Friday, July 29, 2011

Flashbacks of a Fool

Directed (and written) by Baillie Walsh, Left Turn Films, 2008, Starring Daniel Craig, Harry Eden, Eve, Mark Strong and Olivia Williams.

Genre: Drama

Question: Do you receive recommendations to see a movie and most of the time you wonder what people saw in the movie that made them like it? Yes, I know I review and recommend movies all the time so maybe just ignore this question. I am still flustered over a movie I just finished viewing on Netflix: Flashbacks of a Fool.

Anyway, I wasn't going to review this movie because it hit me hard. I am still trying to figure out exactly why. A friend recommended this movie and their opinion is one that I always take into consideration. But as I like to always say: DON'T TELL ME ANYTHING about the movie so they did not. I am still undecided if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

The movie stars Daniel Craig (a.k.a. Bond, James Bond) as a self-indulgent, alcoholic, narcissist who is a very emotionally bruised man. He is obviously trying, desperately, to forget about his past and winds up alone, beaten and at the end of his rope emotionally. He receives some news one morning after a night of debauchery. It's probably the first connection to the past that he has had in years, decades. This just finally pushes him over the emotional edge. The first 20 minutes or so you see the life he has chosen for himself and why he comes to the beach to reflect back on his life after receiving this news.

That is when the flashbacks come - it's the late '70's somewhere in England on the coast. We see him as a youth - perhaps 15 or 16 years old with his friend. The story then lends itself towards a sexual coming-of-age story or so I thought. I really don't want to reveal anymore because what happens over the course of the next hour should be viewed with little prior knowledge. But I will say something happened that made me an emotional wreck. Then something happened at the end that ripped me apart. Maybe you won't see it but for whatever reason I lost it and had difficulty containing myself for the next hour or so.

This is a profound movie. This is a film about choices and the consequences of those choices especially when it is a selfish one.

Daniel Craig was brilliant in this movie. I always knew he could act and I can watch that blue-eyed actor in almost anything. He may even be my favorite James Bond (Yes!). But the first 20 minutes of watching him spiral down the emotional valley was something that everyone should see. I am not sure why this didn't get anymore PR or press when it was out a few years back. It baffles me some days - movies like Flashbacks of a Fool or other wonderful small indie films that don't get more notice. Well, hopefully, with my small little blog I can help people discover these wonderful gems.

I also have to give credit to the young man who played the younger version of Daniel Craig's character: Harry Eden. He really did a fantastic job as did all the actors in this small film.

My favorite thing: Well, Daniel Craig, of course!

My least favorite thing: I can't say...

Rating: R
Length: 100 minutes

Review: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Soundtrack: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Coming in at #83 on the top 100 Soundtracks (EW's) is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). I will admit that I don't see a lot of foreign films but I did see this one and thought it was fantastic! In fact, I have seen it a couple of times. The cinematography and choreography of the fighting scenes were pretty spectacular. I also recall the haunting and dramatic music by Tan Dun with Yo-Yo  Ma's cello front and center. This is one for the library - both DVD and album.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Tan Dun & Yo-Yo Ma

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Winnie the Pooh

Directed by Stephen J. Anderson & Don Hall, Walt Disney Studios, 2011. Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson and John Cleese.

Genre: Animation, Family

Question: Do you ever get those days, weeks maybe, when nothing seems to cheer you up much? Life as adult isn't easy sometimes with thoughts of responsibilities and more that can overwhelm you. Do you dream of a simpler time when such worries were like the following: hoping twilight would last longer so you can catch more fireflies; figuring out how to hide most of the lima beans in your napkin or under the mashed potatoes; or begging on bent knee to stay up to see Tatoo yell "Da plane! Da Plane!" Yep, me too.

Well, I am here to tell you I magically transported back to my youth today when I took my kids to see the latest Winnie the Pooh movie.... Okay, I admit I really wanted to see it and I dragged my kids so I didn't seem like a crazy middle-aged lady seeing a kid's movie by herself.  I needed a movie like this. No superheros, no people falling in or out of love, and no mystery/thriller would have made me happy. (The fact that my son didn't beg me on bent knee to see Captain America still shocks me though.)

We walked into the theater and my kids were the oldest children, by far, and I may have even been the oldest Winnie the Pooh fan there but I didn't care. I was ready to forget about the outside world for the next hour or so.

