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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Friday, January 31, 2014


Director: Tom Gormican
Starring: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas

Thank God I enjoy these three actors because these types of "bromance" movies can be a bit much. Mikey (Jordan) is probably the most successful one of our guys. He works as a full time doctor and seemed to have it all. He got married at a really young age, and now his wife Vera (Lucas) wants a divorce and is sleeping with her lawyer. His two best friends Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Teller) are still living the single life and are excited to have their bro back. It is time for the boys to be boys again. All three seem to have successful jobs as Jason and Daniel both work as illustrators for book jackets. In the evening they typically spend the night with their other friend Chelsea (Davis) at the local bar or club hitting on a variety of girls looking for a little action or potential girlfriend. In the mornings, they get coffee and breakfast and discuss the previous evening's shenanigans. One of Jason's latest hook-ups asks the "So...?" question wondering where their relationship is going. He does not even realize they were in a relationship. The guys decide to set some rules for their "bro-code" where they decide to just spend some time enjoying the single life.

For these three good looking young men, that plan lasts about two hot seconds. Jason's one-night stand with Ellie (Poots) turns into a romance after some awkward encounters later on. Daniel and Chelsea decide to take their friendship to the next level after spending many nights where she gets other girls to notice him. Mikey decides to try to make it work with Vera by adding some romance back into their relationship. All three of these new relationships are kept secret as no one wants to admit to breaking their pact.

Zac Efron has been making a variety of edgier and more adult films with a wide variety of characters as he desperately tries to shed his High School Musical/Disney image. He was completely miscast in The Lucky One while Parkland and The Paperboy did not leave lasting impressions on anyone. Efron acts as producer here as well and has finally found a project that fits where he is at as an actor. The role actually fits in his age bracket and seems suitable for his image. Miles Teller had a great 2013 with indie hit The Spectacular Now and has a few more big hits coming this year. Michael B. Jordan gave one of my favorite performances of last year in the heavy hitting Fruitvale Station. I will watch him in anything. All three of them are very different actors and types so at first it may seem like an odd combination for three best friends, but the combination works quite well. They have great chemistry together and each of their roles are suited to them.

I do not think the script is as original and funny as it wants to be. There is some good back and forth banter between the guys as they are always trying to top each other with one-liners and witty quips knocking the other one's manhood or guilty pleasures. Even though it has it's funny moments, the majority of it is quite predictable. I know I should not be expecting plot twists or anything like that, but even some of the predicaments and dialogue is standard for these types of movies. Of course the Efron character is going to make some bone-headed choices. You know he will try some elaborate scheme to woo the girl. I do give it some credit for not giving in and making it a total gross-out comedy. The film focuses on the ups and downs in the relationships that these guys have. Yes, there are penis jokes but it is not as obnoxious and forced as some other comedies are these days. That type of humor does come with single straight guys in their twenties so some of it is a bit expected.

That Awkward Moment feels like a mix of American Pie meets "Sex and the City" and is probably catered toward young men in their early twenties as its core audience. I am not that demographic anymore, so I do not think I enjoyed it as much as some of the other audiences members I saw it with did. There were a few times where the audience was just rolling with laughter. It is probably funnier if you are currently living the same life these characters are, which I am not. That is not to say it is a dumb movie. Despite the film being on the predictable side, it is mildly entertaining due to Efron, Jordan, and Teller. All three feel suited to their characters quite well. Sure these guys may make stupid decisions from time to time, but they are all seem real and genuine to what guys in their twenties are probably like these days. Imogen Poots and Mackenzie Davis are charming as well and should not go unnoticed despite it being a "guys" movie. This ensemble gives the movie more life and energy than the fairly average script has in store.

