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, December 31, 2012


Writer/Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson

I had a feeling after I saw the vintage studio logo and the opening credit sequence that I was going to love the latest cinematic achievement from Quentin Tarantino. The year is 1858, two years before the Civil War. A group of slaves is chained up walking through the woods with two of their masters, The Speck Brothers. Django (Foxx) is one of the many slaves in the chain. A mysterious cart and horse approaches them and Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) steps out claiming he is interested in purchasing Django. A violent yet hilarious gunfight ensues. Dr. Schultz shoots one of the brothers and leaves another one injured and stuck under his dead horse. Dr. Schultz unchains Django and convinces him to join him. The other slaves are freed and get their revenge on the Speck brother that is stuck under the horse. After this opening gunfight, you get an idea of the style of violence the rest of the movie has in store.

Dr. Schultz explains to Django that he freed him as he has connections to the Brittle Brothers. He further explains that he is a bounty hunter and there is a price to be had for the death of the Brittle brothers as they are brutal killers. Django decides to help Dr. Schultz in exchange for him to be freed from slavery and for Dr. Schultz's help to find his wife Broomhilda (Washington) who was separated from Django in a slave trade. An agreement has been made and they set off to track down the Brittle brothers. They quickly hunt them down and they shoot them on the plantation of Big Daddy (Don Johnson). Dr. Schultz witnesses Django's uncanny abilities with a gun.

The two of them carry on with their bounty hunting and learn that Broomhilda is being held as a slave in the arms of Calvin Candie (DiCaprio). His plantation is aptly titled, Candyland. Every slave has heard of the infamous Calvin Candie. The male slaves are trained to be fighters while the women are prostitutes. The two devise a plan to pretend to be purchasers of a fighter in order to reach Broomhilda. Eyes and heads turn as both Django and Dr. Schultz arrive on horse and appear to be of the same status. Further suspicion looms in the air for Django as Calvin's top slave and attendant Stephen (Jackson) suspects that Broomhilda and Django may be married.

If you have seen any of Quentin Tarantino's movies, you know what to expect. He always has a clear vision and style that is unlike any other director. You can watch any Tarantino movie and know that he made it even if you did not see his name in the credits. You can expect extreme amounts of profanity, copious amounts of blood, violence, and unforgettable characters. His style is not for everyone. I always appreciate his unapologetic route at making a movie. Nothing ever seems off the table for him. The "N" word is continually used throughout the movie. While many filmmakers would forbid the word to be used in a script, Tarantino uses it as it was part of the vernacular at the time. Revenge is used in many of his films like Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, and now Django Unchained. The extremely violent and bloody scenes against the antagonists are so over-the-top that they turn artistic to make a point.

So much of the movie's success comes from the script he wrote. Tarantino is a massive film buff and historian and uses the idea of the old spaghetti westerns as the backdrop of the story. The rich dialogue gives each one of the actors so much to work with to make them unique and unforgettable characters. Christoph Waltz's first scene is hysterical. He has a way of writing such dark comedy into some of the more violent and intense moments of the movie. Veteran Tarantino actor Samuel L. Jackson gives one of his best performances in a long time. The Academy has long ignored Leonardo DiCaprio even though he continues to give top-notch performances. I expect him or Waltz to be given a nomination.

Django Unchained ranks up there as one of Tarantino's best. It has all of those typical Tarantino ingredients that make for one hell of a rollercoaster ride. The movie is violent, but never gratuitous or obnoxious. The language can be jarring to the ears but it true to the time period. It is intense and insane, but entertaining all at the same time. The movie is very long. While I was never bored, it could stand to have a few cuts and edits without doing damage to the story. Whenever I walk out of a Tarantino movie there are images and shots that get stuck in my head. Some of the music and score sit with me as well. Django Unchained is no exception and is one of the best movies of 2012.

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

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Sunday, December 30, 2012


Director: Tom Hooper
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter

The big screen adaptation of the beloved musical by Alain Boublil and
Claude-Michel Schönberg has finally made it to the big screen, and it has left the die-hard fans in an uproar. Did they do justice with their beloved musical? Did they cast the right actors? Are the voices good enough? Can they get the cast recording out of their head for three hours to appreciate new voices or interpretations of the songs? I have seen the stage version a couple of times and have listened to the cast recording countless times. I will try to keep my comparisons of the two to a minimal, but it will be hard.

Prisoner 24601 Jean Valjean (Jackman) has been released on parole from his guard Javert (Crowe). He stole a loaf of bread and has since been in the arms of the lawful Javert. Valjean is taken in by the Bishop of Digne (original stage Valjean Colm Wilkinson) and given food and shelter. He has a revelation after the generosity the Bishop has given him. He breaks his parole and vows to live a just life helping others. Javert's hunt to capture Valjean once and for all has begun.

