The Grinch Review

Illumination Delivers Another Perfectly Acceptable if not Necessarily Exceptional Animated Diversion in this Re-Telling of the Dr. Suess Classic.

Bohemian Rhapsody Review

This Queen biopic Fails to Transcend the Genre the Way its Subjects Transcended the Music Scene, but at Least the Music is Good.

Overlord Review

Overlord Combines the Terror of War with the Terror of a Zombie Apocalypse and Accomplishes Exactly what it Means To.

The Nutcraker and the Four Realms Review

An All-Star Cast Attempts to Usher The Nutcracker Story to a New Generation Via Disney Blockbuster, but Unfortunately the Results Fall Short of the Ambition.

A Star is Born Review

Bradley Cooper Writes, Directs, Sings, and Stars in this Fourth Incarnation of this Story Alongside Lady Gaga to Rapturous Results.

STAND UP GUYS Review

Stand Up Guys is a stand up film about friendship and mortality, about life and how time waits for no man. It is an enjoyable and sometimes poignant film that breezes by at an hour and a half and rises above its tired script with three performances that aren't phoned it but truly felt. The magic of the film is that it captures each of its actors in that perfect stage of life. Though both Christopher Walken and Al Pacino do a fair amount of films each year (plenty of which can be horrible) there is something about this film that brings them together and instead of using their images and stature as some kind of inside joke or piece of propoganda to lure in audiences they are treated like actual human beings. Well, as far as human beings who were once crooks and gang members might be humanized. I think Christopher Walken gave one of the best performances of his later career in last falls Seven Psychopaths and while this role doesn't allow him the range of that character his reclusive Doc here is something of a different man in general. Doc is what anchors the film and though Pacino gets the flashier role of Val and Arkin is here for purely comic relief and realization, Doc is the guy who has given the situation time and perspective and Walken does a fine job of doing a lot with a little. I enjoyed Stand Up Guys immensely despite it taking the easy way out every now and again (especially with the humor). We can see the jokes coming from a mile away and I would have much rather had some natural banter between the two leads. The complacent direction from Fisher Stevens help nothing about the film stand out either but he should be more than thankful his actors are more than capable of getting the point across.

HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS Review

Where to even begin with something such as Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters? To be honest I was somewhat excited for this film despite the fact knowing going into it that it was probably going to be pretty horrible. I read the Seth Grahame-Smith novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter last spring in anticipation of the summer film adaptation but was sorely let down by that film (though it has improved to a fun, campy thrill on repeat viewings). It must have really burned the producers of this film to see that action/horror mash-up make it out of the gate first as their film has been complete for over a year now and has been doing little more than collecting dust. Why the delay? I can only imagine. I can't really see this film being much better after a years worth of tinkering and the 3D post conversion doesn't take THAT long; I can only think that after the release of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol the producers wanted to wait out 2012 and let Jeremy Renner become even bigger star with The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy which might guarantee them a bigger draw when they dropped it on unsuspecting movie-goers in late January. The strategy seems to have worked as Hansel and Gretel cleaned up at the box office and have proven that with a ridiculous, even outrageous premise one might still find an audience in those looking to see their favorite childhood fairy tales adapted for the big screen with a dark twist about them. The film is about as brainless as you  might expect, but I would be lying if I said I didn't have a pretty great time with the film as it flew by at a rip roaring pace and delivered grand entertainment value on a limited scale. I know it's dumb, I realize it will be completely forgotten about in a few weeks time, but I also know I became immersed in their world and didn't mind spending the hour and a half they required tagging along and killing some witches.

