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

Follow me on Twitter for updates to my blog and other fun movie news. Find me at @PaulsMovieTrip

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Friday, October 17, 2014

DEAR READERS

Dear Readers,

It has been a long time coming, but I am happy to say I finally have a brand new website for "Paul's Trip to the Movies". This wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous help from my brother Adam McGuire and his partner in crime Brad Berthiaume. It’s cleaner, easier to find, and will allow me to feature some other content that I couldn’t do on my blog.

I have loved posting all my reviews and movie content here since I started this little blog back in May 2010, and it has grown into something I could never have imagined. I have been slowly moving all four and a half years of content over to the new site, but it will take more time. I’ll keep this site active until the transition is complete, but I will be writing and posting all of my new content here on my new site. New content today includes my review of Fury starring Brad Pitt and look at last year’s indie hit In a World…starring Lake Bell.

I would love for you to check it out, leave me your thoughts, and share it with others as I continue to write about my trip to the movies. You can also find me every Friday on Twin Cities Live, Like me Facebook at Paul’s Trip to the Movies, and Follow me on Twitter @PaulsMovieTrip

Thank you for reading,
Paul McGuire Grimes

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Monday, October 13, 2014

TWIN CITIES LIVE--October 10, 2014

TWIN CITIES LIVE
October 10, 2014












This week we had three very different movies that talked about the power of family.

1. THE JUDGE, Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Very Farmiga
2. ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY, Starring: Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxenbould
3. NEIGHBORS, Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco

Here's the video:



Video courtesy of Twin Cities Live/KSTP



You can find all of my past segments HERE.

As always, thank you so much for watching and your continual support. I truly appreciate it!
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Movie Review: THE JUDGE

THE JUDGE
Director: David Dobkin
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard, Leighton Meester, David Krumholtz, Ken Howard


Tony Stark vs. Tom Hagen. Robert Downey Jr. vs Robert Duvall. They lead an all-star cast in the family legal drama, The Judge. Hank Palmer is that hotshot big city lawyer that never loses a case. As you’ve seen in the trailer, he’s so cocky he pees on his assistant (Krumholtz). Just before they are about to hear a verdict, he gets the dreaded phone call informing him that his mother has passed away. He drives back to his small hometown to be with his brothers (D’Onofrio and Strong) and their father Judge Joseph Palmer (Duvall).


Hank’s trip back home takes another turn when his father is accused of allegedly hitting and killing a man with his car. The man just happens to be someone he once presided over in court. There is blood on his car and all the evidence points back to him directly, but Judge Palmer has no recollection of the incident. Despite the fact that Hank and his father have a very fractured relationship, he takes on the task of being his father’s lead attorney. It’s a huge case that could kill and destroy the strong reputation his father once had as being the top judge in the city. To make matters worse, Judge Palmer has been hiding the fact that he has stage four cancer. Hank is going through his own issues as he is in the early stages of getting a divorce from his wife.


This film has all the right ingredients to be a powerful story, but it falls so flat that it’s a real wonder why such a dynamic cast signed on for such a lousy script. It’s co-written by first timer Bill Dubuque and Nick Schenk (Gran Torino). There’s a very generic wash over it that feels like they wanted to do a legal drama but didn’t have enough experience with the law or the court to write it with some intelligence behind it. I felt like they watched some old episodes of Law & Order just to get some of the basic legal jargon down. I’ve seen better writing on an hour-long TNT drama. At a very long run time of two hours and twenty minutes, there is an abundance of characters and side stories that completely over stuff the movie and take away from the father/son conflict at its core. Hank is the only character that seems to be given this massive back story that doesn’t really serve a purpose. He has a wife that he is divorcing and a daughter that he brings with him back home. There is also the old flame (Farmiga) and a bartender (Meester) that come into play. I love Vera Farmiga dearly, but her storyline with Downey is a prime example of a sub-plot that takes up too much time. Dax Shepard plays the dim-witted attorney that is also working on the Judge Palmer case. Again, there are scenes and bits with him that take up too much time. His sole purpose seems to be just to provide some laughs as the “much needed” comedic character. It’s a script that’s bursting with clich├ęs and not-so-surprising revelations that many of these supporting characters fall victim to this and feel like generic characters you would find in a “how to write a family legal drama” manual.


The Judge is the first film for Robert Downey Jr.’s new production company Team Downey. It’s evident that he wanted to tackle a different character than Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes as he has been stuck in those franchises for the past decade. While I applaud the effort and desire, I couldn’t help but feel like he was just playing Tony Stark (Iron Man’s alter ego) the whole time. This character is another arrogant and hot-tempered individual like Stark.  I could hear him reverting back to old vocal cadences he’s used as Stark. He’s not the only character like this in the movie. Robert Duvall and Vincent D’Onofrio have their bullheaded moments as well. Too many hot tempers flare up with too many father/son meltdown scenes when it just feels like forced drama that is easy to write to create tension. David Dobkin is trying to stretch his range into dramatic territory as he has primarily directed comedies before with Wedding Crashers, Fred Claus, and The Change-Up. He seems a bit out of his league here, and I wish he would have been able to see these actor traits coming out and really challenge Downey and Duvall to try something different.  Instead, he probably just trusted their instincts and took a more back seat approach to shaping some of the scenes.


It is exciting to see Downey and Duvall in their first movie together. Both carry a strong screen presence that should have been exhilarating to watch. With Billy Bob Thornton, Vera Farmiga, and Vincent D’Onofrio joining them, there could have been the potential for it to be a touching movie that really resonated with moviegoers. Instead there is nothing fresh or original at hand when it’s painfully obvious that it’s trying really hard to be just that.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? No. So many talented actors in such a long, drawn out movie.

RATING: 2 out of 5 TICKET STUBS



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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Movie Review: ANNABELLE

ANNABELLE
Director: John R. Leonetti
Starring: Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard, Tony Amendola


If you saw The Conjuring, you may remember that it opened with scenes involving a possessed doll named Annabelle who the Warrens later took possession of and kept in their artifacts room. It should come as no surprise that with the huge success of that film, a follow-up was rushed into production. This time the studio decided to go the prequel route by telling the story of Annabelle and her time with Mia (Wallis) and John (Horton). They live in a cozy house and are expecting their first child. The baby’s room is decorated with a wide variety of dolls, many of which seem far too creepy for any newborn. One day John brings home a huge box with Annabelle inside and Mia couldn’t be any happier as it’s hard to find and completes a set. I’ll tell you why it’s hard to find. It’s old, cracked, and scary as hell. Why oh why would you put that in a baby’s room?


Soon after Annabelle arrives, their house becomes a haven for disaster. One night Mia is awoken by the sounds of her neighbors being brutally murdered. The killers make their way over to Mia and John’s house where one of them starts whispering for the doll. One of the intruders proceeds to kill herself while clutching the Annabelle doll. Strange occurrences start to happen throughout all hours of the day forcing Mia to have the baby early. Like many possession stories we have seen before, Mia and John move to a new house hoping to rid themselves of their problems. We all know this never works and the demons follow the couple to their new apartment.


The Conjuring was based on a true story and the real Annabelle doll is an old Raggedy Ann doll instead of a porcelain doll that's used in the movie. While that film stuck fairly close to the real life story of the Warrens, I am curious as to why they decided to give Annabelle a completely fictionalized story instead of using the true story that goes along with the real Raggedy Ann doll. There seems to be plenty of information out there regarding it, but maybe this was the faster and cheaper way of cranking out a paint-by-numbers script. I’ve seen enough of these types of movies that always seem to have a priest character (Amendola) and a mysterious neighbor character (Woodard). Is it so hard to create a different type of character that informs John and Mia that Annabelle is a conduit for evil spirits? Even the ending feels unoriginal and tired.


I was relieved to see that the film does stick to the 1970s timeline. I would not have been surprised if they were going to call it a prequel and than randomly set it in a contemporary timeline. The 1970s was one of the smartest choices they went for as it provides for some interesting design concepts to make up for the unoriginal story. The names John and Mia may ring a bell for you as they are clearly named after John Cassavetes and Mia Farrow who played the couple in Rosemary’s Baby. It is very apparent that director John R. Leonetti was inspired by Roman Polanski’s film. Leonetti was the director of photography on The Conjuring so he knows his way around lighting and shooting a horror film. The film sticks with using real effects to give it a more natural feel over relying on CGI. It makes sense with the time period and how horror films were shot in that decade. Don’t worry, the Annabelle doll doesn’t walk around or do silly Chucky type moves.


This may be the biggest project yet for stars Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis. Horton had a small role in The Wolf of Wall Street and has had numerous one-episode appearances in a variety of television shows. Wallis has had some television work on Pan-Am and The Tudors. They are both strong enough actors to keep the characters grounded without feeling like they are ever over-acting or being the bimbos we often find in horror films. I just don’t feel like there is anything interesting about John or Mia. Maybe the point was to make them very normal and bland people. How can you make a movie work with two fairly unknown lead actors playing characters we don't really want to invest our time in?


I wish I could say that Annabelle is as exciting and scary as its predecessor. There are a couple of jumpy moments, but most of the scares tended to be dragged out longer than they needed to be. James Wan is attached to the film as one of the producers. He is the top-notch horror director behind The Conjuring, Insidious, and Saw, and I would have expected it to be better with his involvement.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Go revisit The Conjuring or Rosemary's Baby instead.

RATING: 2 out of 5 TICKET STUBS




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Saturday, October 4, 2014

TWIN CITIES LIVE--October 3, 2014

TWIN CITIES LIVE
October 3, 2014












I was excited to give another new release my 5 Ticket Stubs rating! Find out which one below...

1. GONE GIRL, Starring: Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris
2. THE EQUALIZER, Starring: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz
3. CHEF, Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leugizamo

Here's the video:



Video courtesy of Twin Cities Live/KSTP



You can find all of my past segments HERE.

As always, thank you so much for watching and your continual support. I truly appreciate it!
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Friday, October 3, 2014

Movie Review: GONE GIRL

GONE GIRL
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens, Missi Pyle, Sela Ward


When I heard that David Fincher was going to tackle the big screen adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s hot bestseller Gone Girl, I knew that he was the perfect choice. I have proclaimed my love and adoration for the guy many times before. With films like Zodiac, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Se7en under his belt, he has tackled his fair share of thrillers, mysteries, and devious crimes. Amy (Pike) and Nick (Affleck) Dunne seem like the perfect couple. They are smart, creative, attractive, and live in a wealthy neighborhood. She grew up in the spotlight, as she was the subject of her parents’s “Amazing Amy” children’s books. The fictional Amy was always one step ahead of the real life inspiration.


One their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick stops home and discovers their glass coffee table has been shattered, and Amy is nowhere to be found. Her disappearance causes a media frenzy that shakes the neighborhood, and Nick becomes the number one suspect. Press conferences, continuing police interrogation, and a candle light vigil continue to put Nick in the spotlight even though he claims he had nothing to due with Amy’s disappearance. The only people he feels like he can trust are his sister Margo (Coon) and his hot shot lawyer Tanner Bolt (Perry).


If you have read Flynn’s novel, you know it is a juicy pager turner. It will be a relief to any moviegoer to know that she also wrote the screenplay, so you can trust that it’s a faithful adaptation. Even down to the structure of how the book is laid out, the film stays true to that  without feeling like it’s been compromised for a different medium. From the outside, you may think this seems like your standard murder mystery. She is cunning in that just when you think you’ve got it figured it, she flips the whole story on its head and takes it to a whole different dimension, much like the marriage of the main two characters. I read the book some time ago, so some of the more minute details were not as fresh on my mind when watching the movie. Despite knowing the major twists and turns she takes us on, I was still hooked and drawn in as if I was watching this all unfold for the first time.


I would assume with her involvement in the movie, she was fairly particular with who would be directing the film. David Fincher’s last film was the adaptation of the bestselling mystery The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He has become the master at these types of pulsating thrillers that wrestle inside of you. He has a way of digging deep into something and finding a layer that rumbles deep within. If you saw The Social Network, you know that it’s more than just some movie about Facebook. He can take a novel like Gone Girl and shape it into something that’s more than a bedside page-turner. Part of this comes from his use of the media and how it plays out like an integral character in the movie. Fincher really drives home the power that the media and various news outlets can have on a crime as shocking and mysterious as the disappearance of Amy. Immediately Nick becomes the target of a Nancy Grace type news reporter played by Missi Pyle (The Artist, Big Fish). Cameras, news vans, and hoards of people station themselves in front of Nick’s home watching his every move. It’s a powerful commentary on this sensation that we live in a 24-hour news society. You see very easily how the citizens react and trust anything that they hear in the news. Nick’s interview with another reporter (Ward) is expertly crafted to show him in just the right light in hopes of winning back the people’s support.


Fincher continues his collaboration with composers Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor who won the Oscar for their score to The Social Network. Their music here may be their most subtle work to date. It rests in the background perfectly complimenting each scene without ever feeling that it’s taking over the scene itself. Only in the film’s more shocking moments does it ring out loud and clear like a Bernard Hermann score.


Whoever doubted Fincher’s casting of either Rosamund Pike or Ben Affleck or even Tyler Perry (yes, Madea himself) should remember to trust all of his casting decisions. He likes casting unknown actresses or actresses that don’t come with a background of work that we may stereotype them for. You may have seen Pike as a Bond girl in Die Another Day or in The World’s End, but she isn’t a huge household name yet. Here’s hoping she is the talk of the awards season as she gives a dynamic performance that will be one of the best of the year. Amy Dunne is such a rich and complex character. I would hate to spoil too much by talking about the ins and outs of her character, but Pike digs deep into the soul and psychological depth of Amy that starts to unfold in the movie. Affleck gives one of the best performances of his career. Fincher cast him due to his relationship with the media and the scrutiny he is under being part of a Hollywood power couple. There are stereotypes and visions we have of Affleck that are brought on by the media that work in conjunction with his character. Affleck keeps Nick guarded and on the verge of being unreliable. He’s always playing and toying with the idea of whether or not Nick is a bad guy. He isn’t the weeping and inconsolable husband when Amy goes missing, but does that automatically make him guilty?


Fincher is known to be a meticulous director often demanding an abundance of takes and a sharp look at every piece of the puzzle. With a film like this, you have to have a detail-oriented craftsman in charge. Flynn’s novel is a winding road of twists and turns taking the audience on a very specific journey. You have to know what you are doing in order to stay ahead of the audience. Fincher’s eye and ways of working with his actors keeps us in the palm of his hand. We continue to second-guess who’s in charge in this he said/she said world. We grow to question, not just the characters of Amy and Nick, but of those others around them as to whether they are allies or enemies. Gone Girl is another homerun for David Fincher. It has a high place on my best of the year list, and I cannot wait to see it again.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Absolutely. I don’t think they could have made a better adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel.

RATING: 5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS

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