Eight years pass and Valjean has taken a new identity to become a factory owner and mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. A fight between the female workers breaks out as they discover Fantine (Hathaway) is sending money to her daughter Cosette. Cosette is living with the Thénardiers (Bonham Carter and Cohen) and their daughter Eponine. The Thénardiers are innkeepers that pick pocket and steal from anyone entering their establishment. Fantine is kicked out of the factory and turns to prostitution in a desperate attempt to make money for her daughter. Valjean promises to Fantine that he will take care of Cosette. He approaches the Thénardiers and gives them enough money to take her.

Nine years pass and life has only gotten worse for the French. Marius (Redmayne) and Enjolras (Aaron Tveit) decide to start a revolution as the war wages on. Marius spots Cosette (Seyfried) amongst the crowd one day and instantly falls in love. This does not bode well for Eponine (Barks) who has long been in love with Marius. Gunfight and turmoil separate Cosette and Marius while it brings together Javert and Valjean to finish their duel that started many years ago.

One of the best choices director Tom Hooper made was to have the actors sing live on set instead of having the music prerecorded. Many movie musicals have all of the music prerecorded first and then have the actors lip-synch during filming. From what I have read, each actor had an ear piece that played the piano part so they could stay with the music. It is a pretty daring move that I found quite effective. I feel like it allowed the actors to really delve into the acting of the songs while singing them at the same time. Some of the actors were better at this than others. Hathaway's showstopping "I Dreamed a Dream" is so heartbreaking to hear and watch. She is sobbing her way through it and makes the lyrics so gut-wrenching. You will forget about any other time you've heard it, especially if it was done for some reality show that made the woman a huge star now. I won't mention names as I cannot stand that weak rendition. Back to the topic at hand. Eddie Redmayne is another actor that made the live singing look effortless. His song "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" is another weeper. This concept does lead to the music to sound a little less refined and pretty than you may expect it to. There is a rough and raw quality to it that may be a little jarring for the die-hard musical lovers.

Crowe and Seyfried are getting the most flack for their performances, but they did not bother me as much as I would have thought. Their voices are very different than how fans have heard their characters sung before. Crowe has more of a rock/pop sound to his tone. He does not have the trained musical theater sound to it. I think he is the one actor that is working the most outside their comfort zone which does show at times. We've heard Seyfried sing in Mamma Mia so her voice come as no surprise. Shockingly enough, Jackman came as a surprise in a different way. I have heard him sing numerous times, so I was excited by his casting. There were moments when he sounded just beautiful while other times his tone really jarred with me. Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne were just phenomenal in every regard. Hathaway will most likely walk away with her first Oscar which will be well deserved. I would love to see Redmayne get some more recognition. Samantha Barks stands out as well as she returns to the role of Eponine after playing in on stage in London.

Another aspect of the movie that will stick out at you is the cinematography. Much of the movie is done in close-up shots, especially during any of the more serious solos. It works with the live singing to help bring out the raw emotion of the song if all you are focused in is the actor delivering the powerful lyrics. To contrast that, the camera uses sharp angles whenever it pans out on the deslote streets of Paris.

Like I have previously stated, it is hard to watch the movie and not compare it to the stage musical. This happens anytime you see a musical adapted for the big screen. Sometimes the material does not transfer well from stage to screen. It takes a supremely talented director, cast, and crew to make the adaptation faithful to the stage version while making it work for the camera. Musical numbers may be cut, characters may reduced from how they appear on stage. It comes with the territory. Not everything that works on stage will work on film. Hooper and his talented cast deliver a top-notch movie musical that stays faithful to the original material. The musical has an amazing score from the solos to the larger group numbers like "One Day More" and "Do You Hear the People Sing?". Some of the musical numbers will have you sobbing in your seats, and you will most likely come out with the music stuck in your head. It is the best stage to screen musical adaptation since 2002's Chicago.

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

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Movie Review: THIS IS 40

Director/Writer: Judd Apatow
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Chris Dowd

I will take a Paul Rudd movie any day of the week, especially in a script by David Wain or Judd Apatow. This is 40 is a sort of-sequel to Apatow's previous movie, Knocked Up. Rudd and Leslie Mann revisit those characters as the story centers on their marriage this time around. Debbie (Mann) is celebrating her 40th birthday but she really is pretending it is her 38th birthday. She struggles with this concept and refuses to start feeling older or doing things that older women do like shopping at Ann Taylor Loft. Pete (Rudd) is also turning 40 that week but does not seem to care in the slightest bit. The upcoming birthday party is ONLY for him and not the both of them.

