Saturday, April 30, 2011

Monthly Wrap Up - March 2011

Hello fellow movie fans:

I thought I would start something new for the occasional weekend post: Monthly Wrap Ups. This will be a list of the previous month's movie reviews. New followers and fans join everyday; and I want to make sure they see some of the gems or not-so-worthy films I reviewed that they may have missed. I will name each movie along with my reviewing score. There will be a link to each review in case you want to read it. Enjoy!!

I am starting off with March 2011.

The Ghost Writer - 2 out of 10
Repo Men - 3 out of 10
Rango - 5 out of 10
The Good Heart - 8 out of 10
Vicky Christina Barcelona - 5 out of 10
Tenderness - 6 out of 10
Girl Walks Into A Bar - 6 out of 10
Ondine - 7 out of 10
Hachi: A Dog's Tale - 7 out of 10
Morning Glory - 4 out of 10
Catfish - Documentary
Unstoppable - 7 out of 10
It's Kind of a Funny Story - 4 out of 10
Let Me In - 9 out of 10
Never Let Me Go - 8 out of 10
Beer Wars - Documentary
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee - 6 out of 10
Everybody's Fine - 7 out of 10
After.Life - 6 out of 10

COMING SOON: Water For Elephants

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Avett Brothers

I feel like taking a little break from movies for just one night - so, let me tell you about what concert I went to last night - The Avett Brothers. It was something I was expecting to like but not love - but after about 2 minutes in - I was hooked and now a HUGE fan!!

The band is fronted by Scott & Seth Avett, who may have the best harmonies since Simon & Garfunkel. They are balanced well with three other band members: drummer, bass player and cello player. Now I am not a band reviewer so I am not going to go into detail about them with words but with a few videos of their songs.

Here are three that showcase their true talent as songwriters, musicians, and performers. Please check them out!

Laundry Room- Live
Murder in the City - Recorded
Bella Donna - the one I wish they had played last night

One last point - I think they could be a great addition to a movie soundtrack..Hint! Hint! Hollywood! (You know I had to bring it back to movies, right?!)

Easy A

Directed (and produced) by Will Gluck. Screen Gems, 2010. Starring Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, and Thomas Hayden Church.

Genre: Comedy Romance.

Question: Raise your hand if you think John Hughes wrote (and directed) some great movies about high school? Yep, me too. Well, the filmmakers of Easy A apparently thought the same thing - or they wouldn't have referenced some of his most iconic films for this modern high school story.

I wasn't so sure I would enjoy watching Easy A - mainly because I am so far removed from my own high school days that I didn't think I could relate. Also, the kids today have so much more to contend with; and due to the warp speed gossiping portals (texting, email, and webcam discussions) I thought I might not be able to understand the current high school dilemmas. But I was proved wrong.

Easy A takes the topic of rumors and their devastating and destructive power all with a comedic twist. One student, who has no notoriety in her school, soon becomes the topic for everyone's conversations due to one lie. It grows as she perpetuates the myths enjoying the attention but as with most hubris - it usually comes back to bite you in the-you-know-where!

The part that I liked about this film was the references to some John Hughes classics and how the main character kept hoping she could live in one - now that is something that I could understand. Didn't most kids at my age think the same thing? (I wonder)

Does Easy A go over the top a bit trying to make a point? Of course! But that is today's interpretation of high school. I thought Emma Stone, the main character, did a great job as the troubled teen trying to get out of her own mess. Her love interest - although cute - kind of left me wondering 'what was the attraction?' He seemed a little too removed to be such a draw for her. Also, Amanda Bynes, and her posse, played religious fanatics that want to "save" Emma Stone's character and that reminded of a another teen movie - that I can't quite place my finger on. It seemed generic - is what I am trying to say.

Even though I thought Amanda Bynes character was contrived, it did have some significance. The title of the movie, Easy A, is a play on "The Scarlett Letter" and if you know that story - and every high school kid should - it makes sense to have someone "condemn" the protagonist for her "rumored" promiscuousness. Again, the filmmakers just took it a bit too far for my taste.

So, all-in-all, it was a decent film that I think old and young alike can relate to its theme. Plus, there are some modern twists and unusual characters that helped maintained a level of interest for me.

My favorite thing: The references to the Scarlett Letter movie. Very Funny!

My least favorite thing: The relationship with her best friend.

Did the previews ruin it by showing too much? Well, it has been awhile since I saw them but I do remember seeing pretty much the whole story when I saw them.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 92 minutes

Review: 5 out of 10

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Joneses

Directed (written, produced) by Derrick Borte, Echo Lake Productions, 2009. Starring Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Glenne Headly, and Cary Cole.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Question: Are you ever jealous of what your next door neighbors have - like cars, clothes, jewelry? Yep, it is tough sometimes keeping up The Joneses these days.

