Established May 2010.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

Member of THE LAMB: The Large Association of Movie Blogs LAMB #1588

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

NOW ON DVD/BLU-RAY: The Tree of Life

Director: Terrence Malick
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn

Jack O'Brien (Penn) can't seem to cope with the loss of his brother that happened decades ago at the age of 19. When he sees a tree being planted outside the architecture firm where he works, he reminisces of his childhood in the 1950s. He has a volatile relationship with his dad (Pitt), a nurturing relationship with his mom (Chastain), and brotherly love with his two younger brothers. As he looks back at his upbringing he contemplates the mysteries of life, the world's origins, birth, death, and his relationships. Malick created a non-linear story about the meaning of nature and grace in a very experimental way.

Malick's latest cinematic offering is not for everyone, and there is nothing wrong with that. Not every movie has to appeal to everyone. People will either love this movie or hate it. There is nothing wrong with that either. It's one of those movies where if people hated it, I wouldn't try to defend it or try to persuade them into liking it. I can fully understand why it may not be someone's cup of tea. Is it self-indulgent and try too hard to be artistic? Yes. I think many of the nature sequences (including the dinosaurs) could have been trimmed and not sacrificed the beauty of the movie. The dialogue is quite sparse during the first half of the movie. It's told more in a poetic style than dialogue between the characters. It switches in the second half as the memories of Jack and his family come to mind. The use of sound is very particular throughout the movie. There is a note at the beginning suggesting you play the movie very loudly to get the full effect. Malick sent theaters very specific instructions for the projectionists on how to play the movie. It may even be jarring at times. The dialogue can be whisper quiet in one scene while the score is pumped up to high volumes in the next.

While some of the artistic choices are pretentious at times, I still found myself fascinated over all. I kept my eyes glued to the screen as I tried to figure out where the story was going and what images were going to pop up next. Pitt and Chastain both had winning years this year with fine performances in this movie and others. I would have liked to seen more of Penn. His screen time is very limited and he is left with scenes where he's staring off into space or roaming a desert as he looks back on his life. Like I've said before, the movie is very artistic and beautiful. Is it pretentious? Yes. Is it over the top? Yes. Do I still have plenty of unanswered questions? Yes. Does it all make sense? No. Will it appeal to everyone? No. I found myself intrigued, but I also know many people who did not like it. That is one of the reasons why movies like this are intriguing. It stirs up such mixed reaction and gets people talking.

RATING: **** 1/2 (4.5 out of 5)

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris

Sherlock Holmes (Downey) and Dr. Watson (Law) are back for more adventures together as they face off with Professor James Moriarty (Harris). Watson arrives at Holmes' estate to bear the news that he and Mary are getting married. He finds Holmes camouflaged in a jungle of a study and a web of red string intersecting from various points. Holmes is investigating a series of murders and terrorist attacks who he believes all lead back to Moriarty. Watson merely rolls his eyes and listens to Holmes' wild theories. Holmes learns from Moriarty himself that he killed Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) as a way to threaten Holmes for interfering in his master plan. Moriarty reveals he is a share-holder in many munitions companies. He plans to push Europe into war to gain a profit. Holmes crashes Watson's honeymoon in order to save him and Mary from Moriarty's henchman. Holmes tosses Mary out of the train and into the river only to be saved by his brother (Stephen Fry). Holmes and Watson set off to investigate the origins of a letter intended for a gypsy fortune teller(Rapace) that could track down the path of Moriarty.

If you're not in the mood for any of the Oscar-bait movies, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows might just be the movie for you. Back for a second time as Holmes and Watson, Downey and Law prove they have great chemistry together. Downey is one of the best character actors working today. Stephen Fry is hilarious as Holmes' brother. The pacing is unbalanced at times. The action sequences, verbal sparring between Holmes and Moriarty, and comedic moments succeed at keeping the story going. Unfortunately, the film tends to drag during the down times between all of that. Even though this sequel is not as good as the original, it is still provides for an entertaining night out. I really hope Ritchie, Downey, and Law are up for more adventures. It's a successful series due to fantastic leads and an updated feel and look to classic characters.

RATING: *** 1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)

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Friday, December 23, 2011

MOVIE REVIEWS: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Darkest Hour

Director: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgaard, Christopher Plummer

Henrik Vanger (Plummer) has been dealing with the unsolved disappearance of his niece Harriet for the past forty years. He is determined that one of his many corrupt family members has something to do with the disappearance. Every year he receives a framed flower on his birthday which is a tradition that started with Harriet and still continues even after she vanished. Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) is a journalist with Millennium magazine. He has recently lost a huge libel case against the Wennerström Corporation. Knowing that Blomkvist unjustly lost the case, Vanger hires Blomkvist to research the disappearance and help solve the forty year mystery.

