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


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