Friday, September 28, 2012

Introduction to YouTube Movie Reviews

Hello everyone:

I've made a special video explaining some changes coming up for Tired of Previews. Take a gander. Enjoy!!

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Best Friend (Mon Meilleur Ami)


Question: What values determine a friendship – a good friendship? Companionship? Loyalty? Someone who is there to listen or give advice? There are numerous ways to describe friendship but what about a close one, a best friend - the rarest of all kinds of relationships? I suppose we all have our measuring techniques for that but, for me, when someone does something for you, to support you because they know it will make you happy and without wanting anything in return, that type of friend I hold in the highest regard.

I delved back into a foreign film this week with My Best Friend. It was a French film that was released in 2006. Luckily the more foreign films I see the easier it is to stay in tune with the story even though I have to read. Remember I am a slow reader.  If I skipped this film just because of the subtitles, like used to in the past, I would have missed out on a wonderful story.

It’s rare to see closeness among males in film – at least ones that aren’t about getting drunk, finding a girlfriend or over coming some stupid mistake and their “buddies” have to help them out of it. I know men may have the cliché that they are tough and don’t need to talk about their feelings or about their relationships; but we all have friendships that matter and those stories should be told. Men do have very meaningful friendships. And that is what I found in My Best Friend.

If you are concerned this is an overly sappy film, don't be. It is not. After reading what I wrote initially I want to ensure I didn’t turn anyone off with my introduction and thinking it might be a drama. My Best Friend is quite funny and will keep you smiling throughout.

Francois, played by Daniel Auteuil, is a man totally obsessed with his work so much so that he neglects the people in his life and isn’t always the most honest businessman. He is also self-centered and quick with a response without a filter. He is oblivious to his shortcomings until his business partner challenges, at a dinner party, to introduce his best friend within a short period of time. Challenge accepted and from that point on I was slightly reminded of “A Christmas Carol”. No, there aren’t any ghosts who come dragging chains in the middle of the night, but the main character has a mirror, so to speak, put in front of his face to see how he really is to people and why he is alone.

The humor of the film happens when he meets a taxi driver and their connection evolves. That’s it. No more details. Just rent it. I found this on Netflix but had to order the DVD as it wasn’t on the Instant Play.

My favorite thing: Well, I did like Francois' occupation, an antiques-dealer. I used to work for an antiques-dealer back in the day.

My least favorite thing: That I don't know more French words. When I watch a Spanish film I can catch a lot of words that I understand to help me keep up better. 

Directed by Patrice Leconte, Fidelite Productions, IFC Films, 2006

Written by Patrice Leconte, Jerome Tonnerre, (story by Oliver Dazat)

Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Dany Boon, Julie Gayet.

Genre: Comedy

Rating: PG-13
Length: 90 minutes

Review: 8 out of 10


* Photo courtesy of IFC Films.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Griff the Invisible


Question: Do you ever feel invisible? You are standing there, existing in the world but no one seems to notice you or how special you are? I am positive a lot of you think this way but there is at least one person who gets you and when that happens – all is right in your world.

An Australian film I just watched on Netflix, Griff the Invisible, touched on this subject. The movie stars Ryan Kwanten also known as Jason Stackhouse from TrueBlood speaking in his native Australian accent and playing a very different type of character. Anyway, he plays Griff, an introverted, awkward fellow who sees the world differently but who also lives in the world where no one really sees the true him. Um, not sure if I am describing it right…. The whole point of the film is that we all have our own perspectives on things but there are those rare few that no one understands and they become obsolete or unnoticeable to most.

Bottom line, Griff thinks he is a superhero put here to protect the innocent which in turn makes him want to hide from others so no one figures out his secret (mission). Okay, that’s enough detail of the story. Let’s talk overall picture.

Well, Griff the Invisible started off intriguing and with me wanting to know more about each character, specifically Griff. Ryan Kwanten was quite adorable as the awkward, unassuming chap who just wanted to do good deeds. He pulled off the innocence and detachment from the real world in a very convincing way. It was a big departure from his role on True Blood – the overly cocky yet not so smart character.

Another element that stood out in Griff the Invisible was the cinematography/art direction. There were not a lot of special effects in this film but just enough to keep the story on the fantastical side. Also, the use of a certain shade of yellow was splattered throughout the film. It caught my eye as I enjoy color theory and know that yellow is an intense color to grab people’s attention which is the opposite of what Griff wanted. It made me curious especially when the love interest wore the other two primary colors. 

Besides Ryan Kawnten and the visuals of the film, I finished the film with an unsatisfactory energy even though the ending made me smile. It started about halfway through the film, the story dulled and I found myself not really interested in the characters as much as I was in the beginning of the film. However, it was worth the viewing.

Directed & written by Leon Ford, Green Park Pictures, 2010.

Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Maeve Dermody, and Marshall Napier.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance.

My favorite thing: One character (Melody) had some great lines in it. Some made me giggle.