PARKER Review

As it goes every time Jason Statham puts out a film that isn't part of the Transporter or Expendable series we are prone to get a well executed action film that has the chrome domed star doing what he does best: kicking ass and taking names. This is only the first of four films the guy has slated to come out this year and though each of them has to deal with some type of thief, agent, soldier, or bodyguard they will likely each also have a very distinct style to them. You see, the thing about Statham is despite his ability to make total B-movies that have you munching on your popcorn and sipping on your Coke Zero with glee he also has an eye for who he works with and makes sure there is something of a twist with each character type he will undeniably be playing in their film. In his three other films one of them is directed by Gary Felder and co-stars James Franco, Wynona Rider, and Kate Bosworth and was a novel that was adapted into a screenplay by pal Sylvester Stallone. His others include a first time feature from writer Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) as well as one in very early pre-production that re-teams him with his The Mechanic and Expendables 2 director Simon West (Con Air,Tomb Raider). You see, the guy knows what he is doing as he doesn't simply sign up for any throw away piece of action trash that could just as easily go straight to DVD (though some of his less flashy ones have) but instead he keeps a nice flow of consistent work that gives the people what they want from him and does so in a fashion that shows he's reliable and that they can trust in him when they come back for more.

Abrams Brings New Hope to STAR WARS


I don't have an issue with J.J. Abrams taking the helm of the latest Star Wars film, that should be the first thing noted I imagine. I am a fan of Abrams despite the fact I've never seen an episode of Alias. I just recently went through the life-altering event that is Lost and he made me a fan of Star Trek which is something, prior to his 2009 film, I had no interest in. This brings us to the most obvious of conflicts with appointing Abrams the helmer of both Star Wars and Star Trek. So the guy is now the master of the universe but how will he differentiate between the two? Abrams has a very distinct style of directing and he has left that mark on the Star Trek universe; how will he change it up and appease countless fans when venturing into a galaxy far, far away? When the news first broke that Disney purchased the Star Wars property and planned on making more films in the series rumors immediately began flying around with multiple thoughts surrounding who would be hired to bring the Star Wars universe back to life. There were serious thoughts that Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) dropped out of directing the First Class sequel for the very valid reason of having been recruited for the surreal job of making a Star Wars film. There were mentions of Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, John Carter) and even David Fincher (Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) each of whom would have been extremely interesting choices in their own right, but there was also mention of Abrams from the beginning though it had seemingly been quickly dismissed because of his connections to Star Trek. Here we are though, months later with the final word on the subject being that no matter what is already on his resume, Abrams will be directing Episode VII.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: January 29, 2013

BROKEN CITY Review

I probably enjoyed Broken City more than I should have. I don't really care though as it is a slickly made political drama that plays like a Lifetime soap with much, much better actors. Departing from his brothers side for the first time in their nearly twenty-year partnership, director Allen Hughes has chosen a script off the 2008 black list which is a list compiled of the so-called "best unproduced scripts in Hollywood". Hughes has also rounded up a very impressive cast as he not only has the white hot Mark Wahlberg in the lead but he also has Russell Crowe playing a dirty mayor, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Jeffrey Wright and Kyle Chandler all in supporting roles that make you believe that at one time this was probably seen as a film not only with serious talent, but potential clout. How it ended up being left to the dumping grounds of January is a mystery as it isn't all that bad and in fact is a rather enjoyable piece of pulp and gritty adult drama. The story does get muddled in parts, some of what happens doesn't seem to exactly fit with other things that happen prior, but the overall affect the film has on you is one of genuine entertainment. It is like those films of yesteryear where you didn't know these people going into the film, you had no idea who they might be or what their motives were but as you get to know them you realize you've seen them before; but instead of adding a layer of familiarity to the film it adds a layer of reality. Granted, Broken City is set in the typical big city setting of New York and though I had somewhat higher expectations for the writing as I knew the status of the script I can't argue with the fact I was intrigued the entire time and the performances lend a helping hand that boost this film even further into the category of a solid thriller.