Previews came and went and then in traditional Walt Disney fashion there was a short: The Ballad of Nessie. A sweet Scottish tale of how Nessie came to live in the Loch. Billy Connolly narrated the poem and the screen had tartan patterns popping up everywhere. A little cliche but I loved it. Its animation was just like the cartoons I grew up watching. I was content for the first time in weeks.

The short ended and the main attraction started. Again, the animation was a throw back to my youth and I couldn't have been happier. John Cleese started the film with his narration with waking or trying to wake up Pooh and soon the adventure started. All the cast of characters were there: Pooh, Tigger, Roo, Kanga, Owl, Christopher Robin, Rabbit and my favorite, Piglet. Oh, and Eeyore, how can I forget him? Sorry, Eeyore.

Now there was nothing spectacular with the story or the art but it was a pure Winnie the Pooh tale. It was perfect. The lovable bear just wanted to find some honey while he and his friends got into some misunderstanding/adventure in the 100 acre wood. I was grinning ear-to-ear from beginning to end.

The band of friends showed that no one had to do something wrong to another to tell an interesting story. They worked together to help a friend and in the most sincere way. All anyone wanted to do was be a friend. So simple but so powerful. This is a tale I want my children to witness time and time again.

This was a musical - of sorts with some quirky but toe-tapping tunes only Disney can compose. But what got me grinning was that I felt like a kid again. You could see the hand-drawn animation with no one trying to convince me to wear 3D glasses or sit in the larger IMAX screen just so the studios could make a few extra.

To me, this may have been someone's idea that simple is good and nostalgia is what sells because nothing beats harking back to the days when you skinned your knee and a mother's kiss fixes it all. There is nothing wrong with that. Not one thing.

Grab your kids, grand-kids or even a date. This is a sweet movie that delivers and will shake those blues that hover over you.

My favorite thing: Piglet. Oh, and Tigger, too.

My least favorite thing: That is wasn't longer but I am not sure my cheeks could have handled smiling for more.

Rating: G
Length: 69 minutes

Review: 9 out of 10

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Soundtrack: Rushmore

Now we are talkin'. I just looked up on what's next on the top 100 Soundtrack list and coming in at #84 is one of my all time favorite movies and soundtracks: Rushmore (1998). (Entertainment Weekly's list)

This was the second movie for Wes Anderson and probably my favorite of all of his movies. (Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou are some of his other films.)

This stars Jason Shwartzman and Bill Murray, in one of his most brilliant dramatic/comedic roles to date, and Olivia Williams. This is a quirky, charming and extraordinary tale of a young school boy too brilliant for his age - and that gets him into all sorts of trouble.

The music was filled with classic rock gems from the 1960's from bands like Cat Stevens, The Who, The Faces and The Kinks. I own the album and the movie, of course! I recommend both. There really isn't much more that I can say except that I adore this film and the soundtrack and it so deserves to be on this list.

Rushmore (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) - Various Artists

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Deposition

Directed (produced and written) by Edward Mensore, Emphatic Films, 2011. Starring Charles Rashard, Rachel Forbes and Nate Prestidge.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery

Question: What causes some people to go crazy? What about being accused of killing someone you loved but you can't remember? Yep, that would do it for me. This is what is at the heart of the latest indie movie I just screened: The Deposition.

I am still contemplating this story. The filmmaker sent me his first movie to review last week. (This film is not currently in the theaters but making the festival scene across the country here in the US.) I finally watched it today and I will say that as a first film by Edward Mensore this one is pretty good. It captured my attention rather quickly especially with the opening scene.

The story is basically about a man, Adam Long, who is accused of killing his former lover in a car accident. However, he can't remember and he soon goes mad. He wants to remember desperately because he loved her so much but the constant racial remarks and threats pushes him over the edge. You see, Adam Long, is the only black man in an all white rural town somewhere in West Virginia. His only reason for staying in the town was because he loved Jill but now that she is dead everyone in the town doesn't hold back their prejudices.

One thing that can make my blood boil is the ignorance that causes racism. Sorry to be so blunt. So that story-line pulled me right in and got my emotions running. However, there is a flip-side to the story. As the movie progresses Adam is portrayed, in flashbacks, as someone with a violent temper and that is why he and his girlfriend were no longer together. So, then I was conflicted. Can I feel sympathy for a character that is a violent man? Usually the answer is emphatically: NO! This movie intrigued me.