My least favorite thing: That the story wasn’t well-rounded, I suppose.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 90 minutes

Review: 5 out of 10

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Preview: The Paperboy

Happy Sunday, everyone. Did my normal pass through around the internet looking for something to put on my never ending of "Must See" list. Found one: The Paperboy.

Based on the novel by Peter Dexter and directed by Precious' director, Lee Daniels.

The film stars Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, Macy Gray and John Cusack.




Due for release in October 2012.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Writing Contest on Expats Post

Expats Post

Expats Media is excited to announce our first writing contest. Have you ever interviewed anyone in the past for an article? Now is the time to apply your skills as a journalist. Expats Media will be rewarding $50 for the best interview posted at Expats Post during the month of September. Who should you interview? Interview another writer or poet. Interview an Expats Member or contributor. Interview an activist, businessperson, church leader, local politician, parent, child, neighbor, or anyone else that interests or inspires you.

Two great examples of recent interviews at Expats Post would be Katy Kern's interview with filmmaker David P. Baker and Garry Crystal's interview with Julian Gallo.

Mohammad Zindaki, Katy Kern, and Dean Walker will judge the contest. We will base our decision on the quality of the questions and overall writing, not on the amount of unique page views you receive. Whether you are new to the site or an Expats Member, everyone that publishes an interview on Expats Post in the month of September has a chance to win. Winner will be announced by October 7th, 2012.

If you are not currently contributing to Expats Post, now is the time to register and start posting.
Good luck to everyone,

Expats Media

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Words


Question: Have you ever plagiarized someone else’s work? What would make anyone do that especially if they wanted to be a writer? Beats me but The Words tried answering that question. Unfortunately, even after seeing the movie I don’t think they made their point very well.

I saw an advanced screening of The Words and I was really looking forward to it, for a couple of reasons. First, Bradley Cooper was starring in it. No, it’s not just because he is attractive (okay, those eyes get me). Honestly, I have been following his career since his appearance on the television show Alias. Since then he’s played a variety of characters from lovable best friend to out-right ass. I’ve seen a lot of his films and even reviewed a couple of his more recent ones, The Hangover Part II and Limitless, and he’s proved to me he can act.

Second, I do like a story about writing but there does seem to be a ton of films about writers, right? Well, writers are the ones who get a film started – they write the screenplay! Anyway, it’s a topic that I find fascinating because I write nearly every day and some days I struggle to get a single word on the page (screen). Most writers can empathize with characters who struggle with their talents. It’s sort of in our nature because we have read so many great writers – who probably inspired us to start writing in the first place. But when it comes to liking your own words us writers tend to be our own worst critics. Nonetheless, rejection from the publication world can take out any shred of self-esteem you possess  We’ve all been there.

The Words shows a young writer, Rory Jensen (Bradley Cooper), and how he can’t seem to get his first novel published. But he is determined, as many young novelists are and finds a job within a publishing house. A few years pass and he stumbles upon an old manuscript. His choices after that are at the heart of the film. However, the explanation and storytelling (which there are actually three stories in one) is where it fell flat and didn’t convince of why certain characters acted the way they did. Overall the story felt pushed and predictable. I really started to get bored about halfway through. 

The most disappointing part of the movie was Jeremy Irons. Usually his acting seems flawless and effortless. In The Words, however, it appeared disingenuous.  In fact, by about a third of the way through the film I felt the whole story was disingenuous. Bradley Cooper was probably the only actor who I felt did a decent job in his role. Other than that this film lost me; and I saw no real point to most of the character’s choices or sometimes even their reason for being in the film. Oh well, hope the next film is better.

My favorite part: Yeah, yeah, it's Bradley Cooper. Although there were some nice set designs/architecture that caught my fancy.

My least favorite part: I know I mentioned not caring for Jeremy Irons but I understood why his character was in the film. However, Olivia Wilde’s character left me scratching my head.

Directed by Brian Klugman & Lee Sternthal, Animus Films, 2012

Written by Brian Klugman & Lee Sternthal

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons, Olivia Wilde and Dennis Quaid.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Rating: PG-13
Length: 96 minutes

Review: 3 out of 10


*Photo Courtesy of CBS films

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Here



Question: When was the last time you looked through the view finder of a camera and had to physically focus the lens? Depending on the type of lens (wide-angle, telephoto, fixed, marco or fish-eye) focusing on something can take some work, dedication. It could be the smallest detail or the expanse of sunset over the mountains and bringing it into focus is up for interpretation. The type of person who is looking through the lens and what they really want to view can affect what is seen. We all see things differently; interpret the world through our own lenses.

We go through this world [alone] observing, learning and deciphering what we see to make it fit into our viewpoints. However, there are moments in our lives when paths cross and we begin to see the world from a different perspective. Those are the moments truly worth living for because experiencing life with a different mindset is scary and exhilarating all at the same time.  That is living!