THE LAST STAND Review

You get what you pay for with The Last Stand and though that may be a generic movie, it is a generic action movie in top form. It earns this reputation largely due to the fact it has the man who defined the action genre at its center. It is a good thing Arnold Schwarzenegger chose this as his welcome back film otherwise it wouldn't be nearly as fun or even been made in the first place I imagine. There has been a good amount of positive press going towards these kind of throwback films to 80's no-brainer B-movies that shoot first and think later. Schwarzenegger has been featured in both Expendable films and though he makes his grand return with this one he doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon as he will re-team with pal Sylvester Stallone again later this year in The Tomb. As the first shoot, think later train of thought plays fast and loose with the standard script structure allowing plausibility and logic to fly right out the window, none of it matters as the reason people even go to see a movie like this is not for the insightful story or original storytelling methods but instead to see things and people blow up. There is no shortage of that here as director Jee-woon Kim makes his English-language debut with a film that mixes in tons of over-the-top violence with a cartoonish style that never meshes as well as it should to find a balance in tone. I haven't seen any of Kim's previous films, but despite his lack of story to work with and his tendencies to sway between gritty and silly the guy knows how to utilize his star and he plays that angle nicely. He helps the iconic action star prove he really might be back even if not as many people were waiting on his return as he expected.

MOVIE 43 Review

I don't even know where to start with this movie. It is certainly going to be impossible to write a full evaluation of the film as I would usually be able to do with a typical film as this is not your typical film, and I don't mean that in a good way...at all. Over the past year or so I'd heard rumblings of what exactly Movie 43 was or what it was supposed to be. Naturally, the main thing we heard about it was that it contained an onslaught of Hollywood A-listers that were melded together to form some kind of rampant comedy that moves through its stars as fast as it does offensive jokes. Problem with the film is that it is trying way too hard and only succeeding once in a blue moon to really capture any genuinely funny moments. I won't lie in saying I was somewhat excited to see the film, as someone who enjoys mainstream comedy and this one in particular having seemingly no regard for what people might say no matter who it offended, sounded rather intriguing and fun. I can buy into that kind of thing and see having a great time with it but even more than being completely tasteless, Movie 43 is more than anything just dumb. With this ridiculously large, sprawling all-star cast you might expect there to have been some real incentive making each of them want to participate or feel attracted to the project and with a reported budget of only $6 million it certainly wasn't the money. What could it have been that drew in so many big-name actors and actresses an convinced them this was a good idea? We may never know because all we are left with is a steaming pile of unfunny droppings of underdeveloped sketches that wouldn't even make it onto a bad episode of Saturday Night Live.

First Trailer for INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS


The first trailer for the Coen brothers latest, Inside Llewyn Davis, has gone online and I have to say I am already more excited for this film than most of the films I put on my most anticipated list for the year. How I overlooked this one is a realy mystery as I'd heard plenty about it when the Coen's were putting it together and casting the film. Inspired by the 1960's Greenwich Village folk scene that spawned Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Richard Farina and the inspiration for this film, Dave Van Ronk the film is clearly about a musician but also a man despised and how the creativity and freedom of songwriting and performing helps him escape these real world issues. The cast looks to be in top form as Oscar Isaac plays the title character and is more than qualified for the job; if you've seen anything the guy has been featured in recently (10 Years, Won't Back Down) you'll know he likes to sing and play music as much as he does act. His character doesn't seem to be the worst of guys, but everyone he surrounds himself with seems to think the opposite. Whether it be Carey Mulligan or John Goodman, they both take equally stinging shots at the singer/songwriter. The film is loosely based on Van Ronk's memoir "The Mayor of MacDougal Street" and also stars Justin Timberlake, Garret Hedlund, Adam Driver and F. Murray Abraham. It was expected to have opened late last year but is now expected to premiere at the Cannes Film festival this May. Hit the jump to check out the first trailer.

