Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bond 24, SPECTRE (Daniel Craig), Bond Femmes & Foes Revealed

Let me tell you...I AM EXCITED!  Monica Bellucci, Christoph Waltz join the Bond franchise and I could not be happier.  All hail the casting directors because these picks are fantastic!  See full story at GET READY because with Daniel Craig (James Bond 007), Ralph Fiennes (M), Naomi Harris (Moneypenny) and these additions.... this movie will be too sexy!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Jennifer Lawrence)


I begin this review with a "three-finger salute" to the power of movies to influence current events.  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is a civil war epic with soul.  No wonder people are moved by it.  Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), Effie Trinkett (Elizabeth Banks), Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014) as Plutarch Heavensbee reappear in this story.  They are joined by President Coin (Julianne Moore), who, I'm sorry but, gives me the creeps and of whom I am highly skeptical.  I don't know why, can't quite put my finger on it (and I have not read the books to ease my mind).
In this third installment of The Hunger Games, no one is playing anymore.  Katniss wakes to a very different world, underground, and being groomed for a battle that could cost not one or two but thousands of lives.  She is reluctant but capable.  Her team believes in her and a whole movement revolves around her - the mockingjay.  Meanwhile, her own thoughts are far away with Peeta who is captured and spreading the rhetoric of the Capital.  She struggles to focus and to mine her own heart. Will she be the revolutionary her nation needs? Or are her goals more personal?

Though not as fantastical as its two predecessors, Mockingjay does not shy away from horrific images of grand emotional scale which bind us to Katniss' side.  Devastating war images fill the screen constantly, there's revolution, there's death.  But in between the active and emotional moments, there was definitely dead space and missed opportunities.  For example, we are watching people get on and off planes for minutes, watching people running down and up stairs for minutes, we even watch a cat play with felt like there was a bit of stretching going on in this movie. 

Katniss (Lawrence) & Cinna (Kravitz) in THG: Catching Fire
Instead, I would have liked to see more of the Capital, more Beetee, more Johanna Mason (played by the fantastic Jena Malone).  There was plenty of space to flesh out the Beetee character, especially after his cryptic introduction in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, so I felt starved for his story.  At the same time, I appreciate the choice to leave Johanna's character to speculation.  Effie and Haymitch are always a sight for sore eyes.  Even in the midst of war, they are pure comedy and much-needed support without dear Cinna (Lenny Kravitz).  There were also new, welcome faces in the ever-watchful Boggs (Mahershala Ali, whose recent work on HBO's Treme and supporting role in The Place Beyond The Pines have made him one to follow in my opinion), and Cressida (Natalie Dormer, The Riot Club, Showtime's The Tudors, HBO's Game of Thrones), although Cressida's hairline was more interesting than her character.

Besides the character gaps, I really enjoyed the film as a whole.  As the penultimate chapter of an epic rebellion story, it did its job to make me crave a resolution.  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 delivers some iconic cinematic moments, and without giving too much away, I will mention white roses, "The Hanging Tree" - a song which has broken Top 20 in two nations, and Peeta Mellark.  If you're not in love with Peeta after this one, check yourself for a heartbeat.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) vs. The Legend of Hercules (Kellan Lutz)


If you are looking for a good popcorn movie, Dwayne Johnson delivers in his portrayal of Hercules.  In comparison, Kellan Lutz's Hercules falls a little flat for me.


In the Legend of Hercules, we meet the son of Zeus 20 years after a very elaborate conception. He is the rambunctious second son of a vicious king, and he is in love with a princess betrothed to his brother.  After an act of defiance, he is exiled.  He becomes a slave then a rebel. (Isn't this all sounding familiar...Gladiator, anyone?).  Hercules is on a quest to reach and rescue the woman he loves.

In Hercules, we meet the son of Zeus well after his labors of legend and we meet his comrades - a ragtag group of extraordinary warriors.  They are mercenaries and their quest is for gold - simple.  However, in the midst of his mercenary efforts, Hercules changes his character. 

Action & Costumes

Legend definitely has more action and more effects than Hercules.  But the effects in Legend are borrowed mercilessly from 300.  Speaking of which, why was the king in Legend a blatant rip off of "King Leonidas" in 300?  Come on! Gerard Butler owns that, so please leave "Leonidas" to him. Meanwhile, the fight scenes in Legend were still very pretty.  Some ultra stylized, some brutal and intimate, but lots of fights, almost becoming repetitive.  I would say that people who loved Gladiator (Russell Crowe), and do not mind the filmmakers ripping from 300, would be more interested in The Legend of Hercules for its story and action.