Since this is a mystery I won't say much more about the details but I will comment on the parts I really liked. First, the score was great. All the songs really had a way of pulling you further into the emotions of the scenes. I will probably hunt down the soundtrack after this is all said and done. It's that good!

Visually I thought the film was stunning. Movies are such a visual medium and when telling a story that doesn't use a lot of dialogue like The Deposition did, it is another way to help the audience live vicariously through the storytelling. I particularly liked one slow-motion scene of the car crash and some of the sequences where you think he truly has gone crazy. It really makes you think.

When I got more into the story the more I was drawn in. I really wanted to know if he was going crazy or what was going to happen next. There are a couple of scenes that were hard to watch for me, but I have said it before in other reviews violence can be difficult to witness especially when it has anything to do with racism. Sometimes it is necessary to the story. However, there was one pinnacle scene where I nearly had my hands over my eyes - this was pure hatred and someone who was fed up and couldn't control his anger anymore. I felt a little weak in the stomach then.

Regarding the story, yes, it kept me interested and, at parts, intrigued. Again, for a first time film-maker I was impressed. However, there were a couple of odd twists and turns that sort of lost me but over all the storytelling was good. The only part that perhaps wasn't the best was some of the acting - particularly by some of the side characters but it was so minimal it didn't really affect the over all film.

I hope Hollywood gets a chance to see this one during some of the film festivals this year. Edward Mensore might just be onto something.

My favorite thing: It's really a toss up between the music and the cinematography.

My least favorite: thing: Some of the acting.

Rating: R
Length: 85 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I like Killing Flies

Documentary time: I Like Killing Flies.

If you don't care for a restaurant owner who curses at you, questions why you didn't like his food (by sometimes eating what you did not) or tells you CANNOT seat more than 4 people, and if you try you will get thrown out - FOR LIFE, you might not want to watch the documentary: I Like Killing Flies. But if you are like me, someone who likes curmudgeons, really good food and a unique atmosphere - then watch the documentary as soon as possible!

Now I don't review documentaries like I do the fictional movies so I am not going to give this any rating except to say after watching this one I wanted to book a flight to New York City ASAP!!

This is about Kenny Shopsin and family and their New York eatery. It has been there for years and by the looks of it not cleaned a lot over those years. But I didn't mind that. It was the philosophy of Kenny Shopsin, cook and owner, that had me totally fascinated. He has his own unique way of how he sees life, how a restaurant should be run and if you don't agree him then you can GO F#%* YOURSELF! Really, that is how he talks to his customers. I had a huge smile on my face the entire time and after watching this film you will probably see what I saw: A man dedicated to the best meal he can cook for you. Nothing else matters!

Now you are thinking how can he get away with being so rude to customers? Well, one reason: THE FOOD! I will admit I have not eaten there and after watching I really, really want to (and I will abide by all his rules - trust me) but we got his cookbook and followed a few of his techniques. He's a genius! Plus, in his crass way he is usually right. No, I wouldn't want to be yelled at by him but I really want to go and see how great this food really is in real life.

I thoroughly enjoyed his philosophies throughout the documentary. It really made me think. But there were a few in his cookbook which we bought right after seeing the film: Eat Me: The Food Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin - that had me howling with laughter.

There is one in particular that I so enjoyed: On Not Allowing Special Requests. Here is a segment from his cookbook:  "Some people tell me that they're deathly allergic to something and that I have to make sure it's not in their food. I kick them out. I don't want to be responsible for anyone's life-or-death situation. I tell them they should go eat at a hospital."

You also have to see his menu - there is a copy of it in the cookbook and they show it in the documentary. It is truly an amazing menu. Trust me!

Here is a clip from I like Killing Flies (and yes, there is some use of profanity) that made me want to watch this immediately. I loved this documentary....anyone want to meet me at Shopsins?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Directed by David Yates, Warner Bros., 2011. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

Question: Any Harry Potter fans out there? I know dumb question but I have to start with something. I just got back from the final installment in J.K. Rowling's magical tale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and it far exceeded my expectations. Well done!

About twelve years ago I started reading the Harry Potter books and found them fascinating, entertaining and wildly imaginative. It was a world that I so wanted to visit again and again. Ten years ago the first of eight movies was in the theater. I was blown away with the leap from book to silver screen. The first movie captured everything and more from the casting, special effects and the telling of the story of the boy who lived.