MAMA Review

Mama is a film that could easily sway in either direction depending on the type of movie you like and the type of film you were expecting going into it. I, on one hand, wasn't necessarily wanting or hoping for a film that was downright terrifying but instead I was looking for something with a little more weight to it. Given that Guillermo del Toro was producing and has delivered acclaimed genre pictures such as Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage along with the fact it starred Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty) it was not out of the question to expect a little more than what typically might be given in a January release with lesser credentials. If you were expecting a downright thriller though, a truly scary film you will likely be disappointed as Mama is not necessarily even the scariest film I’ve seen in the last few months. What the film does do nicely though is track its story in a lovely progression and documents these developments with inventive camerawork from first time feature director AndrĂ©s Muschietti (who also wrote the script) and is performed to a credible degree not only by Chastain but from her supporting cast as well. Mama does a fine job of distracting from its lack of scares by pulling the audience in through the backstory surrounding its main antagonist and title character, but is still able to throw in a good amount of jump scares that will keep the teens who have no doubt rushed out to see this satisfied and more than willing to recommend it to their friends. It may not exactly be the type of high caliber art that del Toro's other projects have earned the status of but it more than serves its purpose and offers a nice bit of haunting escapism in these cold and bitter months when the warmth of the holidays is wearing off.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: January 22, 2013


Teaser Trailer for RED 2

I rather enjoyed the first action packed romp that was RED and though I didn't realize it was profitable enough to spawn a sequel, here we are, and I have to say I'm rather excited by the promising teaser trailer. All of the core cast is back (that could be anyway, poor Morgan Freeman) and seem to be having a rather fun time with the ridiculous premise and outlandish action sequences that have machine guns tearing through anything in their path. This first teaser trailer for the film highlights the chemistry between the already established protagonist Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and John Malkovich's Marvin Boggs and Mary Louise Parker's Sarah Ross. The trailer plays up the simplicity of Sarah and Frank's normal lives and how they are taken out of those complacent roles when Helen Mirren's Victoria is given the order to kill Frank from MI6 as he is at the top of the list for Interpol's most wanted. This is a fine enough starting point, but I think it clear it will lead to a full on reunion of the team and into a mission much bigger than any of them anticipate. Original director Robert Schwentke wasn't able to return for the sequel as he is hard at work on the first in a proposed summer blockbuster series with R.I.P.D. starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. In turn Dean Parisot was brought in to replace him and this seems a wise choice as parisot's previos work includes the hilarious Galaxy Quest and indicates he will be more than able to capture the same campy/fun tone the first pulled off so well. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung Hun Lee and Anthony Hopkins will be joining the cast for the sequel. RED 2 opens August 2, 2013. Hit the jump to check out the trailer.

First Trailer for SPRING BREAKERS

When first hearing rumblings of Spring Breakers and who it starred I counted it out as a tween-centered film but didn't realize it was directed by Harmony Korine who has made other features known as Mister Lonely and Trash Humpers along with several short films. Now, that doesn't sound along the lines of what I expected at all and the first trailer clearly leaves the same effect if you go in with the expectations this will be a standard Selena Gomez/Vanessa Hudgens vehicle. The film actually looks to be a pretty funny, dark comedy with some out there sequences and strong capacity for violence. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and received generally good reviews with much of the praise going to James Franco for his strange embodiment of a drug dealer known as Alien. Franco is at his best when he goes out on a limb and takes on strange material such as this so I look forward to seeing how it all turns out. The film stars Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine as a group of girls who go to some pretty extravagant lengths to keep their spring break going becoming even more disturbing when they encounter Alien who, in his own words, has, "done about every illegal activity under the sun." You can see for yourself just how crazy these girls spring break gets when the movie opens March 22nd. Hit the jump to watch the trailer.

GANGSTER SQUAD Review

What has happened to director Ruben Fleischer? The guy had such a promising feature debut in Zombieland and has had ample opportunity to make equally fun films in his two follow-ups yet each have failed to capture that same magic that invigorated his first. In saying that, his latest Gangster Squad isn't necessarily a bad film but it certainly isn't anything spectacular. With a cast that features the likes of Josh Brolin (who actually seems to be losing credibility with each role), the re-teaming of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (whose relationship has none of the substance their previous screen incarnations did), supporting players like Anthony Mackie (loving these low grade B-movies, isn't he?), Michael Pena (he deserves much better than this), Robert Patrick (maybe the best part of the movie), and Nick Nolte (is he even acting?) you expect there to be some level of fun that comes along with it. Unfortunately, the experience of the film is something more akin to an assignment you feel more relieved to have finished after going through the doldrums of every standard cliche and requirement rather than having experienced anything close to a genuine emotion. In other words, Gangster Squad is very simply a complacent piece of entertainment that reaches for nothing more than what requirements it needs to qualify as a coherent story. Then there is the issue of Sean Penn as head gangster Mickey Cohen. The likes of which could have been a great, flashy, over-the-top character but instead turns out to be a campy, cheesy villain instead. This also echoes an issue with the entire film in general where it doesn't know exactly what it wants to be and if the makers don't know where to go with it, we don't know how to take it and it all falls apart from there.