Hercules however was more strategic with its action.  The opening sequence was unfortunately almost identical to the opening in The Scorpion King (Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock), but it was informative as it introduced his team encompassing some of the cooler actors associated with period pieces.  The battles were somewhat short but were a major part of the storytelling and everybody had their share of the screen to show off specific skills, which were awesome.  It's good to have multiple, important warriors so that the fights do not become repetitive.  If you like the ensemble action sequences in say The Avengers then this action movie may be more interesting.

Costumes in Hercules were almost forgettable, almost, except for that lion pelt, wow really?? Legend may beat Hercules in the costume department, though the Roman soldiers' outfits looked a bit cheap.

Cast & Characters

Legend had an ok cast, but I must say it was great to see Liam McIntyre ("Spartacus" himself from the hit Starz! series Spartacus: Vengeance & Spartacus: War of the Damned), though it was a typecast.  Kellan Lutz was not bad as Hercules either.  Lutz exuded power and resilience as expected but was also playing the younger, spritely, naïve Hercules that is not too appealing to me.  Besides Spartacus, the supporting cast was forgettable except for the brother, Iphicles, played by Liam Garrigan (from Starz! mini-series The Pillars of the Earth), who plays sleazy very well.

Hercules, I think, boasted the better ensemble though, especially with the amazing Rebecca Ferguson (from Starz! mini-series The White Queen) whose performance as Ergenia lifts this story to another level without spoiling its popcorn movie effect, which is fully enhanced by Ian McShane (The Pillars of the Earth) as Amphiaraus, the quippy seer.  Rufus Sewell (A Knight's Tale, and also The Pillars of the Earth) as Autolycus rounded out a very interesting circle of warriors.  Dwayne Johnson as Hercules was physically impressive as expected, but also portrayed an introspective warrior with some surprising layers.  Though, he is still a fun-loving giant in this too, so keep smiling.

Come to think of it, it seems both of these sword-and-sandals popcorn movies dipped from the same casting well, taking players from the Starz! camp, especially The Pillars of the Earth, making my eyes cross a bit from all the cross-referencing.  (Nugget: there is even a familiar extra in both movies for those of you who pay attention to these things.)

My overall opinion is that both are enjoyable popcorn movies, but Hercules is the better.
Just to be perfectly clear though, these reboots tried and failed to replace the ONLY Hercules - Kevin Sorbo.
Kevin Sorbo & PopcornMovieMaiden @ Awesome Con 2014 - Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Clouds of Sils Maria (Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloe Grace Moretz)

I find it hard to describe Clouds of Sils Maria, but I will say, this female-oriented indie is a conversation piece no doubt.
The story concentrates on two women, Maria Enders - a middle-aged actress (Juliette Binoche), and Valentine - a young personal assistant (Kristen Stewart), who travel to a remote mountain location to rehearse a play that the older woman really doesn't want to do, but the younger woman knows she should do to stay relevant.  Maria's reluctance is clearly connected to her inability to face her own maturity because, after all, she was the younger lead in the very same play twenty years ago.

Clouds of Sils Maria doesn't really get started until the middle of the second act.  Then the layers of the script appear and suddenly we are watching art imitating life imitating art affecting life. (Try saying that three times fast lol)  More detail would spoil the effect for some potential viewers.  But, I must warn anyone who is interested, that Clouds of Sils Maria has A LOT of clouds in it.  If you go in believing the title is just a metaphor, think again.  The metaphorical clouds are indeed present, but then the repetitive use of cloudy images dilutes the effect.

Besides the clouds, the movie was a bright platform for three gifted female personalities.  Bravo! (Note: the movie was written and directed by a French man, Olivier Assayas, do with that information what you will.)  Binoche, Stewart, and Moretz deliver drama and even a few laughs on an almost incoherent script - that is, until it became clearer in the later part of the second act. 

Binoche (Chocolat) is elegant and somewhat convincing as an aging actress who is woefully disconnected with reality but completely in tune with her craft.  Fittingly, Stewart plays the paid friend/personal assistant who's in the know but under-qualified and under-satisfied in her position.  I think Stewart's Twilight fame actually validated her shiny, hipster, new penny character.  Again, art imitating life imitating art affecting life.  Moretz (Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2), who plays Jo-Ann Ellis, brightened up the joint in what would have been a sedate cinematic affair!  As a manic, young, dramatic genius, Moretz only appeared in snippets but somehow captured the energies of young Angelina Jolie, Courtney Love, Colin Ferrell and Mel Gibson on demand. 