They do not have a perfect marriage, but I would not consider it a miserable or bad marriage. The looming idea of being 40 really brings out their troubled areas to Debbie and Pete. Their daughters Sadie and Charlotte (Iris and Maude Apatow, real life daughters of Mann and Apatow) continually bicker and fight. Sadie is obsessed with her electronic devices and watching "Lost". Charlotte is the little sister that likes to antagonize the older one. Debbie runs a little boutique but has troubles addressing sexy coworker Desi (Fox) regarding a huge chunk of change that has gone missing. Pete started his own record label but is struggling to bring in revenue. His only hope is to sign on aging rocker Graham Parker and his band for a reunion CD and concert appearance. Pete is less than honest with Debbie about their mortgage payments and the lack of money coming in.

Let us not forget about the father figures who deepen the issues between the two of them. Pete's dad Larry (Brooks) continues to borrow money even though Pete told Debbie he had put an end to it. Larry's debt to Pete sits at $80,000 despite being remarried himself with three sons all young enough to be his grandchildren. Debbie's dad Oliver (Lithgow) is all of a sudden in the picture despite having been absent most of her life. He is also remarried with much younger children.

Pete and Debbie go back and forth on loving each other and being completely sick of each other. This struggle provides a great honesty and range with the emotional pull between the couple. The film may have its gross-out raunchy humor and gags, but there are plenty of serious heartfelt moments to elevate it over your standard dumbed down bathroom humor flick. I will take this kind of "dramedy" over some lame-brain Adam Sandler flick any day. Even if you haven't been in the same shoes and predicaments as Pete and Debbie, the honesty between the two will still ring true to a relationship in your life whoever it may be with.

This is the fourth feature written and directed by Judd Apatow. It is certainly his most personal and mature film to date. Apatow and Mann have said that about a third of the movie is based on their real life marriage. Apatow knows how to write for Rudd and Mann. They are hysterically funny one moment and painfully biting when they are throwing verbal jabs at each other. Their supporting company of actors especially Brooks and Lithgow are given their moments to shine as well. Apatow has been known for making many of his movies longer than they really need to be. Do not even get me started on the painfully abysmal Funny People which was the movie he made before This is 40. Talk about a movie that was not funny for the entire two and a half hour run time. This is 40 stays pretty on target and does not suffer fatigue. The party scene could be shortened and tightened, but that is the only moment I felt the pace dip. Make sure to stay during the final credits for an outtake reel showing off Melissa McCarthy. She just lets loose and riffs making it one of the funniest moments of the entire movie.

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

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Movie Review: JACK REACHER

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Robert Duvall, David Oyelowo

A sniper eyes various people through the scope of his rifle and lets off six shots killing five random targets in a plaza area. We see the face of our lone gunman. He is young, good looking, and has a five o'clock shadow. He leaves the parking ramp in his white van but purposefully leaves behind a trail of clues including gun shells and a quarter with his finger print on him.

The cops quickly track down our gunman who is a former military sniper by the name of James Barr. You soon realize that James Barr is not the guy we just saw shooting five people. Barr refuses to answer the police interrogation and only responds by writing down three words: "Get Jack Reacher". Jack Reacher (Cruise) is a former military officer who is mysterious in every regard. He makes it a point to for anyone to be unable to track him down. He does not own a home, car, or bank account. He will make his presence known when he sees fit. Reacher knows of Barr's history in the military and shows up when he hears about the situation. By this point, Barr has been beaten and left in a coma. Barr's lawyer Helen Rodin (Pike) hires Reacher has her investigator. Her father (Jenkins) is the D.A. and is hired to prosecute the case. Reacher learns more about the shooting and is determined that this is not the work of Barr. Reacher and Helen work together under his terms to determine the connection between Barr and the real sniper.

Jack Reacher is based on the book "One Shot" by Lee Child. It's the ninth book in a series of novels involving the unstoppable Jack Reacher. Fans of the book raised an eyebrow with the casting of Tom Cruise as the 6'5" 200+ pound former military officer. Cruise does not quite fit that physical description. Lee Child endorsed the casting despite the difference in height. I am having mixed vibes towards Cruise in this performance. He pulls off the unstoppable aspects of Reacher, and he definitely is a guy you do not want to pick a fight with. Cruise is quite restrained in the role unlike many of his previous larger than life characters you have seen him portray. While I applaud his self-control, I feel like he is trying to pull off the elusive mysterious qualities of Reacher a little too hard. I do not know how he is written in the books, but I wanted more out of the character. That being said, Cruise has potential with the role. I think if the series continues, Cruise will get better with the character.