First Trailer for MUD

It is with some sense of pride that we finally get to see attention building towards Matthew McConaughey's latest film, MUD. The film is directed by Arkansas native Jeff Nichols and he has continued to stay true to his home state while rising in relevance over the past few years. After 2007's Shotgun Stories the director was able to gain a bigger budget and still work with frequent collaborator Michael Shannon on 2011's indie hit Take Shelter. For those locally who read my site the film was shot in or around Stuttgart and Dumas. The film centers around McConaughey's mysterious character who calls himself Mud and seems to be a drifter who is discovered and subsequently befriended by two young boys. There are clearly many complications to Mud's story and what serve as the reasons he has become this drifter and possible fugitive. The trailer looks beautiful and hints at a film filled with tension and great performances. This also seems a more than worthy film to carry on the renaissance of McConaughey's career that has been taking place lately with films such as Bernie, Killer Joe, The Paperboy and Magic Mike. MUD also stars Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepherd, Michael Shannon and Sarah Paulson and opens in limited release on April 26th. Hit the jump to watch the trailer.

TOP 10 OF 2012


2012 was a great year for film and there were many surprises along the way. Out of my ten most anticipated films for the year, three have made my top fifteen which means I was genuinely surprised by and absolutely fell in love with twelve films this year that I never expected to or knew nothing about a year ago. I have grown accustomed to ranking films on a five-star system. Four stars has become the standard for the above average film, ones with exceptional qualities that make them better than anything else playing at the given moment. I think I gave out more four-star ratings this year than ever before and there were several other films I would have liked to include on this list. The Avengers was fantastic, especially the first time but after repeat viewings the magic does seem to wear a bit thin. It is nothing short of everything a summer blockbuster should be, but it doesn't have the staying quality to land a spot on my top 10 list. I also enjoyed overlooked films such as Sound of my Voice and other tentpoles like the summers much hated-on Prometheus (I don't care! I was fascinated and it looks amazing!) as well as the latest entry in the James Bond franchise. I wasn't as crazy about Skyfall as many people seemed to be, but my investment in Bond isn't the greatest and I was entertained and satisfied as I left the theater, but it didn't stay with me. There were animated films like Paranorman and Wreck-it Ralph that were fantastic, awards bait such as Argo and Life of Pi won't make my list but that doesn't mean I didn't appreciate them as films or enjoy watching them. 2012 was a great year for films, but the ones I have chosen to put on my list are the ones that I could watch over and over again or left an impression on me I wasn't able to shake and needed to see again, immediately to confirm the legacy they will leave. So, without further adieu...

ZERO DARK THIRTY Review

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. So goes the saying and so says Kathryn Bigelow's follow-up to her Oscar winning feature The Hurt Locker. You've no doubt heard of Zero Dark Thirty if not for anything else other than it is the Osama bin Laden movie. The film is so much more than this though, you won't see an actor foolishly playing bin Laden or even hear his name muttered all too often. What Zero Dark Thirty truly is is a procedural drama about the ins and outs of what it takes to track down the most elusive man on the planet. Oddly enough, much of this process isn't exactly what you might expect but is instead gathering small strands of information, holding onto what one interrogation or torture session provided and hoping it proves correct against the other interrogation and torture sessions being conducted. It is a sprawling epic that takes over ten years and condenses them down into just under three hours to provide a concise and basic account of what happened, what took place in May 2011 and how much work and how many lives went into making that night a possibility. There is the controversy over the torture scenes depicted early in the film and there are questions of if those actions led to actual intelligence that helped find bin Laden, but I wasn't thinking of that as I watched the film. It didn't take me out of the experience of the movie. Whether torture works for the purposes we need or not is another discussion entirely but what this film does, nearly flawlessly, is put us at the center of the research and inside the "they" that make things such as the death of bin Laden a reality. It is like a two hour ticking time bomb that then explodes into a truly intense final hour. The film isn't the grand masterpiece I expected it to be after hearing all of the hype and I have a few issues with it storytelling, but there is no denying it is one hell of a movie and an experience.