I just finished watching a film on Netflix: Here. The film stars Ben Foster and Lubna Azabal with narration by Peter Coyote. The two main characters represent how people see and live in the world oppositely from the other. Ben Foster is a cartographer; his livelihood depends on precision and measurement – an exact science to viewing the world. While Lubna Azabal plays an art photographer who looks through a lens to see beauty of vastness uncertainty. She can still see a detail but is always just a part of something grander.

The story tells the time when these two meet in Armenia. He is American and she is an expatriate from Armenia. The film is catagorized as a romance and drama but to me the story was a slice of life when two strangers meet and experience life together.  There isn’t a lot to tell about the story in Here and I wouldn’t talk about it anyway. However, there are suggestions, hints or it could just be my over-active imagination always seeking for nuances in film. It kept me engaged despite being a relatively slow paced story. I don’t particularly like saying “slow paced” because I fear that might turn some off. Don’t worry, Here is worth watching/experiencing.

The acting by the two leads was authentic to the core. It never felt rehearsed or improvised with the actors being told – “act this way, or pretend that…” Ben Foster portrayed a quiet fellow with something hidden that I wanted to figure out. Lubna Azabal also intrigued me with her ambiguity. Did I ever find out? Not going to say as you should find out for yourselves. Nonetheless, Here displayed two opposing viewpoints of the world and how they comingle for a brief time. Precision vs. indefinite; Science vs. art; Control vs. freedom.

One thing I will mention about the film: there are stunning views of Armenia. I am not very familiar with that particular country and it was a pleasure to view the countryside, cities and one specific area that I want to go to someday. It was breathtaking. And the score was perfectly juxtaposed with the softness and subtly of the story. Lovely.

My favorite thing: One specific speech that Ben Foster gives. And the narration between the acts gave even more depth to the story of the two opposing modes of thought. Brilliant. Oh, there is one more thing - at the very end - a gift left for her.

My least favorite thing: Someone got sick and I have a weak stomach – just can’t handle that.

Directed by Braden King, Truckstop Media, 2011

Written by Lars Kundsen & Braden King.


Genre: Adventure, Drama, Romance

Rating: NR
Length: 126 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10


*Photo courtesy of Strand Releasing

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Preview: Seven Psychopaths

Oh, I really hope this is good. It has huge potential by the preview. But as always a few too many jokes and lines are shown so watch as little as possible.

Seven PsychopathsStarring Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson and Tom Waits.

Written and Directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges)

Release date: October 12, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Preview: Sightseers

I really want to see this one. SightseersFrom executive producer Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Grindhouse) and directed by Ben Wheatley (Kill List).

My recommendation is to watch only a portion of the preview as I feel it showed too much but this is on my list to see.

Sightseers is listed as a comedy but definitely on the darker side.



Release date for UK - November, 2012. Not sure when it will be released in the US

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reboot


Question: What electronic devices are sitting right next to you that can connect you to the web? With what device are you reading this review? Your Laptop? Phone? Tablet?

We are so “connected” today that no matter what we need, desire or want we simply run to the web to buy, search for, transact, etc… It is now ingrained in our daily lives: online banking, email messages, research (or better known as Google), texts to friends, power point presentations for work or school and so on that is hard to think how we lived before all this technology.

Recently, I saw an app (with a smart meter installed in your home) that you gives you the ability to turn on/off your lights, set the thermostat and control your sprinkler system all from your phone. WOW! It is really endless how much time we spend on computers now or phones controlling our lives somehow.

In fact, if you are near others right now, take a look around and just observe how many are on their phones, not necessarily talking but looking at something. It’s a lot, isn’t it?

Now try to imagine your world without access to the internet or these devices that are supposedly simplifying our lives. Would it be like taking away an addiction? For some, it is absolutely yes. For most, well, I still think yes. I know it would be hard for me to give up my laptop and smart phone. I use it for work nearly every day: watching films, writing my reviews, discussing movies with filmmakers or other movie enthusiasts from around the world.

Do you think there are some out there that want to shut the whole thing down? Why would they want it all disconnected? Beats me, but that is exactly what a short film I watched this week discusses. Reboot. Well, it doesn’t actually discuss it but took on a story about a few professional hackers with one waking up with a cell phone glued to her hand displaying a countdown on the phone and….nope. That’s it. No more detail as this was a thriller and one I am recommending seeing, if you get a chance.

However, I will say that after watching this film I immediately wanted to disconnect from the internet and live in the real world for sometime. Was it to test a theory or something different? Not telling but movies do influence me' and Reboot made me really think about what I rely on day in and day out.

A while back I posted the preview on here and then was able to watch it. It is currently traveling festivals and not available to view but is expected out later this year. It made its World Premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, Quebec on July 23rd; and it was also shown at DEFCON20 in Las Vegas in July.  For future screenings go to their website: Reboot.


Directed and written by Joe Kawasaki, Rosa Productions, 2012

Starring: Emily Somers, Martin Copping, Charlies Weirauch and Janna Bossier.

I don't have a favorite or least favorite thing to add except to say: I wish this will be made into a full length feature. Think they are onto something with this story.