The Joneses took an interesting approach to showcase how we Americans may feel the extreme need to own all things material - items, that is. So when I started watching the movie I was intrigued with the concept of a family hired to help promote sales on new items by just showing it off to their neighbors.

However, as the story continued and got to the heart of the tale, it lost me. Demi Moore and David Duchovny, the parents, were supposed to have chemistry between them but it fell flat for me. The children also had no depth to their characters. The story tried to have "more drama", but it seemed contrived. I am not sure but this felt more like a movie made for TV and not the big screen. Not to say anything is wrong with those movies but this one overall just didn't grab my attention too well.

I really started off liking the concept of the story and the cautionary tale of wanting too much stuff. Today, however, we kind of know that lesson - we learned it harshly in 2008 with the economy bust. I think this story would have done better either a few years ago or later when we are out of this mess.

So, if you want to see a fairly interesting story but not expect too much, then go ahead and watch The Joneses. It's not a complete waste of time.

My favorite thing: The initial idea of the story.

My least favorite thing: That their "job" might be true.

Did the previews ruin it by showing too much? I think I saw the preview on a rental and it didn't strike me in anyway as over telling it.

Rating: R
Length: 96 minutes

Review: 4 out of 10

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Directed by Nathan Greno, Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2010/11. Starring Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, and Ron Pearlman.

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Romance, Fantasy, Family, Musical

Question: How many of you dreamed about having really long hair when you were little girls? I certainly did but nothing like the hair in Tangled.

Tangled is the 50th animated feature for Walt Disney Studios, and I was pleasantly surprised by this film when I took my kids to see it. The tale was one I will admit I never read when I was little. So finding out why Rapunzel was in the tower in the first place and seeing she is rescued in the beginning of the story, I discovered The Brothers Grimm were pretty good storytellers.

But leave it to Disney to add songs to an already fun story. Some of the songs were pretty catchy and I believe “I See the Light” was up for an Oscar. But this film didn’t seem oversaturated with songs, which was refreshing.

However, the most surprising part for me was finding out that it was funny. I found myself chuckling, along with my kids, during many of the scenes. 

Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi both did a great job voicing and singing for their characters. But I really liked Levi’s character – Flynn Rider. A funny and enjoyable character, one I wasn’t expecting to like from the previews. However, Maximus, the horse, may have been the best character of them all.

The animation was spectacular. It may have been one of the best animations I have seen by Disney so far. Even if you aren’t into the story of Tangled, I recommend it just to see the animation.

My favorite part: How funny it was.

My least favorite part: Nothing comes to mind right now.

Did the previews ruin it by showing too much? No, not at all.

Rating: PG
Length: 100 minutes

Review: 8 out of 10

Monday, April 25, 2011

Inglourious Basterds

Directed (and written) by Quentin Tarantino, Universal Pictures, 2009. Starring Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, et al.

Genre: Adventure, Drama, War.

Question: Have you seen a lot of war movies - specifically about WWII? I have. In fact, I have probably seen more than the average woman. Why? It's probably because my father enjoyed watching them and I enjoyed being with my dad, especially when I was younger. I believe I even saw Midway, The Eagle has Landed and A Bridge Too Far in the theater when I was around 6 or 7. I really can't be accurate about all the ones I viewed in the theater because I was so young. However, I saw most of them at home when they were on TV. No matter when or where I saw them, watching them prepared me for one of the best movies I have seen about WWII - Inglourious Basterds

I have been a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino ever since Reservoir Dogs (one of my top 5 favorite movies) was released in the early 90's. So, I can't tell you why it took me so long to watch his latest masterpiece. Honestly.

If you don't care for violence or watching movies with a lot of subtitles, then you might not like Inglourious Basterds but I recommend this movie anyway. I found it to be witty, entertaining, and an interesting attempt to depict WWII from a different point of view. Yes, this is a fictional story but a really good one.

The story was not told like some of the other Tarantino movies, it had a linear time-frame with only a few flashback scenes. Plus, there was one of the most brilliant endings I have seen in a long time. But it was the characters that Tarantino created that really made this movie awesome. Brad Pitt, probably the most recognizable star in the film, was a brash, unapologetic American soldier. His character reminded me a bit of Robert Duvall's character in Apocalypse Now. He had no fear and he enjoyed his job in the war - really, really enjoyed it.

The other characters, mostly played by foreign actors, were the surprising instrumental contributors to Inglourious Basterds: Melanie Laurent, Diane Kruger and Christoph Waltz. In fact, Mr. Waltz won the Academy Award for best actor for his portrayal of Col. Hans Landa. This may be one of the most evil characters ever created on film, but he played it with such finesse that you knew you were watching greatness.

There are so many more characters in this film that I would be remiss if I did not tell you that everyone played an important part to this production. The list is too large to go into but I enjoyed watching every single character, no matter how small their parts were, in this film. There is even a surprise cameo by one of my favorite SNL actors.