The next six movies all did a fantastic job translating the tale but usually with a lot of details removed. That didn't ruin any of the movies but I was happy to know the deeper meaning of each film; and since this series of books landed on the best sellers lists again and again I knew I wasn't the only one privy to the extra information.

If I had reviewed the first seven movies they probably would have averaged 8 out of 10 for me. Each one helping us delve deeper into the wizardly world of Harry Potter. Every character, spell or creature compelled us to follow the path to the next movie (book). So today when my son and I went to see the final chapter I was a little sad to see it come to an end. However, let me say, they saved the best for last! WOW!!

I am not going to go into much detail like my other reviews, but I have to say that the final movie captured what I deeply adored about this tale: That love is the greatest power and what gives you the courage to face your fears. Many might not realize that this is what Harry Potter is about - they might think this is about good vs. evil, or learning to find your potential or just really cool magic. And, yes, those are a part of this wonderfully bewitching story but I always saw something more.

To me Harry Potter was always about something greater: Love. The love of a friend, the love of a family member and even a love from a far allows everyone to find the courage to live even when faced with the what looks like insurmountable odds. And with that kind of love sacrifice is an easy choice to insure this world is a better place.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 finally revealed many things that were never answered or answered differently in the previous films. The storytelling was perfect. I remember when I finished the book I lingered there realizing I just finished one of the best messages I had ever read, and the same thing happened when I finished this movie. In fact, I started this review not twenty minutes after it ended. I couldn't write it down quickly enough.

Now I don't think you should see this movie if you hadn't seen all the earlier movies. Sure you can skip reading the series but I ask: why would you? (My son is reading the books now and halfway through the movie he whispered to me "Mom, this is a 10 out of 10!" I smiled thinking the same thing.) Harry and the gang gave us a thrill ride and I want to thank them for a great time.

The special effects were spectacular, the acting was spot-on and the emotions it evoked brought tears to my eyes, several grins and even a huge chuckle but finally a cathartic sigh. It was a relief to know that the filmmakers took the time, respect and care to tell us this perfect tale - a tale of love. That is the greatest magic of them all, don't you agree?

My favorite thing: One character, who will remain nameless now, whose sacrifice was heartbreaking for me but probably one of the greatest form of love I saw on film.

My least favorite thing: not one thing!

Rating: PG-13
Length: 130 minutes

Review: 10 out of 10

Monday, July 18, 2011

Charlie St. Cloud

Directed by Burr Steers, Universal Pictures, 2010. Starring Zac Efron, Kim Basinger, Charlie Tahan and Ray Liotta.

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Drama

Question: How many child stars grow up and prove they are actually legitimate actors? There are a handful of names that pops to mind: Jodie Foster, Shia LaBeouf, and Kurt Russell. But I might need to add one to that list now: Zac Efron. Yes, I am serious.

This past weekend I watched Charlie St. Cloud - actually for the second time. I saw it last summer when it was in the theaters but I wasn't reviewing movies back then. Well, at least I wasn't writing down my reviews. I enjoyed the movie then and found it just as quaint this weekend mainly because of Zac Efron and his performance.

Now I was introduced to the singing, dancing actor through a not-so-thrilling venue (well, not thrilling for moi): High School Musical. My daughter was obsessed with this movie when she was five (now nine) so I listened to that movie and the songs over and over and over again. Zac Efron was the star of that movie and my daughter thought he was sooooo cute. Hey, I had some celebrity crushes too that my mother didn't quite understand.

Fast forward four years and Zac Efron is all grown up and starring in Charlie St. Cloud.

The movie starts out with him and his little brother in a sailing race. We soon find out that their family doesn't have the means to really support his sailing dreams but luckily he had received a sailing scholarship to go to college. But even though he has only a summer left before college Charlie likes spending time with his little brother: teaching him the fundamentals of baseball and sharing his older brotherly advice. He and his brother are very close even though they are six years a part. Now where the story goes from here should remain a mystery if you have not seen it yet.

The story takes a sudden and heartbreaking turn that had me in tears (again). There is an unbreakable bond between these two brothers, Charlie (Zac Efron) and Sam (Charlie Tahan). Charlies ends up living with certain consequences that forces him on a different path. But he remains loyal to his little brother.