Rating: Unknown
Length: 35 minutes approximately

Review: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Perfect Sense


Question: Do you remember when you were a kid and you constantly asked people “what if” questions? My kids do it all the time. So much so it drives me nuts some days. “What if the sky was green? What if we had a cat instead of a dog? What if I had an extra arm?” etc... I also recall when I was younger and being asked what if I had to choose to lose one of my senses which one would I select? I always had difficulty with that one. Losing my sight or hearing were an automatic no, but what about taste, smell or the ability to feel? Oh, I struggled with giving an answer. They all have importance to me and the way I live my life. Which one would you choose?

I ask these questions because I watched Perfect Sense recently and the plot was about this exact topic. In typical form I don’t want to give the plot away so I will try and just give you some details that I really enjoyed about this film. Yes, I will skip over the fact that Ewan McGregor stars in this, but I do have to say he was quite good in this one.

First, Perfect Sense told on a very unique “what if” story but took it to an extreme. Imagine losing one of your senses. How would you cope? What other senses would heighten or adjust? How would it affect your job? So many questions get asked in this film it was sometimes hard to keep up with what I would do. So, I just let the story take me away and I let the filmmaker prove their vision for specific outcomes. And both lead characters, Ewan McGregor and Eva Green, did a fantastic job showing how different types of people react to losing a sense. I'd say more about the specifics of the characters but it is best you just find out for yourselves how they meet, connect and deal with their issues.

Second, then the plot added in a romance that became affected by the “what ifs”, and it makes you really think about how people, why people and what people do when they are in love and when something is subtracted from the equation. Brilliant! We all have been romantically involved with someone, and usually there are certain obstacles to get over, get around or avoid. But what if everyone had the same obstacles? A level playing ground, so to speak. The film delves into this and I was completely mesmerized by the progression of certain relationships. 

Lastly, by the end of the film, and I cannot say as to why or I will give too many details away, I was smiling when I hadn't really throughout the majority of the film. Not just at what was happening in the film but how the filmmakers communicated the finale. It gave me goose bumps and it really brought me even more into the story, if that was possible. I totally lose myself when I watch a film but the experience I had with Perfect Sense brought me in so much deeper. Well done!

And on that note: I am going to let my children ask me as many “what if” questions as they want because I know believe they are the impetus to good storytelling. You'll never know where asking certain questions will lead.

Directed by David McKenzie, BBC Films, 2011.

Written by Kim Fupz Aakeson

Genre: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi. 


My favorite part: Well, Ewan McGregor, of course but honestly I loved how the film ended.

My least favorite part: A scene with people eating – that is all I will say about that.

Rating: R
Length: 92 minutes

Review: 8 out of 10


*photo courtesy of IFC Films.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Preview: The Impossible

Hello movie fans. I am slowly starting to come back. Been gone too long but had a big move to make and I am finally settling in. In fact, I was able to watch a film today. YES!! A FANTASTIC one, and I can't wait to tell you all about it, but I have to write it first.

Anyway, I thought I would whet your appetite with a new trailer. Yes, it is for an Ewan McGregor film. What else? I just watched the trailer and was instantly intrigued especially with what the subject matter was about.-

Take a gander. The Impossible starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor coming out December 21st, 2012.

Look for my latest review soon...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Where Films Are Heading...

Hello movie fans:

I apologize for my absence of late. Currently I am moving and still up to my nose in boxes, unpacking. However, I wanted to share with you something that I found completely fascinating and exciting that is happening in the film industry now.

Recently, I've been discussing the future of filmmaking with some others in the industry. Long gone are the days where you need fancy, expensive equipment to make a movie. All you really need is a good idea and the ability to tell it well. Right? Yes!

So, when I heard about a new film called Olive and how it was made I knew I had to share it. Here is the trailer. Now I am not giving an opinion of the film as I have not seen it yet, but here is what I want to tell you: This ENTIRE movie was shot on a cell phone. Yes! It was shot on a Nokia N8 smart phone, to be exact.



Another interesting fact about this film: this was made independently without any corporation financing. That means no backing whatsoever from any major studio and it was released in 2000+ theatres. So, if you want to make a movie, you have an idea, grab your cell phone and just do it!

This movie was released late last year and it stars Gena Rowlands.

My reviews will be back up in about a week or so. Enjoy the trailer.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monthly Wrap-Up July 2012

Hello Movie Fans:

I apologize I haven't posted any new reviews lately. Currently, I am in the process of moving. Soon I will be back to the theatre, scanning my Netflix queue or popping in the latest screener I've received. But, in the meantime, here is the latest Monthly Wrap-Up to enjoy.

Reviews:
People Like Us
Puncture
Safety Not Guaranteed
The Amazing Spider-Man

Expats Post Reviews:
Moonrise Kingdom
Magic Mike

Previews:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Sessions
Compliance 
Screen

Extras:
Remember the past...Fame
Monthly Wrap-Up June 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Expats Post: Seeking a Friend For the End of the World


Hello movie fans:

I am just dropping by to let you know about my review of Seeking a Friend For the End of the World on Expats Post. The movie was out recently in theatres but didn't stay long. Not too long ago I even posted the preview on here. I rather enjoyed the film and you can find out why here :

Review: Seeking a Friend For the End of the World

Stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley.