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

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Movie Review: RIDE ALONG

Director: Tim Story
Starring: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Tika Sumpter, John Leguizamo, Bryan Callen, Bruce McGill, Laurence Fishburne

We are only thirty days into the new year, so how is it that I have already seen two Kevin Hart movies? If you read my review of Grudge Match, you may remember my feelings toward his brand of comedy. Some may consider Ben Barber (Hart) a bit of a loser. He plays an interactive "shoot 'em up" type of  video game complete with headset and works as a high school security guard. He finds out he has been accepted into the police academy and could not be happier. For someone that is typically loud and obnoxious, I bet you can just imagine how excited he gets. His life could not be any better as he is planning to propose to his girlfriend Angela (Sumpter). Her brother James (Ice Cube) has other plans for Ben. He is an Atlanta police officer who is not so fond of the idea of not only him becoming a cop, but also that he may be his new brother-in-law.

James decides to put Ben to the test to see if he is worthy of marrying his sister. He decides to take Ben along on all of the annoying and petty calls that the other cops do not want to handle. Ben's high energy and fast talking nature are a bit of a defense mechanism as he is quick to act all tough and mighty but cowers when actual danger and intimidation sets in. It should come as no surprise that there is a side subplot regarding James and his crew (Leguizamo and Callen) against a gang of weapons dealers led by "Omar" whose identity remains a mystery.

The first few times I saw this trailer, I actually found it funny. I was just shocked that I was laughing at a Kevin Hart movie that I would normally not give two thoughts about. I typically do not find him funny in the slightest bit. I was up for seeing Ride Along as I thought this may break my disdain for the comedian. Could I be proven wrong about him? Was he finding his niche? Was I finally embracing the fact that he actually could be funny and that I have been completely wrong about him? His brand/style of comedy is loud, wise-ass, high pitched, high energy and typically jokes around about his short stature. He definitely plays his style in every role. Many stand-up comics do this as they transition into film. People that go to a Kevin Hart film know what kind of humor to expect, which is why I went in with slight hesitation while hoping for the best. At first, I found myself tolerating him. I enjoyed his character and felt a little bad for the guy for the continual slams against him. His style was a bit more reserved in his scenes with Tika Sumpter. I lost focus and found the annoying Hart coming out to play once the ride alongs started happening. That being said, I still had about three good laughs especially during the scene at the shooting range.

The majority of the story is pretty recycled from other comedic buddy cop type of movies. I had the same issue with last summer's The Heat, another movie with a very similar idea behind it. The whole side plot revolving the Omar character has been done numerous times. There is even the not-so-surprising twist that comes into play, which you can pick up on very early on in the movie. I really thought Ice Cube might have been a better actor as well. I am not trying to compare him to Denzel Washington, but he has been in the business long enough where this feels like an amateur performance from a newbie. His tough guy demeanor falls a bit flat. I will say it was great seeing John Leguizamo again. I feel like I have not seen him in anything outside of those Ice Age movies. Do not be surprised if we see another Ride Along in theaters within the next few years. This one seems to be doing well at the box office as Kevin Hart is a hot commodity right now. I am sure a sequel would be cheap and easy to make and the studio can probably make some extra money out of it.

RATING: * 1/2 (1.5 out of 5 stars)

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Director: Josh Boone
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Willem Dafoe, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Mike Birbiglia

I know it may look like just another teen romance type movie, but rest assured it will be more than that. This is not some stupid Twilight vampire love saga. I repeat this is NO TWILIGHT. I am almost through reading the novel by John Green, from which the film is being adapted. It is the beautiful story of sixteen year old Hazel (Woodley) who starts attending a cancer support group for children with cancer. There she meets Gus (Elgort) who is an amputee after battling osteosarcoma. The two of them bond and find out how to live life to the fullest and find love despite the cancer that lays inside them.

I have watched the trailer a few times now and it seems to accurately depict the book, which is reassuring for the legions of fans that have devoted themselves to these characters. Woodley and Elgort seem to have great chemistry and are quite perfect as Hazel and Gus. Plus, the great Laura Dern stars as Hazel's mom and Willem Dafoe as the enigmatic author idolized by Hazel.

RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2014

Here's the trailer. Feel free to comment below on your thoughts about the trailer or the book!