What surprised me most about this film was the main actor. He really had to portray some powerful emotions and he did that quite well. There are many close-up shots of the blue-eyed young adult that will have all the young girls swoon. Except my daughter: she came in during the movie. She asked if that was Zac. I nodded. She replied "He so old now" and she walked away. Guess you could say she is over that crush.

Anyway, I will say it again. This is a quaint movie with a sweet tale about brotherly love that may be worth your time. I believe Zac Efron will go on to do some pretty wonderful performances in the future.

My favorite thing: I have to say it: Zac Efron.

My least favorite thing: They did try a little too hard to push the boundaries of a believable story.

Random thought:  This isn't my only review of one of Zac Efron's performances: Me and Orson Wells.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 99 minutes

Review: 5 out of 10

Friday, July 15, 2011

Soundtrack: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

Coming in at #85 (EW's) is Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, 1983. The movie stars David Bowie, Tom Conti and Ryuichi Sakamoto. I have a vague recollection of this movie. As it is set during WWII  I am pretty sure my father watched it so that means I probably watched it. And from what I read about this movie - David Bowie did some pretty powerful acting. Now I am really curious.

I tried finding some songs or the entire soundtrack but had difficulty locating it. I did catch a glimpse of one instrumental songs and it was beautiful - haunting almost. However, I couldn't find anymore.

Now I must go phone my father to see if he heard of this and get his thoughts.

Have a good weekend, everyone!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Milestone on Tired of Previews

My blog reached a milestone today: 10,000 pages views. Looking forward to sharing more of my thoughts on movies with you all. 

Thank you everyone!!

Preview: Contagion

I just watched this preview and had to share...Contagion. It looks familiar to other films I have seen about this subject matter, but when I saw who directed and who stars in it I quickly became more interested. Also, I keep seeing this sentence: "A thriller that totally kills Gwyenth Paltrow!"

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (and produced)
Casts includes: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Brian Cranston, Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne.

But if you want to skip the preview - since I am always going on about how much they show - feel free. They did show a bit much but I will see this one anyway -although I might be a little scared...

Monthly Wrap-Up June 2011

Already half way through July so it must be time again for the Monthly Wrap-Up. I know I have reviewed less movies each month but I am trying to review current movies for you folks. I hope you have liked them and that I have helped encourage you to go down to your local movie theater and catch one of these films.

Kung Fu Panda 2  8 out of 10
X-Men: First Class 8 out of 10
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: 4 out of 10
Super 8 - 9 out of 10
Midnight in Paris - 10 out of 10
Green Lantern - 4 out of 10
A Perfect Getaway - 6 out of 10
Mr. Popper's Penguins - 6 out of 10

Don't forget to check out the Soundtracks that are listed this month. Some are pretty good. Also, I did post a few trailers - ones where I don't think they told too much or they are just movies I am excited to see. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Horrible Bosses

Directed by Seth Gordon, New Line Cinema, 2011. Starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Andy Sudeiskis, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell.

Genre: Comedy

Question: Who here has had a horrible boss? Yep, pretty much everyone. I had one or two - that's for sure. But now I am my own boss and I am lovin' life. Anyway, how many of you ever considered killing your boss just so you didn't have to deal with their crap anymore? Well, that's what Horrible Bosses explores but in one of the most hilarious movie I have seen in a long time! (And, yes, I don't recommend anyone actually consider killing their employer - just putting that one out there, okay?)

This stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Andy Sudeikis as three friends with the world's worst bosses. They are played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell. I may have never seen worse employers - ever. But, boy, was it funny to witness.

Jason Bateman, who is the most serious of all disgruntled employees, had the pleasure of sucking up to Kevin Spacey in hopes of getting a promotion. I am still undecided if he was the worst of the three right now. However, he may have been my favorite to watch. Kevin Spacey can play the best jerks (wish to say an expletive here but not sure if youngsters read my blog) so it was easy to enjoy that performance.

Charlie Day, who I must admit I don't really know his work all that well and he reminds me a bit of Bobcat Goldthwait, plays a dental hygienist with the horniest boss on the planet. The dentist is played BRILLIANTLY by Jennifer Aniston. This may be her best role yet. Now this movie is rated R and besides a lot of profanity I think it was for her performance that helped garner that rating. Yes, every male will probably enjoy this one and that's all I am going to say about that!