Thanks!






*Photo courtesy of Focus Features.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Preview: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I don't know about everyone else, but if I saw a book entitled "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", I would have purchased it immediately. Perks? Really, there are perks to being a shy kid? You could have fooled me because I didn't encounter any when I was the one leaning against the cinder block wall of my school's gymnasium hoping no one would notice me. Or being petrified of being called on in class to answer in front of everyone. *Shivers* Yes, I was one of those awkward teenagers that just didn't seem to fit in with any crowd, so I kept to myself or hung out with a friend or two who also seemed to be a bit of an outcast.

Recently, I saw the preview for the film adaption for The Perks of Being a Wallflower starring Logan Lerman (of Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lighting Thief) and Emma Watson (of the  Harry Potter films.) 


From the preview the film looks very interesting, but we will just have to see. Due out September 14th, 2012
 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Preview: SCREEN

Alright TOP fans, I have a teaser trailer for you to see today. SCREEN

This is a horror, thriller film by David Paul Baker. You all know I love a good thriller, but I am bit of a chicken when it comes to horrors. However, I saw his first film: Mission X (2009) recently and really liked it (review to follow soon). So, I am pushing the chicken in me aside and watching SCREEN. (If you would like to view this film, go to the website and see how to there.)

  

Click on the Mission X link to view preview and film. It's a great preview - doesn't show too much, YAY!!

I would like people to know a bit more about this filmmaker. He is creating movies from very small budgets, using crowdfunding, not going a Hollywood route and has a drive that will inspire anyone who has a dream. Here is something I just found, an episode of a doc web series, from the filmmaker on YouTube that will explain a little bit more about how he created his first couple of films.

Enjoy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man


Question: What was your first reaction when you heard Hollywood was rebooting Spider-Man? Honestly, I thought, “Why? It’s only been a decade since Tobey McGuire came out as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. A decade!!” And then I got really annoyed but I can’t control what Hollywood does and nor do I want to, but this seemed like a waste to me.

I may have mentioned, a time or two, how much I dislike remakes, reboots and just the general laziness I think Hollywood is taking regarding movies and the mass production of uninteresting films or films that ALREADY HAVE BEEN MADE!!! So, I won’t bore you again with another full-on rant, but this one really threw me as to why or who decided to make this so quickly after such a well-made and beloved franchise.

But then I thought of my son and how much he wanted to see it after I read on the internet they were redoing the series. After watching the trailer, and despite my apprehension, I saw the HUGE smile on his face and I knew right then and there I would take him to see it. He LOVES Spider-Man, from his Spider-Man covered bed sheets, to his, at least, five Spider-Man action figures and other Spidey games and toys; Spider-Man is always near him in one form or another. It is the one superhero he always asks for when it’s birthday or Christmas time. Oh, I forgot to mention he has a ton of the web slinger’s comic books. The Amazing Spider-Man went on the must-see list, his not mine, and I knew he would enjoy the film – no matter what.

Nonetheless, I was still less than excited to see this version, but I was interested in seeing Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. The actor has already proven his acting chops in The Social Network and Never Let Me Go. Two films where I thoroughly enjoyed his performances. So I was curious, a little.

Well, the movie came out a few weeks ago and it took me a little while to convince myself I could sit through it. Yes, I know I sound like I went in with a preconceived notion about the latest Marvel film, but many of us do. I am a movie fan first and a critic second, and I was NOT a fan of seeing a reboot. However, I kept my mind open and my mouth shut as the movie started.

All in all, I found the reboot to be a mediocre film….and with that said, I really don’t want to make this a long review and pick it apart. Although despite my earlier prejudices, I did enjoy some of the movie. Andrew Garfield did a wonderful job, and I didn’t find myself comparing his performance to Tobey McGuire’s, which surprised me. So I am giving it points there. Also, the casting of Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben and Aunt May was a perfect match.

A lot of the film, or story line, was different from what I know about Spider-Man, and in case you are going to see it, I will keep the differences to myself. But I will say, some I liked and some I didn’t.

The special effects were good, of course, but that hardly makes a movie for me. If the story isn’t there, then you lose me as a fan. This Spider-Man lost me on the overall story between the hero and the villain – and that’s all I will say about that. However, my son really enjoyed the film: the effects, the villain, the jokes, etc….He smiled throughout the entire film but he did say Spider-Man 2 was still his favorite Spidey movie as we were walking out of the theatre.

But to be a good reviewer, I just wanted to check and see if that was still accurate. So I asked him again, just now, and he’s already changed his mind and said The Amazing Spider-Man was the best of all the Spider-Man films. And he added that Tobey McGuire didn’t really fit the part once he saw Andrew Garfield’s performance. (I might be raising a future movie reviewer…haha.) Maybe Hollywood does know something about these reboots, remakes, and comic book heroes, oh my.