Jack Reacher is your standard "whodunit" and "how are they all connected" type movie. The beginning and ending are suspenseful, but the middle seems to drag on as you play along with Reacher and Helen as they connect the dots. I never lost interest with the story, but I wanted something else and something more to happen. There is a bit of a twist, but if you have watched enough "Law & Order" episodes, you will figure it out before the ending. The most exciting part of the movie was the brilliant casting of Robert Duvall. He pops up in the last 45 minutes as Cash, the owner of a shooting range where Barr frequented. Duvall brings the movie a much needed sense of humor. If the movie does well at the box office, I think Cruise could continue on with this character. It could be a great franchise for him to take on. Even though I wrestled with this movie, I think there is potential. I would be up for another Jack Reacher mystery. Lee Child has written many stories with the character, so I know there is more material out there.

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

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Monday, December 17, 2012


Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch

Bilbo Baggins (Holm) has had an adventurous life as he tells Frodo (Elijah Wood). He decides to sit down and write about what happened to him sixty years ago. When he was a much younger hobbit, Bilbo (Freeman) received a strange invitation from a wizard by the name of Gandalf the Grey (McKellen) that involves a bunch of dwarves. Gandalf tricks Bilbo into having a dinner party. Bilbo is taken back, to say the least, as twelve dwarves start showing up at his doorstep unannounced and ready for a feast. Gandalf used a bit of magic to mark Bilbo's door as a marker.

The dwarves are on a journey to reclaim their land. Dwarf King Thror had become the ruler under the Lonely Mountain area. The area prospered for all until Smaug the Dragon was drawn to their copious amounts of gold and destroyed their town of Dale. The arrival of Smaug drew the dwarves out of their town. Thror and his son Thrain perished, but Thrain's son Thorin (Armitage) survived as he was out hunting. Thorin arrives to see the destruction of his town and noticed King Thranduil (Pace) and his elves standing on the hillside refusing to help. This refusal led to the animosity and feud between the dwarves and elves.

After much hesitation, Bilbo joins Gandalf and the rest of the dwarves on their trek to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim their territory. All does not go safely to plan for our company as they battle the many Orcs and goblins along the way. Gandalf leads the group to Rivendell to seek advice from Elrond (Weaving), Galadriel (Blanchett), and Saruman the White (Lee). Bilbo encounters the creature Gollum (Serkis) along the way and steals the ring he is possessing after learning of its invisibility power. The presence of the mysterious Necromancer and Smaug looms in the air and could have a lasting impression on Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves.

Peter Jackson has released the movie in quite a few viewing formats: 2D, 3D, and the new HFR 3D. HFR stands for high frame rate. Jackson shot the movie at 48 frames per second compared to the standard 24 frames per second most movies are shot in. I was able to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in HFR 3D. Not many theaters are able to show this specific format, so if you are interested you may need to check your local theater to see what format they are playing the movie in. The HFR format is getting mixed reviews. The picture quality is unbelievably clear and crisp. The easiest thing I can compare it to is as if you are watching a live recording of a show or concert on an LED HD TV. I think it enhances the 3D and gives the picture a clearer and less dark and murky quality that typically comes with 3D territory. The picture quality takes a little bit to get used to, but after ten or twenty minutes you will adjust. Everything about the picture is clear and noticeable. You may be able to notice wigs, make-up, and prosthetics more than you had before. HFR has great potential, but it will take some time before filmmakers fully understand how to use it and work with it.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first part in a new trilogy. Unlike The Lord of the Rings trilogy that was based on three different books, the new trilogy is only based on the one book plus some additional appendices and Tolkien notes that screenwriters Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, and Guillermo del Toro are using to expand the story and incorporate The Lord of the Rings into it. This first part of the new trilogy does feel a little long and tends to drag on a bit at the beginning and in the middle sections. I was also missing an emotional connection with the characters like I did with The Fellowship of the Ring. I do not feel like Jackson and company needed to incorporate previous characters into it if they do not enhance the story or move it forward. The Frodo scenes are the beginning are completely unneeded and feel a bit awkward. On the other end of that spectrum, I enjoyed the scenes at Rivendell where we see a very different side of Saruman the White.

Will the movie appeal to movie-goers that are new to the series or people that were a little ho-hum about the first three? Probably not. You will probably find the story long and drawn out. If you are a fan of the first trilogy, you will still enjoy and geek out of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. You will not mind a bit that it will be three new movies. I adore the original trilogy and think they are stunning achievements in film making. Jackson has a way of capturing J.R.R. Tolkien's worlds and characters and makes them a visual feast. They are detailed, lush, and fully realized often times making the audience believe they are real places instead sound stages and green screens. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has it's problems and is nowhere near as perfect as The Lord of the Rings. Despite that, this fan will still be in line opening night for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

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

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Thursday, December 13, 2012



The Golden Globes are another great night of rewarding the best of the silver screen over the past year. The awards are handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and are typically the "party" awards. All of the nominees and presenters are basically drinking around their dinner tables all night long. It's even better when a presenter has had too much and slurs the names he/she is reading off the teleprompter. Clink on any of the links to read my reviews of the nominated movies. Here's a look at this year's nominees:



1. Ben Affleck--Argo
2. Kathryn Bigelow--Zero Dark Thirty
3. Ang Lee--Life of Pi
4. Steven Spielberg--Lincoln
5. Quentin Tarantino--Django Unchained

1. Daniel Day-Lewis--Lincoln
2. Richard Gere-Arbitrage
3. John Hawkes--The Sessions
4. Joaquin Phoenix--The Master
5. Denzel Washington--Flight

1. Jack Black--Bernie
2. Bradley Cooper--Silver Linings Playbook
3. Hugh Jackman--Les Miserables
4. Ewan McGregor--Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
5. Bill Murray--Hyde Park on Hudson

1. Jessica Chastain--Zero Dark Thirty
2. Marion Cotillard--Rust and Bone
3. Helen Mirren--Hitchcock
4. Naomi Watts--The Impossible
5. Rachel Weisz--The Deep Blue Sea

1. Emily Blunt--Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
2. Judi Dench--The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
3. Jennifer Lawrence--Silver Linings Playbook
4. Maggie Smith--Quartet
5. Meryl Streep--Hope Springs

1. Alan Arkin--Argo
2. Leonardo DiCaprio--Django Unchained
3. Phillip Seymour Hoffman--The Master
4. Tommy Lee Jones--Lincoln
5. Christoph Waltz--Django Unchained

1. Amy Adams--The Master
2. Sally Field--Lincoln
3. Anne Hathaway--Les Miserables
4. Helen Hunt--The Sessions
5. Nicole Kidman--The Paperboy

1. Michael Haneke--Amour
2. Quentin Tarantino--Django Unchained
3. Tony Kushner--Lincoln
4. David O. Russell--Silver Linings Playbook
5. Mark Boal--Zero Dark Thirty

1. Daria Marianelli--Anna Karenina
2. Alexandre Desplat--Argo
3. Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek--Cloud Atlas
4. Mychael Danna--Life of Pi
5. John Williams--Lincoln

1. "For You"--Act of Valor
2. "Safe and Sound"--The Hunger Games
3. "Suddenly"--Les Miserables
4. "Skyfall"--Skyfall
5. "Not Running Anymore"--Stand Up Guys



SURPRISES? Nicole Kidman seems to be getting more praise for her work in Lee Daniel's The Paperboy. The movie came and out with mixed reviews, so it is surprising that she is getting nomations from SAG and the Golden Globes. I was surprised Maggie Smith was nominated for Quartet over The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

SNUBS? No Best Picture for Silver Linings Playbook is the biggest snub in my opinion along with them ignoring Robert DeNiro's work. Anthony Hopkins and Beasts of the Southern Wild were also snubbed.

Here is a complete list of the SAG Awards Nominations

Here is my Oscar Watch 2013 page with all the latest updates leading up the big evening.

The awards air on NBC on January 13th, 2013
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012



The Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations have been announced! They are usually the strongest indicators of who will be nominated for an Oscar. The SAG winners often times walk away with the coveted Oscar as well. There are always exceptions to that as well. There are only a couple of surprises here. Javier Bardem and Nicole Kidman received nominations beating out the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, or Jacki Weaver. No actors from Django Unchained received any recognition. The cast of Zero Dark Thirty was not recognized even though Jessica Chastain received a Best Actress nomination.

I’ve added links to my reviews of any of the movies I have seen thus far. Make sure to check out my Oscar Watch 2013 page for the latest updates leading up to the announcement of the nominations and through Oscar Day!

Best Performance By a Cast in a Motion Picture

Outstanding Performance by in Actor in a Leading Role
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Denzel Washington, Flight

Outstanding Performance by in Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Outstanding Performance by in Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin, Argo
Javier Bardem, Skyfall
Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Outstanding Performance by in Actress in a Supporting Role
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Who are you excited to see nominated? Any of these surprised for you?

The SAG Awards air on TBS and TNT on January 27, 2012
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Movie Trailer: MAN OF STEEL


Director: Zach Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Russell Crowe as Jor-El
Michael Shannon as General Zod
Laurence Fishburne as Perry White
Christopher Meloni as Colonel Hardy

By the looks of the trailer, the upcoming Superman movie Man of Steel looks to be an origins story. Fans of the series did not have a warm reaction towards the last movie, 2006's Superman Returns, for numerous reasons. I myself did not appreciate the casting of Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Audience members should be relieved because the movie looks to be in good hands with Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen) behind the camera with Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy) producing the movie. The script is by David S. Goyer who previously co-wrote the stories for The Dark Knight trilogy so hopefully that means a strong story. If all goes well, I would not be surprised if the series is rebooted and this turns into the next big trilogy.