Andy Sudeiskis, who I believe is an SNL regular, had probably the worst boss - a balding, comb-over, drug-taking scumbag  played rather so-so by Colin Farrell. I usually like Colin Farrell and he could have had a lot to fun with this particular character but somehow it sort of fell short for me.

Now as you know I am not going to reveal the entire plot. But if you have seen the previews you know what the premise is; and I will say that it goes off in a different direction than I was expecting. I laughed out loud A LOT - said "Oh my god!" more than I can count and even had to cover my eyes a few times for fear of being sick in the theater. That wouldn't have made for good movie watching after that.

I recommend Horrible Bosses especially for a good laugh. It is definitely not one for the kids and if you are easily offended - skip it. However, if you desire to watch this film - be prepared to giggle, be a little shocked and what ever you do - don't leave during the credits. I believe I laughed harder during those than the entire movie.

My favorite thing: Kevin Spacey - he really does play that "type" very, very well!

My least favorite thing: Let's just say it involves toiletries and leave it at that. OK!

Rating: R
Length: 100 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Directed (and written) by Mike Mills. Focus Features, 2010. Staring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent.

Genre: Comedy, Drama.

Question: Do you think you became who you are because of the way your parents purposely raised you? Sure - it is natural to think that. But after watching Beginners today I now think it is also our observation of our parents as a couple that can also have a profound effect - both good and bad.

You can have a wonderful childhood. Your parents love you, take care of you, and fulfill your basic needs. But what happens when they don't really love each other? A child watching two parents who tolerate - not hate - and just merely exist in the same household can alter a person's path - irrecoverably.  That is the premise of Beginners. It isn't pretty but it is real. Perhaps too real for some.

Beginners is probably not for everyone. I, however, enjoyed it very much. It is slow, quiet and sad but filled with a glimmer of hope for better times to come. The story takes a look at some of the not-so-great emotions we humans endure in order to find the good in life. Many might not want to go through the emotional roller coaster that this movie takes but I recommend it anyway.

The film is about a young man (Ewan McGregor) whose father (Christopher Plummer) passes away and we meet him a couple of months after. He is going through the depression phase of loosing a parent but it goes deeper than that. He also lost his mother several years prior and after that his father announces, at the age of 75, that he is gay and out. Now I am not spoiling the movie for you with this information because it is all said within the first five minutes. This movie is about a journey that the young man takes and how he comes out on the other end.

The movie follows a convoluted path with some in the present not too soon after his father's death and with flashbacks of his father's life as an out and about gay man. In addition we see some childhood memories of him and his mother.  As a young boy he witnessed his parents and their relationship or lack thereof. It effects him so much that he has difficulty with other relationships. However, he becomes a compassionate person despite the unconventional upbringing.

There are also some odd storytelling quirks thrown in that I rather enjoyed. This is definitely an independent film that doesn't follow much of the Hollywood standards.

I sat there totally drawn in - watching a person at a vulnerable state in their life while still having compassion was intriguing. The cinema, for me, is not just about escaping your reality to witness someone gain some inexplicable power or watch two people falling in love despite the obstacles set in front of them. It is about exploring human nature and what all that means. We are flawed, we are illogical and we can't help who we love. We cannot control any of those things and why should we? Beginners was brave enough to discuss these points. Bravo!

Ewan McGregor was perfect in this role. No, I am not saying that just because he is my all time favorite actor. He is a great actor and he had to show a lot of restraint mixed with deep feeling sometimes with just his eyes. I felt his pain, joy, and his sadness. Sorry, but when he teared up - so did I. Christopher Plummer was also fantastic. Watching a man finally live his life the way he always wanted after denying who he truly was for 50+ years was magical. Plus, the father/son relationship was a dear thing to witness.

Beginners explores a part of human nature that is sometimes hard to watch or understand. But I think we, as moviegoers, need that type of escape if only to allow us to reflect on our own lives once in a while. I will admit it was heartbreaking to watch the relationships end. However, when one thing ends something always begins.

My favorite thing: Ewan McGregor, of course!

My least favorite thing: It was a little slow and think that will turn many people away from seeing this film.

