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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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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