have liked it more. He did enjoy the action – which there is a lot.

My favorite thing: The animation was great and  it was fun to see on the large screen. We did not see the 3D version. Also, I did like the frog – Nanette.

My least favorite: The music.

Possibility of a sequel? I don’t think so.

Did the previews ruin it or show too much? Actually, no. There were a lot of funny lines and segments never viewed on any preview I ever saw.

Rating: G
Length: 84 minutes

Rating: 4 out of 10

Videos on Demand

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Runaways

Directed (and screenplay written) by Floria Sigismondi, River Road Entertainment, 2010. Starring Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, and Michael Shannon.

Genre: Biography, Drama, Music.

Question: How many of you were obsessed with the song “I love Rock ’n’ Roll” by Joan Jett? Oh, I was – back in elementary school. But I will admit that I did not know that she originally came from one of the first all girl punk bands, The Runaways, until recently.

The Runaways cast some pretty well known actors for its leads: Kristen Stewart (Joan Jett) and Dakota Fanning (Cherie Currie). Both are known, to say the least, as part of the Twilight Saga, which unfortunately, may have not been the smartest move to get their fans to flock to its opening. In fact, most of them aren't old enough to see it. Also, those who dislike the Twilight series may have purposely avoided it. But I am happy to say I was old enough and able to disassociate them from Twilight. And I am so glad because I really liked it!

The film showed a gritty and honest biopic of the mid 70’s evolution of this all girl band. Stewart and Fanning were brilliant and they completely transformed themselves into Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. But there was one extra bright star in this movie - Michael Shannon as the legendary music producer, Kim Fowley. Even if you aren’t interested in seeing this movie, for whatever reason, see it anyway because of him. He made the movie!

This was based on the book Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story by Cherie Currie.

My favorite thing: Michael Shannon.

My least favorite: Actually, I can’t think of anything at the moment.

Possibility of a sequel? No

Did the previews show too much or ruin it? Not one bit.

Rating: R
Length: 106 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

The Runaways - DVD
Videos on Demand

A Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway

Friday, February 11, 2011

Solitary Man

Directed (and written) by Brian Koppleman, Millenium Films, 2009. Starring Michael Douglas, Susan Saradon, Danny DeVito, Jesse Eisenberg and Jenna Fischer.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance.

Question: Are there characters out there that you love to hate or not like very much? It is usually fun to root for their failure or for their realization that they need to change, right?

Well, Michael Douglas' character in Solitary Man is that type of character. His sayings, actions along with his overall selfishness are right there in that category of “love to hate” and could have made this a good film. But I believe the film makers purposely decided not to take the normal route for telling the main character's story.  I am just not sure if I liked the approach.

It is listed as a comedy and a romance movie but I would not call this either - at least, not in the normal sense. It definitely started out light - well sort of, but then I just became a little irritated at the character and the lack of self-awareness as the story progressed. But I believe that was the film makers’ intention.

Michael Douglas pulled off a great performance but the other characters weren't given much to go on. It seemed a little unbalanced.  Plus, the ending was good and not the norm - which is so refreshing sometimes - but I am not sure worked overall.

Favorite thing: I admit I did love to hate the main character. That was easy.

Least favorite: The reason the character was the way he was. Kind of lame.

Possibility of a sequel? No.

Did the previews ruin it? No, not at all. It made me want to see it. Never saw the previews in the theatre but did in some of the independent films I have rented.

Rating: R
Length: 90 minutes

Review: 4 out of 10

Solitary Man - DVD

Videos on Demand

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Viewer's Choice

Hello all you movie fans!

Which movie, that is currently in the theatre, do you want to see a review on?

  1. True Grit
  2. No Strings Attached
  3. Barney's Version
  4. 127 Hours
  5. The Company Men
  6. The Rite
  7. The Fighter
  8. The Dilemma

Some of the above are in contention for an Oscar or two while others just were recently realease. Please list your top 3 and leave your selections in the comment box below.

The winner will be announced next Tuesday - February 15th.

Let the voting begin!