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, July 31, 2012

Movie Trailer: SKYFALL

Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw

After some studio issues a couple of years ago, it seemed like a new Bond movie was dead and buried. I'm SO glad they got their act together. Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench are back for another Bond adventure with Sam Mendes at the helm. By the looks of the trailers so far, it will definitely be a winner. The latest trailer released finally shows us Javier Bardem as the villain as well as the return of gadget master Q!

Be sure to check out my Bond Challenge where Ryan and I try to watch all of the Bond movies before the release of Skyfall.

The Cast
Daniel Craig- James Bond 007
Dame Judi Dench- M
Ben Whishaw- Q
Javier Bardem- Silva
Ralph Fiennes-Gareth Mallory
Helen McCrory-Clair Dowar
Naomie Harries-Eve

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Monday, July 23, 2012


Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Matthew Modine

All good things must come to end. Finding the proper send off to a beloved trilogy is tricky. The audience has spent the last two movies invested in classic characters and rich storytelling and you do not want to be let down by some lackluster finale. Audiences will not remember The Return of the Jedi or The Godfather Part III as the best in the series. However, I firmly believe The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the best of that trilogy. Christopher Nolan had his work cut out for him to deliver a satisfying conclusion to his Batman trilogy. The previous entry, The Dark Knight, was pitch perfect and delivered one of the greatest performances seen on screen in the last ten years.

Eight years have passed since the events that ended The Dark Knight. Gotham City seems to be at a peaceful state under the reign of Commissioner Gordon (Oldman) and the passing of the Dent Act. Batman has not been seen since he disappeared the night of Harvey Dent's death. Bruce Wayne (Bale) has retreated to a secluded life in Wayne Manor over his former luxurious lifestyle. On the eight year anniversary of Dent's death, the celebration is a set for a spark in the beginning of the downfall of Gotham. Bruce's encounter with cat burglar Selina Kyle (Hathaway) is one of the first signs that "a storm is coming." She seems to be after more than the simple necklace that she steals from Bruce.

Selina Kyle assists in the kidnapping of a congressman in an attempt to lure Commissioner Gordon to the scene. Gordon follows the trail into the sewer system to find it has been taken over by Bane (Hardy) and his henchmen. Bane is a bald beefy badass that wears a muzzle over his scarred mouth. Gordon escapes through the water lines but is shot in the process. While hospitalized, he appoints Officer John Blake (Gordon-Levitt) to directly report to him. Blake has a connection to Bruce Wayne as they both lost their parents at a young age. He approaches Bruce and informs him that he has known all along that he is Batman. He believes in the good Batman has done for the city and implores Bruce to don the cape and cowl to stand up to Bane. Bruce’s butler Alfred (Caine) feels differently. He knows the danger and risk involved and does not want to deal with the death of another member of the Wayne family. Bruce ignores Alfred’s pleas and comes to terms with the fact it is time to family don the Batman again. Bane’s reign of power over of Gotham continues. The takeover of Wayne Enterprises Applied Science Division, the attack on the Stock Exchange, and the trapping of all policeman in the tunnel system are all part of Bane’s attempt to take on the wealthiest of Gotham.

Part of the intriguing concept in Nolan’s Batman Trilogy is that it is set in a very realistic society. The feel of Gotham and its residents is more modern than the dark gothic world or comic book world we’ve seen from previous Batman movies. The themes and events in Nolan’s films ring all too realistic at times. The notions of corruption, anarchy, power of the people, class systems, vigilantes, and the Occupy Movement all ring true to the events in today’s world as well as Gotham. With many comic book movies, it is easy to separate yourself from the fantasy world those characters live in. At one point I had to remember that I was technically watching a movie based on a comic-book as it was all hitting close to home.

It is hard to follow-up Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance of the Joker in The Dark Knight. He still remains the best villain of the series. Bane and The Joker are two very different villains with different motivations. Due to his size and muzzled face, he doesn’t quite have the chaotic characteristics that came with The Joker. Tom Hardy gives a fantastic performance as he inhabits a larger than life entity set out for destruction and war. Anne Hathaway steals the movie as the slinky, sexy Selina Kyle. Even though she’s never referred to as Catwoman, she fully embodies the spirit of Catwoman and never lets the leather suit get in her way. She uses the suit and heals to her advantage. You never know exactly what to expect out of Catwoman. Where is she going to pop up, can you trust her, is she good or evil? Hathaway is perfect at keeping her mysterious and not playing her as a stereotype. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also stands out as the brave and strong-willed John Blake. He is not afraid to do what is right and stand up for what he believes in.