Blomkvist is skeptical about taking the assignment as he doesn't think he'll find anything new about the case that the police and Vanger haven't already discovered. Vanger promises him a hefty salary for the research and vows to quadruple it if he solves the case. Vanger also entices Blomkvist with information on Wennerstrom that could be very useful. With some hesitation, he agrees and moves up to Hedeby Island in Hedestad where the Vanger's live. Vanger has boxes upon boxes of photographs, police reports, and newspaper clippings regarding Harriet's disappearance and the car accident that also took place around the same time she disappeared. Blomkvist digs deep into the corrupt Vanger family history, the accident, and a parade Harriet attended. Blomkvist asks for a research assistant as he believes he is gaining momentum on what happened. Vanger hires expert computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Mara). To many people, Salander is mentally unstable, crazy, and violent. She spent many years in child custody shuffled between guardians. She has many piercings, tattoos, and wears goth clothing. Salander did the background research on Blomkvist before Vanger hired him. Salander and Blomkvist form a tight union as they realize this case is far more than just the disappearance of a teenage girl.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
is the second adaptation of the Stieg Larsson novel. The Swedish version was released in 2009 to a successful following. David Fincher has succeeded at making his version faithful to the novel while still making it his own and not feeling like a knock-off of the Swedish version. Fincher is no stranger to dark mysteries that involve very heavy material. He does not feel the need to sugar coat the material or gloss over it. Be warned there is a very graphic rape scene. He is meticulous for detail. You know every prop, costume piece, tattoo, piercing, sound choice, and location has been chosen with a specific reason. The viewer can feel the cold bitter Swedish air which only thickens the mood of the movie even more. Fincher received some hesitation for casting Mara over bigger names like Scarlet Johansson and Carey Mulligan. Mara is a revelation as Salander. Salander is no easy character. Mara gives a strong performance in a subtle way that shows the numerous complexities Salander chooses to display. Craig also delivers as Blomkvist. You can't help but feel his sex appeal again but in a different way than James Bond. Regardless of if you have read the book or not, you will get sucked in and see why this Stieg Larsson story is so popular. Once again, Fincher has made one of the best movies of the year.

RATING: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Director: Chris Gorak
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella

Sometimes when you see a trailer that looks bad but has an actor in it that you like, you try to trust the actor for choosing that project. I like Emile Hirsch and really thought that maybe the trailer just didn't do the movie justice. I had the opportunity to go see The Darkest Hour and decided to put this theory to test. In this case, the movie was just as bad as the trailer. I don't know what Emile Hirsch was thinking when he signed on for this horrible sci-fi story about an end of the world style destruction by energy forces. I can't even justify thinking that maybe it was a good script that turned out to be a bad movie, which happens from time to time. Actors say they read a good script, but the movie didn't turn out the way it was envisioned. This script is just awful. You can hear the horrible lines of dialogue. You can tell Hirsch knows this. He tries to say the bad dialogue in a subtle way so it doesn't come off as melodramatic and awful. The characters are stupid stupid stupid. Between the tough cocky guy who gets killed off early and the crazy paranoid scientist you can't help but laugh. End of the world movies are tricky. You end up having four or five survivors walking around a deserted land. You have to keep the pace moving as there is nothing but them walking around looking for other survivors and looking for answers. Even if you get to see it for free, don't waste your time. Use your time wisely and spend money on any of the excellent movies that are playing at the theater.

RATING: 1/2* (Half star out of 5 stars)

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NEW TRAILERS: The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Prometheus

I can't think of three movies I'm more excited about for 2012. I've already gushed about The Dark Knight Rises numerous times. This week Peter Jackson released the trailer for the first part of his take on "The Hobbit", The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. 2012 is shaping up to be a huge year for epic movies. Ridley Scott will also premiere his return to his sci-fi roots with Prometheus, starring: Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, and Michael Fassbender. It is thought to be a prequel to the Alien story.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


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Monday, December 19, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol, The Adventures of Tintin

Director: Brad Bird
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner

After an IMF mission to steal Russian nuclear codes goes astray, a prison break-out is put into action to release Ethan Hunt (Cruise) from the Russian cell he is being held captive. Hunt is whisked away and joined by fellow IMF teammates: beautiful Jane (Patton) and wise-cracking hacker Benji (Pegg). Hunt is informed that there is a person of interest known as "Cobalt"(Michael Nyqvist) who has come in control of a Russian satellite and certain codes that can lead to nuclear war. The team sneaks into the Kremlin to gain access to secret files that could identify "Cobalt". An underground explosion under the Kremlin interrupts the mission after the IMF team has been spotted. They are put under blame for the explosion and the mission has been shut down. During a limo ride with the secretary of the IMF (Tom Wilkinson) and analyst Brandt (Renner), Hunt is told that the US President has ordered a "Ghost Protocol". The mission has now turned to an under-the-radar style operation. Hunt, Benji, Jane, and Brandt identify "Cobalt" as a Russian man named Hendricks. They must track down him and the nuclear codes down before nuclear war destroys the country.

