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Showing posts from 2012

Movies of 2012: Roundtable

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There have been many films shown this year, including the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I along with two other critics have put together a roundtable to showcase the movies of 2012.

Critics include:
Myself (Liz Parker), Detroit Film Examiner and Yes/No Films Ken Murray, the Boston Movie ExaminerMike Spring, Editor of DVDSnapshot
Read the rest of the article at Examiner.com.

Django Unchained

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Django Unchained is the newest film by director Quentin Tarantino, which means you automatically know it's going to have a ton of bloodshed in it. This film definitely has that, and may run about a half-hour too long, but overall was one of the better films I have seen lately. It also has an all-star cast, including Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson, and the humor throughout will keep you entertained despite its long runtime.

Django (Foxx) is a slave who was recently sold and is being transported to his new master. Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) comes upon him and other slaves walking through the night, and kills the white men transporting them. Schultz is a bounty hunter and needs Django to help him find the newest men whom he's been assigned to kill; Schultz has never met them, but they were Django's old masters. Schultz gives Django his freedom and befriends him while training Django to be a bounty hunter. Django also wants to find his wife, Br…

Parental Guidance

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I did not have high hopes for Parental Guidance based on its previews, even though I'm a big fan of both Bette Midler and Billy Crystal. To be honest, it looked like a typical "family" movie that was all sap and no substance. However, I found myself actually enjoying the film, and most of the jokes throughout it were actually pretty funny.

Alice (Marisa Tomei) and her husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott) have three young kids, and haven't taken a vacation in forever. When Phil gets to go on a trip to present on his "smart house," R-Life, he asks Alice to go with him. Unfortunately, Phil's parents aren't free to watch the kids for the duration of their trip, so they're forced to call "the other grandparents" - Alice's parents, Diane (Midler) and Artie (Crystal). Alice and Phil's parenting style was very different from Alice and Phil's, however, and she gives them strict instructions: no sugar for the kids (ha ...), and they al…

Jack Reacher

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Jack Reacher is based on a series of books about a six-foot, 250-pound man, so apparently fans of the book were not pleased to hear that 5'7" Tom Cruise, more scrawny than brawny, had been cast in the role. However, he does a great job with the role; if the book fans can put away their biases, they may actually end up enjoying the film adaptation.

Jack Reacher (Cruise) is a ghost. He served in the military, mostly working as an investigator, and received many honors; and then, after that, he seemed to vanish. When James Barr (Joseph Sikora), a sniper who has shot five random people asks for him by name, he randomly shows up to talk to the DA, Rodin (Richard Jenkins) and his colleague Emerson (David Oyelowo) about the man, and ends up working with the lawyer defending the sniper, the DA's daughter, Helen (Rosamund Pike). All evidence points to Barr having committed the crime, but Reacher isn't so sure, and he must figure out the evidence before being run out of town b…

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D

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I am a fan of Cirque du Soleil, and have seen them twice in Vegas: their show Mystere, at Treasure Island, and O, at Bellagio. Both of these were a while ago (though I'm hoping to see a Cirque show when in Vegas next month!), but I still remember the artistry of their shows and the uniqueness of them. Worlds Away showcases more than five of these shows, while trying to string together a coherent story, and if you like Cirque you will like this film; if movies without words, for the most part, are not for you, then you will not.

The synopsis of this movie from IMDb is "Two young people journey through the dreamlike worlds of Cirque du Soleil to find each other." This is correct, except really the filmmakers only created this flimsy plot to hold together a film showcasing the world of Cirque, which is fine by me, as the sylph-like creatures, clowns, and people of that world are more interesting anyways. A girl goes to a circus and sees a handsome young man working there,…

This is 40

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This is 40 is being billed as the "sort-of sequel to (2007's) Knocked Up," and so Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprise their roles as Pete and Debbie. However, you won't find Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl here at all, though there are a few other recurring characters, such as Jason Segel, playing an athletic trainer aptly named Jason, and Charlyne Yi, playing an employee who works at Debbie's clothing store (and who is so weird she actually steals a few scenes). I remember I saw a screening of Knocked Up when I was attending U of M and thought it was funny, and This is 40 matches that, though it's definitely not a movie for kids because of its language and adult jokes.

Five years after Knocked Up,Pete and Debbie are turning 40, though Debbie insists on having "38" written on her cake. They're in some serious money troubles too, although Debbie doesn't even know the half of it; Pete's music studio isn't doing well, and he brings back o…

The Guilt Trip

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The Guilt Trip looked like it could be a fun "buddy" movie, only this case with a mom and her son instead of two men or two women, but unfortunately it's not that funny. Barbra Streisand hasn't been in a film since 2010's Little Fockers, but I thought Seth Rogen's reputation for comedy meant the pair would mesh well together, which they did; however, the script holds them back from making this movie a memorable one.

