Tinseltine's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Sausage Party

Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg & Jonah Hill are some lucky man boys to be able to indulge their sense of humor and create exactly what cracks them up, no holds barred. However, I do wonder if sometime during the 3 years it took to get the animated feature finished, did they ever feel like, I'm tired of this bit now, why was it again we started it? READ MORE

Barbershop: The Next Cut

I got to sit down with Ice Cube & Deon Cole in a fab room at the new Logan Hotel Philadelphia (formerly the Four Seasons). Seated conversation style in plush chairs in front of the fire place, we got a chance to discuss Cube's mind-set for success; The importance of black father's stepping up; What each of the 3 directors have added to the Barbershop Franchise; Cedric the Entertainers welcome to the new cast and more... watch 7 min Video on Tinsel & Tine - http://www.tinseltine.com/2016/04/fireside-chat-with-ice-cube-deon-cole.html


I find it hard to believe Davis could bulldoze his house in an affluent neighborhood and not a soul calls the police. The scene with he and Chris in the woods with the gun is just irresponsible to even put out there, cause some kid's gonna try it and accidentally kill someone. But is the movie worth checking out? I'd say yes. I like movies which mix drama and black comedy. READ MORE - http://www.tinseltine.com/2016/04/a-little-film-little-food-demolition.html

City Of Gold
City Of Gold(2016)

The movie is a love-letter to both Mr. Gold and Los Angeles. The documentary turns the notion that there's no "there, there" in LA and flips it over like the many tortillas that Mr. Gold devours. Los Angeles, with its suburbs, the many neighborhoods and little "towns" and neighborhoods is home to hundreds of hidden food gems, quirky people, and a fascinating thriving sub-culture keeping the other side of the USA alive with a food culture that the rest of us can only dream about. Mr. Gold takes his readers and viewers of this documentary on the grand tour, sharing a taste of his world...http://www.tinseltine.com/2016/04/gorniak-goes-for-gold-city-of-gold.html

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

On the whole, I was very engaged with the entire movie. Thought it was visually artistic, the philosophical and politically relevant plots were well written. Loved when Superman gave Batman the cut out the vigilante crap speech, accompanied by a menacing warning look, before shooting straight up like a rocket. Then we cut to Batman giving his signature under-eyed masked stare, which clearly said, Superman, you're not the boss of me.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant

My score is mostly based on design concept and I like Shailene Woodley. However, although "Allegiant" is more cohesive than "Insurgent", I still feel like this should have been a one book/movie story instead of a 4 part francise.

I wrote a super simple overview of each movie for anyone interested enough to wanna know what these movies are about, but don't really wanna have to watch them -

Hello, My Name is Doris

If John were a balding, over-weight, lonely guy in his 40's, you'd be like, well, I don't think the age difference matters that much. But John is good looking, cool, and holds a key position in the company where she works in accounting, a left over from the previous company. He's just so far out of her league and yet... READ MORE


Miracles from Heaven

Suddenly being able to digest food after falling into a hollow tree, sounds harder to believe than the Burning Bush. However, the movie is much less about healing miracles and more about how dealing with a sick loved one affects everyone in the family and every part of everyday living, from finances to separations. And it brings to light the unexpected joys which come from the compassion of others just when you're about to lose hope.


Knight of Cups

Now and again I like to see films by these supposedly genius filmmakers, stuff with very little narrative and a lot of symbolism and water, just to see if I can appreciate what's not being said. So far, I can't say I do.


The Perfect Match

I think I'd like to see Donald Faison and Terrence J in a buddy comedy, as lovable losers who somehow win in the end. It may be a bit cliched and I'm sure Terrence J would prefer to play a guy on top of the world, even if a bit closed off to love, than a goof. But to me he is a goof and not a leading man. Paula Patton also misses the mark as Charlie's psychologist sister, it's like she can't find her grove, she's too enthusiastic and fake.

Bottom line: The Perfect Match is still a good date night movie. I'm always happy to see a black cast in a movie not about a black subject. It's got a lot of style - the sets, wardrobe, all really high end - it's a glossy world of photo shoots, fabulous cribs and rapper French Montana has an extended cameo. By the way, does he have a pet monkey in real life?

Five Nights in Maine

Maris Curran is a Philly native, who now resides in LA. "Five Nights in Maine" is her debut feature film. What incredible luck to have gotten David Oyelowo attached even before he was tapped to play Martin Luther King, Jr in "Selma". Curran was actually introduced to Oyelowo, through Ava DuVernay. Oyelowo like the script enough to sign on not only as principal actor, but also producer. I can see why, as it's a very different kind of role for a black male. A lot of tight shots, subtle humor, understated pathos, it's understandable why he stayed with the project through the 5 years it took to get the film made.

Visit Tinsel & Tine for a short Q&A with the Filmmaker - http://www.tinseltine.com/2016/03/writerdirector-maris-curran-in-philly.html

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Acclimating to her accommodations, the culture, the feces in the air & where to pee, wasn't easy; but Baker seems to take to the danger and the passion to get the story, almost immediately - sometimes out doing gorgeous English journalist, Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie). She also takes to the hard partying nights that seem to go hand and hand with the adrenaline filled days, which make up the life of photographers, journalists, reporters and bodyguards in Kabul; it becomes an addictive way of life, hence "Kabulbubble"... http://www.tinseltine.com/2016/03/tina-fey-in-kabulbubble-wtf-whiskey.html

Black Mass
Black Mass(2015)

It's no Goodfellas, but it's a good cross between a mob movie and a biopic. The look of the movie reminded me of The Drop (click for T&T post) and some of the characterization, although not nearly as over the top, reminded me of American Hustle


I saw this movie twice during the Philadelphia Film Festival. The second time because I needed to kill time before the next screening I came to see, but I was glad to get a second viewing. I found "Anomalisa" to be entrancing, so realistic and dream-like all at the same time. I got fascinated by the slits across the temples. And ultimately I felt so sorry for the title character, her confidence being bolstered by Michael only to be dashed so quickly. -

The Big Short

The movie doesn't talk down to the audience. At times they use easily understood analogy devices involving celebrities to

explain the finer points of the game - like cutting to The Wolf of Wall Street's Margo Robbie in a bathtub, drinking champagne to explain

sub-prime loans. But basically you either catch up and get the gist or you don't, and I like that. I complained about In The Heart of the

Sea missing the heart part, but in this movie, I don't think they should have wasted time with flashbacks of Burry as a kid playing

football and having his glass eye fall out during the game. And we don't need to know Baum's wife (Marisa Tomei) or other details about

his personal life. These characters are just used to tell the tale. Yes, it's great they have built in personality and the actors find

their quirks, but we don't need to be personally invested in any of them.

When I think about the fact that I went back to school at the beginning of 2008, right before the bottom fell out, in order to increase

my earning potential and now I make less than I did in 1998, and let's not talk about the debt! All because an industry got greedy,

didn't stick to the rules and systems in place, and then just let everyone else pay for it ... Well, one thing's for sure, it proves

right all the spiritual philosophies which teach us how cosmically connected we all are.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Is Pride & Prejudice & Zombies a Masterpiece? No. But director Burr Steers who also adapted the screenplay, does a fine job retaining the feel of "Pride & Prejudice" while keeping us off guard as to the next zombie attack. The sound effects are fantastic, I jumped and winced at every kill, not because the slayings were too graphic, but because boots smashing zombie skulls emits a horrid sound! It took me a while to feel Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, I guess because Colin Firth is so firmly planted in my mind; However, by the end, I felt he adequately portrayed all the stiff pride the character is known for, while having a single minded determination to rid England of zombie scourge. Matt Smith as Parson Collins, a suitor and cousin to the Bennet sisters, is quite good at comic relief! The idea that most women of this time are allowed and encouraged to study martial arts and weaponry, rather than piano and sewing is amusing. Supposedly, women of the most Aristocratic families study in Japan, and those of less noble birth, study in China. The Bennet sisters - Elizabeth (Lily James), Jane (Bella Heathcote), Kitty (Suki Waterhouse), Lydia (Ellie Bamber), and Mary (Millie Brady) - seem like delicate English country roses in empire waist gowns, until it's time to clear away zombies, strapping on knives and swords under their garters and firing pistols with precision, each sister's skill nearly equaling the next.