Confession time. I went to the Great Clips IMAX at the MN Zoo to see it solely for the six minute prologue for The Dark Knight Rises. I don't even know if I would have see this latest Mission if it wasn't for the prologue. I don't think I've ever been disappointed by a movie I've seen on the massive IMAX screen. Mission:Impossible-Ghost Protocol is no exception. Numerous parts of the movie were filmed on IMAX cameras, and it is stunning. Bird shows off the majestic landscapes and action scenes with the IMAX shots. It makes this explosive edge-of-your seat even bigger and even more jaw-dropping. My fear of falling/heights definitely got to me. I consider that a good thing when a movie can get those feelings out of you. Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but he wears the Ethan Hunt shoes, tux, and sunglasses at ease. He feels right at home with one of his most popular characters. You have to give him credit for performing all of his crazy stunts in this movie. You will know what I mean during the scenes at the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure in the world. From the start of the movie to the last frame, the action does not let up. The pacing is sharp and tense. Pegg offers a warm sense of humor to balance all of the action. Even if you have a slight interest in seeing Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol, go see it and see it at the Great Clips IMAX at the MN Zoo. It's well worth the trek and money. You won't be disappointed.

RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)


Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost

The Adventures of Tintin is the first collaboration between Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings). This also marks Spielberg's first animated movie that he has directed. Tintin (Bell) is a young journalist out for a stroll in the market with his dog Snowy. He buys a model of three masted ship for one pound. Just as he is about to walk away with his new purchase, he gets accosted by two other gentleman wanting to buy it. They warn him of the dangers of this model ship, but Tintin refuses to resell it and heads home. One of the two men turns out to be the evil Ivan Sakharine (Craig). Back at home, Tintin props it up on the table only to have it knocked off when Snowy and the cat start chasing each other. As it falls to the floor, a small metal tube rolls under the shelf. After his ship is stolen, Tintin pays a little visit to Sakharine. He discovers there are two ships and that Sakharine is after scrolls that are hidden in the ship. Tintin comes back home to find it ransacked but finds the scroll in the tube that rolled under the shelf. Sakharine's henchman come to Tintin's home and kidnap him to get the second scroll. While trapped on the SS Karaboudjan, Tintin and Snowy meet Captain Haddock (Serkis) who was also taken captive due to his history with the ships and scrolls. Tintin and Haddock discover there are three model ships and three scrolls that Sakharine is after. They must escape the SS Karaboudjan and figure out the location of the third scroll before Sakharine gets to it and discover what the message in the scrolls reveals.

The Adventures of Tintin
feels part Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Pirates of the Caribbean. It is based off an old comic series by Hergé, which I am unfortunately not as familiar with. Spielberg and Jackson use motion-capture technology to bring the Tintin story to life. Not only does it still feel like a comic series, it brings the characters to life and gives them three dimension over having simple voice-over work done. Like the classic Spielberg movies from before, there is plenty of action, chase scenes, and bumps in the road for our hero. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are hilarious as two bumbling policeman who are on the search for a pickpocket. With Hugo still in theaters, it's great to have two fantastic movies out there for young kids that are smart, engaging, daring, and fun for the whole family.

RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Movie Review: YOUNG ADULT

Director: Jason Reitman
Screenwriter: Diablo Cody
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser

When are you too old to go back to your hometown and try to win back your high school boyfriend? Mavis Gary (Theron) is a recent divorcee living a very delusional life. She lives in downtown Minneapolis and is the author a young adult series about the lives of high school girls. She believes they are bestsellers but can't face the fact that she is currently writing her last entry as they are no longer in demand. She is quick to clarify they are not about vampires. She receives an e-mail announcing the new birth of Buddy Slade's (Wilson) new baby and is confused on why she gets it. Mavis and Buddy were high school sweethearts. She questions why she got it to a friend only to internally question why she isn't the one having babies with Buddy.

