A BLOG DEDICATED TO MY LOVE OF THE SILVER SCREEN
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.
-STAND BY ME

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Movie Review: FRANKENWEENIE

FRANKENWEENIE
Director: Tim Burton
Featuring Voice Work of: Martin Short, Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shafer


Dogs are widely known as man's best friend. This couldn't be truer for Victor Frankenstien (Tahan). Victor is a smart, but unpopular kid who has no friends. He spends his past time playing with his dog, Sparky, and working in his homemade lab in his parents attic. His favorite subject is school is science taught by the mysterious Mr. Rzykruski (Landau). Edgar E. Gore (Shafer) is another outcast kid in Victor's class who would love to work on the science project with him, but Victor would rather work alone. A weird girl (O'Hara) gives Victor a warning that something major is going to happen to him. She explains the psychic premonitions that her cat gives her that happen to come true. Victor's dad (Short) takes him to play baseball with some of the other local boys. He is not exactly the athletic type so when he hits a home run on the third swing, he realizes this must be the sign the weird girl was talking about. Sparky gets super excited and chases after Victor's ball. On his way back from catching the ball, Sparky is run over by an oncoming car and killed instantly. Victor is devastated about losing his one and only friend.


A light bulb goes off for Victor one day in class. Mr. Rzykruski uses electricity to stimulate the muscles on a dead frog. An inspired Victor believes this may work to bring Sparky back. He gets his lab going in full force during a thunderstorm and hooks Sparky up to many bolts, wires, and kites to use the lightening as his spark. Sure enough, it works and Sparky "is aliiiivve". Victor is shocked and excited to have his best friend back. He knows he must keep it a secret. He keeps Sparky in the attic during the work day so his dad, mom (O'Hara), and others don't find out.


The energetic Sparky can't sit still being cooped up all day in the attic. He goes exploring in the neighborhood getting into mischief with the neighbor's (Ryder) dog as well as the weird girl's cat. Edgar sees Sparky and insists that Victor shows him how he did it. He buys a dead goldfish in an attempt to try it out himself. During the next thunderstorm, the boys attempt their experiment on the goldfish only to come up with slightly different results. Edgar can't keep Victor's secret for very long and accidentally lets it slip to some of the rival kids in class. They all attempt Victor's experiment on their deceased pets only to have disastrous outcomes resulting in mad chaos and destruction on their peaceful New Holland neighborhood.


The title of the movie may sound familiar to you. Burton first told this story back in 1984 as a live action short film starring Shelley Duvall and Daniel Stern. This time around he goes for a black and white stop-motion animation style. This is the same style that was used in The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. I love the use of black and white. Not many children's movies are released in black and white anymore. It fully enhances the gothic look Tim Burton has been known to embrace. He has many homages to some of his previous work like Edward Scissorhands and Batman Returns as well as creature features like Frankenstein and Godzilla. The town of New Holland is identical to the neighborhood in Edward Scissorhands even down to the bushes and luminous hill that the town flocks to at the ending. Burton loves to use many of the same actors in each of his projects. Martin Short, Martin Landau, Catherine O'Hara, and Winona Ryder are all veterans to Burton's imaginative worlds. Danny Elfman is back with a score that reminds us of the beautiful score he wrote for Edward Scissorhands. Frankenweenie is a return to the look and feel of the classic Tim Burton movies that I grew up on. I have been really disappointed in many of his latest movies, but this one really resonated with me. Be warned that while this is an animated kids movie, it is still enjoyable for adults but may be too scary for wee little children.

Opens October 5, 2012

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

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Movie Review: THE MASTER

THE MASTER
Writer/Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Laura Dern


Freddie Quell (Phoenix) is trying to make a living as a veteran in a post World War II society. He left a girl behind when he went to serve in the Navy and now he is a drifter trying to find a steady job. He finds temporary work as a photographer in a department store. His problem with the bottle seems to get him into more trouble than he realizes. He can't seem to stop the drinking especially since he makes his own potent concoction. Paint thinner just happens to be one of his secret ingredients. Stumbling around town one night, he boards a private boat lit up for a party. Aboard this boat is Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), his faithful wife Peggy (Adams), the rest of the Dodd clan, and some other party-goers.


Freddie wakes up and is escorted to Lancaster's room. Lancaster reveals to Freddie that he opened up to him about all of his problems. Freddie does not recollect that part of the evening, but he goes along with what Lancaster is saying. Lancaster tells Freddie he can help him out in life. Lancaster is an author and religious leader. He has started a small following of people that believe in his way of beliefs and living, called The Cause. Lancaster's beliefs seem to be controversial. He holds these counseling type sessions with an individual person while a group of other followers stand around and watch. The always charismatic and strong-minded Lancaster has reeled Freddie in. Freddie follows Lancaster and his family as they travel around promoting The Cause. Freddie is tested once Lancasters son, Val (Jesse Plemons), reveals to him that Lancaster is making this all up as he goes along.