Straight Outta Compton

If you're thinking, I don't wanna see STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON cause I've never been a fan of "Gangsta Rap" or "Reality Rap" as N.W.A referred to it in the late 80's early 90's, think again, cause you don't have to know anything about any of the players to appreciate the fact that an American story, defining a time period in the now accepted mainstream culture of hip hop, has been well documented.

Fantastic Four

Yes, the movie is three parts build up/origins story, it's a long time before they get or use their powers, but it's not boring or badly handled. It sets out to establish the team as friends and family, while attempting to make the Quantum Physics plausible and relatable. The thing that is missing from the movie is the trademark Marvel, laugh out loud humor.

This Is Where I Leave You

Bottom line - Director Shawn Levy (Night at The Museum, Date Night) allows This is Where I Leave You to hit that blended comedy/drama thing smack in the middle, where it should be, including a slight pallor to the coloring of the film. Each scene is entertaining without trying to be too heartrending or too hilarious. The next day, I found myself thinking about the characters and wishing it was a TV show (similar to, but far less annoying than "Brothers & Sisters") Or that I was reading the book, so I could revisit with the Altman's again. -tinseltine.com

No Good Deed
No Good Deed(2014)

The studio cancelled the press preview screening for No Good Deed, for fear the ending would leak out, so in support of this movie, I purchased a full-price ticket! But now what do I do about writing a review? Despite the positives stated above, the truth of the matter is - Director Sam Miller's No Good Deed, is no good. It's badly written, cliched, boring and down right stupid at times and the so called "twist" at the end is not worth the build up. - tinseltine.com

The Drop
The Drop(2014)

I loved the tentative, cautious romance between Bob and that of Nadia, it's interestingly awkward, subtly sweet and dangerous all at the same time. Hardy and Rapace have another movie in the hopper set to be released before the end of the year called Child 44.

I was expecting a strict mob movie, of which I'm not a big fan of the genre, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a good character study, inside a film, with a mob movie on the side. - tinseltine.com

Guardians of the Galaxy

When I saw the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy months ago, I in no way added it to my must see list, it looked ridiculous, it put me in mind of Matt Groening's Futurama, which has never grabbed me. So, I skipped the first press screening. Then we got a second chance to see it, in K of P, where I work, so I decided why not - SO GLAD I SAW THIS MOVIE - it's a hoot! I'd had a terrible day at work, the kind that brings you to tears, but the moment Chris Pratt as Peter Quill clicks play on his circa 1988 Walkman and starts groove exploring to Redbones' "Come and Get Your Love" I was hooked and happy! - tinseltine.com


This movie is for people who can really enjoy a less is more type of film. If you're waiting for major drama, major conflict, a clever plot twist, a kid who runs away from home or gets some girl pregnant, or worse, forget it. But if you can appreciate getting to know a family, watching hairstyles, trends and body shapes change through time, and as my friend said, "people getting through life like any other ordinary slobs" then be sure to catch Boyhood.- tinseltine.com

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Director, Lasse Halström is a master at creating movies that have a playful quality that delight the senses. He carefully constructs scenes that are pleasantly sensual without becoming overtly sexual. Halström, who directed the charming semi-autobiographical movie, My Life As a Dog, and Fairy-tale-like, Chocolat, doesn't typically direct movies that are challenging. The Hundred-Foot Journey does not break from this pattern. What we are served is a sweet story that takes a familiar thematic recipe and he tweaks it ever so slightly, spicing what we thought we knew into a unique stew.- tinseltine.com

I Origins
I Origins(2014)

Now, that inexplicable thing called love, Ian does believe in, particularly when he meets a mysterious eyed stranger at a party, Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) who does a Cinderella disappearance act, after coitus interruptus in a bathroom stall; he fears he'll never find the oh so lovely, Sofi again, until a series of signs brings him into the quixotic beauty's presence once more.

Despite the couples vastly different views on life and the Universe, all seems wonderfully sexy and romantic between them until tragedy strikes.- tinseltine.com

Get On Up
Get On Up(2014)

I like the winking, nodding moments of talking directly to us, felt it was used effectively, the movie tries not to get too weighted down with race, drugs, spousal abuse, politics, instead it focuses on Brown as a larger than life you've gotta love em even if you hate him type character. The breaking of the 4th wall helps to keep it light. - tinseltine.com

The Trip To Italy

What does Alanis Morissette, Tom Hardy's muffled voice as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, sex with a female pirate, the poet Shelly being jealous of his Frankenstein birthing wife or dueling impersonation have to do with a foodie film about eating in some of the finest restaurants on Amalfi Coast, Rome, Liguria and other gorgeous Italian locales?

Absolutely nothing! But somehow the juxtaposition of so much pop-culture fodder, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's semi-autobiographical characters set against travel porn, makes The Trip to Italy a randomly amusing and thoroughly breathtaking flick. - tinseltine.com

And So It Goes

And So It Goes is written by As Good As It Gets screenwriter Mark Andrus, only it's not as good as what we got from that movie. And, no offense to Michael Douglas, but he can't hold a candle to Jack Nicholson when it comes to playing a crusty, but charming old guy still trying to win the girl. Still, this movie is sweet, watchable and feels nicely familiar.


One of the film's central conflicts revolves around the fact that Lucy is losing her humanity as her brainpower nears 100%. And that is a very tragic notion- to loose the emotions, desires and functions that make us a complicated, relatable and unique species. The film wants us to feel bad for Lucy's continued evolution into some sort of machine-like state, but we never do...

Wish I Was Here

Similar to Garden State, much of the movie deals with death, but instead of Braff's character reacting to the recent death of his mother, it's the impending death of his father, as Gabe's cancer has returned. A quick review of Zach Braff's Wiki bio seems to indicate that both his actual parents are still living, so perhaps he feels by delving into their deaths in movies, it'll better prepare him for the eventual loss?

The Purge: Anarchy

It's definitely more the mayhem and mass chaos movie I imagined for the original The Purge. This sequel still deals with a core group experiencing this night of deadly sin, but because it's set in the city, and it's not one family, it feels more wide spread. Frank holds his own as an anti-hero and the tension of the night is kept pretty tight. The political/social themes of this movie are the same as the first, just expressed in new ways.

Obvious Child

Obvious Child is the most recent film to jump on board the female-centric comedy train - and we're more than glad it did. The film, which is the most recent addition to A24's indie flick list, centers on Donna Stern, played by Jenny Slate, who both in the film and in reality is a 20 something budding stand up comic. Her comedy, both in "life" and during her "performances" within the film, is harsh, sexual, and downright hilarious. It's rare to see a female lead crack the jokes; more often than not, that role is left to the Best Friend, or Witty Assistant - especially in rom-coms- By Guest Blogger - Elizabeth Eckhart

Think Like a Man Too

In Think Like A Man Too director Tim Story steers away from the dating/relationship/competition stuff and goes more for fun, high energy, crazy montages, random cameos and Vegas Baby!