Rating: R
Length: 105 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

Monday, July 11, 2011

Soundtrack: This is Spinal Tap

Back on the top 100 Soundtrack list (Entertainment Weekly). And the next one is great. This is Spinal Tap comes at #86.

Now if you haven't seen this movie - I am so sorry. This may be one of the funniest movies I have seen in my life - ever! It took me a long time to watch it because I was too young when it came out in 1984. For a decade I had heard many of the jokes so I was reluctant to see it but finally succumbed to the peer pressure one weekend. What a treat!! I found This is Spinal Tap to be a genius approach to creating a story and hilarious - especially since I went through, albeit brief, heavy metal stage in my youth. Just thinking about it now cracks me up.

Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer - all wrote the music, script and starred as the main characters. Directed by Rob Reiner.

Now when it comes to the music of this film - I am not sure I would call it great but it is funny as heck. Just check out some of the names of the songs. "Stonehenge" (may be one of my favorite scenes), "Big Bottom", "Sex Farm" and "Tonight I'm Gonna to Rock You Tonight". (No, that is not a typo)

I hope this inspires you to see this movie for the first time or for your tenth. Enjoy!

COMING SOON: Beginners

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Movie App

Had to share this link.

A movie app for your smart phone or tablet that, I believe, is in development - this is so cool. It is how I already look at the world but now you can too, hopefully soon.

Movie App - Augmented Reality Cinema

Another Earth - Preview

Here is another preview I saw before Beginners this week. I am not quite sure what it is truly about but it was  completely intriguing... I am not tired of this preview! Another Earth

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Guest Posting

Hello all.

Earlier this week I was a guest host on my friend's blog: The Average Girl's Guide. Please take the time to check out her site. It is filled with loads of information on there to help you live your best life.

The Average Girl's Guide.


Friday, July 8, 2011

The Guard - Preview

I went and saw Beginners - Ewan McGregor's latest movie yesterday and I will say I do like the previews before an independent film. There were three and they all looked great but this one stood out: The Guard. Love Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheedle - and look, Mark Strong is in it and I wonder if he plays another bad guy.

A thriller and a comedy - I am so watching this!

My review on Beginners will be out Tuesday. Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Directed by Michael Bay, Paramount Pictures, 2011. Starring Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Frances McDormand, et al.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi.

Question: Did your mom ever tell you she walked to school, uphill both ways, and in the snow when you complained about walking somewhere? I got very close to saying something like that when I told my kids I was taking them to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon but they complained when I told them we were going to walk to the movie theater. "Ugh. No! Mom, come on. Do we have to?" I kept silent for a moment - collected myself and simply said, "Yes."

I could have told them I really wanted see the newest Ewan McGregor movie instead but decided not to. What we do for our kids - oh, the sacrifice...OK, just kidding. I really wanted to see the latest installment of the Transformers series. Yes, I am movie geek! I will admit it - proudly. (But I am still going to see that other film!)

The first Transformers was fantastic; I would have given it a 9 out of 10 and have watched it many times since. The second one was so bad that I refuse to talk about it anymore. But I just had a feeling the third installment would work.

I was right. Transformers: Dark of the Moon got back to what made this franchise good - a story not just gimmicks. Now, the story isn't as well-rounded as the first but it worked for me. (Although my daughter said there wasn't really a point. My son's reply to that "Yes, there was - fighting robots are cool! And you didn't even see the first two!" Her rebuttal "Yes, I did. I still didn't see the point!" She rolls her eyes. I sit there observing, silently laughing inside because both are sort of right.)

Now before I go any further in this review I have to tell you that the movie is over 2 1/2 hours long and that doesn't include the 6 (yes, 6) previews we saw beforehand. So you will be sitting down for almost 3 hours. Stretch those legs.

The movie started out with history of the Autobots coming close to earth and how we, or a select few, knew of their existence from over 50 years ago. It was a plausible concept. Then it heads to the main character: Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) graduated from college, looking for a job and shacking up with another hot girl. Yes, this point always had me perplexed but his mother begs the question in the story on this little unexplained detail. It is one we may have all thought about on how this semi-nerdy guy with an Autobot for a car gets all these hot women. Let's just say you wouldn't want your mother to say it about you. I laughed out loud at that scene - and am so happy it went way over my children's head. Whew!

There is no need to say anymore about the plot because it is jammed packed with a ton of detail that you should see for yourself - especially if you are a fan of these movies.