I will admit I thought Inglourious Basterds was going to be more violent. It still is very brutal, at times, but just not as much as I thought it could have been. And it is a long movie, but I never wavered or got bored - not for one second - not even during one of the longest scenes I have ever seen in a film.

You must have a sense of humor to enjoy this movie. This is not a comedy but it is irreverent, like most of his movies. Tarantino doesn't take himself too seriously and neither should you. Just enjoy the storytelling. I sure did!

My favorite part: Christoph Waltz. He deserved all those acclaims and awards!

My least favorite part: When the credits rolled and it was over.

Did the preview show too much? NOPE! YAY!

Rating: R
Length: 153 minutes

Review: 10 out of 10

Friday, April 22, 2011


Directed by Joe Wright, Ardustry Pictures, 2011. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, and Cate Blanchett.

Genre: Action, Crime, Mystery, Thriller.

Question: When you think "Action" movie, you picture large biceped, balding men with ridiculous one-liners, don't you? Now try imagining a 14 year-old, bleach-blonde girl with piercing blue eyes as the action "hero". Yep, doesn't work, but if you give Hanna a chance this young hero will knock Stallone, Willis and, Schwarzenegger off their thrones.

Now to be honest with you, I just watched Hanna in the theaters with my first D-BOX experience. What is D-BOX? Well, it is a theater seat with motion effects that is specifically programmed for each movie that will help intensify your movie-going experience. It shakes, leans, vibrates with each punch, shot, and some extreme camera angles to make you feel like you are right there in the story. It was so cool! (Yeah, that's me in the D-BOX seat! - I am such a movie geek)

Now back to the story: Hanna is a movie about a young girl on the run from the government and that's all I am going to say about the plot. Yes, this kind of tale has been told before, but the way the filmmakers approached Hanna made it different and extremely enjoyable. I am glad to say that they could have easily gone down the path of 3D - like so many other movies today but chose not to - whew! Instead, the filmmakers took close-ups to the extreme to visually draw you into the story. Thank you!!

To bring you in even further into the story, all the audio effects during all the fights scenes weren't just sounds of fists and bodies colliding. Sure there was some of that, but The Chemical Brothers scored Hanna with music that mimicked the emotions of each sequence. The score intensified and legitimized the scenes. And all this, mixed in the seat's movements, allowed the escapism experience to truly take over. This is the way to see a movie!!

Soarise Ronan played Hanna and she pulled off a believable action hero. How, you ask? Because nothing was too over-the-top. The acting, the fighting or even the emotions this young talent produced were all choreographed to be something a 14 year-old could actually do - albeit one that was trained from a young age.

Eric Bana also did a good job, but when has he not? It was actually Cate Blanchett's character, the antagonist in Hanna, that really helped balance the story. She plays the government agent who tries to find Hanna. Her slim figure, extreme Southern drawl and cold, but terrified demeanor allowed even more believability to the film. Great casting!!

I could go on and on about how much I liked this movie but I will shut up and let you all see for yourselves. And do try to see it in a D-BOX seat - totally worth it!

My favorite thing: How they began and ended the movie.

My least favorite thing: There were a few minor things not fully answered but I think that means it is open to a sequel.

Did the previews show too much? No, not really. Most of it shows just the beginning parts. Good job on these previews.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 111 minutes

Review: 8 out of 10

Interview: Water for Elephants

I know many people who have read "Water for Elephants"and loved the book.  I wish I had before it got made into a film because I know I will see the movie in the next few weeks. Here is an interview with one of it's actors.

Mark Povinelli caught up with Reel Movie News to talk about his most recent project, Water for Elephants, which opens in theaters this Friday, April 22.

He plays Kinko, who befriends Robert Pattinson's character, Jacob.

"I read the book a couple of years ago and I was excited because there was a great character, that happened to be a little person and that’s very rare that you see that in literature or certainly in film and television." He tell us of his character. "He was a fully developed character, and that made me that much more eager to play him."

Povinelli also talks about his role in the upcoming Snow White, opposite Julia Roberts.
Check out the rest of the interview from Reel Movie News here.

Water for Elephants  opens nationwide April 22, 2011. Check your local listings for times.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Soundtrack: Good Will Hunting

We are finally up to a movie where I actually bought the soundtrack soon after hearing some great songs in the film: #95 on the list is 1997's Good Will Hunting

There are a lot of soft melodies, written and performed by Elliott Smith, interwoven throughout the story that really helped nudge the story to become a memorable and sophisticated tale of love and recovery. Remember the two young actors who wrote the screenplay? Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

I really enjoyed this movie and the music helped bring a strong but tender level of emotions to Good Will Hunting. Check out the song "Miss Misery" by Smith that was played at the end of the movie.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Love and Other Drugs

Directed (and written by) Edward Zwick, Fox 2000 Pictures, 2010. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Question: Have you ever seen a romance movie that wasn't really geared solely towards the female population? Well, you are in luck if you haven't seen Love and Other Drugs yet. This one might have been made for all the men out there who have been dragged to one-too-many chick flicks.