The next day after the red carpet screening in Philly, I got a chance to chat with Meagan Good and Michael Ealy at The Four Season's Hotel - http://www.tinseltine.com/2014/06/meagan-good-michael-ealy-at-four.html

The Fault In Our Stars

Instead the movie focuses on Hazel's dream of getting answers to the ending of a book she's obsessed with called "An Imperial Affliction" by Peter Van Houten, she lends the book to Augustus who becomes equally enamored of the sacred text and determines to contact the reclusive writer, so that Hazel's questions regarding the fate of the characters left behind after the main character dies mid-sentence, can be answered. It's not hard to figure out that Hazel's need is due to her own fears of what will become of her parents (Laura Dern who btw still looks great) & Sam Trammell) once she's gone, as their lives have revolved around her illness for the last 5 years.

There's a delightful food in film moment that takes place in Amsterdam during the couple's first official date, dining at a posh restaurant, eating dragon, carrot risotto and sipping Dom Perignon, which their waiter tells them the creator of the famed champagne compared his first sip to drinking the stars...http://www.tinseltine.com/2014/06/young-love-fault-in-our-stars.html

Words And Pictures

In terms of the student story lines, young actors, and often overly pedantic dialogue, this movie will never be the next Dead Poets Society. But in terms of exploring that time in life when you thought you had it all together and now on the other side of 40 you're starting over, and worse yet, your body is betraying you... not just Dina dealing with the pain of RA, but Jack's alcoholism is as much a physical disease as mental... this is what the movie gets right. Along with the juxtaposition of two artists, one eager and brimming with creative energy, but struggling to give life to that inspiration. The other having lost inspiration and struggling to find that part of himself again... - http://www.tinseltine.com/2014/06/mature-love-words-and-pictures.html

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Has X-Men & X-men 2 director Bryan Singer given us a reboot in this movie? X-Men: The Last Stand left us with a lot of death and destruction. Then the franchise went back to tell the origins story of mutants which preceded Storm, Rogue, Jean Grey, Cycops etc.. in X-Men:First Class. With X-Men Days of Future Past, because Wolverine is sent back to the past to change the future, much of what took place in Last Stand, may no longer stand. Or it may all take place again. There's a line in this movie said by Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) about a current in a river always correcting itself and getting back to its path, no matter how one may try to redirect it. Which brings up a much conjectured philosophical question: If you were able to go back in life and make different choices, would you somehow end up in the same place, just a different path to get there?...


But the real star of the film is all the food preparation, every other scene made me groan with want of everything up on that screen! Particularly the perfectly roasted and rubbed brisket, the crispy fat of the pork belly, sizzling bacon and the much ballyhooed Chocolate Lava Cake.

I'm not going to give a full synopsis of #Chef (@ChefTheFilm) - Just go and enjoy the Twitter wars, YouTube meltdowns, a Food Truck road trip, Critical Food Blogger and a perfect ending...


I'm sure there are people born and raised in Nebraska who are Francophiles, Gingers who love the sun and Dutch who wear Kimonos and collect things from the Ming Dynasty and on and on, you never know why people have an affinity to, or identify with, things that don't seem to fit who they are or should be.

I've always been drawn to the British Aristocracy and fancy the idea of living in a sprawling country estate. I began reading historical Harlequin Romance novels about the age of 11 or 12 and absolutely loved all the etiquette, intrigue, wealth, entertaining and most importantly, no one worked. They had inheritances, dowries, investments, but few lowered themselves to have actual professions and never if you were a Lady. All of this appealed to me, but of course as an African American, I didn't see myself reflected in any of this, at least not in any lofty position. This is why the movie Belle by writer/director Amma Asante (who adapted a screenplay by Misan Sagay) is so exciting to me!...


TOM HARDY'S character Ivan Locke, centers around an emotionally tortured man who on the outside seems calm but on the inside is falling apart at the seams. The film was shot entirely in a car, in London with a singular character, Locke, interacting on the phone with those in his life, it's an interesting journey. I couldn't help but feel an emotional connection to everything his character went through - from getting fired, to cheating on his wife, resulting in another woman having his baby; and a somewhat psychotic internal dialogue with his deceased father...

The Other Woman

Can I tell you the movie is more than what you see in the trailers? No, not really, it's a pretty predictable ride, but it's a good ride all the same. I am glad that the writer, Melissa K. Stack, does not have the two women bond too quickly. Carly resists being friends with Kate for a while. She thinks Kate's kooky and can't understand why she's stalking her; especially since she's already explained that she didn't know Mark was married and is no longer seeing him. Carly's best advice to Kate is either be "French", which means turn a blind eye to the infidelity and continue on with life as is; or pretend all is fine, while you "get your ducks in a row", then leave. Kate's not ready for either option, she's in I need a friend mode, and Carly is it, whether she likes it or not...

Brick Mansions

DAV BELLE plays a con man with a vendetta against the leader of Brick Mansion. He ends up with a price on his head, while attempting to stay straight and eventually get out of the drug game. His character really ends up stealing the film watching his fit body practice the art of Parkour, which is truly a key element to the film. No other upcoming roles are slated for Bell as yet...


Transcendence is a movie I anticipated eagerly (even went to New Jersey for the preview screening) - it's full of seemingly plausible, brilliant scientific theories and possibilities, a Sci-Fi power couple, near apocalyptic, world changing implications, and Morgan Freeman to lend credibility and weight. Unfortunately, sometimes you can have all the right ingredients and still the finished product is tasteless. None of the aforementioned elements added up to a good movie.

Which is a shame, because this movie is Wally Pfister, best known as Christopher Nolan's Oscar-winning cinematographer's, directing debut, and in reading interviews with Pfister and Depp, you can tell #Transcendence was a labor of love...


I was lucky to get to interview three of the most creative people working in Hollywood and within the genre of horror today, Mike Flanagan, Jason Blum, and Trevor Macy.

To start, what is it about horror that excites you and compels you to produce films within the genre? Why do you love horror?

Jason Blum (producer): I love all types of movies. I love comedies, I love drama, I love all different things. Why I get out of bed in the morning professionally is our (Blumhouse Productions) business model. We take these little underdogs of movies that are made for under five million dollars, and the average studio movie is fifty million dollars. We did it on "Paranormal Activity", on "Insidious", on "Sinister", on "The Purge", and hopefully this movie, and I love fighting the studios, and by far, the best genre to do that with is horror. Mostly what we've done in the last five years is horror and I've learned a ton about horror movies from people like Mike (Flanagan) and other directors that we've worked with. So, I love it for a very different reason, which is like it's the great underdog fight, and I've come to really think that horror movies now are very similar to the movies that I grew up on, which were the very independent movies of the 90s and more art house movies...

Heaven Is for Real

The core of the story deals with the fact that so many people, even ministers and those of the church, find the ideas of Heaven to be for children's stories and fairytales. When we really think about where we'll be after death, and who and what we'll see, none of it seems possible. There's far too many incongruities to wrap your mind around.

And yet, I believe in ghosts, aliens, winning The Publisher's Clearing House, and just a few days later, when watching Johnny Depp's latest movie Transcendence (see T&T post) my mind was sold on the idea that we may one day soon be able to upload a person's consciousness in to a computer. So why do I have trouble picturing Heaven?

Nymphomaniac: Volume I

Here's 1-4 random Nymphomanic musings (see vol 2 for 5-8)

1. There are quite a number of penises shown and I only saw two that were nice looking.

2. For much of Joe's life we don't know how she supports herself, it doesn't appear she's with any of the men for monetary gain, so it's jarring when suddenly she's being reprimanded by a supervisor, when it never appeared she had a job.