With a running time of over two and a half hours, Nolan and his screenwriting brother Jonathan Nolan have written a long finale to their saga. There is a lot of ground they cover in order to introduce new characters, connect them to the back story, and create a cohesive storyline for all three parts. I think the movie succeeds at feeling like it is its own story while still feeling a part of the overall saga of the rise and fall and rise of Batman that the trilogy has laid out for the audience. Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister have shot about 70 minutes of the movie using 70mm IMAX cameras. Many of the aerial shots and the action sequences are the IMAX scenes. The scope and feel of these scenes are breathtaking especially if you can see it at an IMAX theater like the Great Clips IMAX Theater at the Minnesota Zoo. The Dark Knight Rises is a stunning, breathtaking, and completely satisfying end making the Batman trilogy one of the best trilogies ever made.

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

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Movie Trailer: THE MASTER

Director/Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Laura Dern, W.Earl Brown

I first reported about Paul Thomas Anderson's latest movie back on May 10, 2011. You can find that post "here". I think Anderson is a genious filmmaker. Magnolia is in My Top 20 Films list. He is known for writing gritty, thought-provoking, and controversial films. He casts exceptional actors which landed an Oscar win for Daniel Day-Lewis for his performance in There Will Be Blood. The Master seems to be no exception. Hoffman, Phoenix, and Adams are all top-notch past Oscar nominees and appear to be delivering strong performances once again. The film centers around Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman) who creates a new religion called "The Cause". World War II vet Freddie (Phoenix) joins "The Cause" and becomes one of Lancaster's strong supporters. Freddie's life start to go in the wrong direction the deeper he gets into Lancaster's cult like teachings. Some early reports claim that Anderson based Lancaster Dodd on L.Ron Hubbard who started Scientology. He apparently has screened the movie for Tom Cruise. Hoffman has come forward to say it is not based on Scientology, so we shall what the reaction is like once it comes out. I.cannot.wait.

Here is the official trailer as well as some of the teasers that were previously released.

Release Date: October 12, 2012

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff

There seem to be a bunch of movies in the works inspired by The Wizard of Oz. The legendary director of both the Spider-Man and The Evil Dead trilogies is back with his take on L. Frank Baum's world in Oz, The Great and Powerful. The first trailer appeared recently at Comic-Con. The movie tells the story of how Oscar "Oz" Diggs(Franco), a struggling magician, gets blown from Kansas in his balloon and arrives in the Land of Oz. All things change as he meets up with the three witches (Kunis, Williams, Weisz) we have come to know and love. They seem to be promoting it as a prequel of sorts to The Wizard of Oz. I wish the studio had not added the "And the Producer of Alice in Wonderland" line in the trailer. I HATED that movie and I just get nervous when they use that line and try to connect it to that wretched Tim Burton adaptation. This movie looks very ladened with CGI much like Alice in Wonderland. Whenever movies are heavy in CGI, I get frustrated as many times they often look cheap. Despite that, I am staying fairly opened minded. I trust Raimi as well as his top notch cast and hope they can deliver a fine product without feeling like a cheap knock off of the 1939 classic.

The Cast
James Franco- The Wizard
Michelle Williams- Glinda
Mila Kunis- Theodora
Rachel Weisz- Evanora
Zach Braff- Frank

In theaters: March 8, 2013

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Movie Review: BRAVE

Director: Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews
Starring the voices of: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connelly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Julie Walters

Most young girls would love to become a princess some day. That is definitely not the case in the latest Pixar creation. Princess Merida (Macdonald) could care less about the fact that she is a princess. She would rather be the tough, dirty, and athletic type over the prim and proper way she has been taught. She is constantly being reminded to sit up straight and keep her bow off the table among other rules of etiquette. She relishes in the one day a year she is permitted to not act like a princess. Queen Elinor (Thompson) has decided that it is the proper time for Merida to be betrothed to a young suitor. In a royal ceremony, three young men have been brought forward to compete for Merida's true affection. As all three men are presented, it is quite apparent they are buffoons. Merida was already disgruntled to begin with and these men are not helping the cause. She chooses archery as one of the competitions knowing she can outshine them all. Two of the men barely hit the target, but one of them hits the bulls eye. Merida outshines them all by getting three bulls eyes infuriating her mother. She hops on her trusty horse Angus and rides into the Scottish countryside.

She spots the mysterious will-o-the-wisps and follows them deeper into the forest hoping they will lead her to her destiny. She stumbles upon a cottage inhabited by a witch (Walters) disguised as an elderly wood carver. She begs the witch to cast a spell that will change her mother’s mind. When Merida returns back to the castle, she discovers the spell was too potent by changing her mother into a bear. This does not bode well for King Fergus (Connelly) and his men as he is a bear hunter. Merida realizes her grave mistake and must get her mother out of the castle and back to the witch’s cottage to have the spell reversed.