PROMISED LAND Review

Gus Van Sant is a director whose work I have unfortunately never been highly exposed to. I hear the guy is rather good, but besides his 2008 Oscar contender Milk and his rather underrated 2000 film Finding Forrester I haven't seen any of his films. Yes, this does mean I've never sat down and watched the film written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck that made them stars and won them Oscars. I've heard mixed things about it and seeing as it came out when I was only ten years old I have a valid excuse I think for never getting around to it. Still, this matters little as Mr. Van Sant's latest film which again stars Matt Damon is a beautifully looking tale of moral conflict that deals with an issue known as fracking. We'll get more into that interesting term later, but to draw you into why you should be interested in this film would be to say that it not only stars good, credible actors such as Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, Hal Holbrook, Rosemarie DeWitt and several other, lesser known character actors who have small parts as the towns folk opposed to the big bad corporate company coming into town and taking away their pride. Besides that, this was also written and produced by both Damon and Krasinski and was originally intended as Damon's directorial debut. Who knows what or how different this film might have been had it been made under Damon's directorial eye, we won't know until we get a chance to see that, but with what has been delivered here I can feel nothing if not appeased by the effort. There is a straightforward, matter of fact feel to the film that paints a black and white picture but doesn't stop there. It takes things a step further and adds a more complex layer of conflict we as an audience naturally place ourselves in the middle of.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK Review

I am a late comer to the Silver Linings Playbook party, but nonetheless I am happy to be here. I have always been anxious to see how this film turned out since first hearing the rumblings and seeing a few set photos. I even listed it in my honorable mentions section for the films I most anticipated for the fall of 2012 before the Toronto International Film Festival and before all of the positive reviews came rolling in. Though it is a David O. Russell film and that fact alone is enough to interest me after The Fighter, it also has an extremely appealing and surprising cast. It is not the typical type of film you see being lauded with praise and nominated for awards, but I'm glad it is. Silver Linings Playbook falls somewhere into the conventions of a Hollywood romantic comedy yet is the antithesis of these types of films at the same time. It takes everything you know and expect from that type of film and turns it on its head. It is a movie that makes you feel as if someone who watched one too many of the contrived rom-coms called their bluff and developed a sincere film with real people, layered characters and situations that we might be more inclined not just to believe, but to trust with a story so ultimately lovely and life affirming. It is, on one hand, a gritty drama that looks at what happens after a life changing event and on the other a true to life comedy that captures all the right moments with the perfect tone. I went into the film with high expectations, of course, but more importantly I think it was the high hopes I held that were more satisfied as I looked upon the final, comforting shot. It is not the most unconventional of stories, but it is a story of characters and how they genuinely make it day to day. A heartwarming tale that doesn't feel manipulating, but rather like the story of the neighbors down the street.

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON Review

I am somewhat bewildered by Hyde Park on Hudson. The film, which is billed as a story of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray) and wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams) welcoming the King and Queen of England to their home at Hyde Park on Hudson, in upstate New York is not exactly what we get. As you can see, Laura Linney is prominently featured on the poster and as you can read she is not the one playing Eleanor. So, as I was mainly excited for this film for the sole reason of Murray's performance it became somewhat of a surprise when the real story the film was telling began to expose itself. For this is not just another film you could throw in the pile with with The King's Speech or Madonna's W.E. (though those films aren't anywhere close to being in the same category) in terms of putting together a chronological look at England's monarchy but instead this is a film from the perspective of Linney's Daisy, a distant cousin of the president. The issue with Hyde Park on Hudson though is not that it isn't refreshing because of that surprise turn of events but that it never turns out to be that good of a movie. There are certainly redeeming qualities here; the acting, the look of the film, the pacing. All of these work in the movies favor but it just never becomes that interesting despite its subject matter, which is shocking. I am no expert on FDR nor was I aware of the events on which this film is based, all of which I thought might make me feel more inclined to like the film, but instead it just made it all feel a little weird.