Clouds of Sils Maria is not unforgettable.  I think its female cast is artfully appropriate too.  The movie certainly passes the Bechdel Test, which makes me smile.  The movie is smart, and while it takes itself a little too seriously, may be a sophisticated choice for girls movie night - you know, instead of Bridemaids, which I absolutely loved but seems to be polarizing amongst a group of women.  Clouds of Sils Maria gets a MEDIUM BAG from me due to its savvy display of girl power.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw)


As it seems Gugu Mbatha-Raw is about to blow up, given her high marks & great reviews coming out of Beyond The Lights (also starring Nate Parker, Minnie Driver and Danny Glover), which hits theaters this week November 14, 2014, I humbly review the film that introduced me to this up-and-coming ebony movie maiden... WINNER: BEST ACTRESS, British Independent Film Awards 2014

A Lovely Film*
In the realm of Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility, Belle is a tale of lost & found in love and life. Belle is inspired by the true story of a biracial woman (white father, black mother) growing up in slave trading hub England, and who is raised in aristocracy while being excluded from it, thus, struggling to find her place in society. While clearly focused on the life experiences of this one girl, Belle is somehow a universal tale of finding oneself as well as a different cinematic angle on slavery.  This film will obviously stir political discussion upon viewing, here, I'd rather talk about performance, because this movie is full of robust theatrical charm.
Not to be confused with Disney's princess Belle

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido is not only visually stunning but theatrically breathtaking. Even when she is still, you can see her mind and emotions running a mile a minute as her eyes are incredibly expressive.  This talent is crucial since she portrays a woman navigating a time when restraint was key to acceptance and advancement in a girl's social life.  Gugu Mbatha-Raw was a revelation. And, yes, in the movie her name is Dido.  The reason behind her name is clear in the movie, but the writer-director Amma Assante has explained that Belle comes from the girl's late mother's name and the title is a tribute to her.  (Fun Fact: Belle was also originally going to be called Belle & Bette, for reasons made clear in the movie, but I am actually glad for the one word/one name moniker to keep the audience focused with so many issues whirling in the story.)

Tom Wilkinson as Papa was moving as a struggling soul in this piece as he represented the turbulent political climate into which Belle was born. With the looming "Zong case," he also represented every parent's struggle: how do you explain to children the horrors of this world? and is explaining accepting?

Amma Asante's direction and Ben Smithard's cinematography are reminiscent of The Queen and Starz! series The White Queen as this pair play with frame and light and focus to drive us from one thought to another by utilizing every eye flutter, swallow and incline of the head for each character.  As much of the story is told through Dido's eyes as it is through her aunt's smirks, her suitors' dropped jaws, her cousin's hands, the servant's slow gait, etc.  I rarely see so much sharing of the screen, it's refreshing. Some of the best moments were silent.
Dido is a female heroine without guns/whips/boxing skills/acrobatics, but with gripping wit in a socio-political nightmare (hey, kind of reminds me of Juno! - aahhh classic).  I ran to see this movie in my local indie theater.  I recommend it highly, especially if you care to see a comparison leading effort from Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

*The original review was first published on IMDb. This is an updated version.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Last Five Years (Anna Kendrick, Jeremy Jordan)


Movie musicals are a most beloved art form for me.  Hollywood genius in this arena usually comes in waves.  And, usually, successful stage productions will garner support for a movie adaptation.  I guess such is the case with the off-Broadway musical, The Last Five Years (TLFY) by Jason Robert Brown. Unfortunately, I have not seen the stage production because, well, I did not know about it.  So, this is my review of the movie alone.

Directed by Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You), The Last Five Years is a story of a five-year relationship between Jamie (Jeremy Jordan, NBC's Smash) and Cathy (Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect), going from meeting to dating to marriage to separation, all told through song in less than two hours. 

"Summer in Ohio"
TLFY had its clever musical moments for sure, especially its little shout out to The Sound of Music (still rotfl).  Cathy's "Ohio" song was pretty cute and snarky, but then again when is Kendrick not playing someone snarky (I suppose in Up in the Air her character was.... no, no she played a snob there too). Jamie's song about "Believing" in Cathy struck myriad a deep chords, especially that lyric: "I won't fail to make you feel comfortable / I will not lose so that you can win." I felt Jaime's distress in that scene and my heart did ache for the couple in that moment.