3. When we go from the younger version of Joe (Martin) to the older version of Joe (Gainsbourg) they should also have switched Jerôme's too cause LaBeouf looked more like Joe's son at that point.

4. If you really want to see a more touching movie about sex addiction, I recommend seeing Steve McQueen's Shame.

Nymphomaniac: Volume II

Here's 5-8 random Nymphomanic musings (see vol 1 for 1-4)

5. Charlotte Gainsbourg has crazy, big fat nipples when she's aroused, they look like deformed Hershey Kisses.
6. Uma Thurman is fantastic as the mother of 3 whose husband leaves her for Joe. She's a riot! She's got like a 10 page rant where no one else has more than a line. Exposing her 3 young sons to the "whoring bed" and basically scarring them far more with her tantrum, than the father's leaving.

7. I'm told the uncut version which is 90 min longer involves an abortion, however, at no point does the consequence of venereal diseases or HIV AIDS ever come up.

8. Spoiler Alert! The ending is horrific, out of character and unnecessarily disillusioning.


In their travels, Blu and Jewel meet a flock of Spix's Macaws who have only been able to survive the plight of man by taking severe measures to stay hidden deep within the Amazon. Deforestation, illegal tree cutting, and much more has left the Spix's Macaw an endangered species, and the film portrays that, showing the flocks drastic measures to stay alive as their homes are being pillaged through by humans. As they travel, they encounter many dangers, but dance their way through the Amazon, meeting what will soon become their new family. To capture to spirit of Brazil, Carlos Saldanha traveled to Rio during Carnival for a week. Deluged in the arts, Carlos Saldanha made sure the #Rio2 never missed a beat. Full of rich Brazilian style music, Saldanha brought many local bands from Brazil into the film's soundtrack to embody the rhythm of Rio.

"I cannot think about Brazil without thinking about music.
I knew the movie must have an element of music, I brought in talents that love
Brazil or have a connection to Brazilian music, into the film."

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

You know me and war movies, even comic book depicted war I try to avoid as much as possible, so I wasn't interested in seeing Captain America The First Avenger when it came out in 2011. And the first Thor movie, well, I just kinda let it pass for no real good reason (I'm caught up now). Originally, I was mostly only into Iron Man, mainly due to my love for Robert Downey, Jr.,. Then later, The Avengers movie looked like a hoot, so I definitely wanted and did see that in the theater; which clued me in on how intertwined the whole Marvel Universe is throughout each movie, no matter the main character. It's really like if you're in for a penny, you've got to be in for a pound. So, I thought I'd better go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But this is no holding place movie until the next Avengers. This movie was GREAT!

Draft Day
Draft Day(2014)

Tinsel & Tine Giveaway - Win a DRAFT DAY PRIZE PACK
Consisting of a Draft Day Hat, Shirt and Towel Enter Now - http://www.tinseltine.com/2014/03/win-draft-day-prize-pack.html


Those that could fit in anywhere are called Divergents, they are considered dangerous because they can't be controlled and molded into one way of thinking. Those that don't fit in anywhere are called Factionless and they live a miserable, homeless existence, but nobody's much worried about them. I'm thinking, if you choose a faction based on your own free will, wouldn't that automatically make you a Divergent? And if this is the case, then why would Divergents need to keep the fact secret? Why would you need to hunt them down? I think the plot would work better if there were no choices. You get the serum and whatever it reveals is the Faction you now must identify with. This would be more in keeping with the theme of the movie which asks the question: Would it be a better world if societies weren't based on culture, race, economic status or religion, but rather by the type of person you are? READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2014/03/latest-ya-novel-to-hit-theaters.html

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a story within a story, Anderson gives credit to 1920-1930's Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig for inspiring the movie and shaping its elan. So there's a novelist character in the beginning resembling Zweig (Tom Wilkinson) to set the stage as it were (being interrupted by a perfect faced, pre-Depression Era, naughty little boy, thrown in for good measure). This introduction then leads to The Grand Budapest Hotel's current state of dilapidation and its sparse, solitary, long-term guests, one of which is a writer (Jude Law) who becomes curious about one of the hotel's newest guests, which turns out to be the owner of the once illustrious establishment. The owner invites the writer to dine with him, and over a 5 course meal, proceeds to tell him the strange and winding tale of how he, a formerly poor immigrant, Zero Moustafa, (F. Murray Abraham) came to own The Grand Budapest Hotel...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2014/03/the-society-of-crossed-keys-grand.html

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

As he was interviewed during an intimate roundtable session, Minkoff's passion for Mr. Peabody & Sherman was noticeable from the very beginning. When asked about the main theme behind the movie, Minkoff made it very clear that the two characters represent "the original Modern Family."(Note: Ty Burrell and Ariel Winter, Phil and Alex Dunphy from ABC's Modern Family voice Mr. Peabody and Penny respectively in the movie) "For me, it's about a father and a son... it's about an adoption relationship," he states. "I've made a movie about adoption, but it was a human adopting a mouse, called Stuart Little. Now I've turned it around. Now it's the dog who is adopting a human boy... It's about what it's like to raise a son." ...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2014/03/candis-corner-interview-with-mr-peabody.html

Son Of God
Son Of God(2014)

Although seeing the movie Son of God, does shine some light on the subject. It seems to be a matter of needing more. More than what we know of God and Jesus and faith from what we learn through the Testaments, new or old. I know Jesus lived, and I know he came to make his spirit and God's love known upon the world. But I also believe, as powerful as the Gospels are, and they are the only knowledge we have of Christ's teachings, that something got lost. Something important that Jesus really came to impart got lost in translation, lost in history of power struggles and politics, lost in the Church...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2014/02/a-gift-for-lent-easter-season-2014-son.html

About Last Night

Regina Hall really holds her own when it comes to keeping up with the improv antics and stream of conscious crazy that is Kevin Hart. These two fighting or f *!% ing is highly entertaining...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2014/02/a-quickie-about-last-night.html

Winter's Tale

Unfortunately, we don't get to witness Lake's life growing up or get a first hand knowledge of his relationship with Soames. By the time we meet Peter Lake, he's being chased by Soames' men, finds a magical white horse and temporarily escapes his pursuers. Despite whatever went down with Soames, Peter's survival still depends on stealing, he finds the horse useful in his profession. The horse leads him to a home with the family leaving on holiday, only the eldest sick with consumption daughter, Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay) remains at home - It's love at first sight for dying Beverly and the handsome burglar...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2014/02/magic-in-wrong-hands-winters-tale.html

The LEGO Movie

I never played Legos as a kid. I was a total Fisher-Price People fanatic. Still, I can appreciate how closely the animators and writer/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, worked to make you feel like you're inside a Lego Land. Love the vehicles Legoed by the Master Builders, which come together faster than a Transformer; the significance of the hands that clasp together, which in Lego Land is as intimate as a kiss; and the face that spins - Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson), the right hand henchman of President Business. It's all quite cleverly done...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2014/02/everything-is-awesome-lego-movie.html

That Awkward Moment

Michael B. Jordan who plays Jason's roommate from college, is not treated as "the token black" among his White friends in the movie. Nor do I think his career has "taken a step back" by doing a light comedy, as opposed to shining in the cult classics Friday Night Lights and Chronicle, not to mention, the widely acclaimed Fruitvale Station. Although, Mikey is the more conservative character in this Tom Gormican written/directed flick. It's nice to see Jordan in a less serious role, making penis jokes here and there. All movies can't be serious, and let's keep it real - guys talk a lot about their "junk"...READ MORE

The Legend of Hercules

The Legend of Hercules: (Director: Renny Harlin) 2 Words - Don't Bother! This is the most useless movie I've seen in a long time, and you know I normally have something good to say about almost any and every movie.