Being the delusional person she is, Mavis packs a suitcase and her dog and drives back to her hometown of Mercury, MN to win back Buddy. She merely sees his wife (Reaser) and the baby as baggage. Why should a little baggage stop someone from rekindling an old high school romance? While grabbing a Maker's Mark at the local bar, she runs into Matt (Oswalt) who was another classmate of theirs. Mavis doesn't recognize him until he mentions he was "The Hate Crime Boy". A prom queen like Mavis would never associate with a "fat geek" like Matt. Matt is the fat geek that makes bourbon in the garage and names it after Star Wars terminology. He also like to take apart action figures and rebuild them with different toys. Mavis struggles to write her book while getting pressure from the publisher. With no end time to her trip, she passes the time getting wasted with Matt and desperately tries to win back Buddy.

Diablo Cody's style of writing may not be for everyone, but she writes very interesting, flawed, and realistic characters. With strong writing comes strong acting. I love when actors step out of their comfort zones. Patton Oswalt is known for doing more comedic work. As Matt, he really shines as the lonely, depressed guy who hasn't made any efforts to do something with his life. Charlize Theron started her career by playing ingenue after ingenue in plenty of thankless roles. Ever since she blew the roof off movie theaters by playing serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, she has proven she is more than capable of playing complex characters. Young Adult is another winning performance for Theron. People keep talking about how Mavis is such an unlikable awful human being. Another local critic hated the movie due to his disdain for Mavis. I believe that only proves what a fantastic performance Theron gives. Theron makes the delusional world Mavis lives in believable. I don't mean to say that everything she does is forgivable. Mavis is mean, rude, and makes some pretty unforgivable choices. It's going to be a competitive race this year for the Best Actress Oscar. In any other year, Theron would nab one of the five nomination slots. We shall she if she can squeeze her way in this year.

RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

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Warner Bros. released a new teaser one-sheet for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. I literally gasped in the car as I saw Bane (Tom Hardy) standing by Batman's mask which has been smashed. The tagline reads "The Legend Ends". Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan have confirmed many times that this is the last entry in their Batman series.

Warner Bros. has always had great marketing for the Christopher Nolan-Batman movies. This week, a six minute prologue for the movie will screen before certain IMAX showings of Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol. I cannot WAIT to feast my eyes on the footage. The first six minutes will be introducing Bane similar to how The Joker was introduced in The Dark Knight.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Unleash Your Inner Foodie: "Christmas 2011 for the Movie Lover"

Many of you know that I submit articles for "Unleash Your Inner Foodie" by DeeAnn McArdle. It's that time of the year again when I come up with gift ideas for the movie lover in your life. Here's the article:

It’s time to go shopping for your favorite movie buff. Our movie critic, Paul McGuire has the perfect ideas ranging in price depending on who happens to be on your list and how naughty or nice they have been...

You can read the rest here



Enjoy! Merry Christmas!
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Monday, November 28, 2011


Director: John Bobin
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, The Muppets, Chris Cooper

Walter has grown up obsessed with The Muppets. He owns all of the collectible items and dreams of one day being an official Muppet. His brother, Gary (Segel) invites Walter along to Los Angeles on his anniversary trip with his girlfriend, Mary (Adams). Walter is ecstatic, and he finds out he will be able to tour the old Muppets Studio for the first time. Much to Mary's dismay, Walter tags along and their anniversary trip does not quite go as planned. The three of them arrive to Muppet Studios to find it dirty and unkept. There is one lone tour guide that leads them around. Walter sneaks into Kermit's old office to dazzle at the old artifacts and props. He ducks for cover when he hears Tex Richman (Cooper) and his goons enter. Tex reveals his plans to tear down Muppet Studio and drill for oil giving it a comedic maniacal laugh. Gary, Mary, and Walter hunt down Kermit the Frog to tell him the tragic news. Kermit sets about to find all of the other Muppets to stage a reunion show to gather enough money to save the studio.

It's wonderful to see The Muppets back on the big screen. Even though Frank Oz and Jim Henson are missed, the spirit of them is still present. Oz declined to be a part of the production while Hensen passed away in 1990. Jason Segel co-wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek). While the movie was funny, it could have gone further. I think there was something generic about the writing for each specific Muppet, which led to some characters like Janice, The Swedish Chef, and Mr. Teeth left with only a couple of lines of dialogue not fully showing their unique personalities. I loved how much they incorporated "The Muppet Show" and some of the other movies into the writing. There are many references and pictures showing off the many celebrities that guest starred on the show. There are a couple of musical numbers that felt a little unnecessary and slowed down the down. The Muppets is fun, light-hearted, energetic return to form proving that these Jim Henson characters are timeless and fun for all ages.