Release Date: June 14, 2013

Feel free to sound off below with your comments on Man of Steel. Will you be there at a midnight screening? Opening weekend? Dollar theater?

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Thursday, December 6, 2012



Director: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine as James T. Spock
Zachary Quinto as Spock
Zoe Saldana as Uhura
Karl Urban as Bones
Simon Pegg as Scotty
Anton Yelchin as Chekov
John Cho as Sulu
Benedict Cumberbatch as our villian rumored to be Khan!!!

In 2009 J.J. Abrams brought us his exciting “reboot” of the Star Trek series with a new, younger cast playing the characters we grew up knowing and loving that were previously played by William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and George Takei to name just a few. The movie blew people away with a fresh approach to a series whose previous movies were embraced with a lukewarm response. A whole new group of people were introduced to the Star Trek Universe and were not embarrassed to call themselves “Trekkies”.

Abrams and his entire Enterprise crew are back for another adventure. This time they face off against fantastic actor Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s “Sherlock”) as the movie’s villain. His exact role as not been announced yet, but there are strong rumors that he is playing Khan, previously played by Ricardo Montalbán. This teaser is only an "announcement" as a longer teaser trailer will arrive December 17. It has also been announced that the first nine minutes of the movie will play before Peter Jackson's The Hobbit at certain IMAX theaters on December 14.

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS arrives in IMAX 3D theaters MAY 17, 2013

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THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER--The Actresses: Full Uncensored Interview

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER--The Actresses: Full Uncensored Interview

This is the second in a series of videos I am posting from The Hollywood Reporter. This time they interview seven fantastic actresses who are having a terrific year showcasing some of their finest work.

The hour long sit down chat includes:
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Sally Field, Lincoln
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Rachel Weiz, The Deep Blue Sea
Amy Adams, The Master
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone

My favorite moment is when Sally Field talks about how she had to fight to get the part of Mary Todd Lincoln. Even actresses of her pedigree and stature still have to fight for the parts they believe in.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Movie Review: THE GUILT TRIP

Director: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Seth Rogen, Barbra Streisand, Colin Hanks, Adam Scott, Kathy Najimy

I never would have expected the divine Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen to star in a movie together. Those two are light years apart on the acting spectrum and are in such different generations of Hollywood, yet somehow the concept of them starring as mother and son somehow works. Andy Brewster (Rogen) is visiting his mother Joyce (Streisand) while he heads out on the road trying to promote and sell his product to big businesses like K-Mart and Costco. He invented an all natural cleaning product made from coconut, grass, and soy called Scieoclean. Needless to say, the name of it is hard to pronounce and Andrew does not have the best sales pitch. Joyce is his widowed and retired mom who seems to be enjoying life to the fullest all the while being slightly overbearing by constantly calling Andy, leaving messages, and prodding into his life.

A late night conversation over ice cream seems to open up the doors to some family secrets. Joyce opens up to Andy about the long lost love that she left behind when she married his father. Andy just so happens to be named after this lost love. The light bulb goes off in Andy's head and he researches the whereabouts of this Andrew Margolis character. He tracks Andrew down in San Francisco and invites his mother along on his business trip under the ruse of them being able to spend some good quality mother son time together. In reality, he wants to take her to San Francisco to track down Andrew so she can have some closure. Joyce is thrilled at the idea of joining her son on a business trip driving all over the United States. She has an idea to play matchmaker herself by wanting to set Andy up with his high school sweetheart when they pass through her hometown. She packs far too many suitcases, a controversial book on CD, and has far too many opinions for Andy to deal with on the first day.

Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen are definitely playing against their usual types and images we see them as in real life or the characters they have played before. There is not one scene where we see Rogen smoking pot! Being the accomplished legend that she is, Streisand is far more believable in playing against type. I just could never fully believe the fact that Rogen is a chemical engineer trying to sell a cleaning product he invented. Streisand knew how to play the overbearing moments while making subtle choices when she is trying to win over Andy. I always felt like I was learning so much about her character even she was not blabbing away at Andy. There is an argument scene in the hotel room that she completely nails and I understood everything she was thinking about leading up to her speech. Unlike Rogen, there is no blank stare or meaningless reflection to Streisand.

Screenwriter Dan Fogelman apparently wrote the movie based on a road trip he took with his mom. According to Streisand and Rogen, his mother actually participated in a steak eating contest similar to the one in the movie. Knowing that it is partially based on a true story helps the movie feel a little more realistic and relatable. There have been plenty of buddy buddy or whole family road trip movies, but there have not been too many that are solely about a mother and son trek across the country that I can recall. There is a warm feeling to the movie as Andy and Joyce try to relate to each other and see how they can learn and grow from the other person. Streisand really makes the movie work. Her character is far more than just the nagging mother character you would expect her to be. The movie has plenty of heart and uplifting moments that I was not expecting by the way the trailer was cut together. It does make you wonder if you would be able to do a road trip with your mother no matter if she is overbearing or not.