Poster for Theatrical Performance (2001)
On the other hand, TLFY was not a compelling cinematic experience overall for me.  It lacked something, maybe it was depth.  I cannot quite describe it, but the atmosphere of the movie felt claustrophobic and thin.  Maybe the director wanted this.  I do not know.  But I felt like the movie, the music would have benefited from the richness of a variety of voices, or maybe a comparable relationship or two, or maybe just give these two some friends!  I mean, no wonder they are at each other's throats if they are all wrapped up in one another, forsaking all others because they think they are "Better Than That."  Yes, there were a couple memorable songs, but without a proper breather of actual dialogue between the only two characters, or meeting other interesting characters with voices (literally, the main characters sing over the voices of others who we see talking to them), it leaves the movie element feeling superficial and the musical element thin.

Musical lovers beware: if you understand that a true musical has depth, you may not find much of that in The Last Five Years.

Film Saga #3: Middleburg Film Festival 2014

The Middleburg Film Festival

The 2nd Annual Middleburg Film Festival (Official Site) was truly a gem of a festival nestled in wine country Virginia.  Over twenty films were screened over four days, but the creators of this festival did not stop there.  This festival included a Masquerade Ball in honor of Oscar winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Edward Scissorhands, Snow White and the Huntsman, Into the Woods) as well as a Symphony Orchestra tribute to the immensely talented composer Marco Beltrami (Hurt Locker, Scream - who wouldn't recognize the iconic, sharp, sinister sound of doomed Woodsboro?).  In essence, this festival truly celebrates every aspect of the movie-making and movie-going experience. 

It also doesn't hurt that the small, country town also boasts fine wine & dining to compliment the screening experience.  Leaving with torn movie tickets and a bottle of local wine made Middleburg Film Festival a worthy trip.

Pros: small, thoughtful selection of independent films; cozy atmosphere among celebrities; the press blend in as genuine fans (mostly because they are genuine fans); everything feels accessible especially geographically (all locations except one were within walking distance or five minute drive); the souvenirs and informational materials were beautiful keepsakes; the voting system was simple; and the drive to Middleburg/Upperville is through some lovely country

Cons: the town shuts down too early for festival goers to take full advantage; difficult to spot some of the venues; not super festive for a festival - but then, quiet and smooth may be what Middleburg is all about

But you know what?!  This is just the second year.  The festival is still young.  I am sure that Year 3 will be all banners and brighter lights in the town of Middleburg at least for a few days.  The Middleburg Film Festival is definitely for those who enjoy seeing little-known films in a cozy atmosphere.  Meanwhile, thank you Middleburg for hosting us movie lovers.  Seeya next year!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Gone Girl (Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike)

"...marriage is hard work..."

Gone Girl is a psychological, relationship drama / mystery that revolves around a missing wife and an unhappy marriage.  I choose not to repeat the trailer to describe this movie, but let me say that, after watching Amy (Pike) and Nick (Affleck) for two hours, I left the theater shaking my head and thinking... "perfect."  Not that Gone Girl was perfect; I had issues with the pacing of the Amy character's story, and the ending left much to be desired, perhaps purposely.  To me, it is more that these characters of Amy and Nick Gunne are nearly perfectly crafted - for the message or for each other is for you to decide.  I also suggest that book lovers read the New York Times Bestseller source, Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn (Amazon Kindle, $7.99) - the first two paragraphs are brilliant like the opening lines of this movie.

Actually, I am reminded of a stage-to-film adaptation of another relationship drama: Closer, starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and a caustic Clive Owen, and which garnered many awards for its supporting cast.  In Closer, the poison was truth.  In Gone Girl, the poison is lies. Nick resembles Dan from Closer, both writers and romantics.  Amy resembles Alice from Closer, both magnetic enigmas.  When characters are crafted to possess easy wisdom, but with some reliable naiveté, it just works.  I see that magic working in Gone Girl.    For those who have not seen Closer, I recommend it highly (Large Bag of Popcorn).