Andy Brewster (Rogen) has invented "Scioclean," an all-natural cleaning product that is not as toxic as its competitors. He's spent the past five years developing the product, and now it's time to hit the road and find a company that wants to buy it. After his mother (Streisand) tells him a story about her first love, Andy looks him up and finds out he lives in San Francisco; he was planning on ending his trip in Vegas, but decides to add San Fran to his trip, and invites his mother to go with him. Along the way, they encounter …

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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I should probably preface this review by saying that this is not going to influence you in any way to see or not see the movie (so, stop reading now! Kidding). You are going to see this movie whether I tell you it's good, awful, or somewhere in between. Much like the Potterites or the Twihards, if you are a huge LOTR fan you are going to go see it ... it's as simple as that.

I should also warn that I have seen three-quarters of the first LOTR movie, and also 100% of the third movie - but not in that order. I saw the third movie in my college dorm with a LOTR fan and was confused throughout the entire movie. I saw three-quarters of the first movie when visiting a friend in New Orleans last year (who is also a big LOTR fan) but it was late and I fell asleep with a quarter of the movie left, thereabouts. I tried reading The Hobbit a while back but found it incredibly detailed, and didn't get all the way through that either.

What I can tell you, though, is that although The…

Blu-ray combo pack giveaway: Magic Mike OR The Dark Knight Rises

The holidays are fast approaching, and Warner Brothers has come up with a Happy Holidays blog app featuring some classic and new movies that are coming to Blu-ray. Check out the widget below to find some gift ideas for you and your friends and family this holiday season.



To celebrate, I have a Blu-ray combo pack of either Magic Mike or The Dark Knight Rises to give away to one of my lucky readers - prize will be chosen randomly by Warner Brothers.

To enter, check out the widget above, and then fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The combo pack will be sent via FedEx or UPS, so no P.O. boxes, please.

This is a shorter giveaway than my usual ones - it will end this Tuesday, December 18th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified the morning of 12/19 and have 24 hours to respond to my email, or else an alternate winner will be chosen.

Good luck, and happy holidays from Yes/No Films!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Playing for Keeps

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Playing for Keeps looked like it would be a typical rom-com: it had a cute trailer, and I'm a fan of Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and all of the other A-listers who are in this film. However, although the movie does have some nice moments, overall I found that even Gerard couldn't save this film.

George (Butler) is a former soccer star who hit his peak in the late '90s, before he retired. Since then, he hasn't done much of anything, except he was once married to Stacie (Biel) and they now have an 8-year-old son together, Lewis. George walked out on them when Lewis was four, but he's recently moved to their suburban town of Virginia, and wants to spend more time with his son. He also finds out that Stacie is about to marry her boyfriend of three years, Matt. After George is a hit at Lewis's soccer practice one day, Stacie and the other moms ask him to coach the team; he agrees, and is able to spend more time with Lewis. This also means, ho…

Hitchcock

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I have seen a few of Hitchcock's movies, but last weekend I revisited Psycho, and I'm glad I did. The period of Hitchcock's life in which Hitchcock focuses is on is when he is filming Psycho, as well as his relationship with his wife in general, and there were a few nods throughout to fans of the movie; the iconic shower scene is, of course, featured, but there were other winks throughout too.

Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) has just had a success with North by Northwest, and is looking for a new project to film. The book Psycho somehow gets to him, and he reads it and decides that he wants to make this his next movie; however, he first has to run it by Paramount and also "the censors" (the MPAA) - in one scene, the MPAA says he can film the shower scene but it must be "through a window, which must be frosted." Meanwhile, his wife, Alma (Helen Mirren), is getting more and more annoyed at him, and she takes up writing with a fellow screenwriter, Whit…

GIVEAWAY: Thunderstruck Blu-ray combo pack

Thunderstruck will be out in stores on December 4th, and I have a copy of the Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack for you to win! The combo pack also includes an Ultraviolet copy of the movie to download to your computer.

Plot synopsis:
NBA superstar Kevin Durant plays himself in this action-packed family film about a basketball star who switches talent with a klutzy 16-year-old fan. When Brian (Taylor Gray) magically switches basketball skills with his hero, Kevin Durant, he becomes the star of his high school team... while Kevin Durant suddenly can’t make a shot to save his life! But with the playoffs approaching, Brian learns that being a true winner means working hard at your own game, and he tries to make things right in time to prevent a catastrophic end to his hero’s season.