An over used plot of brother against brother fighting for the same woman. I don't want to see any more stories where the older brother is betrothed to the daughter of a King from another land who must marry in order to form an alliance between the two kingdoms. Only the girl falls for the younger, non-heir to the throne and their love is forbidden. Boring!

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

The beginning of the movie establishes Jack Ryan as a student working on his PhD in economics in the UK, when 911 hits, he switches paths and joins the Marine Corp, where he gets injured and has to learn to walk again, which is where he meets the love of his life, Cathy (Keira Knightley, whose quality I always like, despite the fact she acts with her mouth). At any rate, this back story set up is not handled very well, it's rather clumsily done. I'd prefer the movie start with CIA Agent Tom Harper (Kevin Costner) recruiting Ryan, and then get filled in on his military background at a later time.

The movie really gets going once Ryan goes from being an undercover analyst for the CIA to reluctantly being operational in Moscow; using his relationship with Cathy as part of the cover.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I love these movies, but I kinda just go along for the ride, so I don't have a lot to impart other than 1) the first part of the trilogy has a good bit more levity; this 2nd installment centers around the dwarfs desperation to get to the mountain before some kinda solstice type situation occurs - the only day the dwarfs may re-enter the mountain kingdom they once ruled. The time constraint keeps the movie on high tension. 2) Gandalf really has no clue what the hell he's doing. I wish he were wiser & more wizardly. 3) That is one chatty MF'er of a dragon!

Ride Along
Ride Along(2014)

Waiting for celebs to arrive on the red carpet: I'm running late for press call time, always, so when I first get there, I'm really pumped up, then I say a couple hello's to other photogs and journalists I may have met previously, then I double check my camera and digital voice recorder are working. Oh, this time I devised a great new way to hook my DVR into my necklace, and my cellphone in my boot. Next, I start practicing what I'm gonna say, cause it depends on how much time you have, and if the celebs are staying together to do interviews or splitting up. Like if Kevin & Cube were together when it was my turn, I had a good question ready. I saw a behind the scenes video on YouTube during the filming of Ride Along, where Kevin said Ice Cube had Irritable Bowel Syndrome on set. He was trash-talking, you know, but I wanted to see if Cube had a comeback for him. But of course, my moment didn't happen...READ MORE


Her is very creative with an interesting concept that opens up good dialogue for social commentary, and Spike Jonze pulls it all off with a singular vision.

The film is a little long, but I like that the demise of Theodore's marriage is more than just a beginning point for his character - the flashbacks of his relationship with his wife are extraordinarily touching and original. I wonder how Jonze came up with the scene of them fighting with orange street cones on their heads?

Dallas Buyers Club

McConaughey really embraces this anti-hero, he's hilarious! For a movie about dying and AIDS there's a lot of room for situation humor and this character's approach to life is so... well, do or die. Not unlike Jordan Beltfort in The Wolf of Wall Street or American Hustle's Irvin Rosenfeld (See T&T posts on these films).

However, the best part of the movie is not based on Woodruff's actual story - brilliantly, writers Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack created the character of cross dressing, AIDS patient Rayon (Jared Leto). Seeing Woodruff, this majorly homophobic, Texas cowboy, become best friends and business partners with "Miss Mann" as he first calls Rayon, is totally the heart and soul of the movie. So glad both men have been nominated for a Golden Globe. READ MORE - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/12/bull-rider-and-miss-man-dallas-buyers.html

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Walter (Ben Stiller) is an exceedingly regular kinda guy, with 15 years at Life Magazine, working with photo negatives in a dark archival room, along side a nice, but overweight, equally dorky guy (Adrian Martinez). Like most of us who are still looking for love in our late 30's and 40's, we find ourselves spending a lot of time with siblings and our parents, and in my case a 70 year-old aunt. In Walter's case a sister (Kathryn Hahn) still holding on to low level acting aspirations and a mother (Shirley MacLaine) who needs help moving into a retirement community.

At the beginning of the movie Walter's idea of bravery is to step out and join eHarmony so that he can send a wink to a new employee at work, Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig) after overhearing the object of his office crush is currently active on the dating site. Only this wink never goes through, prompting Walter to call eHarmony and speak to a rep, which becomes an amusing running gag throughout the movie. It was driving me crazy, by the way, trying to figure out who the actor was behind the eHarmony rep voice - Patton Oswalt from King of Queens, which makes sense that he'd know Ben Stiller after working with Stiller's dad, Jerry Stiller all those seasons. READ MORE - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/12/papa-johns-icelandic-oasis-secret-life.html

The Wolf of Wall Street

Undoubtedly, this version of The Wolf of Wall Street would be great as a director's cut for the DVD, but for theatrical release, only a sweeping saga like Gone With the Wind, has a right to be nearly 3 hours long. Jonah Hill as Jordan Belfort's (DiCaprio) nihilistic right hand man, Donnie Azoff, has some fantastic scenes, that you just know were all ad-libbed, but again, we don't need it all in real time - Marty please, take the funniest bits and leave the rest on the cutting room floor! With the exception of the kicking in of the Lemon Quaalude's - this is a scene that you won't soon forget; it will be parodied many times, in many forms, I have no doubt. Who knew Leo could be such a physically comedic actor. At times he channels the late, great Jack Tripper (John Ritter). READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/12/devouring-wolf-of-wall-street.html

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

I'm always fascinated by The Collective Unconscious, which in terms of film this past year, was made evident in the re-examination of race relations - 42, Fruitvale Station, The Butler, 12 Years A Slave and now Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. What does it mean that past and present racial injustice and oppression are being so powerfully brought to life on the big screen at this moment in time? Are we exercising the ghosts of the past in order to usher in a better future of equality? And how do you feel as a Caucasian person watching these movies? Cause it's not as if any of the films even attempt to see the story from a white standpoint. Of course, when it comes to prejudice, slavery, apartheid and police brutality is there another view on the right and wrong of it all? READ MORE - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/12/re-examining-oppression-mandela-long.html

Inside Llewyn Davis

I Came Out of the Theater Thinking: I'm not quite certain what the cat represents in the film, perhaps because cats tend to be strays and Llewyn can't seem to find his place in the world? Also about Roland awaking to a WTF moment, which we don't get to see, after he's abandoned in a car part way between Chicago and NY. And don't expect to see much of Justin Timberlake, his part is miniscule in the movie.

Film in Food Moment: Although Llewyn is at the mercy of those who take him in, feed him and provide a couch for the night, he still has the audacity to be prickly about being asked to sing a tune after dinner at the home of a college professor and his wife - hence my title - Don' Ask Him to Sing for His Supper... READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/12/dont-ask-him-to-sing-for-his-supper.html

S#x Acts
S#x Acts(2013)

We never learn a lot about Gili, other than she's recently transferred to this school and it's not due to a family move; obviously something went down at her old school, but all she'll say is that she was looking for a school with a cooler vibe. And that's just it, other than not being as wealthy as some of the kids in her new school, she is a cool girl. There's nothing odd or different about her that she couldn't fit in; yet some lack of self-esteem makes her give in to these guys with just the least amount of flattery on their part. Particularly Omari, who definitely represents that "popular guy" in every school. It doesn't even seem as though Gili covets him for a boyfriend; it's more like she thinks eventually she'll be his hook up of choice, like it will become a mutual sexual relationship, instead of him using her and asking her to pleasure his friends and brother.