Rating: *** 1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloe Grace Moretz

Hugo Cabret (Butterfield) is a lonely boy abandoned to live at a Paris train station after his father (Jude Law) dies. His alcoholic Uncle Claude teaches him how to fix the clocks as that is his job, but quickly disappears. Hugo passes the time by making sure all of the clocks are in working order, stealing clock parts, and fixing his automaton. The robot was a gift from his father that they worked on together. Hugo is determined that the automaton contains a message from his father if he can get it to work. Georges Méliès (Kingsley) is a cantankerous old man that runs a toy shop in the train station. Hugo tries to steal some parts out of a toy but is caught red handed. Hugo meets Georges' goddaughter, Grace (Moretz), as he tries to retrieve his notebook that Georges stole from him. They spark a friendship as they spend days digging deep into the literary world of the station book store and share the love of silent movies. Hugo notices Grace's necklace is the missing key to fixing the automaton. They insert the heart shaped key into the back of the automaton, and it comes to life. It draws a picture of a rocket crashing into the man in the moon with the name Georges Méliès on it. What connection does Georges have to his father? They soon realize Georges is not quite the grumpy man they think they know.

Based on the book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick, one wouldn't first associate this PG 3D movie with the artistic vision of Martin Scorsese. He's best known for his gritty crime/mobster movies. Upon watching the movie, you can't help but realize this is the perfect movie for Martin Scorsese. It's an ode to the classic silent movie era. If you've ever watched Scorsese in interviews, you know he's obsessed with film culture. His passion for the silver screen is unmatched. Hugo may be one of the best 3D movies I've ever seen. If you are skeptical about 3D, Hugo will change your mind. It uses 3D properly unlike most movies these days. Scorsese's use of 3D brings you right into the action and world Hugo lives you. You feel the tight wall space he lives in. You feel the rush of the crowd that passes through the train station. Asa Butterfield is a terrific young actor who is very capable of carrying quite a bit of the movie. Acting legend Christopher Lee is perfect as the man that runs the bookstore. The movie may be slow at times, but take the time to watch the 3D magic and the beautiful art direction. Watch for a cameo from Scorsese!

Rating: **** 1/2 (4.5 out of 5 stars)

Director: Simon Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench

When Colin Clark (Redmayne) signed on to work for Pinewood Studios on the new Laurence Olivier (Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Williams) movie, he didn't know exactly what he was getting himself into. He may have expected the big egos and big personalities, but he certainly didn't expect falling for Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn was recently married to playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) as she arrived on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl. Colin worked as the third assistant director under Olivier. As Marilyn's work habits clashed with Laurence's, he grows extremely frustrated with her. She arrives late to set and can't remember her lines. Her work habits only grow worse as Marilyn realizes her marriage isn't as strong as she expected. She takes solace in Colin. He starts to grow fond of her after they spend a day together including some skinny dipping. Colin knows he shouldn't fall for the tempting bombshell actress, but he can't help himself.

My Week with Marilyn is based on the diaries of Colin Clark. Marilyn Monroe is a fascinating woman. She was beautiful, attracted numerous men to her, had an addiction to pills, and a one-of-a-kind personality. She led a mess of a life and was adorned by many. Her handlers and assistants seemed to pump her with pills and talk to her in a very specific innocent kind of way. Where have we heard that before? Michelle Williams gives another amazing performance. When playing an over-the-top Hollywood figure, it's easy to make them a caricature by playing the stereotypes. Williams does none of that. She plays Marilyn on a very humane level while still being Marilyn. I believed her every moment she was on screen. Her body posture, vocal inflections, and overall look were all Marilyn and not just your average blonde bombshell. Even though she plays the very minor role of Dame Sybil Thorndike, Judi Dench is as lovely as always. I would expect a third Oscar nomination for Williams. It will be well deserved if she gets it.

Rating: **** 1/2 (4.5 out of 5)

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Monday, November 21, 2011


Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser

SPOILER ALERTS!!! I do need to preface that I am overall a fan of the Twilight series. I've seen the movies numerous times. I've read the first three books and am pretty far into the fourth one. However, I would not consider myself a full blown out Twi-Hard though.

When a movie starts with a pissed off Jacob (Lautner) running out of his house and ripping his shirt off in the rain, you would hope that moment is not one of the best moments of a movie. I say that because you don't want to peek so early on in the movie that there is nothing to look forward to later. Unlike some of the other Twilight movies, Shirtless Jacob only happens for about two seconds in this entry. Getting an invite for the Bella Swan-Edward Cullen wedding would piss me off to if I was madly in love with Bella. Why anyone would be in love with her is beyond me. Unfortunately, she picked the vampire over the werewolf. The wedding goes off without a hitch. No major drama for Bella (Stewart) and Edward (Pattison). There are some disgruntled relatives, but there are always disgruntled relatives at a wedding.