I am not kidding. As I was watching Love and Other Drugs waiting for more sap, gush, or some overly romantic parts in this movie, it dawned on me. This wasn't really made for women. Yes, this is a romance. Yes, it is about two people falling in love. Yes, there is a sick woman and the man learns to changes his ways to be with her. That is all the right components of a chick flick but it was not written or acted to get us females all weak in the knees or cry at every other scene. There was, however, a lot of nudity, sex jokes and other elements that would make guys want to stay in the theaters for this one.

Now here is the question - did I like it? Well, let me put it this way: I didn't like the beginning part of the story but I wasn't supposed to. It was all a set up to get you to not like the main character, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, and some other elements of the movie which I won't spoil for you. But when he meets Maggie, played by Anne Hathaway, I immediately changed my mind and started enjoying the story. Then, as their relationship develops it sort of lost me. And by the climax or where most romance/chick flicks have me either sobbing or begging for the two betrothed to finally be together I became apathetic. So, I kind of liked it but not fully.

Somewhere in this movie, I suppose, I should have developed sympathy for the guy (Jake Gyllenhall) and have had my heart strings pulled more with Maggie's (Anne Hathaway) storyline. But overall it just didn't work for me. Then there was the younger brother mixed into all this. I assume he was supposed to be the comic relief, but I found it distracting and somewhat belittling to the storyline.

On the flip-side, I thought everyone acted well especially Anne Hathaway. She really is turning out to be a shining talent. Plus, we all know Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the greatest actors we have today and he took on this role with sincerity. However, I believe where the movie fell short was the overall story. I tried to like it but every time I would get sucked into it, I got batted back out with a stupid joke or unnecessary attempt to put up an obstacle between the two young lovers. I know that happens a lot in romances but for this one it didn't work for me.

I will admit I think it was very clever to make a romance movie with the guys in mind. It was different and we all need that in the movies. So, I can't really fault the movie-makers on this. We women have had our fair share of romance movies.

The story was based on the book "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman" by Jaime Reidy - This might put it all in perspective for you if you haven't seen it yet.

My favorite thing: Maggie's apartment.

My least favorite thing: The brother.

Did the previews show too much: No, not really but they kept showing a lot different of clips prior to release and I might have seen a bit too much before seeing the actual film

Rating: R
Length: 112 minutes

Review: 5 out of 10

Random thought: This was not the first time the two main actors worked together. They were both in Brokeback Mountain. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Welcome to the Rileys

Directed by Jake Scott, Argonaut Pictures, 2010. Starring James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart and Melissa Leo.

Genre: Drama

Question: Do you think the actors who have played two of the most well known TV and movie characters in the last 10 years (Tony Soprano and Bella Swan) can be seen as anything else? I say yes - Welcome to the Rileys proves that.

I saw a clip from Welcome to the Rileys when it was getting ready to debut. The clip didn't show much and I couldn't understand who these two characters were to each other. However,  I rented it to see what the story was about. Now, you know I am not going to spoil it for you but rest assured the relationship portrayed in this film was different than most I have seen between an older man and young female - and worth watching.

Welcome to the Rileys takes a subject matter that many families have thrust upon them and shows the aftermath through a profound and realistic view point. Life is messy, cruel and can kick you in the stomach but many films like to make sure you leave satisfied in the end with everyone smiling and fixed. This film doesn't try to solve all the answers and it doesn't clean it all up either. How refreshing.

James Gandolfini plays a tender but broken man who is stuck in his marriage and life. He took on this role with an authenticity that I have never seen him try before. His portrayal brought tears to my eyes when his character decided to release the pause button from his dilemma. Kristen Stewart grabbed her portrayal with a vulnerability tied in with an inner strength only real survivors seem to possess. There is no resemblance to her past roles in this movie.

However, Melissa Leo, who was recognized at the Academy Awards for her outstanding performance in The Fighter this year, probably helped both the other actors reach the story's true potential. She, too, showed a real character and the process one goes through if they allow the tragedies of life to consume them.

This is not a fast-paced movie and it won't give you all the answers, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I recommend Welcome to the Rileys, even it is just to show everyone that iconic characters don't need to pigeonhole an actor.

My favorite thing: The giggle I had when I wasn't expecting any light-hearted parts in this movie.

My least favorite thing: Realizing the basis of the story is probably more prevalent than I would like to consider.

Did the previews show too much? I actually never saw a preview - just the same clip of the scene outside a laundromat.

Random thought: Jake Scott, the director of this film, is the son of Ridley Scott and the nephew of Tony Scott. He directed one of my favorite videos of all time: R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts."