Both the sad and good part of S#x Acts is that these encounters are written so realistically - there's nothing over the top or gratuitous about any of the 6 and we're left to imagine a 7th sexual favor given by Gili. What we're witnessing is a social commentary on teenage promiscuity in the age of the over the counter morning after pill... READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/12/tribeca-film-sx-acts.html

American Hustle

Christian Bale is impressive, this actor will go to great lengths to morph into a character. I would say on par with the likes of Meryl Streep. As Irving Rosenfeld, he uses the extra girth in his face and neck to really become this street-wise business man/con-man from the Bronx, who can't bring himself to leave an unstable wife for many reasons, not the least of which being her young son, whom he's adopted. For a man not on the level, loyalty is a big part of the fabric of this character.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Irv's young wife, Rosalyn Rosenfeld. Lawrence has been very good in everything I've ever seen her in, starting with The Bill Engvall show in 2007. I've seen both installments of The Hunger Games and for all its stylization, political undertones killing and adventure, the real meat of that movie franchise is Lawrence. Although, I did just write in my Oldboy review (click for T&Tpost) that Elizabeth Olsen could be her competition. In American Hustle already brimming over with comedic overtones, she's the real comic relief. Rosalyn never takes the blame for any of her missteps and failures, always finding a way to turn things to her advantage.
READ MORE - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/12/david-o-russell-brings-us-great.html

Out of the Furnace

While billed as the ultimate revenge flick, this movie - although it delivers in bumps and bruises - takes the dive in the upward storytelling category. All the vigilante action takes place in the last 30 minutes, so this is a movie you can feel free to grab a refill of popcorn or two and get back in time enough to see someone get hit, again.

Black Nativity

... The movie should have begun with Langston on the bus on his way to NY which features the Negro spiritual "Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child". And the reasons for his being shipped off to meet his grandparents (Whitaker/Bassett) could be revealed as the story unfolds.

Not only would this have been less of a stock setup, but also it would be less Jennifer Hudson acting. She's really un-good! I think her role as Effie White and subsequent Oscar was a fluke. Either that, or the pressure to live up to that part and coveted statue has made her too aware of herself as an actress; now she's like Beyonce, kinda wooden, she feels like a singer making a cameo rather than an actress with the talent to sing. READ MORE - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/11/christmas-in-harlem-black-nativity.html


Got to see this 2nd installment of Thor directed by Alan Taylor and starring the beautiful Chris Hemsworth (see T&T Rush post) on a nice big Imax screen! The first Thor I rented after seeing The Avengers, realizing I needed a back story on Loki (Tom Hiddleston). The original was directed by heavy hitters Kenneth Branaugh and Joss Whedon, yet I wouldn't say Thor was any better served under two such respected directors. This sequel is equal, if not better.

I still have yet to see Captain America, but there is a fun cameo with that Marvel American Hero in Thor: The Dark World, which picks up two years after the first. In those two years between the melee in NY aka The Avengers and the out break of wars on and around Asgard, Thor's been too busy to see his lady love Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). I have a love/hate relationship with Portman (who shares my birthday), sometimes she can be brilliant like in Garden State and Black Swan, but when it comes to her acting in fantasy flicks like Star Wars, V for Vendetta and this Thor franchise, she's just an empty shell...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/11/thor-ing-around-thor-dark-world.html

The Best Man Holiday

The Best Man Holiday not only serves these beloved characters in heart and truth and spirit, but is also sure to become an annual Christmas Classic.

The opening montage flashes briefly back to Lance (Morris Chestnut) and Mia's (Monica Calhoun) wedding, while quickly filling the audience in on each character's progression since last we've seen them. It's done in a way that allows us to feel caught up and ready to join their lives present day.

My early Christmas present was not just seeing the preview screening of The Best Man Holiday, but getting a chance to interview the writer/director Malcolm D. Lee at the Four Seasons Hotel. READ MORE - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/11/a-chat-with-malcolm-d-lee-on-ushering.html

The Fifth Estate

The movie starts out with a frenzy happening in a news room, which others probably would know is The Guardian in the UK, but not having followed the Wikileaks story closely back in 2010, I wasn't aware that Wikileaks and this news outlet developed a somewhat uneasy partnership in revealing this controversial information to the world. The story gets easier to follow when the movie goes back two years, when founder Julian Assange (who reminds me of the Albino Monk in The Da Vinci Code) played by Benedict Cumberbatch is trying to get a slot at a Geekfest/Techno Expo and Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) puts in a good word for him, having been a follower of Julian's site. The two strike up a friendship and Assange enlists Domscheit-Berg's help in verifying the sources coming into the Wikileaks site from whistleblowers at a major banking institute involved in tax fraud. The success of this venture has Daniel hooked and thinking he's part of a big movement/grassroots organization with a network of volunteers. How surprised is he to find out it's only one white haired weirdo/genius behind the whole operation.READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/10/cold-grub-for-wikileaks-sidekick-fifth.html

Escape Plan
Escape Plan(2013)

Ray's genius is no match for his ego, as taking this deal in the first place is nothing short of insane and impossible. I won't give away too much about the reasons for the conspiracy to keep Ray imprisoned forever. Or how he and fellow inmate Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), team up, but I will say these two embark on a very interesting, dramatic, and comedic journey that will have you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll. Although labeled an action thriller, the complimentary and hilarious relationship of Schwarzenegger and Stallone's characters develop into more of an action/comedy. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/10/flood-drummers-beat-focuses-on-escape.html

Runner Runner

I like both Timberlake and Affleck in this movie and Costa Rico (shot in Puerto Rico) is a good character as well - one moment a world of lavish, sexy fun and next, gritty, poverty stricken and cut throat. But I think the heat in terms of sex, glitz and violence needed to be turned up a notch for people to really run to Runner Runner. Still, it kept my attention, the intricacies, the danger, the stakes were interesting and plausible.


As you've probably heard: Bullock is in every frame and looks amazingly fit. She says she didn't train as an astronaut, but she did a grueling amount of physical training to prepare herself for the demands of this film.
The theme of this movie: is a testament to the human spirit. Here's a woman who after suffering a tragedy has shut down, she's dead inside, the only thing keeping her going is her work; yet when pushed to the ultimate limit finds a survival instinct.

What's pleasing to me: well, we've seen Tom Hanks in Castaway, and Suraj Sharma in Life of Pi, there's Ryan Reynolds in Buried and next Robert Redford in All is Lost, and what's wonderfully surprising about these survival movies is that one person's plight and pluck can hold your attention for the better part of 2 hours. I'm still not sure how I feel about Gravity as a movie on the whole, but I am awed by Cuarón's vision and the mastery of his team.

Don Jon
Don Jon(2013)

Spot on character study of an Italian, Jersey guy addicted to porn. He thinks it's normal to wack off 5 or 6 times a day in front of his laptop; but once he falls in love with super hot Scarlett Johansson and she finds it disgusting, he can't shake his addiction, even for her?

There's actually a lot more to the movie then this thin plot, Julianne Moore plays a basket case student in his night school class and and it's their unexpected dealings with one another that create the real emotional center of this Indie-ish-comedy. Gordon-Levitt's use of repetitive scenes and locations, cleverly shows how insular and routine Jon's world is, a world he doesn't want or need to question until these two women enter his life.

Afternoon Delight

What's pleasing to me is: that it explores a completely different sort of female friendship. And I'm still thinking about the Vicks VapoRub foot massage McKenna gives to Rachel. I really want one, it would be so cool and warm and reach every chakra!