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

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Hollywood Reporter-The Directors: Full Uncensored Interview

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER--The Directors: Full Uncensored Interview

One of my biggest guilty pleasures is watching interviews with directors and actors discussing their work and processes. Around this time of year, these types of interviews pop up with the best of the business discussing the films that are garnering award buzz.

This year's participants on the directors round table for The Hollywood Reporter are:
-Gus Van Sant, Promised Land
-Ang Lee, Life of Pi
-Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
-Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
-David O.Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
-Ben Affleck, Argo


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Monday, December 3, 2012

Movie Review: HITCHCOCK

Director: Sacha Gervasi
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Michael Stuhlbarg, Danny Huston, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy

We take Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho as an important part of film history. Many regard it as his best movie. Many people probably do not know the trouble that the master of suspense had while making the movie, let alone even getting Paramount interested in distributing it. After the release of North By Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock (Hopkins) was looking for his next big movie. Numerous industry insiders questioned if he could deliver another successful movie. Was he getting too old to keep making hit movies? Hitchcock started to feel some inspiration after reading a book called "Psycho" by Robert Bloch. The book was loosely based on the real life killings in Wisconsin by Ed Gein. Hitchcock wanted to bring back a good old fashioned horror picture. He was under contract with Paramount at the time, but they were less than impressed with the thought of Psycho being his next picture. Hitchcock was bound and determined to make the movie no matter what the costs were.

His wife, Alma (Mirren), was a vital part of his productions. She would often write revisions to the script and knew how to edit a movie to keep up the suspense. She was often Alfred's closest collaborator and voice of opinion for any movie he was making. Alma tried getting him to read a screenplay by her friend Whitfield Cook (Huston), but he was set in stone about the adaptation of "Psycho". Alma conceded and got on board with the production. They decided to fund the movie themselves putting much of their life in jeopardy just to get the movie made. It was Alma's idea to have the character of Marion Crane killed off within the first thirty minutes.

Hitchcock casts Janet Leigh (Johansson), Anthony Perkins (D'Arcy), and Vera Miles (Biel) as the stars of Psycho. Leigh is the latest addition to the line-up of women known as the "Hitchcock Blonde". Despite her constant professionalism on set, there is an underlining feeling that exists between her and Hitchcock. Alma cannot seem to shake her inner struggle with this and spends her time writing on the beach with Whitfield Cook. Her absence around their house and set does not go unnoticed by Hitch who begins to think she is having an affair.

There are two different stories being told in this behind-the-scenes look at the life of one of the greatest screen directors. The primary story centers around the marriage of Alfred Hitchcock and his devoted wife Alma Reville. The other focus of the movie is on the constant challenges he faced while making Psycho. The movie is based on the book "Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho" by Stephen Rebello. The movie history nut in me wanted more of the story to center around the making of the classic movie. I think it could have gone into far more detail. Instead, Hitchcock is more about his relationship with Alma. Both stories are fascinating and could easily have been made into their own movies. Here they are blended together and not given a very specific look into either one of them. Another jarring part of the movie deals with Ed Gein. The movie suggests that Hitchcock was haunted by the images of Gein and was seeing visions of the serial killer. I do not know if this was true in real life or just a cinematic concept that fell flat. Every scene with Hitchcock talking to Gein seems so out of place with the tone of the rest of the movie.

The strong performances save the movie and give it the depth that is missing from the screenplay. Scarlett Johansson and James D'Arcy bring some nice subtle choices to their real life counterparts that play well for the limited screen time they have been given. For the most part, Anthony Hopkins successfully hides behind the make-up and fat suit to bring out numerous sides of Hitchcock while still showcasing his obvious vocal qualities and posture. In what easily could have been a movie to show off the work of Anthony Hopkins, the best performance belongs to fellow Oscar winner Helen Mirren. I really began to wonder if the movie was about her character instead of Hopkins' character. There is humor, strength, and heart to her that showcases why she was a perfect match for Alfred but also makes you feel sorry for her. This is the second of two movies based on Alfred Hitchcock that were released this year. Toby Jones played Hitch in HBO's "The Girl" which followed his relationship with Tippi Hedren while filming The Birds. Which version has the more accurate portrayal of the master of suspense? I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Hitchcock is the better of the two movies by far. I just wish the movie would have decided to pick which story it wanted to tell and given more specificity to that story.