My favorite thing: Andrew Garfield. He really is an amazing actor.

My least favorite: The villain and his story with Spider-Man.

Directed by Mark Webb, Columbia Pictures, 2012.


Genre: Action, Fantasy, Thriller

Rating: PG-13
Length: 136 minutes

Review: 5 out of 10

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed

Question: If you could go back in time, what time would you return to and why? Normally I answer, or vaguely answer, my own questions in these reviews but I’m not going to on this one. I am not an overly nostalgic person unless it has to do with a film or a band. Plus, after seeing Safety Not Guaranteed this past weekend, I learned a valuable lesson.

Sorry if this confuses anyone but you will just have to see Safety Not Guaranteed to understand what I am referring to….or trying to, at least.

 I have wanted to see this film for a long time. There was just something about the story that drew me to it – not too long ago I even posted the preview on here; and I save those posts usually for films that I think will be interesting, unique or that tell a story that will move me. This one did, not drastically, but enough to get me out of my writer’s block (fingers crossed) and make me contemplate parts of my life.

That’s what I want from most films, art, books, etc…an opportunity to think; notice something you hadn’t before; and look upon an idea with a fresh perspective, etc… Safety Not Guaranteed took on an age-old idea: looking back on your past with regret and hoping you can change things so you wouldn’t be unhappy now. And the filmmakers made a charming, perfectly decent film that will just make you smile. Plus, they added the idea of time travel. Who wouldn’t like that, right?

So, I ask again, would you want to go back in time and why? For most, I believe, the reasoning will involve another person: a partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, parent or someone with whom you hurt or they did something that haunts you, still. We all make mistakes. Mistakes are thrust upon us. We fall in love with the wrong person, or the right person, and hearts get broken no matter what. Also, we can be cruel to another. Admit it – we have ALL been there. We are human. Safety Not Guaranteed represented several aspects of people’s regret and/or searching for the cure to change their current situation. And I think most will be able to relate.

Now the next question(s): Could we fix it? Should we fix it? Would we be better off if we changed these brief, few moments of the past? Or are we where we are supposed to be? Thinking about regrets is enough to drive you a little mad.  And that’s how the actor in this film, Mark Duplass’ character, is portrayed. Someone who must be insane because he puts a classified ad in the paper requesting  a partner go back in time with him. He declares it will be dangerous and your safety will not be guaranteed. His ad intrigues a magazine editor – enough to send a writer and two interns to check the story out.

There are a couple other character in this film that display the same sort of desire to change their present by reaching towards the past:  The young intern, Darius, played by Aubrey Plaza and her boss, Jeff, played by Jake. M. Johnson. Both these characters represented the vast differences on why someone would want to go back in time. I liked both characters, a lot. In fact, Jeff was one that kept the comedy going in this film. He’s the type of guy you don’t want to like but he evokes sympathy when you aren’t expecting. Darius is a sarcastic girl that has a deep, hidden secret on why she is unhappy now.

As for the rest of the story, no more details. Just go see this film. It is slated as a comedy, and it was absolutely funny at parts but it is not slap stick or a joke every few minutes type of film. The humor is subtle and well placed. Safety Not Guaranteed showed real humor, the humor we all have in our lives. The absurdity that is ever present – that’s what makes it a comedy. However, I would categorize this as a drama as well. And that’s a compliment.

Bottom line: Just give me a good story, tell it well and with respect (especially for the audience), and you’ve got a fan in me. Safety Not Guaranteed did all three. Well done!

My favorite thing: There might too many things to list here. I just really, really liked this film. Okay, I laughed OUT LOUD when Jeff raises his fists in the air. His reaction to what was happening just kept me smiling and smiling.

My least favorite thing: I got nothing this time.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, Big Beach Films, 2012 

Genre: Comedy

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson, Mark Duplass, Karan Soni, Jeff Garlin and Kristen Bell.

Rating: R
Length: 86 minutes

Review: 9 out of 10


Download soundtrack:




Friday, July 13, 2012

Preview: Compliance

I keep reading and hearing about the new indie film, Compliance. So, I finally took a look at the trailer. WOW! This one is based on true events and bizarre ones to boot. Many seem to believe that this couldn't actually happen. I suppose it made some uncomfortable. Who knows?

Genre: Drama, thriller

Written and directed by Craig Zobel. Due out August 2012.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Puncture


Question: Are you afraid of needles? I am, never in my life have I ever been able to handle needles. When I was a child, my fear was so intense that when I would get a cavity filled I would forgo the Novocain because the huge metal syringe looked like a torture device. I would just raise my hand when the dentist hit the nerve. Then he could continue drilling. I know it’s not logical, at all, but something about the huge needle coming at me scared me to death.