Enough Said
Enough Said(2013)

Despite the fact that Enough Said has a rather sit-com-ish premise, the exploration feels completely believable. I think it's partly because you understand why Eva doesn't say anything to either of them right away - Marianne is a successful poet with a beautifully decorated house, and carries herself with effortless sophistication. So it would be hard to admit to a woman like that, who you already feel a bit less than around, that you have been enjoying what she found to be completely distasteful. Plus, Marianne giving her the skinny, or in this case the fat, on Albert - is like, as Eva puts it, having a "Human Trip Advisor". You completely understand why she doesn't say anything to Albert, because he'd never date a woman who was friendly with his ex. It's bad enough he has to share a daughter with this woman who has nothing good to say about him.


I'm so glad "Rush" is Not 3D. Thank you Ron Howard for going old school. The racing action was crisp, adrenaline inducing and visually powerful without the need to sit there in stupid sun glasses. It's great Lauda is still alive and was able to add his input into the movie, yet even without a first hand account by Hunt, it's a very even handed look at both men's lives during this exciting year of racing history. Loved the 70's mod leather and fur coat Suzy Miller (Oliva Wilde) wears in her first scene. Was very amused by Lauda ability to win over the lovely Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara) despite his lack of romantic charm.

I wonder why: we all know Mario Andretti who raced with these guys, but until this movie, I never heard of Niki Lauda or James Hunt?

Sparrows Dance

A character like this could evoke mocking or pity, but Ireland brings to the role a sense that you are with her in her dilemma/condition. And what's hopeful about this movie is the fact this woman hasn't totally given up. She still cares enough about what other people think of her to pretend to be getting food for more than one person, when ordering from a Chinese restaurant on the phone. And although it's sadly funny when she just puts the money in the hallway for the delivery guy and tells him just to leave the food at the door, she still feels the need to feign laughter and conversation as if she's just too engaged to come to the door at that moment. She cares about a girl being robbed outside her window enough to call 911, and nearly attempts to go help her; and sounds of neighbors making love, rouses her to masturbate...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/tribeca-film-sparrows-dance.html


The movie reminds me a bit of Billy Crystal in City Slickers, which does have a lot of set up before he and his cronies take off on their cattle herding adventure; but in that movie you have to get it's a mid-life crisis. In Austenland this is who Jane has been forever, she's just amazed that there is now a place for her to fulfill her fantasy of living in the Regency period, playing whist and whiling away the hours on an English country estate in polite company, with the potential of being courted by a surly, awkward, Darcy-esque gentlemen. (Which I have to admit all sounds pretty darn good to me, I'd pay)...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/serving-up-mr-darcy-austenland.html


It drove me crazy, no pun intended," says budding movie critic Rashuan "DJ Reezey" Williams, 19, who attended the movie premiere with me in Old City. Williams happens to be a huge fan of action movies, especially ones involving fast cars, but says this one "travels to far off course for my liking." The "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to save my wife from being killed by the crazed kidnapper" is an overused theme that doesn't work well for a movie that has already carjacked several other plots. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/flood-drummer-gives-getaway-downbeat.html


I think Jobs may have had a touch of Asperger's syndrome, attributing to his single-minded focus, obsession with perfection, lack of loyalty and disregard to others feelings. He out and out denies the paternity of his daughter, because the pregnancy came at an inopportune time for him; but then names a computer after the shunned girl. Jobs also seemed to have a huge ego, I suppose rightly so, his brain was always working - even though his vision for products created major financial conflicts with the Board of Apple once the company went public, there's no doubt in your mind that he knew his way would eventually make serious coin in the long run; the board was just to myopic to see it. But never does it appear that he did any of it just for "fun".

It's a compelling film, not as compelling and involving as The Social Network, but it's a solid biopic. See it in the theaters if you have a moment, put it on the top of your renters list if you don't... READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/the-first-fruits-apple-jobs-movie.html

The Spectacular Now

Thankfully Aimee and Sutter are not Nicole Maris and Chase Hammond, Laney Boggs and Zack Siler, or even Ryan Woodman and Ashley Grant. Neither Aimee nor Sutter is forced into undergoing a wardrobe makeover, complete with a new hairstyle. Sutter does not agree to a bet with his best friend to win Aimee's heart only to then break it and make up with his ex-girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson). This is not a happily ever after type movie. The beauty of it is how normal everyone seems, how a romance between two kids can happen so fast without any warning or reason...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/candis-corner-spectacular-now.html

The Happy Sad

LeRoy McClain: One of the elements of Ken Urban's script that I found so compelling is the complexity of Marcus' emotional journey. For me, the reason why Marcus is so easily persuaded to accept Aaron's proposition of an open relationship at the beginning of the film is that Marcus is coming to terms with his own concept of permanence. He an Aaron have been together for six years in a loving and durable relationship and part of that fact scares him. What does it mean to be with someone forever? To love someone as much as you love yourself? What happens when you start to lose your sense of identity in the collective nature of the relationship? What does it mean to turn 30? Marcus is grappling with all of these questions and opening up the relationship allows him to release some of the pressure and anxiety he is feeling. Ironically, it is the fact that he loves Aaron so completely that drives him towards the idea of an open relationship. The seemingly contradictory nature of Marcus' feelings towards Aaron and their relationship and the way he navigates his way through those conflicting emotions pulled me in right away... READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/the-happy-sad-leroy-mcclain-interview.html

The Grandmaster

I was glued to the film at the very start and have never seen a martial arts film quite like it. The movements are nothing short of beautiful, the action is intimate and consistent, and the acting is superb. This portrayal of Ip Man, done by filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, does more than just show who the legend was, it expresses the Chinese tradition and Kung Fu culture with sensitivity, detail, and depth. Please, do not enter this film thinking of traditional martial arts epics, or of any previous Ip Man movies featuring Donnie Yen. You may be disappointed. This film was not structured to show how Ip Man can take on limitless enemies at a time, or to show any ridiculous bone break sequences, blood splattering thrashes, or frivolous unnecessary flips and tricks. The Grandmaster instead displays how humbled and patient, disciplined and powerful Ip Man was - the true qualities that made Ip Man the Grandmaster. This film is sure to give anyone a deeper appreciation for martial arts both as a discipline, an art, and a way of life. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/guest-contributor-djreezey-grandmaster.html

The World's End

The World's End reunites Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, although neither of these movies have anything to do with The World's End or each other, except the creators are the same team of British Loonies. Wright also wrote and directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - And here's the thing, I haven't seen ANY of those movies and I think I've been missing out on some brilliant comedy, cause The World's End is one of the best buddy/sci-fi action/apocalyptic comedies ever!!! READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/12-pubs-worlds-end-lets-boo-boo.html

Lee Daniels' The Butler

I'm an African American female who grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, have always felt, for the most part, more comfortable in white culture. In 2008, I went back to school to complete a degree and found myself at an all black school. I assimilated easier than I expected, but it's only been since this experience, that I've begun to embrace my ethnicity. It's only been in the last year or two that I've made a specific point to support black films, filmmakers & festivals on Tinsel & Tine. It's not because I set about to ever separate myself from my race, I just gravitated to what I knew.

