Archive | November, 2012

America Is a Business

30 Nov

What is it lately about lowlifes and their cute little dogs?

In Seven Psychopaths, Woody Harrelson’s shih tzu was a focal point of the plot.

And now, in Killing Them Softly, some of the film’s laughs come from a supposed tough guy who walks around with a puppy.

Of course, that’s just about the only sensitive side on display in this movie, which is one of the grittiest, grisliest, toughest pictures of the year.

You’ll be forgiven if you call it this year’s Drive, but thankfully, Killing Them Softly is a much better, much more enjoyable movie.

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It’s Just a Bloody Movie

29 Nov

Alfred Hitchock is having a moment.

In October, 15 of his films were released on Blu-ray in a Masterpiece Collection.

HBO recently aired The Girl, a docudrama about the director and his relationship with Tippi Hedren.

And now there’s Hitchcock, a big-screen look behind the scenes at the making of Psycho.

You might call this latest film a prequel to The Girl, which focused on The Birds and Marnie. Either way, Hitchcock is an enjoyable look at the man behind the movie, and how he did things his way and changed the game forever. Continue reading

What I’m Thankful For This Year

21 Nov

Nicole Westbrook isn’t the only one who’s excited that tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

I, too, am a big fan of the day.

I love the turkey and gravy, the good times with family and friends, the Macy’s parade, the big football games (go Patriots!), and the chance to pause and reflect on what I’m thankful for … before we all head out to the mall and/or our favorite small businesses to partake in holiday shopping.

It’s been an interesting year for me, but as Nicole herself says, “Can’t be hateful, gotta be grateful.” So in that spirit, here’s a list of some of the many people and things I’m thankful for this year: Continue reading

Welcome to Pi’s Ark

20 Nov

There’s a right way and a wrong way to add 3D effects to a movie.

When done right, as in the Pixar movies, 3D can add depth to the picture, subtly enhancing a film’s visual appeal. In Hugo, Martin Scorsese skillfully used it to recreate the feeling of seeing motion pictures for the first time. And in Avatar, James Cameron used 3D to completely immerse us in a totally new world. It was showy, yes, but never distractingly so.

And then there’s the wrong way to use 3D, as evidenced by the unnecessary addition of effects in so many movies in recent years (The Avengers and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, for example), and the gratuitous effects used in cheesy movies like Piranha 3D.

Unfortunately, the new movie Life of Pi falls more in that latter category.

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The 7 Things on My Holiday 2012 Wish List

19 Nov

Where does the time go?

Seriously. How is Thanksgiving already this week?

And of course, then there’s Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Then Hanukkah is a week and a half later, and not long after that is Christmas. And then before we know it, it’ll be New Year’s Eve.

Holy crap, the year is almost over.

But on a happier note (I think), the holiday season is now officially here.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or something else (Festivus, anyone?), it’s likely you’re going to be buying and receiving lots of gifts over the course of the next month.

I’ve been saving up to buy all kinds of things for my niece and nephews.

Yes, I have a list of things I want too, but it’s not exactly the kind of things you might expect. Here’s what’s on my Holiday 2012 Wish List …

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Crazy Stupid Love

17 Nov

When we first meet Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) in the new movie Silver Linings Playbook, he’s fresh out of a mental institution, where he was being treated for bipolar disorder and anger management issues (he beat up the guy who was sleeping with his wife).

Those issues are still unresolved, as we see when, frustrated about the ending of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, he throws the book out the window and vents to his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro) in the middle of the night.

If Pat doesn’t like that ending — or any ending that disappoints — he probably shouldn’t see this movie. Continue reading

The More Things Change, Do They Also Stay the Same?

14 Nov

It’s hard to believe, but my 20-year high school reunion is just a week and a half away.

As I’ve previously written here, this will be the first time our class has gotten together in any kind of organized/“official” way since we all graduated in 1992, and I’m looking forward to it.

To remind myself of what I may have in store, this week I got out the journals I kept during high school and skimmed through the ones from senior year.


Even though I read through them two years ago, I had forgotten just how lame I was back in the day. I obsessed about why people who drink alcohol are bad, stupid people — and about why I should or shouldn’t try a beer. I was a clueless flirt who missed so many signs (and sure things). I had an active (and delusional) fantasy life. And so on.

I’d like to think I’m a smarter, cooler, funnier, more confident, more stylish, more grounded, and more socially savvy (online and off) person than I used to be. Continue reading

Blood’s Been Spilled to Afford Us This Moment

9 Nov

After a long, grueling election cycle, it’s good to see a movie that takes our mind off it entirely.

A movie about a leader trying to unite a divided nation, who seeks to free a section of the country’s population, and who must fight against stubborn and backwards-leaning political opponents to accomplish that goal.

One that has absolutely nothing to do with current topics of debate.

If you couldn’t tell, that’s intended to be sarcasm. Affectionate sarcasm.

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln puts the spotlight on the political scene in 1865, when the President (Daniel Day-Lewis, giving a predictably good performance) waged a tricky political battle in order to end the Civil War and slavery. Doubted by even his most loyal supporters, who told him he could do one or the other but not both, the film shows how Lincoln shrewdly persuaded members of both parties to support the 13th Amendment, and how that lead to the end of the war.

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I’ll Leave When the Job’s Done

8 Nov

The new James Bond film Skyfall begins with an awesome, high-energy sequence in which 007 takes part in a car chase, a motorcycle chase, and a shootout, uses a crane to rip open a moving train, and then fights with an assailant on top of that train.

Then he’s accidentally shot and left for dead (which, of course, he isn’t).

And all that happens before the opening credits (which feature that gorgeous theme song by Adele). Whoa.

To quote another famous Bond theme song, nobody does it better.

So why, then, is our hero in danger of being put out to pasture?

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Crash Landing

4 Nov

Here’s the thing: I don’t always need my movie characters to be likeable.

In a film like, say, Bad Santa, a truly unlikeable guy can be very enjoyable to watch.

But it’s a fine line, and the new movie Flight unfortunately lands on the wrong side of it.

The film tells the story of Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington), an airline pilot with a serious alcohol and drug problem, who miraculously saves 96 out of the 102 passengers aboard his plane when a mechanical failure causes it to go down. But the movie’s not so much about Whip’s heroism as much as it is about his addiction and his unwillingness to admit it or get help. (Think The Sully Sullenberger Story, if Sully had a drug problem.) Continue reading

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