After the wedding is over, Edward whisks Bella away and takes her on a getaway honeymoon on some remote family island. Bella and Edward decide to have sex for the first time on their honeymoon. As fun as that sounds, it's all too risky for a human and vampire in the Twilight world. Due to Edward's super human strength he could actually kill her. The chances of her getting pregnant are supposed to be slim. If she were to carry a baby, it would kill her as it is part vampire and part human. The next morning Bella wakes up bruised and in a broken bed. Edward is clearly far stronger than he thought. A couple of days pass before Bella starts to get sick. She feels nauseous and realizes that the slim possibility of getting pregnant has happened. They leave the island and return to the Cullen household to take care of Bella and decide what to do with the demon baby. The werewolves find out that Bella is pregnant and go after the Cullens. Due to the fact that Bella could die, the treaty between the vampires and werewolves has been broken. Jacob must decide if he will take sides with his own kind, the werewolves, or protect Bella who he still harbors feelings over. The demon baby starts to grow at an alarming rate causing her bodily harm. Turning her into a vampire will save her life, but she can't turn until she's had the baby. Hopefully, she doesn't die before it is born.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is adapted from the first half of the final book in the series. Twilight is a huge cash cow with millions of fans. Summitt Entertainment wanted to capitalize on this by turning the final book into two movies. The problem is that there isn't enough material to make two full movies out of it. Much of Part 1 drags on without any driving force or action behind it. The wedding and honeymoon scenes could be edited down to twenty or thirty minutes. By this far into the series, I've grown accustomed to the writing style. In the first three movies, the cheese factor is sky high. The screenplay is chalk full of horrible one-liners and bad acting choices. I'd hate to fault the screenwriter because the original source material is written so terribly. I'm assuming she is just trying to stay faithful to the original text written by Stephenie Meyer. The fourth entry is no different. Same cheese, same dialogue, same bad acting. Before you think that I just hated the movie, there are some redeeming qualities. I appreciate the fact that they got rid of the horrible pasty look for Edward and his family. They look far more naturalistic and you still believe they are vampires. Hair and make-up design was far better than it ever has been. It's unfortunate that the better actors like Anna Kendrick, Michael Sheen, and Billy Burke are reduced to such minor roles in this one. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson aren't strong enough to carry the movie. Pattinson and Lautner have improved with their characters and give them more humanity, while Stewart does nothing with Bella. I don't feel like she's grown or changed at all throughout the course of the four movies. Make sure to stay through the credits. There is a pivotal scene with head vampire, Aro (Sheen), that sets up what could be a great finale. I haven't finished reading the book yet, but here's hoping Part 2 brings it all home and delivers an epic finale to make up for a lackluster Part 1.

RATING: **1/2 (2.5 out of 5 stars)

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Movie Review: J.EDGAR

Director: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Dustin Lance Black
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Judi Dench, Naomi Watts

J. Edgar Hoover led one fascinating life. He founded the FBI in 1935 and ran it until he died in 1972. He also invented the card catalog system in the Library of Congress. In the new movie directed by Clint Eastwood, most of Hoover's adult life has been covered. What could have been a gritty crime movie following his run of the FBI, Black and Eastwood focus on Hoover's main relationships in his life. They include his lover Clyde Tolson (Hammer), his mom (Dench), and his secretary Helen Grandy (Watts). The mother-son relationship is told with an all-too-close approach reminding me of a Norman Bates type of relationship. One of the biggest mysteries of his life involved his relationship with Tolson. It is rumored that they were in a romantic relationship. Due to the time period, Hoover would never have come out or admit to being gay. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a romance movie. There is a side story involving the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, plus a look into his involvement with many of the presidents.

Say what you will about Leonardo DiCaprio. He definitely has a reputation and image associated with him. I, however, have been a fan of his since "Growing Pains". I think he's a terrific actor at the top of his game. He may only star in movies centered on his character, but he always brings his A-game. He fully embodies his characters using his voice, mind, and body. J.Edgar Hoover might be one of his best performances. In what could have been an over-the-top performance for an over-the-top man, he showed quite a bit of restraint compared to some of his other movies. Armie Hammer proves he's not a one-hit wonder by giving a beautiful version of Clyde Tolson. DiCaprio, Hammer, and Watts do a convincing job of aging their characters as well.

Black's screenplay covers nearly fifty years of Hoover's life from the Palmer Raids through his death. Most of it is told as flashbacks as an older Hoover is recollecting his life while writing a memoir. With a running time of almost two and a half hours, the pace of the movie can be fairly slow at times. I tend to be forgiving of slow movies if I find the material interesting. J.Edgar Hoover led a fascinating life of which I really did not know much about. I give Eastwod a lot of credit for tackling the gay issues involved with Hoover. He easily could have left it out and focused on just his involvement with the FBI.