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

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Friday, November 30, 2012


I missed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel while it was in theaters, but now that it is on DVD/Blu-Ray I thought it would be the perfect movie for DeeAnn McArdle and Unleash Your Inner Foodie. DeeAnn has graciously posted my review on the blog section of her website. Here is the beginning of it:

It’s Foodie Movie night at the McArdle’s and we can hardly wait to watch tonight’s feature – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel! A big thank you to our favorite movie critic; Paul McGuire for this recommendation and review. I’m off to the grocery store to buy some ingredients to make some Indian spiced nuts, Chutney and Naan to nibble on as we watch the great Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in their adventure! Enjoy!

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Director: John Madden
Starring: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson
Evelyn (Dench) is a recent widow and is going outside her comfort zone. She is traveling to India to spend some time at an exotic hotel specifically designed or the elderly and beautiful. Her son comments on how she has never done anything without his dad in her life. She is joined by a group of others that are
also taking this pilgrimage for their own specific reasons. Graham (Wilkinson) is retiring from being a judge and is moving back to India. Jean (Downton Abbey’s Penelope Wilton) and Doug (Nighy) are looking for a less expensive place to retire. Muriel (Smith) needs to have hip surgery and a surgeon in India happens to be the cheaper solution for her. Madge and Norman are two singles looking for adventure.

To read the rest click: HERE



Have you seen this Judi Dench and Maggie Smith adventure? I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave them below or comment on DeeAnn’s website! I highly recommend checking out her entire website while you are there. There are so many delicious recipes and dining guides for any occasion or holiday!
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Movie Review: FLIGHT

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, Tamara Tunie, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood

I do not think people realize how much faith they are putting in their pilot every time they board a plane. It may become more apparent after seeing Flight, Robert Zemeckis’ first live action movie since 2000's Cast Away. It is another day on the job for William “Whip” Whitaker (Washington), a pilot at the top of his game. It is severely raining outside but that does not seem to be of any alarm for Whip. He does his routine checks and is ready to face the sky like any other flight he has piloted. The plane lifts off and continues until the storm becomes worse and proves to be too powerful for the plane. The plane goes into a steep dive forcing Whip and his co-pilot to maneuver it to avoid crashing and killing every passenger on board. They are able to control it by inverting it and guiding it closer to an open landing field. The crash landing is nowhere near as horrendous as it could have been. Six people total, four passengers and two crew members, perish during the crash. Whip is taken to the hospital and proclaimed a hero. No one could have landed the plane the way he did.

Little does everyone know that previous to boarding the plane, Whip did not sleep, got drunk, and snorted lines of cocaine with one of the flight attendants. He awakens from a concussion in the hospital and is surrounded by Charlie Anderson (Greenwood) a long time friend and representative of the union as well as members for the NTSB, National Transportation Safety Board. An investigation into the accident will occur as six people died in the crash. His friend and drug dealer Harling Mays (Goodman) picks him up when he is released and takes him to his father’s farm to avoid the media circus that is awaiting him at his own apartment. He sees the accident as a calling and promptly dumps any and all traces of liquor and drugs found in his place. While at the hospital, he meets fellow drug addict Nicole (Reilly) and invites her to stay with him at the farm.

Toxicology results come back positive for Whip showing the alcohol and drugs that were in his system while he was flying the plane. Attorney Hugh Lang (Cheadle) is hired as Whip’s lawyer to deal with the new predicament. Whip could face the rest of his life in jail as the deaths of the crash are now being investigated for manslaughter. With these new allegations, Whip returns to bottle as his coping mechanism.

Movies about alcoholics are never easy to watch. Even if you do not have any personal experience with knowing an alcoholic, the concept still manages to punch you in the gut. Denzel Washington is so good at these types of damaged characters that it makes it so much harder for the audience. I mean that in a good way. Whip is such an unapologetic and bullheaded character that every time he reaches for that bottle, you cringe in your seat. You just wish that for once he would hold himself accountable and make the better choice. I wish the costume and make-up designers would have roughened up Whip and Nicole a bit more. They both seem too pretty and put together for two characters that are that deep into addiction.

Despite Zemeckis' twelve year hiatus from live action movies, Flight proves that he still can deliver a top notch, well-executed movie. Once the storm is brewing, you are put in the co-pilot's chair until the very end of the crash. It is one nail biting, gut wrenching scene. Washington and the rest of the cast all deliver outstanding performances never trying to play the "drunk" or "victim" card. Tamara Tunie has a touching scene with Washington during the funeral as she stands up for her morals over her long friendship with Whip. John Goodman excels at his usual sidekick character as the Hawaiian shirt wearing dealer of Whip’s. He is a good comedic break that the movie needs so it doesn’t feel too bogged down in heavy topic of addiction. The story provides such interesting moral dilemmas. The plane malfunction was proven to be the fault of the accident, but do you still hold Whip accountable due to his poor choices? Can you still consider Whip a hero?

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

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