Rating: R
Length: 110 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

COMING SOON: Love and Other Drugs

Friday, April 15, 2011

Soundtrack: Above the Rim

Alright, let's switch things up here - musically, I mean.  We have had jazz, country, a little Danny Elfman (he's his own category) and some instrumental scores. Now we are delving into the West Coast Hip Hop genre for the #96 on Entertainment Weekly's Top 100 Soundtracks from the 1994 Basketball film: Above the Rim.

This film starred Duane Marin, Tupac Shakur, Marlon Wayans, and Bernic Mac and was about a promising high school basketball player and his relationship with his two older brothers. The film would be a totally forgotten one had it not been for the soundtrack.

The album was released by Interscope Records and Death Row in early 1994. It was produced by Suge Knight and Dr. Dre. and received critical acclaim and commercial success that year. Above the Rim, also, was widely known for debuting the Death Row label and its first song "Pain" by Tupac Shakur.

Also, featured on the album is Snoop Dogg, SVW, CPO and even a song or two from Jewell (not to be confused with the other Jewel). Jewell a.k.a. Ju-L is probably best known for singing chorus for "Gin and Juice" by Snoop Dogg.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Directed by Tim Hill, Universal Pictures, 2011. Starring James Marsden, Russell Brand, Hugh Laurie, Hank Azaria and Kaley Cucoc.

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy.

Question: Have you been searching for a family movie that your kids will enjoy? Well, Hop is it.

Although my kids liked the movie, it didn't win me over. That isn't to say I thought Hop was a bad movie but the humor just didn't cross over to the adults - barring one joke that went way over my kids' heads because they didn't grow up in the 80's.

I will say that the animation was pretty spectacular. There were times when E.B., voiced by Russell Brand, was mixed into the live action sequences where I almost couldn't tell it was animation. The artists who created this part of the movie are computer animation geniuses.

"Mom, I give it a 10 out of 10. It was really funny" said my 11 year-old son right after we walked out of the theater. He really did enjoy it because I overheard him cracking up at almost every joke, punchline or silly attempt to evoke a smile. This one worked for him.

"I thought it was a bit boring in the beginning but enjoyed it after the bunny came to Hollywood" said my 9 year-old daughter. (I think she is in training to take over my job as reviewer when she becomes older.) "I give it a 5 out of 10 - maybe a 6 out of 10."

My son's favorite part: The drumming by E.B.

My daughter's favorite part: The Pink Berets.

As a mother, I would say it is safe to take your kids to see this movie. Just as an adult don't expect too much from Hop. Nonetheless, it didn't really bother me that it wasn't for my demographic. As a person who loves movies and enjoys many genres, I have a plethora of films to choose from throughout the year. Kids, however, have limited movies made specifically for them and if the filmmakers want to cater to children, I think it is a good thing.

Random thought: I think James Marsden is one of the most versatile actors we have today. Don't believe me? Well, here is a portion of his acting resume:  X-Men, X2, The Box, Hairspray, Enchanted, 27 Dresses, 10th & Wolf, The Notebook, and Disturbing Behavior. I think he has touched on every genre - not many can say that. Can't wait to see what he is in next.

Rating: PG
Length: 95 minutes

Review: 4 out of 10

COMING SOON: Welcome to the Rileys

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Directed (and written) by Stephen Antin, De Line Pictures, 2010/11. Starring Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci and Kristen Bell.

Genre: Drama, Musical, Romance.

Question: Have you ever stood in front of a mirror with a hairbrush or some other microphone replica and sung your heart out (or lip-synced) dreaming you would make it on stage someday? Okay, maybe you danced in front of that same mirror. It's almost a right-of-passage for all little girls! I can't leave out the guys - you all probably played air-guitar dreaming your way to fame, so I know this is a universal theme. Either way, we have all done it, right?

Burlesque is another version of 'girl has a dream to be on stage and be loved' story but it was so predictable that the little girl in me got mad. "Try harder" is what I kept thinking as I was watching this movie. With the almost painful cliches used one after another, mixed in with some so-so acting, and the horrible use, or lack thereof, with some tremendously talented people (Alan Cumming, Stanley Tucci, and Kristen Bell) I finished Burlesque feeling drained.

The ONLY redeeming part of the entire film was Christina Aguilera - not the acting but her singing brought goosebumps every time she opened her mouth. That woman can sing!! Whether you like her or don't like her - it won't matter. When she belted out the half a dozen melodies you stopped realizing this was not a good movie and welcomed watching (and hearing) the brilliant talent that woman possesses. Her voice is almost too good to be true but since she has stuck around since the 'Genie in a Bottle' release more than a decade ago to 'Beautiful' which I must admit I really like, Christina Aguilera has some pipes and is here to stay in the spotlight.

However, Burlesque, to me, did not deliver. But for those of you who want to see a great talent from time to time during a completely predictable plot line - then see Burlesque.