RATING: **** 1/2 (4.5 out of 5)

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Monday, November 14, 2011


Director: Gary Ross (Pleasantville)
Starring: Katiss Everdeen- Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)
Peeta Melark- Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right)
Gale- Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song)
Haymitch- Woody Harrelson ("Cheers")
Effie Trinket- Elizabeth Banks (Role Models)

The Hunger Games is based on the first in a series hot young adult books by Suzanne Collins. I'd hate to compare it to the Twilight series or the Harry Potter series, but it belongs in that category of huge pop culture following. Granted it's not yet at the stage of those previous series or crazy fandom. I'm sure by the time the third movie comes around it will be at that level. I have read all three of the books and am eagerly anticpating how the filmmakers interpret the world Collins has created.

Release Date: March 23, 2012

Director: Rupert Sanders
Starring: The Evil Queen- Charlize Theron (Monster)
Snow White- Kristen Stewart (Twilight)
The Huntsman- Chris Hemsworth (Thor)

With TV shows like "Grimm" or "Once Upon a Time", there is a current trend of taking new twists on old fairy tales. Next year, there will be two version of the classic tale of Snow White. Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart star in Snow White and the Huntsman. I love Charlize Theron and cannot wait to see her take on The Evil Queen.

Release Date: Summer 2012

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Director Spotlight: DAVID FINCHER

For the average movie goer, the name David Fincher probably doesn't ring a bell. If you mentioned the movies Fight Club or Se7en, they would perk up. Two movies in the filmography of David Fincher that have made a lasting impression on film culture. I personally feel that David Fincher was robbed last year for an Oscar for Best Director for his meticulous work on The Social Network. The movie itself was also robbed after losing to The King's Speech. The Academy loves feel good movies and always feels the need to reward them the top prizes. I'm looking at you, Slumdog Millionaire, as another example of this. One of Fincher's movies lost that year as well. What does a guy have to do! Even though he's been around for years, he seems pretty particular about which projects he decides to devote his time to. With each new movie, I feel like he's pushing the boundary on storytelling and vision. He seems to be very involved in every step of the way. Fincher is detailed oriented to the extreme. Every shot, costume, sound design, edit, and set design is thoroughly chosen for a specific reason.

Up next for Fincher is the American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The Swedish version told in the original language have already been released to critical and audience acclaim. I've seen the first two in the Swedish trilogy and they are very good movies. Due to the success and cult following, this is no easy feat for Fincher. He's already mentioned that the ending has been changed. Rooney Mara who plays Lisbeth Salander has her work cut out for her as Noomi Rapace as proven to be one tough Lisbeth. Rooney Mara leads an all-star casting including: Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Goran Visnjic, and Joely Richardson. Mr. Fincher has also confirmed that a new release of The Game is being worked on for The Criterion Collection for a new DVD/Blu-Ray release. No release dates have been announced yet.

2011 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

2010 The Social Network

2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

2007 Zodiac

2002 Panic Room

1999 Fight Club

1997 The Game

1995 Se7en

1992 Alien³

More images and trailers for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Movie Review: FOOTLOOSE

Director: Craig Brewer
Starring: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie McDowell

What do many teenagers do on the average weekend? They party with their friends. Some activties may involve drinking, debauchery, drinking games, music, drinking, and maybe some dancing. Five students die in a fatal car crash after an evening involving all of the above actions. The residents of Bomont, including Reverend Moore (Quaid), come to rash decisions and decide to put a limit on or ban certain activities. There shall be no loud music, no drinking, early curfews, and most importantly, NO DANCING. Clearly, dancing and loud music killed these students. Three years pass by and the town is living a newer quieter peaceful life. Dancing and music may still happen, but it's either under strict supervision or completely done in secret. Ren McCormack (Wormald) moves to Bomont from Boston after his mother passes away to live with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. Soon enough he gets a ticket for playing music in his car too loudly. In the eyes of the Reverend and the other upstanding citizens, he is a rebel and a bad influence. The Reverend's daughter, Ariel (Hough), instantly grows an attraction to Ren. What a bad girl. Being the smooth dancer that he is, Ren grows increasingly irritated by the strict laws caused by the tragic accident. With the help of Ariel and his best friend, Willard (Miles Teller), they set out to stand up to the city council to abolish these strict guidelines.

Quite some time has passed since my last viewing of the original, so I was able to free myself from comparing the two of them. This is one of Kenny Wormald's first starring roles, and he does a fine job. He's cute and charming without being too one-noted. Julianne Hough is new to the film world after having a career on "Dancing with a Stars" and a country singing career. She does a capable job in a role that isn't too dramatically challenging. Footloose is an enjoyable good time. It's full of fun dancing from hip-hop to country line dancing. Some of the music from the original movie like "Footloose", "Almost Paradise", and "Holding Out for a Hero", and others are used in this movie. Some arrangements are the same while some of them are new takes on the songs.

The idea that a town bans dancing seems a little archaic. If you let yourself get over that fact, you can let yourself go and have some fun. You also need to get over the fact that this is a remake or re-imaganing. I'm not sure what the technical term the studio is using for this outing. This is the kind of movie you don't need to think through. Don't go in expecting any sort of Academy Award winning movie. It's not going to be that kind of movie. You have to let your mind go, kick off your Sunday shoes, and have a good time.

RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

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Sunday, October 23, 2011


Paranormal Activity 3
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Shulman
Starring: Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Dustin Ingram

During Paranormal Activity 2, Kristi and her husband believe their house was buglarized. As we know from the previous two movies in this franchise, an evil spirit has followed Kristi and her sister Katie into their current houses. This spirit has traveled with them their whole lives ever since they were children. In Paranormal Activity 3, an old box of VHS tapes from their childhood goes missing after the supposed "break-in". The timeline of the series shifts to the past as we view those videotapes. Kristi and Katie are young little girls living with their mom, Julie (Bitten), and her boyfriend, Dennis (Smith). Like most young kids, Kristi has an imaginary friend, Toby, that she has tea parties with and shares secrets with. Toby threatens her to not tell her parents about of these secrets. One night Dennis and Julie decide to video-tape themselves as they engage in some sexual activities. Before they get too far into it, an earthquake shakes their house and stuff goes flying everywhere. Dennis starts to re-watch the tape and notices, for a brief second, the dust falling from the ceiling takes the shape of a figure before it settles to the ground. He's convinced there was a spirit that walked through the room. Dennis sets up three video cameras around the house to catch whatever is happening. There is one in the girls' bedroom, one in the master bedroom, and one positioned on an oscillating fan that scans the living room and kitchen areas. Is it Kristi's mysterious imaginary friend Toby or something worse all together?

After how many entries into a horror movie can a premise still be scary? I think that the third outing is the least scary in the franchise. I will give the filmmakers credit for choosing the oscillating fan technique over the security camera. There is some suspense as you wait for the camera frame to shift from the kitchen to the living room. You wait to see if someone is standing in the background or if something jumps into the frame. Origin stories are not new to the horror genre. I do think it was a smarter choice than having Katie haunt some new family in the house which easily could have been the route the filmmakers could have taken. While the ending was suspenseful and chilling, there weren't as many jumps and shocking moments throughout the movie as the first two had. Maybe I'm just getting immune to these types of scares. Will Paranormal Activity be the next Saw where each Halloween you get a new entry in the series? It is sure looking that way. Will I still go see a fourth anyway? Probably.

RATING: ** (2 out of 5 stars)

Director: George Clooney
Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Stephen Meyers (Gosling) is young hot-shot political junior campaign manager working for Governor of Pennsylvania Mike Morris (Clooney). Governor Morris one of two democratic candidates vying for the presidency. As strong and smart as Stephen is, he can't seem to stay out of trouble throughout the campaign trail. He starts a sexual relationship with an intern, Molly (Evan Rachel Wood). Molly is no innocent young lady. After learning of a secret involving Molly and Governor Morris, Stephen's morals are shaken. Stephen takes a meeting with rival campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Giamatti). Paul suggests to Stephen that he should switch teams and work for the other campaign. Word leaks to the press about the meeting. Stephen learns this his own senior campaign manager (Hoffman) is the one that leaked the news and then fires Stephen from Morris' campaign. Stephen must decide if he wants to exploit the secret that he knows and ruin his own reputation and Morris' campaign , join the other team, or walk away with his head in the air.

You can't help but draw comparisons to the Clinton administration and the Obama administrations when watching this movie. Most of Govenor Morris' advertising is directly in the same style as Obama's. Clooney directed, co-wrote, and is part of the ensemble. Even though he's considered one of the main stars, he appears on screen less than you would have expected. The movie presents a very strong commentary on politics, campaigns, and the backstabbing that goes along with it. It's unfortunate how crooked and shady many keys players can be no matter how likable they seem on the outside. Overall great ensemble work by Clooney, Gosling, Giamatti, Hoffman, and Marisa Tomei. The only weak link is Evan Rachel Wood. She is so wooden and boring in a role that could be more fiendish and devilish. Big props for Ryan Gosling. Three great movies in one year.

RATING: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)

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