The Master is not an easy film to watch for many reasons. The movie was labeled as controversial very early on in as it bears similarities to L.Ron Hubbard and how he founded Scientology. I think that many be the reason why many people are seeing the movie. I do not know enough about Scientology to know if Lancaster Dodd and The Cause are a direct comparison to Hubbard and Scientology or if the movie is more of a look at these types of contemporary religions with charismatic leaders. The film feels very slow at times. I would not say that I was bored, but I was often wondering where the movie was going or what was going to happen next to Freddie. Would he wise up to Lancaster's way or would he continue to fall into the rabbit hole? I could tell that many people around me were feeling bored.


The movie was beautifully shot in 65 mm by Mihai Malaimaire, Jr. Not many movies are filmed in 65 mm anymore as we are in this digital age of the cinema. Anderson has previously directed many actors to Oscar nominations and a win for Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood. I expect to see Phoenix, Hoffman, and possibly Adams named in this years list of nominations. Phoenix gives a full-force performance. He is constantly contorting and moving his body. His voice can be inaudible at times often mumbling through the side of his mouth. This may bother some people or not if you can actually understand him. This is the fourth collaboration between Hoffman and Anderson. He gives one of the best performances of his career. He makes Lancaster a very mysterious character. He plays him as someone that always seems to be "on". Often performing or being a larger version of himself for the followers under his rule. You never find out who Lancaster really is or where he came from or how he got to this point in his life.


Paul Thomas Anderson has never been known to make a simple movie. He never writes and directs a movie that does not challenge him as a filmmaker. He never makes a movie that does not ask something of the audience. His latest is no different. In fact, I would say it is the most daring movie to date. I think this may be considered this years The Tree of Life. It is another movie that is very artistically made and has a lot going for it. It will be hailed by critics as cinematic geniousness, but it will leave a lot of cinema goers scratching their head as they leave. I have always loved the work of Paul Thomas Anderson. I never took my eyes off the screen, but at the same time I was never able to fully sink in and go with the movie. I was not as drawn into it as I was with Magnolia or There Will Be Blood. I would be curious to see what it is like with a second viewing.

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

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Unleash Your Inner Foodie: BABETTE'S FEAST


In case you are new to my blog, I write monthly movie reviews for DeeAnn McArdle and her dining and entertaining website, "Unleash Your Inner Foodie". She has a wonderful website full of recipes, full menus, dining/entertaining ideas and anything else involving food and entertaining. The movie of choice for September is Babette's Feast. It's wonderful Danish movie that one the Oscar for Best Forgein film.

Here's the beginning of the article:

Our movie critic, Paul McGuire is back to share his review of one of his favorite foodie movies – get your popcorn, wine and enjoy!

BABETTE’S FEAST (1987)
Director: Gabriel Axel. Starring: St├ęphane Audran, Birgitte Federspiel, Bodil Kjer

“Every evening I shall sit down to dine with you. Not with my body, which is of no importance, but with my soul.
Because this evening I have learned, my dear, that in this beautiful world of ours, all things are possible.”

In the town of Jutland, Denmark in the 19th Century, Martine (Federspiel) and Filippa (Kjer) are two sisters who live a very religious, pious life. Their father is a priest and prophet with a small group of devout followers. Love and marriage is forbidden. The young sisters must come to learn the hard way. Lorens, a young Swedish officer, catches the eye of Martine but knows he cannot have her. He leaves for war but cannot get her off his mind. Achille Pepin, a baritone opera singer, travels to Jutland while performing to cure his melancholic state. He gets transfixed by the melodious sounds coming from a far. He enters the church and is immediately transfixed by Filippa’s beauty. He approaches her father and offers his services of voice lessons to Filippa in order to woo her. He agrees, only to realize what Achille’s true intention happens to be. Achille and Filippa share a duet as Father and Martine listen on in the other room. He promises to sweep her away to move on to a better life. Filippa stops their lessons and Achille is heartbroken.
..

To read the rest of the article click: HERE

OR

http://unleashyourinnerfoodie.com/uncategorized/foodie-movie-night-2/


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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Movie Trailer: THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring:
Martin Freeman as Bilbo
Ian McKellen as Gandalf
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
Andy Serkis as Gollum
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield
Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel


The latest trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been released today. I absolutely love The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it currently holds a place in My Top 10 List. I am embarrassed to say that I have yet to read the Tolkien novel, so I am fairly clueless of the adventures of a young Bilbo Baggins. The movie has gone through some turbulent times on its way to the big screen. There were issues with the studio as well as a change of director. Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) was originally attached to direct and had spent many months of pre-production working on it only to drop out. The Hobbit would continue to be in good hands even after del Toro left. Peter Jackson who helmed the first trilogy was announced to take over the director's chair after originally passing on the idea. I think the fans had a sigh of relief with that announcement. Jackson envisioned The Hobbit to be divided into two parts, but he has since changed his mind and decided the story must be told as a trilogy. Have you read "The Hobbit"? Does it need to be made into three movies?