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana, Yousuf Azami

Based on the book of the same name by Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor takes us front and center on the impact of Operation Red Wings, a reconnaissance and surveillance mission to track down and capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shah (Azami) in 2005. Marcus Luttrell (Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Hirsch), and Matt Axelson (Foster) were the four Navy SEALs assigned to this covert mission in the mountains of Afghanistan. Their hideout is quickly compromised by the locals and their cover is blown. It is only a matter of time before the four of them are faced with an army of Taliban gunmen. Their survival skills are put to a test as they are clearly outnumbered with no hope of rescue.

Director Peter Berg penned the screenplay and keeps the story solely on this raid. The film only covers the three days surrounding the mission and, as the title suggests, how Marcus Luttrell was able to survive. There is no back story or supporting characters outside of those involved with the situation. The film opens and closes with real life photos and videos of the men involved to offer a look into the regular lives these men led until they decided to risk their lives for our country.

Berg holds nothing back as he puts the audience right in the middle of the action and does not let up for the majority of the movie. Even though the audience knows the outcome, it makes the tension and suspense just as strong as you know what is about to unfold is unbelievably brutal. The blood and violence is so realistic, you churn and writhe in your seat as you can practically feel the bones breaking as our characters tumble down mountains and get shot at repeatedly. The film is loud and in your face as the bullets and explosions go off like they are happening next to you. It is no surprise that the film has been nominated for two Oscars for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

Words cannot really describe how you feel afterwards. Your body is shaking and you know your heart has probably skipped a beat due to the never ending intensity. I guess I cannot speak for others, but that was my reaction. The year 2013 in film had numerous movies set at such high intensity, and this one may just take the cake. I cannot imagine what it would actually be like to be in that position, yet so many men and women volunteer to serve our country knowing this may happen. The film really shines a light and puts things in perspective for what the members of our military go through. You may see this film as a stance on how unjust the war is or you may see it as a call out to the brave nature and honor these soldiers deserve. It is a powerful film, to say that least, about brotherhood and survival and should touch a nerve no matter where you stand on our involvement in the war.

The last film Peter Berg directed was Battleship which received horrendous reviews. Hopefully he has redeemed himself here with this unflinching story. Foster, Hirsch, Wahlberg, and Kitsch make for a great unit and you really feel the connection these men have toward each other especially at a time like this. Berg and Wahlberg, who also serves as producer, had some troubles getting the film financed with many people taking pay cuts in order to have this important story told. It is unfortunate that the film is not on more people's radar as it could open some minds on what members of our military have gone through.

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

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Criterion Collection: ON THE WATERFRONT (1954)

Director: Elia Kazan
Starring: Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Ben Wagner

I am sure we all have those classic films that we are too embarrassed to admit that we have not seen. You pretend like you have seen them as you have seen clips or you know some infamous quote. One of those films for me was On the Waterfront by Elia Kazan starring the one and only Marlon Brando. Tension between sides is mounting as the crime on the waterfront is escalating. Murders are occurring at the hands of mob boss Johnny Friendly (Cobb) but the waterfront longshoremen play "D&D" (deaf and dumb) to what is happening. No one wants to become a rat in the eyes of the mob. The death of Joey Doyle (Wagner) becomes the tipping point to uncovering the truth behind all of this. Word had traveled that he started cooperating with the cops about the recent crimes happening at the docks.

All eyes are on Terry Malloy (Brando) regarding the death of Joey as it is unclear of who from Friendly's gang killed him by pushing him off the top of the building. Terry's reputation is linked and connected to that of his brother Charley "The Gent"(Steiger) who is working closely with Johnny Friendly. He befriends Joey's sister Edie (Saint) who will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of her brother's death. She is also the only one who seems to see the real side of Terry, not the dockside reptuation his name carries. With the guidance of Edie and Father Barry (Malden), Terry's conscience eats away at him to testify and do the right thing. It is a decision that could save his character and beliefs about himself but will destroy the already broken relationship he has with his brother.