Be warned that Gone Girl is drama, mystery, thriller, satire all meeting with smooth transition.  Please do not be alarmed if you find yourself snickering or, in the case of one woman in the theater, screaming.  It is ok, as this movie is provocative, because Gone Girl is wrapped in classic David Fincher wit and darkness.  Fincher directed Se7en, which is one of my all time favorite suspense thrillers, as well as Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Panic Room, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Social Network. If you have seen any one of these, then you should have an idea of what to expect.  Many may take issue with some of Fincher's casting choices here, but I personally found it refreshing to see Tyler Perry take another turn in a supporting role (I am still reeling from seeing him on the disciplinary board for Star Fleet in Star Trek!).  Kim Dickens did the best with what she was given, which was not much, but her and Perry's characters introduced the satirical aspects in my opinion.  Neil Patrick Harris will just have to see for yourself.  The script is wonderful, and  Pike's delivery was scary accurate, but odd at times.  What little violence there is in the film is - in true Fincher form - abrupt and shocking when it shows up.  Oh, and Ben Affleck deserves respect for this performance.  Haters need to take notice.
Note: Media plays a huge role in the story including a book series, a missing person's campaign, press, pictures, and "the journal."  There is underlying commentary on all forms of media, what media does to our images and, in turn, how it may affect our character.  This is not a feel good movie.  In fact, you will probably come out of the theater shaking your head just like I did.  But as far as relationship dramas go, this was a pretty interesting journey.


Thursday, October 2, 2014


Just saw the Annabelle trailer. FREAKED ME OUT! The whole theater was jumping and screaming.  I mean, I was cool, until my crew beside me started jumping...that scaredy cat mess is contagious. Anyways, see for yourself:

If you can't see the video above, click the link below to see the Warner Bros. trailer:

I loved The Conjuring (New Line Cinema, Warner Bros) too, which is what Annabelle spins from.  Recommendation: see The Conjuring either before or after Annabelle. New Line Cinema probably planned that Annabelle made a huge impression in The Conjuring.  She almost stole the show!

The Conjuring = LARGE BAG OF POPCORN ...and probably a sedative as the credits roll

Film Saga #2 My TIFF Rankings & Reviews

So, I love movies and I love food. My grading system:
      • small bag of popcorn = not so good
      • medium bag of popcorn = good
      • large bag of popcorn = great
      • a bucket of popcorn = awesome
      • burnt popcorn = utter disappointment
Capua, Shall I begin?...........

#1 THE GUEST (Dan Stevens)
From the people who brought us You're Next. THANK YOU!

I have not been impressed with or interested in horror flicks that have come after the spectacular Scream trilogy.  Only few have made the cut (pun intended).  The Guest is one that is equal parts batshit crazy and impressive.  Imagine Michael Myers meets T1000 meets Fear meets Universal Soldier with the edgiest, creepiest, sexiest vibe of 80's horror marrying 21st century thriller.  Easily trumped any movie at the festival.  I even got to shake Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett's hands.  These men know how to handle horror.  Casting Dan Stevens ("Matthew Crawley"in Downton Abbey) as the enigmatic, charming lead was genius because every woman who loves Matthew, Downton Abbey and everyone who loves thrillers should flock.  Midnight Madness showing with a beach ball made this an instant classic.

A BUCKET OF POPCORN a orange soda with grape now&laters

Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, and Anthony Mackie are spectacular in this brilliantly scripted comedic drama about custody of a biracial child.  All three actors deliver some of the most poignant speeches about family, race, self-respect, love and grief of all time.  The words will resonate.  I swear.  Costner and Spencer have amazing chemistry, they are a joy to watch even amidst so much heavy material.

A LARGE BAG OF POPCORN, preferably sweet kettle corn and a bourbon. 

#3 THE EQUALIZER (Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloe Grace Moretz)
Just slap your cash on the counter and say "two for Denzel." 
A friend of mine once pointed out that DW tends to only play different types of cops. Well, my friend, in this one, Mr. Washington is very different - an imaginative killer with a heart of gold ... sort of.  I loved it.  Although, as usual, Director Antoine Fuqua o.d.'s on slowmo hero shots.  The most interesting moments are the most calm and intellectual scenes between Washington and Csokas.  The action takes a long while to appear but when it does it's well worth it.  I bet, like me, you will leave with three or four favorite scenes in mind.  And there appears to be an indication of a sequel.  But we all know Denzel doesn't do sequels...right?