My least favorite thing: Seeing Alan Cumming for less than five minutes in the whole movie.

My favorite thing: That voice- really - it's worth seeing just to sit there in awe.

Did the previews show too much? Um, yeah but it made me want to see it so it did a good job. Can't fault that.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 119 minutes

Review: 3 out of 10 

Burlesque - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Random thought: For those Twilight fans out there, "James" played by Sam Gigandet is in this movie and you might like seeing him in this.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A preview that makes me want to see the movie

I know I have complained A LOT about previews showing too much, but I have to say there are some that make me want to see the movie while still keeping the story a secret. It makes me want to see it more, in fact. Case in point: Tree of Life

When I saw Black Swan in the theater I saw this preview and was thoroughly intrigued. Then when I started this blog, and had my initial rant about previews, a friend of mine emailed a link about this preview and he said the same thing I just said about it. A few days ago my husband showed me the preview and now I feel I have to share it with you all.

I know nothing about this film except who it is written and directed by and a few stars that are in it, and I am going to keep it that way. Enjoy the preview!


Nowhere Boy

Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, Ecosse Films, 2009. Starring Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Anne-Marie Duff.

Genre: Biography, Genre, Music.

Question: Ever want to see the women who would help mold the man who ended up becoming one of the greatest rock 'n' roll legends of the 20th century? Well, then you are in luck.

Nowhere Boy is about John Lennon when he was a school boy and how he was raised by his Aunt Mimi played by Kristin Scott Thomas (beautifully, I must say). It also shows the time during his teenage years when his mother re-emerges into his life, and chronicles his discovery of music with the desire to be in a band.

I will say, if you are HUGE Beatles fan and you want to see all Beatles history you might be a little disappointed. The word "Beatles", in fact, is never mentioned in Nowhere Boy, but you will see a few of the other band members and their early relationships. So, for those of you who are NOT huge Beatles fans you might like this because it is simply about a boy struggling with the knowledge of who he is and his reach for music to cope. The first band he started is the main band in Nowhere Boy.

I enjoyed this movie and thought Aaron Johnson (John Lennon) did a stunning job. It couldn't have been easy to portray one of the most iconic figures in rock history. You simply enjoy the story and you do not constantly say -"that's John Lennon" and get distracted by that.

It was also great to see a movie where they didn't hire actors who simply looked like the members of the band. Yes, there were hints of similarities but just enough. Except for a couple of actors, I didn't know most of them but you might recognize Aaron Johnson from the lead role in Kick-Ass.

My favorite part: How the movie showed him practicing guitar (a lot) and not just picking it up and being able to play like some movies seem to do.

My least favorite part: I can't pinpoint anything right now but maybe the accents were a little thick that I found it tough to distinguish what they said from time to time. But that was no big deal.

Did the preview show too much? Nope, not one bit. The previews for this and the recommendation on seeing the main actor in this role got me to see this movie.

Rating: R
Length: 98 minutes

Review: 6 out of 10

Nowhere Boy (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Various Artists

Random thought: Check out Aaron Johnson in R.E.M's latest video 

COMING SOON: Burlesque

Monday, April 11, 2011

Soundtrack: Nashville

I know it's been awhile since I posted a movie soundtrack. So sorry. I got a little sidetracked. Anyway...

Number 97 on the top 100 soundtracks of all time (last counted in 2002) is from the movie Nashville. The story centers around the country and gospel music businesses in the same name as the film. It was released in 1975 and is considered one of Altman's greatest films. (Well, with that said I have to put this one on my queue.)

Robert Altman decided not to hire country stars to fulfill the roles but actors. He even went further to have his actors write and perform the songs. Here is the one called "I'm Easy", both written and performed by Keith Carradine. (Okay, I had no idea that  he could sing let alone play guitar.)

As with most Robert Altman films, Nashville had an ensemble cast. There are twenty four of them. Some of the cast members are: Keith Carradine, Lily Tomlin, Jefff Goldblum, Scott Glenn, Shelly Duvall and Ned Beatty.

Soundtrack: Nashville: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Directed by Tony Goldwyn, Pantheon Entertainment Corporation, 2010/11. Starring Sam Rockwell, Hilary Swank, Melissa Leo and Minnie Driver.

Genre: Biography, Drama.

Question: What would you do for your brother or sister if they were wrongly convicted of a crime? We would all fight for them in the best way we knew how but in Conviction  one sister goes above and beyond to prove her brother's innocence.

When Conviction  was out in the theaters last year I heard about this real life story adaptation and was pleased to see who was portraying the brother and sister: Sam Rockwell and Hilary Swank. We all know Hilary Swank is a phenomenal actress and she worked her magic again, but this time I think Sam Rockwell had the outshining performance.