Brave is the latest film released by Pixar, the studio that brought us Toy Story, Wall-E, and Up. The bar is set pretty high as those movies are wildly creative, imaginative, and original. Brave follows more of a traditional Disney route. You've got your princess, a witch, a curse, and some arguments between mother and daughter. This is also the first period piece for Pixar. While it seems like classic Disney, there is no Prince Charming coming to save the day. Merida must figure it out all on her own. Pixar twists the genre a bit by making her far smarter and giving her far more personality than your standard Disney princess.

The story takes quite some time to get into the heart of the plot leaving the pacing at the beginning fairly slow. I am always stunned by the detail put into every Pixar movie. The animation is so rich and vividly appealing. Between Merida’s hair, the architecture of the town, and the Scottish landscape, there is always something to feast your eyes on. I do not think Brave will be remembered as one of Pixar’s best. That does not mean it is a bad movie. It just means it has stiff competition as Pixar has released so many truly amazing films. It tells a beautiful mother and daughter story with a spunky princess as its heroine and teaches a valuable lesson on how one is in control of their own fate. The movie is worth spending the extra couple of dollars on 3D. The 3D technology helps enhance the lush Scottish scenery.

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

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Thursday, July 5, 2012


Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary

As a little boy Peter Parker (Garfield) is sent to live with his sweet Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field). After their house was broken into, his parents decided Peter would be safer living with them. Time passes and we catch up with a teenage Peter dealing with being the awkward scapegoat in high school. He gets bullied and tossed around. Lucky for him, Gwen Stacy (Stone) takes pity on him and a friendship is formed. One day when rummaging through the attic, Peter finds some of his dad's files and belongings and notices that he had been working with Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans) of Oscorp Industries. Dr. Connors has been working on a serum to help re-grow limbs and tissue using the genes from lizards in hopes to one day regrow his arm. Peter sneaks his way into Oscorp with a group of high school interns led by Gwen Stacy. At some point during his snooping around, Peter comes across a room full of spiders and one bites him in the back of the neck. He does not think much of it until the train ride home. He is awoken to find himself with super strength, quick reflexes, and a sticky touch.

Peter gets a little too cocky about his new abilities and decides to go after the bullies at school leading to a trip to the principal that Uncle Ben has to attend. Later that evening, they have an argument and Peter storms out of the house. Ben goes after him and tries to stop a thief on the loose. Peter sees Ben and watches him as he is shot and killed by the thief. Peter vows to go after the man that killed Uncle Ben attacking any man that resembles the character sketch given to him. In the meantime, Dr. Connors has used an algorithm given to him by Peter to complete his serum. He tests it out on himself to tragic results. Even though his missing arm has reformed, he later morphs into a giant man/lizard hybrid.

It was only five years ago when the last Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie hit the big screen. Many people questioned the validity of doing a "reboot" or "reimagining" so soon after that. I guess it doesn't really matter as long as the story is good and the characters are believable. Director Marc Webb does a pretty decent job of making it his own movie without drawing too much from the original and feeling like a carbon copy. Were there aspects of it I missed? Sure. Unfortunately, you won't find J. Jonah Jameson in this one. The Amazing Spider-Man is more of an origins story. Peter Parker doesn't even don the Spider-Man suit until a good hour into the movie.

Garfield shines as Peter Parker. He is one of the big reasons this movie works so well. His Peter felt very real and humane. I felt like I knew people in life like his Peter. He is nerdy and full of attitude. One would be a little flawed after losing your parents and watching your uncle die. I never once thought of Maguire's Peter or tried to make comparisons. Sheen and Field are quite perfect as Uncle Ben and Aunt May. I always feel a little more at home whenever those two are on screen. There is always something so comforting about those actors that is perfect for these characters. Rhys Ifans is a decent actor, but I was never blown away by Dr. Curt Connors or The Lizard. I typically feel like I am wanting more out of a complete CGI villain. There are screenings of the movie in 3D. Like most 3D movies out there, it is not really needed. I don't believe the story or effects were more enhanced by the 3D. Save the couple of bucks and see it in 2D.

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

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Over the years, people have asked me "How many movies do you see a year?" I really had no clue, so last year I started tracking how many new movies I saw. Let it be known, I stole this idea from my good friend Max. He always tracked his movies for his blog, so I thought it would be a good idea. I wrote down any movie I was watching for the first time whether they were new releases, old classics, and a few HBO movies. The premise was to jot down the name of the movie, date of viewing, release date, mode of viewing, director, and actors. Was I prone to going to one movie theater over another? Did I watch more Netflix via the discs or streaming? Here is my mid-year recap from last year for comparison.