It is hard to imagine this film without the masterful work done by Marlon Brando, yet he was not keen on taking the part. Budd Schulberg's script was sent to him and returned without Brando opening it. He was furious with Kazan over his testimony at the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He had already turned in a legendary performance under Kazan's direction in A Streetcar Named Desire. Frank Sinatra was approached for the part, but producer Sam Spiegel decided Brando was the better choice. Thank God he changed his mind as this role would have been quite different with Sinatra in it over Brando. It was only a year later when the two of them sang their way through Guys and Dolls. It is no secret after watching this why Brando is considered one of the greatest. Moviegoers have become used to the authentic and realism approach to the "Method" style of acting Brando was famous for using in his work. At the time, it was considered an all-new approach to film acting. Kazan and Brando were coming off their theater work at the Actor's Studio and it shifted the tone of film acting afterwards. Karl Malden and Rod Steiger were also members of the Actor's Studio. The culminating point of the film comes down to the infamous scene between two brothers as Brando and Steiger confront each other in the taxi. You may know it as the "I could have been a contender!" scene. Watching these two go back and forth at this pivotal point in their relationship is a masterclass in acting. Making her film debut is Eva Marie Saint who is raw and electrifying. It is hard to take your eyes off her scenes with Brando. She completely holds her own against him.

I mentioned Kazan's testimony at the House Committee on Un-American Activities earlier as those events happened in the years prior to this being made. Kazan had exposed many members of Hollywood of being a part of the Communist party who were then blacklisted from the business. There are clear parallels between Terry Malloy's testimony in the film and Kazan's real life testimony. Theories go back and forth on if that was the clear idea and commentary Kazan had with making the film. Screenwriter Budd Schulberg stated that it was not intentional that way when he wrote his script, but Kazan states that this film was his response to why he did what he did. Hollywood forever stayed divided on their respect toward Kazan and his work throughout the rest of his career. His acceptance of an honorary Oscar in 1999 was very controversial despite the decades that had passed since his testimony. He states, "The motion pictures I have made and the plays I have chosen to direct represent my convictions."

On the Waterfront went on to gain critical and audience acclaim and went on to win eight Academy Awards out of twelve nominations. The film won for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Brando), Supporting Actress (Saint), Screenplay (Schulberg), Cinemtography, Art Direction, and Editing. Malden, Cobb, Steiger, and composer Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story!) were nominated for their work as well. The film ranked #8 on the AFI's Top 100 films of all time list back in 1997. It is also on their 100 Cheers, 100 Heroes and Villains, 100 Scores, and 100 Quotes lists.

The Criterion Collection two disc blu-ray special edition boasts a plethora of extras for anyone that loves their film history. There is an all new 4K digital transfer with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. It has three different aspect ratios: 1.66:1, 1.85:1, and 1.33:1. Audio commentary with Richard Schickel and Jeff Young. A conversation between Martin Scorsese and critic Kent Jones. It is always fun to listen to Scorsese talk about film history as he seems so passionate about it and has this unbelievable wealth of knowledge about so many films. There are visual essays on Leonard Bernstein's score and the aspect ratio. Plus, numerous documentaries and interviews with cast and crew and a look at some of the real-life people and places the film is loosely based on. I have been a big fan of what The Criterion Collection has to offer for many years. They do an excellent job at restoring the old classics and bringing art house films, independents, foreign films and contemporary films to a wider audience. Tune in each month as I highlight a different film in their collection.

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

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Movie Rewind: CUTIE AND THE BOXER (2013)

Director: Zachary Heinzerling
Starring: Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara, Alex Shinohara

The Academy Award nominations have been announced and four of the five nominees for Best Documentary are currently streaming on Netflix. As an artist married to an artist, I was drawn to the story of Cutie and the Boxer. Ushio Shinohara is celebrating his 80th birthday. He came to New York as a young artist from Japan and received acclaim for his sculpture work and paintings. At the age of 41, he met Noriko who was only 19 at the time. She was instantly impressed by his work as she had never seen anything like it. Six months later she was pregnant with their son, Alex. He continued his artwork while living life on the wild side, eventually becoming an alcoholic. Noriko felt forced to put her career on the back burner in order to raise their son and take care of their family due to his lack of responsibility and maturity.

In the present day, they are facing huge money troubles and cannot pay the rent that is due. Ushio opens a new exhibit featuring his boxing glove paintings with a representative from the Guggenheim interested in his work. Noriko has spent her life feeling inferior to him as if he has treated her like his assistant. She believes Alex struggles with a drinking problem and blames Ushio and knows they did not give him a proper environment to grow up in. She decides to let her creative nature come alive again with new illustrations about a girl named "Cutie" and her husband "Bullie". The illustrations begin outlining their relationship to which Ushio dismisses them despite the positive feedback she receives after showing it in their joint exhibition.

As the film begins, you think you may be watching this story about an elderly artist still working hard at what he loves and will not let age, health, or money stop him from continuing his passion. I am sure Ushio wants you to believe this is his story and that he is the artist of the family. The truth and heart of the story belongs with Noriko as we watch her finally come into her own after a long marriage of feeling like she and her art took the back burner compared to Ushio's lifestyle. There is a sadness and heartbreak to her story as you wish he had been more supportive and that she didn't have these feelings throughout their marriage. At the same time, I do not believe they have a terrible marriage as Noriko still loves Ushio and their love is evident.

Cutie and the Boxer is another prime example of a film I probably would not have paid too much attention to as I strolled through the Netflix Streaming options, but I am so glad I gave it a watch. If the title throws you off, do not worry as they are merely nicknames for Ushio (Boxer) and Noriko (Cutie). As an artist, it is easy to understand the trials and tribulations of putting yourself and your work out there to get judged and critiqued by others. When it is your passion, you do not let anyone or anything get in your way. The power art has over us is undeniable. Ushio and Noriko have never given up on their passion no matter how small and cramped their apartment is, no matter how little money they have, and no matter how the public or critics respond to it. Their love for each other and their art grows and molds around each other. They may have disagreements and bicker. There is jealousy and frustrations along the way, but it is inspiring and moving to know their deep internal love prevails and makes them each better people.

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

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Sunday, January 19, 2014




THE WINNER: American Hustle

12 Years a Slave
August: Osage County
Dallas Buyers Club
Lee Daniels' The Butler


THE WINNER: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels' The Butler


THE WINNER: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks


THE WINNER: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini, Enough Said


THE WINNER: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler


THE WINNER: Lone Survivor

All is Lost
Fast & Furious 6
The Wolverine

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Rita Moreno!
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Friday, January 17, 2014

Movie Rewind: THANKS FOR SHARING (2013)

Director: Stuart Blumberg
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, Joely Richardson, Josh Gad, Alecia Moore, Patrick Fugit, Carol Kane

There are many films and stories out there about alcoholics and drug addicts. You do not see too many regarding sex addiction. Even one of the characters questions if that is even a "thing" or not. Adam (Ruffalo) is celebrating another milestone in his sex addiction support group. He seems fully aware of his triggers and is pretty strong at being committed to his recovery. His sponsor/mentor and fellow addict Mike (Robbins) is there to celebrate with him. Mike's past addiction has caused a rift in his family as he has a strained relationship with his son Danny (Fugit), who also struggles with abuse. Neil (Gad) and Dede (Moore) are the newest members of the group each coming in with their own baggage.

The film is an ensemble story that follows each of our addicts and their road to recovery. Adam starts a relationship with health nut and cancer survivor Phoebe (Paltrow). The risks of starting a new and healthy relationship prove hard for someone struggling with sex addiction and knowing what boundaries they are comfortable with together. She also makes it clear that she does not want to date an addict. Mike and his wife (Richardson) have conflicting thoughts when Danny shows up unexpectedly and wants to live at their place for some time. Trust between both of them comes into play. Dede and Neil are always there for each other as they are quick to slip up while on the program.

Like I previously mentioned, you do not see many stories about sexual addiction unless it is about some celebrity using that as an excuse to help their image. This film shines a light on the aftermath of what it is like in the recovery stages. One of the biggest takeaways is the power of the support group. The support group is the safe ground for our characters to talk about their struggles and accomplishments they have had in recovery. They are surrounded by people that truly know what they are going through. Long lasting friendships and new relationships begin at group between sponsors and their sponsees. The bond and connection they have for each other is so vital in the recovery process as it helps each one of them stay accountable and can be a knowledgeable resource if someone feels at a breaking point or in jeopardy of falling off the bandwagon. This story follows these characters who are all at different stages of their recovery, but I wanted to know more about the recovery process. Mike has spent much of his adult life in recovery. Adam is starting to date again and is conflicted about what will set him over the edge. Are there certain rules in a sex addiction support group about what is or isn't allowed or is it all based on that individual? Obviously with alcoholics anonymous or a drug addiction group, those vices are strictly forbidden. Does the same hold true in this instance?

Writer/Director Stuart Blumberg is making his directorial debut here. He previously co-wrote the Oscar-nominated hit The Kids Are All Right with Lisa Cholodenko. If you are looking for a dark and heavy-hitting drama, you will not find that here. Don't get me wrong as there are some serious moments that are very touching and sincere, but the film takes a more positive and hopeful look at these people in their recovery stages. Josh Gad and Alecia Moore have been given more of the lighter and comedic story lines using Gad's natural broad physical comedy type of routine we know he is very capable of. You may not recognize the name Alecia Moore as you probably know her as the singer Pink. This is the second film she has been in and feels right at home on screen. There is a life and effervescence about her even though acting is not her claim to fame. Sometimes singers can have a hard time transitioning from song to screen, but Moore/Pink makes a flawless transition. Here is hoping she continues on in this field in between her successful albums. Patrick Fugit is another standout here with some wonderful scenes between him and Robbins. Robbins actually introduced Fugit to this screenplay and helped him get the part. I have been a fan of his ever since Almost Famous. Blumberg has received some flack about writing dopey characters in his screenplay, but I disagree. I found all of them believable and easy to relate to in some aspect. I think the idea behind sex addiction is still fairly unknown so people may be more hesitant to buy into these characters or story lines if they have issues with sex addiction as a whole or if they have never stepped foot into a support group of any sort whether its for AA, drug addiction, food addiction, etc... Blumberg uses fairly normal everyday people as the subjects here and shows that really anyone can have this sort of issue or problem and that you might not even know it.

Thanks for Sharing was a little indie film that came out around the end of summer 2013. It may have gotten lost in the shuffle due to the summer season winding down or it's mediocre reviews. It serves as a good introduction to people that may be unfamiliar with sex addiction while taking a look at the recovery end of it. There are some funny moments along the way and the obligatory scenes to pull at the heart strings. Blumberg has a good cast of actors from a variety of backgrounds to pull it off nicely.

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

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Kristen Wiig, Dylan Baker, Greg Kinnear, Meagan Good.

The guys from the Channel 4 news team are back! It has been nearly a decade since Will Ferrell donned the mustache and fabulous hair as Ron Burgandy. Ron and his talented wife Veronica Corningstone (Applegate) are now co-anchors together and think they are being offered a promotion to the nightly primetime slot after anchor Mack Tannen (Harrison Ford cameo!) calls them into his office. The news does not quite go to plan as Veronica gets the promotion and Ron gets fired. By the hammer of Thor, no one fires Ron Burgandy! Ron does not take the news lightly as he is furious with Veronica and leaves her and their son, Walter, behind and heads back to San Diego.

Months pass and Ron is depressed and drowning himself in scotchy scotch scotch. He is approached by Freddie Sharp (Baker) of GNN, Global News Network about a new opportunity to be a part of the first 24-hour news station. He comes aboard and gathers his old crew of sports guy Champ Kind (Koechner), field reporter Brian Fantana (Rudd), and meteorologist Brick Tamland (Carell). Things do not look so bright once they hit headquarters and find out they have been given the graveyard shift time slot while their rival Jack Lime (Marsden) gets the primetime slot.

I will admit here that Anchorman and Elf are the only two Will Ferrell movies that I find are laugh out loud funny upon multiple viewings. On the contrary, I think Step Brothers is one of the dumbest movies ever made. I was so happy when news broke that Ferrell and co-creator Adam McKay would finally write a sequel to their smash hit. Comedy sequels are very hard to do well. They are rarely funnier than the first as the jokes get recycled and the laughs seem forced. The actors seem dull and bored and are only doing it for the easy paycheck. I thought that if any recent comedy could have a successful sequel, it would be Anchorman.

Why why why was I so disappointed? For one thing, the film is way too long. Even though the runtime is only two hours, it still feels long. I think McKay and Ferrell knew the audience would eat up anything they wrote without editing it down or realizing the pacing of many of the scenes. It feels over-stuffed and over-crowded with material that does not always work or works only for a bit. The whole idea behind Ron gathering the old gang takes way too long. Couldn’t we have just done a quick montage or something? Steve Carell’s Brick is expanded into a bigger role and actually given a subplot where he falls in love with the female version of Brick in fellow co-worker Chani (Wiig). I love Wiig and Carell, but all of that is so unnecessary. Part of what makes Brick funny is that he is quieter and the opposite in tone to Ron. The infamous quote “I love lamp” is perfect as it is a short random one-liner. That is what makes Brick funny. Giving him longer lines and a love interest loses the charm and innocence with the character. Brick and Chani just turn annoying after a few minutes. I think the overall story itself would have been fine if it was kept between Ron and the crew versus the Jack Lime character. It could have been simple but funny. Ferrell and McKay added in a boyfriend (Kinnear) for Veronica and a new boss (Good) for Ron to have anger towards. Giving attention to all of these people just makes the film feel bloated. There are some good laughs to be had here and there, but it is not consistent like it was in the first film. We do get treated to another brawl involving all of the local news teams, which is the high point of the film. That whole bit is chock full of celeb cameos.

I really wanted to like this movie. I wanted Ferrell and McKay to prove that comedy sequels can be successful. The first film felt smart and fresh. Here the laughs just seem stupid and cheap. I do not think my sense of humor has changed as I still find the first one hysterical no matter how many times I watch it. Frankly, I expected a lot more out of it. Maybe I was asking too much for an Anchorman sequel. We basically had a private screening of the film when we saw it as the other group behind us left halfway through. Would I have laughed more if it was a full house laughing their asses off? Maybe. A good comedy should be funny regardless of it is one person watching it alone or hundred people watching it together.

RATING: ** (2 out of 5 stars)

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014



I have participated in Oscar predictions contests in the past and have had some succeed. Back in 2006, I entered a contest at a local movie theater and won three free months of movies. I have been watching the Oscars dating back to 1993, so I feel like I have a pretty good knack at determining who will or will not get nominated and then win in any given year. My predictions are not always perfect as the Academy does like to throw in some wild card picks each year. This year I am participating in a contest with fellow LAMB Member Shane over at his website Film Actually. Here are my picks on who may receive that golden phone call on Thursday, January 16 in the categories Shane has picked out.

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. American Hustle
3. Blue Jasmine
4. Captain Phillips
5. Dallas Buyers Club
6. Gravity
7. Her
8. Nebraska
9. Saving Mr. Banks
10. The Wolf of Wall Street

1. Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
2. Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
3. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
4. David O. Russell, American Hustle
5. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

*WILD CARD: Spike Jonze, Her

1. Bruce Dern, Nebraska
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
3. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
4. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
5. Robert Redford, All is Lost

*WILD CARD: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
2. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
3. Judi Dench, Philomena
4. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
5. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

*WILD CARD: Amy Adams, American Hustle

1. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
2. Daniel Bruhl, Rush
3. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
4. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
5. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

*WILD CARD: Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

1. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
2. Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
3. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
4. June Squibb, Nebraska
5. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler

*WILD CARD: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

1. Joe Walker, 12 Years a Slave
2. Christopher Rouse, Captain Phillips
3. Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, Gravity
4. Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill, Rush
5. Thelma Shoonmaker and The Wolf of Wall Street

1. Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
2. Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
3. Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
4. Spike Jonze, Her
5. Bob Nelson, Nebraska

1. Tracy Letts, August: Osage County
2. Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
3. Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
4. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
5. Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

1. The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium
2. The Grandmaster, Hong Kong
3. The Great Beauty, Italy
4. The Hunt, Denmark
5. Omar, Palestine

1. Sean Bobbitt, 12 Years a Slave
2. Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
3. Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
4. Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
5. Roger Deakins, Prisoners

1. Adam Stochausen and Alice Baker, 12 Years a Slave
2. Catherine Martin and Beverly Dunn, The Great Gatsby
3. Andy Nicholson and Rosie Goodwin, Gravity
4. Michael Corenblith and Susan Benjamin, Saving Mr. Banks
5. Dan Hennah and Ra Vincent, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Gravity
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
4. Lone Survivor
5. Rush

1. All is Lost
2. Captain Phillips
3. Gravity
4. Lone Survivor
5. Rush

1. Patricia Norris, 12 Years a Slave
2. Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
3. Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby
4. Michael O'Connor, The Invisible Woman
5. Michael Orlandi, Saving Mr. Banks

1. Hans Zimmer, 12 Years a Slave
2. Alex Ebert, All is Lost
3. John Williams, The Book Thief
4. Steven Price, Gravity
5. Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks

1. The Act of Killing
2. The Armstrong Lie
3. Blackfish
4. God Loves Uganda
5. 20 Feet from Stardom

1. The Croods
2. Despicable Me 2
3. Frozen
4. Monsters University
5. The Wind Rises

1. Gravity
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
3. Star Trek Into Darkness
4. Pacific Rim
5. World War Z

1. American Hustle
2. Dallas Buyers Club
3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

1. "Let It Go" from Frozen
2. "Young and Beautiful" from The Great Gatsby
3. "Atlas" from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
4. "The Moon Song" from Her
5. "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
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Monday, January 13, 2014



Here are the winners for the 71st Golden Globe Awards brought to you by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association


THE WINNER: 12 Years a Slave

Captain Phillips


THE WINNER: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Kate Winslet, Labor Day


THE WINNER: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Robert Redford, All is Lost


THE WINNER: American Hustle

Inside Llewyn Davis
The Wolf of Wall Street


THE WINNER: Amy Adams, American Hustle

Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County


THE WINNER: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Joaquin Phoenix, Her


THE WINNER: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska


THE WINNER: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

THE WINNER: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle

THE WINNER:   Frozen

The Croods
Despicable Me 2

THE WINNER: The Great Beauty, Italy

Blue is the Warmest Color, France
The Hunt, Denmark
The Past, Iran
The Wind Rises, Japan

THE WINNER: Spike Jonze, Her

Bob Nelson, Nebraska
Jeff Pope, Steve Coogan, Philomena
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell, American Hustle

THE WINNER: Alex Ebert, All is Lost

Steven Price, Gravity
John Williams, The Book Thief
Hans Zimmer, 12 Years a Slave
Alex Heffes, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

THE WINNER: "Ordinary Love", Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

"Atlas", The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
"Let It Go", Frozen
"Please Mr. Kennedy", Inside Llewyn Davis
"Sweeter than Fiction", Once Chance

The 2014 Cecil B. DeMille Awards was presented to Woody Allen who, naturally, was not present so Diane Keaton accepted the awards upon his behalf.

What are your thoughts? Did the right people win? Any surprises or snubs?
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