He had an elegant combination of masculinity and vulnerability while playing the accused brother: Kenny Waters. He was so believable in this role that you really develop a deep sympathy for his character. Sam Rockwell is one actor that more people should take notice of out in Hollywood. I can't think of a single performance or movie he has been where I didn't think "WOW, this guy is really good!" In fact, my very first review was Moon starring Sam Rockwell; and I really enjoyed watching this movie solely because of his performance.

So, if you are in the mood to see a good story, with a lot of heart, and some outstanding acting then see Conviction .

My favorite thing: The scene where Sam's character has to try and make people smile.

My least favorite thing: There were a lot of quick, choppy scenes that sometimes made it hard to know how much time had passed.

Did the previews show too much? Maybe but the acting is so aboveboard that it didn't ruin it for me.

Rating: R
Length: 107 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

COMING SOON: Nowhere Boy

Friday, April 8, 2011

Who's Tired of Movie Previews?

Hello Everyone:

Well, I just had my first article published on Here is the article with a link below to the online blog magazine. Enjoy!! 

Who's Tired of Movie Previews?

By Katy Kern

Anyone else tired of movie previews giving away too much these days? I know I can't be the only one who thinks this. Previews are an important part of the movie marketing business, I know this, but years ago they were just teasers to tickle our taste buds for more. But something has changed.

Somewhere in the last five to ten years it seems (perhaps an over-eager young intern), came up with the "great" idea that previews should be longer, and packed with even more exciting material from the movie to really whet our appetites. Of course, this was all intended to entice more audiences into the first weekend and grab those elusive huge opening box office numbers. But now I feel like I am drowning every time I see a preview. Am I alone?

What movie-goers really want is to see a good movie. We are delighted when we see a great movie but don't try tricking us through long, elaborate previews that reveal all the good parts or remove the surprise element. You will lose us in the end. No more trailers for me!

It is possible to find real gems of movies; no trailers needed. I have been extremely lucky to have learned about some great films, even those with no press. So, how do you find them?

Do a little research, maybe by searching IMDb for favorite actors and actresses to find out what they've done that you haven't yet seen. Or become a regular reader of Blogcritics video section or other review blogs, where others trudge through plethora of good and bad films so you don't have to waste your time.

Read more:

Article first published as Who's Tired of Movie Previews? on Blogcritics.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Lovely Bones

Directed (and written) by Peter Jackson, Dreamworks SKG, 2009. Starring Mark Walhberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci and  Saoirse Ronan.

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Thriller.

Question: I was trying to think of a question regarding this particular movie to get everyone connected and I just can't think of one. Sorry. The subject matter of The Lovely Bones is usually one I don't care to watch, but many of my friends read the book and enjoyed it, and I watch movies so.....

What can I say about The Lovely Bones? Well, I was depressed during most of it because it is about a young girl's death in the early 70's and her family's desire to figure out who killed her. Also, the young girl is hanging around in limbo trying to reach out to her family. This is the premise of the story, a hard one to watch, I know. But, frankly, I was bored throughout most of the film along with being depressed.

Stanley Tucci,  one of my favorite actors, plays the sadistic, killer neighbor who isn't a suspect to the people around him but for us, the audience, we know everything. Mark Walhberg plays the father of the young girl who was killed. Although he did a decent job, he looked so much like his character in Boogie Nights that I had a hard time disassociating him from that film. Very distracting.

There were parts where "limbo" was supposed to be overly theatrical or whimsical but I just didn't buy it.

The young actor, Saoirse Ronan, did a really good job but I am afraid to admit that I just didn't connect with her character. Perhaps all this was better in the book (by Alice Sebold) with the reader's imagination.

Sorry I skipped a day from posting but this one was a struggle for me to wrap my head around. Let's hope the next film is one I can delve into deeper and enjoy the story more.

My favorite thing: Susan Saradon's character - the only comic relief in this heavy drama.

My least favorite thing: The anticipation of Dirk Diggler's entrance.

Possibility of a sequel? No, fortunately.

Did the previews show too much? Actually, yes.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 136 minutes

Review: 3 out 10

COMING SOON: Conviction

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shutter Island

Directed (and produced) by Martin Scorsese, Paramount Pictures, 2010. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, and Ben Kingsley.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller.

Question: Who is one of our best actors today? Leo. Who is one of our best directors? Mr. Scorsese. Am I right? So, why did I keep hearing this movie wasn't all that good? I don't know but I finally watched "Shutter Island" because that's what I do and I liked it.

First, let me tell you why I am showing the trailer here: You don't have to watch it but since I refer to previews during every review, I thought it would be appropriate to give you a chance to view it once you finish reading it.  It's completely up to you.

Okay, back to the review: I kept hearing this buzz about "Shutter Island" Shutter Islandand it's ending and a whole lot of complaints. So I avoided it. But now that I have this blog, I am forcing myself to not listen to and be persuaded by the talk about movies.