A BUCKET OF POPCORN ...literally, we devoured one

#4 THE DEAD LANDS (James Rolleston, Lawrence Makoare, Te Kohe Tuhaka - New Zealand)

A Maori warrior pic set in pre-colonial New Zealand mixed with a coming of age story for its young hero.  This was a real TIFF movie experience as it was shown on an IMAX screen with subtitles (filmed in Maori language).  Mom and I were riveted, and .....she kept saying the villain looked like Dwayne Johnson.  Anyways, a great tragedy befalls Hongi's people and he alone must avenge them.  But he doesn't know how exactly.  Hongi links up with a psycho whose introduction is all kinds of creepy and brutal.  You're thinking the whole time, why him?
I know almost nothing about Maori culture, but coming out of the film, the "haka" has new horrifying meaning.  Justice, forgiveness and legacy are the major themes of the film, but however familiar you may be with these concepts, this film discussed them in ways anew. Bonus: "Nasir" (Pana Hema-Taylor) from Spartacus: War of the Damned makes an appearance. Lovely to see him again.

A MEDIUM BAG OF POPCORN... and don't crunch too loud. these are soft spoken warriors.

#5 THE RIOT CLUB (Max Irons, Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth)
Ok, I confess, I mostly went to see this because hot British men behaving badly appealed to me. Ok OK?!  Now that that's over with, it was an ok flick. 
The movie is based on a play called "Posh" by Laura Wade, which was originally performed at The Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs with Kit Harington ("Jon Snow", Game of Thrones) in the cast; then, moved to West End of London.  Basically, it's poor little rich boys complaining about the masses, growing out of control at a wild annual dinner party.  We follow two new recruits - the black hat and the white hat - as they join Oxford's oldest secret society, based on the very real Bullingdon Club.  There is some relevant socioeconomic commentary, but lots of it is lost in the exquisite but overpowering British accents/jargon. I am so used to North American speech patterns.  The club members display various prejudices, not only to outsiders, but also toward each other. For example, one member's Greek heritage makes him debatable as a leader, though why is not fully explained.  Overall, an entertaining springboard for these upcoming Brit leads.  Those who call it a British The Skulls, you're not wrong.
If you go see this, I highly recommend reading Wade's play, which is published by Oberon Books Ltd.  ($8.12 kindle/$9.00 paperback on Amazon). This is a good idea because the playwright was also the screenwriter, so I think context is crucial to understanding the theatrical versus cinematic choices.

MEDIUM BAG OF POPCORN and pudding (apparently "posh-speak" for dessert)

#6 BIG GAME (Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila, Ray Stevenson - Finland)
Now this is a popcorn movie! It is so utterly unrealistic but fun with a one-liner that certainly belongs on a t-shirt.  Sammie L, one of the "Kings of the One-Liner".  Half the dialog is in finnish with subtitles, but I have always loved multilingual movies. Adds to the experience.
SLJ plays the President of the United States stranded in Finland after Air Force One goes down.  He meets a boy whose on his spirit journey and the boy becomes his guide.  What I love about this scenario is that neither of these characters are expected to survive.  They both have some "butching up" to do.  Ray Stevenson was not featured in the descriptions for this movie so his appearance was a surprise.  The villain was absolutely laughable.  I mean, there are a lot of laughs in this, not the least of which is the next to last scene. The scenery was notable though.  I call this kind of movie Awesomely Bad*.

A SMALL BAG OF POPCORN and a big smile

*Examples of Awesomely Bad Movies:
Snakes on a Plane (SLJ movie ha!)
Bullet to the Head
Showgirls (no this was just BAD)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Film Saga #1 TIFF

My First Toronto International Film Festival 2014 (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Buying the ticket package was a slam dunk. After hawking the TIFF database to absorb every ounce of information there was about the film lineup, film descriptions, red carpet events, midnight movie madness, even old pics of festivals past just to see what people wear up there, etc. I finally wrote my list.

I listed 50 movies as must sees, wish lists, and definitely maybes... Thing is, I only had four days on the Back Half and ten tickets to share with my absolute favorite movie partner - Mom.  The night before choosing, we narrowed the list down (with lots of pouting involved). But, we did it.

*My Choice Package Films (unranked):
1. Black and White
2. The Riot Club
3. The Dead Lands
4. Big Game
5. The Guest (bought the tickets the morning of)
6. The Keeping Room (couldn't make the 9am Sun. show)
7. The Equalizer
8. Top Five
*If you are not interested of any of these's a good time to move on to another blog.

The process of selecting the films was a little trippy as the film schedule site kept saying "error message" every time I refreshed, but I got all of my selections finalized within 20 mins. The itinerary was set!

Next post: Rankings & Reviews