Of course, over time I have learned to tolerate (hide) my fear; but I still have a small, silent panic attack whenever I see a needle during any doctor’s visit. And I just finished watching the film, Puncture, and now have a more elevated fear of needles. That does not mean it was a bad movie or story. On the contrary, I am glad I watched it and learned something about needle use and manufacturing in our country.


However, I am slightly angry at the moment. Right after the film I was almost numb because it was based on true events that shocked me. Then I began to really think about the story, in its entirety, and a wave of annoyance slowly crept in. Corporate greed and government corruption or manipulation, whatever you want to call it, is at the base of Puncture. To be honest, when the film began I had presumed it had a completely different plot. Chris Evans stars in it, and I believe I saw a preview for it awhile back but just saw that he was a lawyer (Mike Weiss) with a drug problem so I assumed the movie was about him and his issues. I was wrong.

Now I won’t go into detail about the film, as per my usual, but I will say you will learn about safety syringes in Puncture; and you will be glad someone invented them. The lead actor, Chris Evans, deserves the main focus of this review because many are used to him playing superheroes and not this type of role. He plays a character that I didn’t like and liked at the same time. That is very difficult to pull off, and he did it so well that I am still trying to figure out if the like outweighs the dislike or vice versa.

Bottom line, Chris Evans plays a drug addict. A fairly functional drug addict but he had more vices that will just rub you the wrong way. For example, he’s unfaithful, selfish, and arrogant. Plus, he’s a charmer, an ability that you know he uses to make people deal with his negative attributes whether they want to or not. Anyway, he and his partner take on a new client and his character’s drive to “win” the lawsuit is where everything gets muddy. As you watch Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) pursue his case, it is unclear what drives him to win the case: obtaining justice or he just has to win because he is so competitive. Or was it the drugs?

Watching someone doing his job high as a kite on pain killers and cocaine and unable to quit was disheartening. Chris Evans was so good in this role that I forgot about the other characters he has played. There was one scene when he is in a politician’s office and his reaction to their words gave me goose bumps. Despair, desperation and conviction were all portrayed within the short scene and it was very powerful; and Chris Evans deserves some accolades for this part. Puncture wasn’t an easy watch but worth it.

There is a line in this film that really stuck out for me, “Sometimes the brightest light comes from the darkest places.” A wonderful line that I hope inspires people as it inspired me.

Directed by Adam Kassen, Mark Kassen, Cherry Sky Production, 2011

Starring: Chris Evans, Mark Kassen, Vinessa Shaw, and Brett Cullen

Genre: Drama

My favorite thing: Chris Evans. He was truly wonderful in this film. A great performance.

My least favorite thing: That this story is true - especially about the needles.

Rating: R
Length: 100 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

Watch Instantly: Puncture

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Preview: The Sessions

As you know I am always on the hunt for indie films and/or films that try something new and different. Today I hit the jackpot! I went to my normal sources to find some up coming movies and found The Sessions. I had no idea about this film. I hadn't even seen or noticed one thing about it in all my social networking research prior to this; but when the preview started, and I saw it won Audience Winner for Sundance 2012, I was immediately intrigued.

The preview starts and I hear William H. Macy's voice, a huge fan of his. Then I see John Hawkes is in it. Last year I saw him in Martha Marcy May Marlene and he quickly went on my list to find more of his films. His performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene was brilliant, so it was nice to see he is in the lead on the new film by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Take a look.

Ben Lewin wrote and directed this film. It stars John Hawkes, Helen Huntand William H. Macy

The Sessions is due out for release in October 2012 in limited release so you will need to hunt for it.

My review of Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Remember the past....Fame


There are just certain movies that will never leave you. They make permanent imprints somewhere in your subconscious. Years, perhaps decades, go by and you think you forget about them but deep down the feelings it evoked, the emotions it would change, and the freedom it allowed you to have for a few short hours resonate somewhere off in the distance. And then one thing can happen like a hearing a tune, or a specific line or even something as little as one word, and the memories come flooding back. WOOSH! Then you start recalling specifics, smiles emerge. More scenes pop in and you rush to your laptop, like I am doing right now, to go to YouTube and look up those scenes to see if you remember them correctly.

Minutes pass quickly as you play scene after scene. Now maybe 30-45 minutes pass but you don't notice because you have been transported back to when you were 12 years-old and all the dreams you had then have fill current space and time. It's hard not to smile, even giggle, because you might remember what you used to wear because the film inspired you. Perhaps the film lent you a catch phrase you'd say when you wanted to make someone pay attention. Maybe the memory comes back of you sitting in front of the mirror alone in your room, singing along with the soundtrack trying to picture yourself as one of the characters because you thought they were more interesting than you.

Thousands of memories, too many to describe, but I know each and every one of you have dozens of films floating around in your brain right now, and maybe not at this instant, but soon, a spark will occur and you will be transported back to the past.