Release Dates
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey- December 14, 2012
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug- December 13, 2013
The Hobbit: There and Back Again- July 18, 2014

I have posted the new trailer below as well as the first trailer that was released a few months ago.



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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Movie Trailer: LINCOLN

LINCOLN
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring:
Daniel Day-Lewis
Sally Field
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Tommy Lee Jones
Jared Harris
Lee Pace
Jackie Earl Haley
David Strathairn



I know I say this a lot, but I have actually been waiting and looking forward to this movie for YEARS. It was announced years ago that Spielberg would be at the helm with a script by Pulitzer Prize/Tony Winner Tony Kushner. Liam Neeson was first attached to star as the sixteenth president, but Daniel Day-Lewis eventually took over in the part. He wrote the screenplay based on parts of the book "Team of Rivals" by fellow Pultizer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin. Back in 2009, Kushner was at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis as part of a festival celebrating his works. He had a book signing after the "In Conversation" night and was very gracious and lovely to fans. Naturally, I geeked out and asked him about Lincoln. I am pretty sure this was far before the screenplay was even finished.

I know I have received flack for saying it, but Steven Spielberg is my favorite director as well. He has proved time and time again that he is a master at creating the perfect blockbuster like Jaws or Raiders of the Lost Ark, he can create fascinating sci-fi like Close Encounters of the Third Kind or E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. He has left a legacy with his dramas like Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan. With an all-star cast and intelligent writing, Lincoln could be listed on many Best of 2012 lists.

In theaters November 16, 2012

Here's the trailer that was just released as well as a discussion with Steven Spielberg and Joseph Gordon-Levitt about the film:





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Friday, September 7, 2012

Movie Trailer: THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Ezra Miller, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Paul Rudd



Every time I watch this trailer, a huge grin comes across myself. Chbosky directed this film based off the novel he wrote. I cannot wait for it to come out, and I predict I will love it. I am going to be so bold as to say it will be in my top 5 of the year.

In case you are wondering this song used is called "It's Time" by Imagine Dragons

Begins exclusive engagment on 9/21



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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Movie Review: PREMIUM RUSH

PREMIUM RUSH
Director: David Koepp
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung


Dodging taxis, cars, and buses all seem to be part of the norm for your standard bicycle riding courier. Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) is a veteran at this job and knows New York City like the back of his hand. When he gets into a bind, he can foresee multiple plans of attack to see which one of them won't get him run over by a bus or car. He picks up an envelope from his ex-girlfriend’s roommate Nima (Chung) at the university. Bobby Monday (Shannon) approaches him as he is about to leave campus demanding to have the envelope. Wilee does not hand it over as that would be against the security policies he has with his position. Wilee bikes off and escapes only to find out Monday is on his tail. He dodges him again and heads toward the police precinct. He witnesses Monday walking in a little bit after he did. He is a member of the NYPD that has more up his sleeve than your standard police duties. He happens to be a member of an underground Chinese gambling ring.


This is the kind of movie where the less you know going in keeps you on the edge of your seat. Director and screenwriter David Koepp has made a taut chase movie. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of chase movies this summer with your action hero on the run. Premium Rush does is right. Koepp keeps the action going by telling the story in a non-linear fashion. As you go back to various points in the day, you learn more and more about what the envelope is carrying and why it is so important to Nima. The biking and chases seem very realistic in the ever crowded streets of New York City. I don't think the story would have worked if it was set in another location. The busy lifestyle cranks the adrenaline into high gear as the characters could be run over or slammed into at any moment. The story takes place all in one day, so there is not much in the way of character development. This is just one day in the life of Wilee. You do not find out much about his past or what his ultimate motivations in life are. More information is given about the Bobby Monday character than Wilee. With this kind of film, you don't need to know any of that.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt is having a strong year. This is his second movie of the year following the brilliant The Dark Knight Rises. He has two more movies slated for release. Looper with Bruce Willis opens in late September and Spielberg’s epic, Lincoln, will be released in November. I have been following his work for years and truly think he is one of the most versatile and daring actors of his generation working today. He has been successful in romantic comedies, action movies, heavy dramas, big blockbusters, and even smaller independent movies. It should be noted he did a lot of his own stunt work in this movie which provided some interesting footage during the closing credits. Michael Shannon is devilishly evil as the loathsome and ruthless Monday. Premium Rush has delivered a fast-paced, 90 minute joy ride that is just perfect for the end of the summer blockbuster season. It gives an interesting look into the sub culture of bicycle couriers that I knew very little about.

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

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