2013 Oscar Nominations

The nominations have come in and for the most part, they are not what I expected at all. Though sure bets like Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook showed up and received all of their expected nominations, yet the films I believed would be looked over by Oscar certainly came back with full force while others were completely left out. Beasts of the Southern Wild is the big story here. It received nominations for best picture, best actress and best director. In my predictions I had it nowhere but expected it to maybe get some technical nods. With Quvenzhane Wallis becoming the youngest actress ever to get a best actress nomination she knocked out the expectation that the Academy would go with a safe bet like Helen Mirren. Also in the best actress category I was surprised to find Emmanuelle Riva for Amour. This marks also the oldest actress to ever be nominated in this category. Amour received a ton of love all around dashing the thought that Marion Cotillard would get a best actress nod. The other surprises include more Beasts and Amour news in the best director category as their respected directors, Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke, were nominated over favored bets like Ben Affleck, Tom Hooper, Quentin Tarantino and Kathryn Bigelow. For more thoughts on surprises and snubs hit the jump.

First Image and Trailer for THE LAST EXORCISM PART II

I actually rather enjoyed The Last Exorcism when it arrived in late summer of 2010. It was certainly riding the waves of the horror film done in the found footage manner but it featured a wonderful leading performance from Patrick Fabian as a pastor so lost in his faith and feeling like a fraud that he is able to give a sermon about banana bread without the least bit of remorse. This performance anchored the film and brought about several layers that were certainly unexpected in this defiantly genre film. Now, there is no reason whatsoever for a sequel and a sequel in March is less than an inspiring lest here we are and here we have the first trailer for the redundant The Last Exorcism Part II. Ashley Bell returns as Nell Sweetzer who, at the end of the first film, is left for dead in the woods having just escaped a demon ritual and is unable to remember the last several months of her life. She is the only surviving member of her family (which is a shame as Caleb Landry Jones played her brother in the first film) and so she must begin to form the basis for a normal life. Naturally, to justify this continuation of the story the demon that wanted to take control of Nell in the first film is back with an even grander plan to completely possess the young girl this time. I'm not going to be optimistic at all about this film, but I did enjoy the first one enough to be at least somewhat interested in how this turns out. We won't have to wait too long to see as The Last Exorcism Part II opens on March 1 and stars Ashley Bell, Spencer Treat Clark, Andrew Sensenig, Judd Lormand, Julia Garner, Muse Watson, E. Roger Mitchell and David Jensen.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: January 8, 2013


HITCHCOCK Review

It is with a bit of a playful attitude that Anthony Hopkins, arguably one of our greatest living actors today, takes on the role of one of our greatest directors of all time. Sometimes the fantasy is better left a lie and that is the main fear I had in walking into a film about Alfred Hitchcock, especially during the making of his most famous of films. As a person who not only enjoys watching films, but someone who always aspired to make films Hitchcock is of course a name that is immediately regarded as the best of the best and his films, whether you have seen them or not, are classics no matter what. To my shame, I have not watched all of Hitchcock's catalogue but I guess the only one that matters in speaking on this film is Psycho, and I have seen Psycho. What I have not yet seen is the other film that came out late last year about the famous director. The HBO film The Girl is about what comes after this chapter of Hitch's life yet seems to be more worthy of the Oscar talk that Hitchcock is receiving for Helen Mirren's work. That film stars Toby Jones (he has a knack for making autobiographical films at the same time as others, see Infamous) and focuses on the making of The Birds and Marnie, both of which starred Tippie Hedren and The Girl centers around the directors relationship with her and his need to impress and connect with his leading ladies. This trait is naturally a large part of Hitchcock as well and forms the backbone of the script that deals with Hitchcock's relationship with his wife, Alma (Mirren). Though Hitchcock is not the overly serious, Oscar contender many likely expected it to be it is still a fun watch with great actors and an easily engaging and interesting story for any fan of film.