Tonight, I am sitting on the chaise lounge, in the dark, with headphones on and I am listening to a few songs from a movie that just popped in head. I was actually trying to sleep, something that is never easy for me to do because my mind wonders, usually about films. Then it happened. The phrase, "on my own" tripped across the random thoughts and stopped there. Three words just stood there, almost floating above my head, eyes shut, tossing and turning. Then it began...the memories. I hear a single piano starting to play. I tossed the sheets back, grabbed my laptop, clicked on the YouTube icon and I found it:


Yeah, yeah this was one of the "mirror songs" for me; and I have a feeling for a few of you out there as well. Go ahead, admit it. I won't tell anyone.

Okay, now that we're all in a sullen mood let's bring on the smiles and perhaps a little toe-tapping.

Anyway, after I finished "Out Here On My Own" from the original Fame, I went searching for other songs and scenes from this film. And I came upon this one....

"Shady Sadie, southern lady...." Who's groovin' now? I am personally sitting here slightly shifting my shoulders, trying hard to type but still keep up with the beat of the song. It ain't easy.... ha-ha...Love the lunch ladies....Okay, sorry I have to let the song finish before I continue....whew. That was fun.

Fame was one of my childhood go-to soundtracks and VHS tapes. I felt more mature when I watched the film. Heck, I wasn't even in high school when it came out. I was only 10 years old but saw it a few years later once it was released on video.


There was just something about the aura of a school of the arts, the struggle of artists, who were just kids, trying to learn their craft. Some realizing they didn't have enough talent, while others had the talent but trusted the wrong people. Fame took on many controversial topics for 1980. Homosexuality, suicide, pornography, abortion, poverty, etc…Also, it showed just how hard it was to find a career in the arts. Hollywood loves a happy ending, especially when it comes to films about certain talents like singing and dancing, but Fame showed a grittier side, probably a more realistic side than most films. (Okay, maybe not everyone dances on top of cars when a song starts playing out of taxi but, hey, it was still just a movie. There's got to some level of fantasy, right?)



I didn't attend a school of the arts, although my school had a fantastic drama department. (That's another story - one I'll tell you about someday when I actually acted in a few plays.) And I didn't have a talent like dancing, singing or acting even though I just mentioned I attempted to perform on stage. Fame taught me about conviction the students had, the level of self-esteem and belief in their abilities - that they could do something with their lives. Sure, they all struggled from self-doubt but they kept on trying and that inspired me, and still does today.


I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. Now I am off to go find a photos of me in legwarmers…


P.S. Yes, I watched the television show.




Sunday, July 1, 2012

People Like Us


Question: Do you ever go into a movie, you like it at first, then something happens that you can’t quite put your finger on, but something is just off? A semi-bad feeling hazes over your opinion of the film, and you hope it gets to the point or something because you are losing interest, and fast. However, you stay in the theatre and continue on hoping it will get better. It finally finishes and you sink deeper into the seat, perplexed at what the filmmakers were thinking. And then you realize you just didn’t like the film. Honestly, I hate it when that happens and it happened with People Like Us.

I am still confused about the movie. It did start off well. Chris Pine plays a salesman, of sorts. He’s a fast talking, smooth dude who can charm anyone to do business with him. I liked his character immediately. Then we meet Jon Favreau, his boss, and they have a funny conversation and I relax into the story.  All is good and then the pace slowed down and never quite picked back up.

Bottom line, the story is about one particular family, how the children were raised, death of a parent, not really knowing what certain family members did or did not do, and being bitter about it all. I had no problem with all that. Many films take on the "family misunderstood" theme and can tell a heart-warming story with decent resolutions. However, in People Like Us, the filmmakers kept trying to tug at the heartstrings and it became redundant. By the middle of the movie, I was bored and a little annoyed but I stuck it out. Unfortunately, the movie never got back to an authentic voice and I just didn’t care for it.


Most of the acting was appropriate to the story-line, I think. Chris Pine did a fine job with his character, but there was something off with Michelle Pfeiffer’s character or the way she played it. She portrays Chris Pine’s mother and most of her scenes were with her son. The mother/son relationship, although strained, was just hard to comprehend. I am still unclear how a mother could treat a son, even a selfish one like him, with such disdain, or what I took as disdain. See, I am still confused. I know family members don’t get along, for whatever reason, but the “reason” for all the strife in the family in People Like Us was bland and unendearing.

Elizabeth Banks was also in the film and she did a good job with what she was given. As I have said in past reviews, she normally takes on comedy roles, but her dramatic side is getting quite good. I think I understood her character the most. I won't say why but to hint at motherhood isn't an easy deal, so I could relate to some of her responses. However, her connection to the others in the film just pushed the over abundance of forced dilemmas in People Like Us to bore me.

Directed (and co-written) by Alex Kurtzman, DreamWorks SKG, 2012.

Starring: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jon Favreau, and Olivia Wilde.

Genre: Drama

My favorite thing about the film: The scene between John Favreau and Chris Pine in the beginning.

My least favorite part: The mother/son relationship. Plus, part of it reminded me of Rain Man. I just wanted something more original, I suppose.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 115 minutes

Review: 3 out of 10