To enter, check out the widget above, and then fill out the Rafflecopter form. The combo pack will be sent via FedEx or UPS, so no P.O. boxes, please. Prize will be sent 2-4 weeks after sponsor receives winner's shi…

Life of Pi

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Life of Pi is based on the 2001 book of the same name, by Yann Martel, which I haven't read but would now like to. In the movie version, I originally thought Pi was trapped at sea for two or three months; however, it ends up being 227 days - roughly seven and a half months! - and the director, Ang Lee, showcases this time in the movie beautifully, even though the situation is dire.

Piscine Molitor Patel (Suraj Sharma, a first-time actor) received his name from a favorite swimming pool, the Piscine Molitor in France. Children are not kind to Piscine, however, given that his name sounds like another word, so during elementary school he decides to reinvent himself one year and go by the name of "Pi" instead; it helps that he's super smart at math, too, and can write down a large amount of the numbers in Pi (3.14). One day, however, his mother (Tabu) and father (Adil Hussain) announce that they are moving from India to Canada, and will be selling the animals in their zoo…

Red Dawn

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Red Dawn seems like a good movie on the surface, but later you realize that the plot actually has more holes than Swiss cheese. On Halloween, for example, you love eating delicious candy, but the next day you have a stomachache; suddenly, you're thinking maybe that candy wasn't that great after all. When you are watching Red Dawn , at first it seems like an awesome action movie; but when you think about what the plot is actually about, you realize that it's very farfetched.

The original Red Dawn was released in 1984, and 2012's version has a similar plot. This version was also filmed in 2009, pre-Hemsworth's Thor and Hutcherson's Hunger Games box office successes, and it was filmed in Michigan. Jed Eckert (Hemsworth) is back home in the Seattle area on leave from Iraq, and his brother, Matt (Josh Peck), a high school football player, isn't really excited to see him. The next day, the boys are awakened to the sound of airplanes in the air: there's some …

Rise of the Guardians

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I wasn't sure what to make of Rise of the Guardians before seeing it, because the only thing I really knew about it from the trailers is that all of the holiday "icons" get together - Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy - in order to save the children of the world. With movies like this, the end result could go either way, but I'm happy to say that this movie was both funny and also will hold the attention of both adults and kids. Pay close attention to who voices each character, too; I was unable to figure out any of them before I got home and looked it up online. Interestingly enough, the movie has a voice cast that in normal circumstances are very recognizable.

North (aka Santa, voiced by Alec Baldwin) is a Guardian, which means he protects children and makes sure they never stop believing in him or the other Guardians, which include the Easter Bunny (aka E. Aster Bunnymund, voiced by Hugh Jackman), Tooth (Fairy, Isla Fisher), and the Sandman. The Man in t…

Silver Linings Playbook

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Silver Linings Playbook is an interesting movie in that it imitates real life more than we care to admit. It's a "slice of life" movie that can move quite slowly at times, but Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence have great chemistry that make the movie worth seeing.

Pat (Cooper) has spent the past eight months in a mental hospital in Baltimore, after an incident involving him catching his wife in the act of cheating with one of her teacher colleagues. His mother (Jacki Weaver) checks him out of the hospital, and he returns home to their house, where she and his father, Pat Sr. (Robert DeNiro) live. He has faith that his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), will see how much he's changed (and how fit he's gotten) and come running back to him; he doesn't count on learning that she has moved away, however, and that the restraining order against him is still in place.

One of his good friends (John Ortiz) and his wife, Veronica (Julia Stiles), invite Pat over for dinner, an…

Lincoln

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Lincoln and Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays the title role, have been getting a lot of Oscar buzz. The acting in this film was superb; however, the film moves very, very slowly, and since it's about two and a half hours long, this is what can often kill a film. Although the story in Lincoln is one that is of utmost importance to our nation's history, and is one that should be retold to all generations, the languid pace at which the movie moves proved to be too slow for me.

The film opens in the third year of the Civil War, and we see both black and white soldiers milling about, talking to a very tall seated man, who turns out to be Lincoln (Day-Lewis, looking uncannily like Lincoln incarnate). The soldiers all quote his Gettysburg Address back to him, and the African-American soldiers tell him how they are paid less than their white counterparts. We then meet the characters of the White House, including Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field); his adorable youngest so…

A Late Quartet

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I was interested in seeing A Late Quartet because I am a violinist, and also because the all-star cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, and Catherine Keener. I had also read an article before seeing it that said that none of the actors were familiar with playing classical instruments, so I was also interested in seeing if they would pull that off or not. Although the sounds in the film were dubbed over, the technicalities of holding and playing the instruments on screen were very accurate, and I was impressed in how real their quartet looked.

The quartet of "The Fugue" is approaching their twenty-fifth anniversary, but their cellist, Peter (Walken), has been having difficulties with his hands lately. He goes to see a specialist and she diagnoses him with early Parkinson's disease. Peter tells the quartet that this season will be his last, and that he will find them a replacement that they all like and will be able to work with. Meanwhile, the 2nd vi…

Skyfall

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I've been hearing Adele's song "Skyfall" on the radio for weeks now, and it has that Bond "theme" stamped all over it; the track fits almost perfectly with the "vintage Bond"-style opening sequence and credits of the movie. We last saw Bond back in 2008's Quantum of Solace, which was definitely a fun film, but Skyfall manages to outdo that and all of the recent previous Bond movies as well.

The film blasts us into the action from the very first frame. Bond (Daniel Craig) is in a foreign city - that looks like somewhere in the Middle East - trying to retrieve a list of compromised agents' names. His partner, Eve (Naomie Harris), has his back and is following him on the road, while he is tangling with a man on top of a truck. M (Judi Dench, reprising her role) tells Eve to take the shot, even though she doesn't have a clear view, and she ends up shooting Bond instead of the bad guy, who then plunges into the water many feet below. Cue:…

Review and GIVEAWAY: The Heart of Christmas

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Although The Heart of Christmas doesn't have the best acting, you're going to need Kleenex for this one ... perhaps even a full box. It's based on the true story of Dax Locke, a little boy who was diagnosed with AML M7 leukemia, which is usually common in elderly men. His parents take him to St. Jude's to possibly find a cure, but when it becomes apparent that the chemotherapy is not working for him, and that he may not live until Christmas, his parents and neighborhood decide to throw Christmas early, and they decorate their houses with Christmas trees and lights.

Official synopsis:
Based on a true story of hope and compassion, THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS will touch your heart and bring home the spirit of the holidays. Austin and Julie Locke are devastated when they learn that their young son, Dax, has been diagnosed with cancer. But with courage, determination and faith, they decide to give Dax a one last Christmas, even if it has to be in October. When the community sees…

Wreck-It Ralph

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I wrote a post a while back as a guest blogger about this film, and how I was looking forward to it. I was not disappointed, although the 3D was not great (it would definitely be fine to see in 2D), and the movie wasn't as funny as I thought it would be. However, there's plenty here for both the young and the young at heart, and in typical Disney fashion, there are parts throughout that film that the adults might laugh at but the kids might not.

Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is getting tired of his job. For the past thirty years, he's been the "bad guy" in the video game Fix-It Felix Jr., while Felix (Jack McBrayer), always gets to be the hero who saves the day with with his magic hammer. Ralph would be okay with this if his "regular" life was fine too, but the rest of the townspeople in the game get to live in a nice building while he has to sleep among the bricks in the town dump. When one of the townspeople scornfully remarks that if Ral…

The Sessions

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The Sessions is a unique movie that might not be to everybody's tastes. It's based on the true story of polio survivor Mark O'Brien and his daily life living in an iron lung, which helps him breathe. Although the acting in the film is very good, the subject matter was hard to watch, and there was much nudity throughout as well.

Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes) agrees to write an article for a newspaper about sex and the disabled. He is 38 years old and has never had sex; even though his "parts" work well, he is unable to move his arms, hands, or legs, and in fact is confined to his iron lung most of the time - he can journey away from it only in 3 to 4 hour increments. He is referred to Cheryl (Helen Hunt), a sex surrogate who will work with him on becoming comfortable in his own body and with intimacy with women. Mark confides all this to his priest, Father Brendan (William H. Macy), who says that although the church typically frowns on sex before marriage, in th…

Flight

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The story in Flight brings to mind that of Sully Sullenberger, who landed a plane successfully in the Hudson River in 2009, saving all of the passengers on board. Now imagine the story behind the man being darker and more twisted, and you get Whip Whitaker, played by Denzel Washington. Whip likes to live life to excess - drink and do cocaine - but he's also an airline pilot. He has a fine record, until one day, that record becomes severely marred; he's a hero, and yet not.

Whip has a routine flight from Orlando to Atlanta, his home, a quick 50 minute or so trip. He and flight attendant Trina (Nadine Velasquez) wake up hungover from their tryst the night before, in an Orlando hotel room, and Whip does a few lines of cocaine to wake himself up. The crew encounters a bit of turbulence in the beginning of the flight, but then Whip steers them into calmer skies. Suddenly, though, the plane starts to malfunction, and it takes all of Whip's training and concentration to land th…

Friends: The Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set and GIVEAWAY

In May 2004, the TV show Friends came to an end. I had never watched the series, but at the time everyone in my high school was sad that it was ending. It wasn't until college that a friend got me hooked on the series, and now it is one of my favorites.

Warner Brothers is releasing Friends: The Complete Series Blu-Ray box set on November 13th, and you can win a Friends prize pack from Yes/No Films!

First, check out the widget below. See which "Friend" you are most like, make some Friends memes, and earn badges.



Then, check out these fun clips:


I have a Friends prize pack to give away, including the two mugs shown below and a picture frame like the one on Monica's door.



To enter: fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The contest will end next Thursday, November 8th, at 11:59pm EST, and the winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email or an alternate winner will be chosen. The prize will be sent via UPS or FedEx; no P.O. boxes, please.

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter give…

Liberal Arts

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Liberal Arts explores the relationship between a 19-year-old college sophomore, Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), and a 35-year-old man, Jesse (Josh Radnor). Jesse now lives in New York City, but in the 1990s he attended a small liberal arts college in Ohio. He returns to his alma mater to celebrate the retirement party of his favorite professor, Peter Hoburg (Richard Jenkins), and ends up meeting Zibby.

Jesse and Zibby meet through Zibby's parents, and they have an instant connection. After Jesse leaves the college, he agrees to write Zibby via snail mail, and they keep up a "courtship" or sorts for a few months through this, until Zibby asks him to come visit her back at the college. Jesse knows that the age difference between them is too much to ignore (at one point, he makes a list with the columns "When I was: [x] age" and "She was: [x] age", coming up with depressing numbers like 19-3 and 16-0), but he finds himself greatly enjoying Zibby's company.…

Fun Size

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The movie Fun Size presumably gets its name from the shirt that one of the main characters wears for a brief minute near the end of the film, which says "I'm not short - I'm fun sized." However, this film was anything BUT fun, and is in fact one of the worst movies I've seen in quite a while - despite the comedic intentions, it isn't funny at all.

Wren (Victoria Justice) and her friend April (Jane Levy) are thrilled when they receive a Halloween party invite from a hot guy at their high school, Aaron Riley (Thomas McDonell). There's only one problem: Wren's mom, Joy (Chelsea Handler), is going out to a party with her 26-year-old boyfriend, Keevin (Josh Pence), and needs Wren to babysit her younger brother Albert (Jackson Nicoll) that night. Wren and April take Albert trick-or-treating, and while in a haunted house they manage to lose track of him. They scour the town looking for Albert, and wheedle school dorks Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Peng (Osri…

Alex Cross

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I will confess that I've never seen any of the Madea movies nor read the Alex Cross book series, but I didn't have high expectations for this film, although the trailer looked interesting. Although there are some good performances in the film, they are marred by the unrealistic situations and sometimes cheesy script throughout, and also a few gaping plot holes that the writers left open.

I was later told that this movie is a prequel to the series, as books Alex lives in D.C. and works for the FBI; in this film, he is a cop living in Detroit and he is thinking of applying to the FBI. Alex (Tyler Perry) has just learned that his wife, Maria (Carmen Ejogo), is pregnant with their second child, and he thinks that moving to D.C. will be better for the family - however, Maria wants to stay in Detroit. Meanwhile, Alex and his partner Tommy (Edward Burns), are on the hunt for a murderer who killed a heiress, and who later abducts fellow cop Monica (Rachel Nichols), who is also secret…

Review and GIVEAWAY: Hallmark Spiderman and Twilight ornaments

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When I was in NYC for BlogHer '12 this past August, Jackie at Free is my Life invited me to attend Hallmark's off-site party as a guest. Hallmark had rented a suite at a small boutique hotel across the street from the Hilton, and the view was AMAZING. We were also treated to desserts and were able to see their products for the upcoming holiday season.

Recently Hallmark sent me two of their movie-themed ornaments to review, and I also have a set for one lucky reader to win, as well.

I received the "Edward and Bella's Wedding" ornament ($17.95), from the Twilight series, and an Amazing Spider-Man ornament ($14.95) in the mail, two of which I had admired at Hallmark's NYC party, where there was a huge Christmas tree with all sorts of goodies. The detail on Edward and Bella's ornament is amazing - the back of her dress looks just like it did in the movie. I also was laughing at how much the man figure looks like Robert Pattinson (Edward), though the female f…

Argo

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Argo is one of the best movies of the year thus far, which isn't surprising when you consider its cast and crew. Ben Affleck plays the lead role and directs, and George Clooney helped produce the film. John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber, and the escaped U.S. embassy employees in Iran all deliver great performances as well, and the movie showcases a turbulent time in U.S.-Iran relations that many people may not know much about.

The movie starts out giving us a basic rundown of the crisis up to that point, for the uninitiated. It's the late 1970s and Iranians are storming the U.S. embassy, because their Shah (former leader) has been allowed to enter the U.S. for medical treatment, and the Iranians are very anti-American by this point. The doors are finally kicked in, and 52 of the employees there are taken hostage; 6 of them, however, escape out the back door. The six go from embassy to embassy, but the only one that will take them in are the Canadians: Ken Taylor (Garber)…

Seven Psychopaths

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With an all-star cast and a quirky trailer, Seven Psychopaths appears to have it all. However, the film is more weird (or quirky, as some call it) than it lets on, and the plot is a bit messy as well.

Marty (Colin Farrell) is writing a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths but is out of ideas. His friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) tries to help by placing an ad in the paper asking all psychopaths to call Marty, with the possibility that their stories will be used in his movie. Meanwhile, Billy is making his money by helping Hans (Christopher Walken) with his "dognapping" business: they kidnap dogs and then, when they see reward posters for them, Hans returns the dog and collects the money. They make the mistake of kidnapping the shih tzu belonging to a gangster by the name of Charlie (Woody Harrelson), however, and Charlie is not pleased. Soon Billy, Hans, and Marty are running from Charlie, and finding all sorts of material to write about for Marty's screenplay on the way.

Here Comes the Boom

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Kevin James is back on the big screen in Here Comes the Boom, which is suspiciously similar to 2011's Warrior except that in this case, the main character is trying to raise money for a school music program rather than needing money for himself and his family. Boom is also a comedy, whereas Warrior was a drama. I originally wrote Boom off in my mind, thinking it was going to be a silly movie about MMA (mixed martial arts), but it actually had a few funny moments and ended up exceeding my expectations.

Scott Voss (James) once loved teaching, but now is a slacker: he shows up late, gets docked vacation days, and doesn't care about his class. His friend Marty (Henry Winkler) is the orchestra teacher at the school, and one day Scott comes across them practicing and is impressed by how good they sound. When the school principal (Greg Germann) announces budget freezes and says that the music program will be cut, Scott realizes that Marty might lose his job, and decides that he wil…

Frankenweenie

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I will confess that I wasn't super excited to see Frankenweenie, even though Tim Burton's movies (as well as Disney films) are usually great. It's completely in black and white and the little kid with the weird teeth in the previews for it (who we later find out is named Edgar "E" Gore - get it?) was more than a little creepy. Now, however, I completely take back my earlier sentiments, as Frankenweenie was not only unique, but intriguing as well.

Victor (voiced by Charlie Tahan) doesn't have many friends aside from his dog, Sparky. Victor wants to enter the school science fair, but his dad (Martin Short) makes him a compromise: he can do the fair as long as he joins the baseball team as well. During his first game, Sparky gets loose from where he's tied to a post, and runs into the street after the ball, getting fatally hit by a car. Victor is distraught until his new science teacher (Martin Landau) shows the class how all dead animals have "muscle…

Pitch Perfect

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When I saw a tweet from actress Elizabeth Banks asking for extras in her film Pitch Perfect last November, I offhandedly mentioned it to a friend of mine who lives in Baton Rouge. My friend jumped at the chance to be an extra, which resulted in this post. It should come as no surprise, then, that I was very eager to see  Pitch Perfect  more than a month before it was in theaters. Although I didn't see my friend in the movie, the film was definitely worth seeing, and is a mix of "Glee meets Mean Girls meets Bridesmaids," as someone tweeted.

Beca (Anna Kendrick, 50/50) arrives at Barden University as a freshman but doesn't want to be there - she would rather be in L.A. pursuing her dream to be a DJ. Her dad is a professor at Barden so he expects her to take advantage of a free college education there. Her roommate Kimmy Jin (Jinhee Joung) doesn't really like her, yet she accompanies her to the Activities Fair anyways to see what's being offered on campus. The …

GIVEAWAY: Dark Shadows on Blu-ray/DVD

Dark Shadows is coming to Blu-ray and DVD on October 2nd, and I have your chance to win a copy here. Check out the widget below, and then enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

Also check out my movie review of Dark Shadows here.

Giveaway will end on Friday, October 5th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email or else a new winner will be chosen. The prize will be sent via FedEx or UPS. No P.O. boxes, please.

Synopsis of the film:
From the incredible mind of Tim Burton comes the hit film Dark Shadows, based on the classic television series! Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) has been trapped for two centuries by an evil witch (Eva Green) who just happens to be an ex lover. Barnabas now has to struggle with the ever changing 1970s and save his families business! With an all star cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller and more, Dark Shadows will be sure to whet your appetite for fun.



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Looper

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I'm still trying to process my thoughts about Looper (gotta love Thursday night screenings when the movie comes out the next day), but overall it's an interesting movie. It has many parallels to 2000's Frequency, one of my favorite movies, but it also has its own unique storyline. Most of the film occurs in 2044, in Kansas, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt's older self (played by Bruce Willis) is living in 2074; Gordon-Levitt wears prosthetics in the film and actually does look like a younger Willis. I would have liked to see more of 2074 - what we get is pretty much a cursory glance - but the events happening in 2044 are definitely interesting enough to hold its audience's attention.

Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is a "looper." In 2074, time travel exists, but is illegal, and the mob uses it to send back people whom they want killed, to "loopers" like Joe, who "do the necessaries," as he says. Each body comes with silver bars which Joe can turn in for…

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower may just be one of the best films you see all year, which isn't a surprise considering the author of the novel on which it's based wrote the screenplay and also directed the movie. Having an author adapt his/her novel into a screenplay is common, but to have that author also direct the film is highly unusual, and Stephen Chbosky only had one directing credit to his name (from 1995) before this film. With a talented cast including Emma Watson (sporting an American accent!), Logan Lerman, and Ezra Miller, this movie is one that you can't miss.

The scene is early 1990s Philadelphia, and Logan Lerman plays Charlie, an incoming freshman in high school who has lately been having a tough time. It's alluded that he used to hear voices and "see things," and things got worse after a tragic event involving his best friend in 8th grade. As a 9th grader, he has no friends, even though his sister, Candace (Nina Dobrev), attends the same sch…

Won't Back Down

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When I was in New York for a blogging conference in August, I had the opportunity to attend a red carpet screening of Won't Back Down. Following the screening, there was a Q&A session with actresses Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rosie Perez, and the director. I didn't know much about the movie going in to it, other than it was about a failing school system, and I was blown away by both the performances and the quality of the content in it; this film is going to be a serious contender when awards season rolls around.

Jamie (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hysteria) works two jobs to support herself and her daughter, Malia (Emily Alyn Lind, TV's Revenge). She would like to send Malia to a private school, because her current school is awful, but she can't afford it. Nona (Viola Davis, The Help) works as a teacher - one of the only good teachers, actually - at Malia's school, and has a son. Both Nona and Jamie would like to see the school improved, but the only way to do it…

Review and GIVEAWAY: Halloween Cartoon Collection DVD - 4 winners!

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It's that time of year: the weather is getting colder (at least here in Michigan), October is around the corner, and Halloween is fast approaching. Mill Creek Entertainment has provided me with FOUR copies of their Halloween Cartoon Collection DVD to give to my lucky readers.

I watched a few of the episodes on the DVD and it's great for kids. My favorite was "Nothin' Says Lovin' like Somethin' from a Coven," from the Sabrina The Animated Series. I used to watch Sabrina the Teenage Witch - the live-action version - when I was a kid, and the characters in the TV show are mostly the same. Salem the cat is voiced by the same actor, too, and Melissa Joan Hart (who was Sabrina in the live-action series) voices one of the aunts, who are also witches. The episode was interesting, too, and I think adults would enjoy it as much as their kids would.

Here's a little more about the DVD:

It’s No Trick, Ten Halloween Treats For Kids of All Ages!

Ten spooktackular …

Trouble with the Curve

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Trouble with the Curve has both the advantage and disadvantage of having a great A-list cast. The advantage is that it will draw people to the theater to see the film - you've got Clint Eastwood, Justin Timberlake, Amy Adams. However, the disadvantage is that the trailers made the film seem better than it actually was, even though the story it tells is an interesting one.

The film is about family issues and learning to open up, though it masquerades as a baseball movie. Gus (Eastwood) has been scouting for the Atlanta Braves for almost his whole life, and he lives for his job. His eyes are starting to give out on him, which makes seeing players difficult, but he's stubborn and refuses to see an eye specialist. His daughter, Mickey (Adams), is a lawyer who is angling to make partner at her firm this year. Pete (John Goodman), one of Gus's good friends and Braves coworker, hears about Gus's eye problems and pleads with Mickey to accompany Gus to his annual trip to the C…

Beautiful Creatures: Feb. 14, 2013

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I don't usually write posts this far in advance about movies coming out, but this film looks fantastic, with a great cast as well. It has the song "Seven Devils" in the trailer (Florence and the Machine) which I've been obsessed with since last season's Revenge finale, and the film looks like Practical Magic meets Alice in Wonderland meets The Skeleton Key. I'm definitely excited to see this movie once it hits theaters.

The movie comes out on February 14, 2013. See below for the trailer.

Official synopsis:
A supernatural love story set in the South, “Beautiful Creatures” tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers: Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), a young man longing to escape his small town, and Lena (Alice Englert), a mysterious new girl. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town. Oscar® nominee Richard LaGravenese (“The Fisher King,”“P.S. I Love You”) directs from his adaptation of the first novel in the bes…

GIVEAWAY: Hostel + Hostel II double feature Blu-ray

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I am definitely not a person you'd want to watch a scary movie with - in fact, I've seen only a handful over the past few years - but I've heard a lot about the Hostel franchise. These are both part of the "Quentin Tarantino Presents..." series, though directed by Eli Roth (and Hostel was written by him); Quentin Tarantino directed some of the more interesting and unusual films of the past decade, such as the Kill Bill franchise.

Mill Creek Entertainment and Tower PR have given me the Hostel and Hostel II double feature on Blu-ray to give to one lucky reader! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter.

Contest ends at 11:59pm EST on Monday, September 24th. U.S. addresses only.

Good luck!

*For those of you who aren't scary movie fans: stay tuned for a Halloween Cartoon Collection DVD giveaway soon - I have 4 to give away!)

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Guest post: Martin McDonagh and Seven Psychopaths

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By: Doug Glaston

Irish playwright Martin McDonagh is the kind of guy that looks to have gotten quite a bit of respect in his native country, where he is described as one of the most important ambassadors of the craft. His plays have received quite a bit of exposure on Broadway as well, though I am not quite as familiar with them as I am with his films.

It wasn't really until 2005 that McDonagh had gotten attention in the world of cinema for his Oscar-winning short film Six Shooter with Brendan Gleeson. If you haven't seen it, well, what else should I say? See it. Please. It's less than thirty minutes.

McDonagh then really turned some heads in 2008 with his incredible film (certainly my favorite of 2008, In Bruges). This was McDonagh's first feature film, and it also starred Gleeson alongside Colin Farrell.

The story focuses on two hit men hiding out in the stunning Belgian city of Bruges after Farrell's character makes a colossal mistake after his first hit. T…

Arbitrage

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The word on Arbitrage before the screening was that Richard Gere gives an Oscar-worthy performance in it, and that much was true. While the beginning and middle portions of the movie were a little slow, the story soon picks up and draws you in, regardless of its slow start.

Robert Miller (Gere) has it all: a loving wife, children and grandchildren, a huge mansion in Manhattan. What we don't know at first, however, is that he is trying to sell his company because the company is deeply in debt. He's fudged the papers so that this is covered up, but his daughter (Brit Marling) eventually finds out. He's having an affair with a French artist, Julie (Laetitia Casta) even though his wife (Susan Sarandon) still loves him, and he pays for Julie's apartment, which is connected to her gallery. One night after he is very tired, he gets into a car accident, and this sets off a chain of events that will shape the rest of the movie.

Finding Nemo 3D

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Finding Nemo originally hit theaters in May 2003, when I was finishing up my sophomore year of high school. I saw it in theaters because I was (and am) a big Disney/Pixar fan, and I thought it was great. Now, nine years later, it's back on the big screen in 3D. I still ended up enjoying the film, although it's not one of my favorite Pixar movies; however, it definitely has stood the test of time, and is still worth seeing again in the theater.

Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) and his wife are clownfish who live in the Australian ocean, and they have over 100 baby clownfish on the way. After an accident that also claims Marlin's wife, only one of the embryos survive, leaving Marlin to raise Nemo (Alexander Gould) as a "single parent." Because of this, he's definitely overprotective, and when it's time for Nemo's first day of school, Marlin is reluctant to let him go. It turns out his fears were not unfounded, as Nemo swims into open waters on a dare a…

My Gardner-White Blog for a Grand

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This is not a post about movies, celebrities, or entertainment in general, unless your idea of entertainment is to go from store to store every weekend.

This is a post to get myself some free furniture.

Gardner-White is challenging Michigan bloggers to write a post about our current furniture and what we would like to replace. The answer to that, my readers, is simple: I have nothing, and therefore everything needs replacing! For the past three years, since I graduated college, I have lived with my parents, and the only article of furniture currently mine is an IKEA TV cart, circa sophomore year (2006), that we still use today for our TV and Blu-Ray player. (or I should say, my Blu-Ray player; the VCR - I kid you not - is my parents')

Sure, I have bedroom furniture, but I will not be taking it with me when I move - I have a twin-sized bed and some random shelves and dressers that I've had since I was 7 or 8 and lived in Illinois. They are heavy too, and so I will need at le…

The Words

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Although the plot set-up in The Words is not the best, the story still will manage to intrigue and fascinate you. The actors all are excellent in their roles, with Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons giving standout performances, and its instrumental-based music helps to underscore the film as well. That being said, the movie would have been stronger had the Dennis Quaid/Olivia Wilde portion been removed by letting the story stand on its own two feet rather than revolving around a narrator, and an inconsistent narrator at that.

The film opens where Clay Hammond (Quaid), a writer, is being honored for his book, The Words. As he is reading the beginning of the novel, we see Daniella (Wilde) slip into the audience unnoticed, riveted by his speech. The movie then immediately shows us the scene Clay is reading: the two characters in the book, Rory (Cooper) and his wife Dora (Zoe Saldana), running through the rain to catch their limo. It then jumps back five years, when Rory and Dora were dat…