THE IMPOSSIBLE Review

There is a certain type of drag you feel surrounding a movie like The Impossible. Not because you expect it to be bad, you really have no right to believe it could be anything but good. Still, there is this worry that you've seen it all before. A heart wrenching love story complete against the backdrop of a historically true, but very tragic event. It would be hard to buy into this film if that story of love and overcoming obstacles wasn't actually true as well. Different from something like Titanic, the world is not yet distanced from the lives lost and devastation caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and Tsunami. To impose such a positive story over these events would naturally feel disrespectful, but because the story is an accurate account of Alarez Belon's experience in the middle of such mass destruction their is no false motive detected but instead one that seems to imply that even in the darkest corners we might find hope. It is a harrowing experience to watch the film, and one that I was afraid would be ruined by the trailer that seemed to give far too much away. It did, but not to the extent I was concerned and that I felt I'd already experienced the entire film. It was somewhat of a strange sensation walking out of the movie, coming to terms with the frailty of life and that despite the countless horrible, horrible stories that came out of events like this their is still the possibility of the slightest bit of empathy from whomever fate decides to touch. The Impossible is not a bombastic tale of survival but is instead a very personal film, one that feels very close to the heart and allows the audience the horror of true loss rather than the desperation for false redemption.

2013 Oscar Predictions

The 2013 Academy Award nominations are just under a week away from being announced. I still have a few films to see that will likely be in the running for many of the top categories yet it seems fairly easy to predict which will resonate most with Academy voters. I have always had a sense about the Oscars that it was more about what you should like rather than what most actually do like. Still, I found 2012 to be an extremely satisfying year in terms of the coherence between genuine crowd pleasers and standard awards bait. Whether it be the seeming accessibility of something like Silver Linings Playbook or the mass appeal of Les Miserables laced with a prestigious director. While certain films like The Dark Knight Rises or even Bernie will be overlooked either because of their more commercial success or comedic elements, which the Academy always seem to overlook, this is not your typical year where everything that wins will be something almost no one has seen. The following are predictions for the main categories in which the majority of audiences tune into to see. I won't dive into such topics as sound mixing, editing, or visual effects here, but if you have predictions for those categories be sure to share them in the comments section as well as what movies you hope to see announced next Thursday.

The 85th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 10, 2013, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Movies I Wanna See Most: 2013


It is, in many ways, ridiculous to try and boil down an entire years worth of movie releases into ten slots, especially at the outset of the year when not everything is known about what might be coming in the latter part of the year. This is especially tough for someone like me who likes to go the theaters at least once a week (I was able to see 165 films in theaters or newly released on DVD & Blu-Ray in 2012) but for the majority of the general public, those who actually go out to the movies, this is not an low amount for them to see in a theater every year. That is how I like to think of this list; if I were only going to see ten films this year and could recommend films to go see without having myself seen them these would probably be them. Granted, I am a pretty big fanboy of comic book flicks and sci-fi movies as well as comedy so be warned when I say that my list won't include a ton of smaller, indie flicks that I hope for you to discover as the year goes by because I will likely be doing the same thing. No, these are the ones I know will be hitting theaters and I know exactly when they will be hitting theaters because I can't wait to see them. Your opinion may vary but even so, I hope you take a look into each of these and maybe find something you might find to be intriguing. It was extremely difficult to narrow this down to ten and so I have included an alternate list of ten as well, but for the main list we have five sequels, three big budget comedies (one of which is not a sequel), two summer tentpoles hoping to launch new franchises, one original sci-fi film and one new Martin Scorcese movie. Click the jump to see the full list.