The List Thus Far...
The Artist
War Horse
Man on a Ledge
The Devil Inside
Friday the 13th Part VII:The New Blood
The Iron Lady
We Bought a Zoo
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Hotel Chevalier
The Darjeeling Limited
Morning Glory
The Vow
Being Elmo
The Ten
Game Change
Friends with Kids
Water for Elephants
21 Jump Street
The Hunger Games
Mirror Mirror
Titanic 3D
Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
Murder By Death
So I Married an Axe Murderer
American Reunion
The Cabin in the Woods
The Lucky One
The Five-Year Engagement
Marvel's The Avengers
Dark Shadows
What to Expect When You Are Expecting
La Vie en Rose
Men in Black 3
The Last Picture Show
Snow White and the Huntsman
Rock of Ages
Hemingway & Gellhorn
Moonrise Kingdom
Magic Mike

That's 48 movies total. I am 2 movies short of this time last year. Life is fairly different than it was last year at this time, so that does play a big factor into it. I guess I have my work cut out for me for the rest of the year.

The St. Louis Park Showplace Icon got our patronage the most with 18 visits.

Notable 2012 Releases
The Cabin in the Woods
Marvel's The Avengers
The Hunger Games
Moonrise Kingdom-- Best Film of the Year

Duds of 2012
Dark Shadows
Mirror Mirror
The Devil Inside
**I try not to see too many bad movies**

Channing Tatum: Haywire, The Vow, 21 Jump Street, Magic Mike

Elizabeth Banks: Man on a Ledge, The Hunger Games, What to Expect When You Are Expecting, People Like Us
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Monday, July 2, 2012

Movie Review: MAGIC MIKE

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Olivia Munn

Channing Tatum uses his brief real life history as a male stripper as the idea behind his latest collaboration with director Steven Soderbergh. Mike Lane(Tatum) makes the majority of his income as a stripper in a male revue called Xquisite. During the daytime he works construction in the Tampa area and dabbles in homemade furniture. He meets Adam (Pettyfer) one morning on a new construction site. Adam seems fairly shy and introverted, but he and Mike bond throughout the day. Mike runs into Adam later at a club as he is promoting audience members for the Xquisite show. Adam is persuaded to head over to the revue by Mike and two young girls out celebrating a twenty-first birthday. Adam's eyes are wide open as he experiences a male revue for the first time. He watches as "Magic Mike" and the rest of the crew including: Tarzan (Nash), Big Dick Ritchie (Manganiello), Ken (Bomer), and Tito (Rodriquez) put on a choreographed show. He gets thrust onstage himself to have dollars bills thrown at him by the giddy drunken ladies. The easy money is all too alluring for Adam and he decides to join the show after an offer from Mike and club owner Dallas (McConaughey). Being the newbie that he is, he is given the moniker "The Kid" as his stage name.

Even though the money is pouring in, life is not always a jolly good time for our young dancers. Adam's sister Brooke (Horn) finds out about his new endeavor when she discovers the G-strings laying around and catches Adam shaving his legs with her razor. She struggles with the thought of him being a stripper but tries to put trust in Mike to keep him on the straight and narrow. Mike's flirting towards her doesn't help matters. Mike would ideally like to leave the stripping behind to start up his customized furniture business. He runs into problems with the bank as he doesn't have good credit as he primarily deals in cash tips. Adam begins to delve deep into the night life. He is making good money and hooking up with beautiful women. Sounds great except he is becoming cocky and falling deeper into drugs and alcohol.

Soderbergh is dealing with lighter material here than we have been used to seeing him do lately, but it still retains that Soderbergh feel. Using the pseudonym Peter Andrews, he is also the cinematographer on his own movies. He seems to use a lot of wide shots and natural lighting to set up the scenes. He sets the camera up and just lets it capture the scene as it unfolds. Characters come in and out of the frame without a lot of choppy editing to cover it up. I wish the studio would have promoted his name more during the marketing blitz. Who am I kidding. People are coming out for Channing Tatum and other hunks stripping, not because it is the latest Soderbergh offering.

The screenplay by Reid Carolin is pretty basic. You have the simple premise of a young naive nineteen-year old being enamored by the money and women that comes with being a stripper only to have him crash and burn when drugs and alcohol come into play. It has a simple morality story to it. Magic Mike isn't as campy as Showgirls and it isn't as gritty as Boogie Nights. It falls somwhere in the middle. The movie does not fully invest into the struggle Mike has with started his business nor do we really learn about some of the other characters like Big Dick Ritchie, Ken, and the other strippers. Am I asking for too much in the way of character and plot development? Maybe. Tatum co-produced the movie with Carolin. Along with Soderbergh, they have a great cast that perfectly fits these characters. McConaughey is impressive and gives one of the stronger performances in the movie showing more sides to Dallas than one might expect. At the end of the day, the fun of the movie is that it is about male strippers. Those scenes make the movie work. The fun choreography and behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be a stripper is interesting. I can only assume it is fairly accurate due to Tatum's past. The legions of women and gay men buying tickets are not going for gritty plot twists and stylistic film making. They are going for the rock hard abs of Joe Manganiello and chiseled Channing Tatum body. There was applause before the movie and during the movie.

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

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