That's not to say, I never experienced prejudice; you can't live in this world and not see the racial divide that still exists in our country; but in watching this movie - Lee Daniel's The Butler, I was emotionally and viscerally reminded that my ability to mix it up in any world that I choose, came at the cost of those who fought, held their ground and lost their lives in the Civil Rights Movement. It's also because of people like Cecil Gaines/Eugene Allen (Whitaker) who understood keeping your dignity inside the system was also a way of getting us to the next level of equality...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/the-rittenhouse-hotel-interview-lee.html

Blue Jasmine
Blue Jasmine(2013)

So when her husband is arrested on the street by the Feds, and hangs himself in prison, Jasmine's
perfectly manicured life falls out from under her - it's understandable why she beleaguers that poor woman seated next to her on the flight to San Francisco with the story of her life. Why the only thing holding her together is a constant rotation of Xanax and Stoli Martini's with a twist of lemon. I feel for Jasmine when she looks aghast upon entering her adopted (inferior genes) sister Ginger's (Sally Hawkins - also perfectly cast) modest apartment, and knows it's this or the streets. I ache for her having to wear again and again the same 5 or 6 good pieces left from her posh wardrobe and her one remaining Birken bag. I'm not being facetious, I mean it. I hate to see people living this lifestyle fall from grace. Because I know if it was me, I'd never want the party to end. So I don't come away from this movie saying - well she shouldn't have been so trusting. She shouldn't have looked the other way. She should have had a back up plan. She's a snob and needed a dose of reality. No, I say, why can't life be and stay that good?!! ...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/who-do-i-have-to-sleep-with-to-get.html

A Village Called Versailles

The films focuses on a tight-knit group of Vietnamese Americans in a New Orleans neighborhood called Versailles, who overcame obstacles to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, only to have their homes threatened by a new government-imposed toxic landfill. Turning a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change, the historic uprising of the invisible people became front page news as for the first time ever the energetic and social conscious Millennials in the community led the politically apathetic elders in a fight against the city of New Orleans.

Similar to the Viet people in the film, the Vietnamese Americans here in Philadelphia are for the most part invisible, due to the language barrier, which social activist Minh Nguyen refers to as "one of our communities biggest problems." Nguyen calls the current conditions of the Viet people in Philadelphia a "huge civil rights violation." While massive protests were underway in the black community against the laws that many called "voter
Photo Credit: Chris Norris
disenfranchisement," the cries of Viet people in the city fell on deaf ears; mainly because the cries weren't in English...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/a-village-called-versailles-comes-to.html

We're The Millers

There are funny moments in this movie, where you can't help but be entertained, like when another RV family (Kathryn Hahn & Nick Offerman) decides they want to "swing" with The Millers, resulting in David getting finger f*!#ed and Rose's (Aniston) breasts being felt up by Hahn like a doctor with resuscitation paddles. But other sexual humor involving young Will giving "lip service" to a Mexican officer as a bribe, fell flat, and felt just gross. The chemistry between Aniston and Sudeikis is almost non-existent and the cute, we're really becoming a family premise, has been done better with David Duchovny and Demi Moore in The Joneses. All in all, We're the Millers, is watchable, but hardly the hit comedy of the summer. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/a-mexican-taste-were-millers.html

2 Guns
2 Guns(2013)

When attempting to write my review of Icelandic Director Baltasar Kormakur's new Action/Comedy "2 Guns" I drew a blank. I thought at first it was writer's block. I soon realized I was having one of those "it's not me it's you" moments. Predictable at best, forgettable at worst, I wasn't even aware that "2 Guns" was a comedy until I looked at IMDB.com. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the almost two hour film was suppose to make me laugh; I thought it was an advertorial for guns and immigration...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/chris-norris-blog-contributor-is-almost.html

The Wolverine

I always look forward to a new Xmen movie - just love mutants and their plight of being misunderstood and feared in this world not yet ready to accept those with special abilities. Of course, there are a good number of villainous mutants, so the racial profiling isn't completely unwarranted.

The thing about me and Xmen movies, well movies in general (which is why I don't consider myself a film buff) once I see them in the theater, I very rarely get the opportunity or make a point to watch them again on DVD, steaming, VOD etc... This always puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to a franchise film, cause I can't remember what the hell happened the last time we experienced these characters and stories...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/07/chopsticks-straight-up-in-bowl-death.html

Big Words
Big Words(2013)

I've bitten off more than I can chew this month and just won't have the time to do a proper review of Big Words, but please take my word for it, it's a very tight script and genuinely funny, it deserves a wide-release. It's not about rap music, I was afraid of that too when I read the synopsis, that's just a background story element. It's about friendship, regrets and it's a love story.

Here's a Q & A video (10:16) with writer/director Neil Drumming - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/08/the-library-bar-interview-yaya-alafia.html

Red 2
Red 2(2013)

The original RED was directed by Robert Schwentke, at the helm for RED 2 is Dean Parisot, but it's the same screenplay writers Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoebe which account for the humor, pacing and stunts in RED 2 being right up there with the original. There's plenty of travel, twists, kissing and killing. It would be nice to see an action movie without a car chase, but I have to say, Bruce Willis sliding into old flame Katja's (Catherine Zeta-Jones) ride. And Han driving the sexy till she dies Mirren/Victoria while she shoots 2 big guns, one out each window, in slow motion are both hot scenes. On a side note: Zeta-Jone's face is oddly orange in this movie. She will always be attractive, but it seems she's losing her charms as a femme fatal...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/07/just-dip-our-balls-in-honey-stake-us-to.html

Pacific Rim
Pacific Rim(2013)

In these rock 'em, sock 'em robot, end of the world movies, it's things like story and humor, which make us care about the CGI romp taking place on the screen. And it's here where this movie falls a bit flat. The story isn't anything we haven't seen before. These aliens are invading our world because they're "colonists." They use up a planet's resources, killing us in the process and then move on to the next world. It's a threat that the cinematic human race faces a countless number of times - this one particular instance just doesn't happen to take place on Independence Day. But it's apparent that Del Toro doesn't care about originality in plot. And why should he? It's not his thing. He cares a lot more about the world and monsters he creates. This is why the Kaiju look great. There's this texture to their skin that works well on screen and makes them feel authentic. Some of them do wear a sort of goofy expression on their faces, but there are plenty that look down right terrifying...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/07/guest-contributor-pacific-rim.html

Fruitvale Station

when I read about Fruitvale Station, winning so much praise, I thought, how dramatic can it be? We know the guy dies. But I was so wrong, the film has real heart and emotional involvement because it is so "day in the life of". As you're watching the events leading up to this senseless end, you become more and more invested in Oscar Grant. By the time the credits roll, you're left with rage and sadness...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/07/four-seasons-philadelphia-interview.html

Putney Swope
Putney Swope(1969)

The film, mostly shot in black and white, with a scene or two in sepia color, takes place at an advertising agency. It begins with an aerial shot of NYC, a helicopter landing of someone whose arrival seems direly necessary. Out stomps a 50 year-old Hell's Angel looking guy. A suited man ushers him into the building, where 11 men are seated around a board room table. The Hell's Angel delivers two unintelligible sentences about what beer means to the American public and leaves. Supposedly this sage insight costs the company $28,000.

Other advertising business gets discussed that's not interesting to follow, until the chairman of the board arrives. He's a man with a speech impediment and stutters through his address to the board members until getting stuck so long on one thought, he dies mid-stutter. His death means little to anyone around the table, with only a modicum of concern from the chairman's own son. The concern is for the bylaws which state a new board chairman must be voted in by majority rules. Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson) is a board member, however he's the only black board member and has been appointed only to handle the music component of the firm. Because it's against the rules to vote for yourself, 9 members of the board vote for Swope, with the thinking that no one else will do this, and therefore it's a safe, almost non-vote. This thinking of course backfires since the majority have the same thought and Swope is voted in as the new Board Chairman!

After that, I know the movie makes a lot of statements of the times about race relations, hypocrisy, Madison Ave, etc... I'm just not sure what all those statements were. The movie just gets crazy. Swope whose voice is like gravel in a blender, changes the agency's name to Truth & