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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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tim Burton: From VINCENT (1982) to DARK SHADOWS (2012)

This past month Take-Up Productions has been showing various Tim Burton movies at the Trylon Microcinema. Take-Up Productions is a local group dedicated to showing various classics at the Trylon, Riverview and Heights Theater. I've been able to attend the last three screenings: Beetlejuice, Batman, and Edward Scissorhands. These are all movies I grew up watching and have only gained a greater appreciation for them as I got older. Tim Burton definitely is a visionary. His style could be considered dark and gothic, but there is definitely a funny, quirky, and beautiful side to it.

His last few movies have been very different for him. He moved more into the CGI and 3-D worlds, which don't have the same affect as his older movies have on the viewer. His next movie is another adaptation for him, Dark Shadows. Naturally, long time collaborator Johnny Depp is playing the lead, Barnabas Collins. The first set of publicity shots have been released recently. From the looks of the style, it appears that Dark Shadows might be a nice return to the old Tim Burton instead of the new Tim Burton. PLUS, Michelle Pfeiffer is in it. I'm already sold.


Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earl Haley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Johnny Lee Miller, and Eva Green

Opening May 11, 2012

A look back at his filmography...

2012 Dark Shadows
2010 Alice in Wonderland
2007 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
2005 Corpse Bride
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
2003 Big Fish
2001 Planet of the Apes
1999 Sleepy Hollow
1996 Mars Attacks!
1994 Ed Wood
1992 Batman Returns
1990 Edward Scissorhands
1989 Batman
1988 Beetlejuice
1986 Faerie Tale Theatre (TV series)
– Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp (1986)
1985 Pee-wee's Big Adventure
1984 Frankenweenie (short)
1982 Vincent (short)- narrated by Vincent Price!

My Favorite: Edward Scissorhands

My LEAST favorite: Alice in Wonderland

What are your favorite Tim Burton movies? Feel free to leave comments below!

If you haven't seen Vincent, here it is:

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Movie Review: WARRIOR

Director: Gavin O'Connor
Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte

Tommy (Hardy) is back home after serving a term as a Marine. He comes from a troubled past. His father, Paddy (Nolte), was an alcoholic. He has a severed relationship with his brother, Brendan (Edgerton). He comes home to find that his father is no longer a drunk and is on the clean and sober path much to his disbelief. Brendan is a former fighter who is making a living as a high school physics teacher. Tommy enlists the help of his father to train for Sparta, a high-stakes Mixed Martial Arts tournament. The prize is five million dollars to the winner. Due to the pressures of mortgage payments and raising a family, Brendan also signs up and returns to his roots in hopes of winning the money to provide for his family. Brendan is a strong competitor and is the front-runner for the tournament. As Tommy starts to gain momentum, he quickly becomes the underdog to potentially win it all. Each of them start winning their battles getting closer and closer to the idea that they might have to face off against each other.

Don't be fooled. Warrior is not The Fighter with two different actors as the brothers. I feel like the marketing for the movie does not do it justice. Whenever I talk to anyone about Warrior, people say they are sick of boxing movies or that it's a knock-off of The Fighter. The movie doesn't really bear any resemblance to the former except the fact that it is about two brothers. There is a different sport and theme to this one. Some people don't realize that the focus isn't just about mixed martial arts.

I was pleasantly surprised how much I really enjoyed this movie. It was not the movie I thought it was going to be, which could be why I enjoyed it so much. Mixed martial arts is a sport that I really am not familiar with. You find yourself rooting for both Tommy and Brendan. They both have convincing stories, so you want them both to receive the money. The thought of them having to duke it out and practically kill each other for the money is cringe worthy to watch at times. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton give very strong convincing performances. The more I've gotten to see Tom Hardy's work, the bigger fan I become. Joel Edgerton completely knocked me out as well. I've seen some of his other work, but he really shines in this. It's great to see Nick Nolte back on screen again. I feel like we haven't seen him in a great role in quite some time. The cinematography really stood out to me with the massive amounts of close-up tight shots. You really feel as if you're either in the octagon or right outside the fence. The fight itself is over half of the movie. It's eighty minutes of edge-of-your-seat combat. This movie really needs to find a bigger audience. It's one of those movies where you might not originally feel the need to see, but you definitely won't regret it afterwards. It has become one of my favorite movies I've seen all year.

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

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Movie Review: CONTAGION

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law

How often do you wash your hands? After you've used the bathroom? Touched money? Coughed? Shook hands with an acquaintance? I think we naturally forget about how many germs, diseases, bacterias, and viruses we come across on a daily basis. You may think you have a strong immune system, but that doesn't mean everyone does. Contagion is another entry in the gritty genre of pandemic virus movies like Outbreak or The Andromeda Strain. Picking up on Day 2, Beth Emhoff (Paltrow) is traveling home to Minneapolis from a business trip in Hong Kong. She is feeling sick, but doesn't think much of it. Two days later she dies of seizures. Her husband, Mitch (Damon), is confused and doesn't understand how his wife suddenly dies from seizures after only being home for a few days. A couple of days later their son also dies of similar symptoms. Across the world people are massively dying at an alarming speed.

Dr. Ellis Cheever (Fishburne) of the Center of Disease Control and Prevention hires Dr. Erin Mears (Winslet) to head to Minneapolis to track down and investigate the origin of how Beth obtained the virus. During her time in Minneapolis, Dr. Mears spends time with Mitch to pin point Beth's timeline in Hong Kong. Mitch and their daughter have found out that they are immune. As they try to flee town, they are forced back in as they are quarantined in Minneapolis. Dr. Mears finds out she has been infected after spending time in her hotel room. Alan Krumwiede (Law) was infected by the virus but believes he was cured by a herbal remedy from the forsythia plant. He informs his blog followers and starts a following of conspirators. They believe Cheever and the rest of government are hiding the truth about the disease and a known vaccine. Dr. Cheever struggles to maintain control under the pressure. The disease is spreading, and the vaccine is in limited supply. The vaccine is being delivered to people via a lottery system. Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, Sanaa Lathan, Enrico Colantoni, Jennifer Ehle, Demetri Martin, Elliott Gould, and John Hawkes all have supporting roles in this big ensemble movie.

Contagion is a pretty gritty look at what happens when the world becomes overtaken by a deadly disease. I was reminded of what happened when H1N1 and the swine flu started making people sick. People had a wide range of emotions and feelings about the severity of it. I really appreciated Soderbergh's commentary on the range of people's reactions. It's fascinating watching people break into pharmacies and grocery stores thinking it was the end of days to the polar opposite where people believe it's a huge government cover-up. You can't help but take notice how often the camera focuses on any and everything we touch like our faces, hand rails, doors, other people, money, and food. Like most of Soderbergh's ensemble dramas, he gets strong performances out of his actors even in small roles. Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, and Jude Law all excel in their roles. I think Matt Damon is very underrated. I think the "Matt & Ben" aura around them doesn't always give him the credit he deserves. With every character, he gives strong performances with specific choices for each situation that makes each of his characters very different. I found the movie to drag a bit at times and wondered where they would end the story. It is not for the faint of heart or for germaphobes. Luckily, I am neither of those two.

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

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summer 2011 Movie Wrap-Up

Labor Day has passed, which means the summer movie season has come to a close. We start to move into the more serious fall movies. This summer brought us the usual blow-'em-up movies, comic book movies, sequels, two awesome chick flicks, the end of an amazing series, and quite a few duds and disappointments. I tried to see as many as I could, but alas, I just couldn't make it to every movie. Here's a recap of the ups, downs, and surprises.

I read online that box office sales were up from last year, but attendance has been down. That makes perfect sense as ticket prices are on the rise. You also have to pay a couple of dollars extra for 3D movies and IMAX movies. The number one seller was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II taking in over $375 million as of September 6.

Movies I Saw
The Hangover 2
X-Men: First Class
Super 8
Midnight in Paris
Green Lantern
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Friends with Benefits
The Help
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Captain America: The First Avenger
The Debt
Fright Night

Movies I Missed Out On
Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon
Cowboys & Aliens
Larry Crowne
Bad Teacher
Cars 2
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Glee 3D
Final Destination 5
Kung Fu Panda 2
Horrible Bosses

Best Movie of the Summer

Super 8

2nd Place: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

Worst Movie of the Summer

The Hangover 2

Best Actors: Christopher Plummer, Daniel Radcliffe
Best Actresses: Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Melissa McCarthy
Actress Who Seemed to Be in Every Movie: Emma Stone (Crazy, Stupid, Love, The Help, and Friends with Benefits)
Breakout Movies of the Summer: The Help, Bridesmaids, Midnight in Paris
Big Stars in Big Duds: Cowboys and Aliens, Larry Crowne

What was your favorite movie of the summer?
What movie were you severely disappointed in?

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
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Thursday, September 1, 2011


Director: John Madden
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson

It is 1997, Rachel Singer (Mirren) is attending a book release party for her daughter's new book. The book accounts Rachel's history as a Mossad secret agent. When her ex-husband Stephan (Wilkinson) delivers the news that their friend David (Ciarin Hinds) has committed suicide, the two of them must face their past and how to deal with the truth of what happened to them. In 1966, a younger Rachel (Chastain) along with Stephan (Marton Csokas) and David (Worthington) were part of covert mission to capture Nazi war criminal Dieter Vogel who is suspected to be the Surgeon of Birkenau. Their mission is to capture Vogel to expose him for the experimental surgeries against children and heinous crimes he committed. When their mission goes terribly wrong, they must take him captive and figure out what to do next.

I saw The Debt with very little knowledge of the movie. Even though I had seen the trailer numerous times, it was months ago. The movie's release date had been pushed back numerous times. With these types of thrillers, it is better to go in not knowing anything. The twists and turns will have you guessing. The movie jumps back and forth between the two time lines. I thought the 1966 time line was more intriguing and fleshed out better. Jessica Chastain is wonderful and her role is completely opposite of her role in The Help. Her career is really taking off this year as she is proving to be very versatile. Sam Worthington also shows a different side of himself that we haven't seen a lot. He offers a gentler and more vulnerable approach with David. Helen Mirren is one of those actresses that is always good no matter what movie she is in. I was very intrigued throughout the movie and was fascinated in the struggles of both of the Rachels.

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


Director: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

What do you do when you think your neighbor might not be the ideal, innocent man you want him to be? Fright Night is remake of the 1985 horror comedy starring Chris Sarandon. Charley Brewster (Yelchin) is a nerd-at-heart teeanger growing up in Las Vegas. His new friends are a little hipper, and he has a young beautiful girlfriend. He has distanced himself from his childhood friend, Ed (Mintz-Plasse). Ed has noticed that some of their classmates have gone missing at school. Charley doesn't think much about it, but Ed has grown concerned. Ed starts investigating into it and thinks that there is a vampire living in their neighborhood. He puts that theory on Charley's new neighbor, Jerry (Farrell). Jerry is brooding, mysterious, and has started talking to Charley's mom (Collette). At first, Charley thinks Ed is crazy and dismisses him. After some mysterious events, Charley starts to believe Ed. His concerns are confirmed when a hooker steps into Jerry's house and he hears screaming.

Charley turns to Vegas entertainer Peter Vincent (David Tennant) to learn more about vampire lore and to find out any information about Jerry. Peter Vincent performs a goth show about vampires and is supposedly a vampire expert. Charley realizes all too soon that Peter Vincent is basically an act and not the expert he appears to be. Jerry knows that Charley is on to his secret and starts terrorizing him, his mom, and his girlfriend. Charley must learn the truths about vampire lore in order to kill Jerry.

Fright Night was my very first private screening. It was fun to sit in the theater all alone to watch a "horror" movie. I have not seen the original, so I cannot compare it to it's predecessor. It does succeed at feeling like a good '80s horror movie. It is a great mix of humorous one liners and startling moments. There's plenty of blood in it, but it's not an over done gore fest like more recent horror movies think you need to do. Watch for a cameo from original star Chris Sarandon!

Rating: *** (3 out of 5 stars)

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