Many sequels lose me when they show little restraint: too much action, too much of a character, too many attempts at humor. There is a fine line to using these tricks of the cinema and Transformers did it perfectly. The second did the opposite. Transformers: Dark of the Moon used many of the qualities that I liked, sparingly - to a point.

Shia LaBeouf was just as nerdy and spastic as ever with a slight roughness that makes his character very likable. Josh Duhamel is back but not as powerful of a character as the first movie. Of course, we have John Turturro back and he may have jumped over the shark a few times but it was a good balance to the new character played by Frances McDormand.

Now I love her. She is in many Coen Brothers films. She is a character actor that can play anything but mostly strong but off-beat women. (Remember Fargo?) However, her character in this film missed what I usually adore about her (except at the very end).

There was a surprise character or two, which I will remain mum about. I will tell you that a huge smile emerged when I saw them though. I wasn't expecting these actors at all- and don't go IMDb it. Be surprised, people.

The list of others actors in here is too long to mention now but the other characters in Transformers: Dark of the Moon that made this movie worthwhile was the Autobots and Decepticons. Seriously, what geek doesn't love them?

There were some new additions to the changeable robots which I rather enjoyed.  I have to say there was a Scottish Autobot - so I got my Scottish fill even though it wasn't with Ewan McGregor - it will do. I couldn't understand a word it said but I liked the accent anyway. In fact, most other new Autobots sounded like they were British, but I read one review yesterday and they said there was a French Autobot. I didn't hear that accent. Oh well.

The main new Autobot, Sentinel, was voiced by a very famous actor. Trust me you should get the voice in the first 30 seconds. And if you don't - you cannot call yourself a true geek! That is all I am saying about that.

I am not sure if this movie is for everyone but I know teen boys everywhere will love it - especially the slow motion robot changes. That might have made the movie for me. Also, and I can't believe I am about to say this: go see it in 3D. Those annoying little glasses made the whole 2 1/2 hours totally engaging. But be prepared for a lot fighting scenes and cool robots changes - it fills up the last third of the movie. Remember I said this was 2 1/2 hours long. I was simply exhausted by the end of it but my son wasn't. And we still had to walk home.

My favorite thing: Slow motion action scenes.

My least favorite thing: Perhaps a few too many characters trying to be funny.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 157 minutes

Review: 6 out of 10

Random thought: As we were sitting there through the previews I had my eyes focused on the ground, of course. I saw both my kids watching intently until the preview for the final Harry Potter came on. My son covered his eyes with his hands and held them there for the whole time. I asked him afterwards why he did that. His reply, "Mom, I really want to see that movie!" Makes a mama proud!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Soundtrack: Once

I know I have been listing the top 100 Soundtracks of all time from but the list was created a while back by Entertainment Weekly. There are so many more soundtracks that have come out over the last five years that I simply cannot go any longer without sharing some with you.

One of my all time favorite soundtracks: Once

First, the movie holds a special place in my heart. I wasn't expecting much from the small indie Irish film but after I watched it I knew it was going into my top 10 favorite movies of all time! I know I don't normally expose my favorites but I can't keep this one a secret any longer. This movie just makes me smile.

We rented it not knowing much about it but heard there was some decent music in it. That got my attention. After we hit play and sat there for less than a minute the camera slowly focuses on a street musician played by Glen Hansard. He is standing there with a beat-up guitar in some nondescript Dublin alleyway. Then he belts out the song: Say It to Me Now - Once (Music from the Motion Picture).

I was speechless. His voice, his intensity, his emotion provoked a strong but silent reaction in me. You know that feeling you get when you realize you are witnessing something truly special. I smiled - broadly but my chest muscles tightened and I almost started to cry. The emotions I felt were unexpected but I was hooked.

At that point I didn't know what the movie was about but was excited to see more music. Then the plot is exposed when a young women, played by Marketa Irglova, shows up to watch the street musician play. Now if you haven't seen the story I won't tell you anymore - obviously. This story is about a friendship although many argue that it is really a love story. Or vice-versa. I think it is about both.

Now my favorite song in Once has to be When Your Mind's Made Up - Once (Music from the Motion Picture) You cannot get more emotional than this song. Glen Hansard has this ability to take his voice to a certain intense level that commands attention!

I hope you check out the movie as well as the soundtrack. You won't be sorry.