When the movie began I started to worry that the buzz was true and got a little irritated. The acting seemed forced - especially from Mr. DiCaprio but I kept on. Once I got more into it I realized what the filmmakers were trying to do I had that "ah-ha" moment. Then when it got to the very end - I thought "oh, very cool and very smart!"

Thrillers are not easy - trust me - I am trying to write one (and I am stuck). Plus, audience members are more savvy today so trying to "trick" or surprise them with the story is almost an insurmountable task. But I think they pulled it off here. Now since this is a thriller and if you haven't seen it yet, I won't divulge any information about the story. I will say Leonardo DiCaprio does a fantastic job, as usual, and what can I say about Ben Kingsley? I just adore him. He can do no wrong in my eyes. Also, Mark Ruffalo, who didn't have a huge part, was instrumental in helping pull off the surprise and I must give him credit.

So, if you heard the buzz I did - ignore it and watch "Shutter Island" and make your own opinion.

My favorite thing: How I went from not liking it to enjoying the story while watching it.

My least favorite thing: The story line about the family. It is sad.

Possibility of a sequel? Nope -- that is why I love thrillers! Not everything needs to have a sequel.

Did the previews show too much? Well, a lot of the emotional close-up shots of Leonardo were shown over and over again, but I can stand a silent close-up over dialogue any day in previews. But the previews were shown a little too much when they were promoting the movie, in my opinion.

Rating: R
Length: 138 minutes

Review: 6 out of 10

Soundtrack: Shutter Island (Music from the Motion Picture) - Various Artists

"Shutter Island" is based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, who also wrote: "Mystic River" and "Gone Baby Gone" - all great movies. WOW!!

COMING SOON: The Lovely Bones

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mother & Child

Directed (and written) by Rodrigo Garcia, Everest Entertainment, 2009. Starring Annette Bening, Jimmy Smits, Naomi Watts, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Genre: Drama

Question: Do you know anyone who has been adopted or ever been part of an adoption? Well, here is a story that looks at that subject matter from a few different perspectives.

"Mother and Child" shows you a couple generations of involvement with adoption, which was refreshing to see. It's not often that adoption is discussed in film and "Mother and Child" really delves into the aftermath of it, not just the leading up to. It exposes an adoption from a current young mother deciding who can adopt her child, to a mother, in her 50's, who gave up her child when she was 14, and then to the daughter that never knew her biological mother. Plus, there is a woman who desperately wants to be a mother and choses adoption to fulfill that need.

Although I said it was refreshing to see this subject and I really like some of the actors in the movie - who did a great job, the movie on the whole was a little too slow for my taste. Also, there appeared to be some parts that were a little overindulgent or unnecessary.  However, I do think the filmmakers really tried to show the good, the bad and the ugly of  how the relationships can be altered because of it. That's not easy and I must give the writer big props for that.

If this subject is something that interests you I think you might like "Mother and Child" , Mother and Child (2010)once you finish the entire story.

My favorite thing: Seeing Jimmy Smits in a movie - it's been awhile.

My least favorite thing: Too slow.

Possibility of a sequel? Nope.

Did the previews show too much? I didn't see any. Just saw the list of actors and put it on my queue.

Rating: R
Length: 125 minutes

Review: 4 out of 10

COMING SOON: Shutter Island

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer

Directed by Brad Furman, Lionsgate, 2011. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy & Ryan Phillippe.

Genre: Crime, Drama

Question: Have you ever used Groupon to get a discount on something?  A couple of weeks ago there was a special running for "The Lincoln Lawyer" so I purchased the discounted ticket. This was my first time using the coupon service. I didn't have to use it right away but I finally redeemed it on Wednesday. What did I think of the Groupon and the movie? Groupon is great and I am glad finally tried it, but I am really happy I didn't pay full price for this movie.

"The Lincoln Lawyer" was a disappointment from beginning to end. The story ran thin and lacked originality. Also, it was completely predictable but that wasn't what really bothered me. Mainly, I felt no connection to the characters or their plight. Sure, movies repeat stories and plots over and over again, but what sets the good ones apart from the bad ones are interesting characters. All of them, even one of my favorite character actors, William H. Macy, had very little to go on. No depth, no great backgrounds, nothing interesting that made me want to know more about them.

Oh, well. In the last few weeks I have seen some pretty great movies and I have stumbled upon some wonderful finds. However, they all can't be good. I know. Luckily, I watched one of my all time favorite movies with my kids later that night: "Searching For Bobby Fischer" Searching for Bobby Fischer to wash the slate clean.

My favorite thing: William H. Macy did have a couple of lines that made me grin.

My least favorite thing: The Lincoln.

Possibility of a sequel? I hope not.

Did the previews show too much? Yes, but I went anyway. My fault.

Rating: R
Length: 118 minutes

Review: 3 out of 10

COMING SOON: "Mother & Child"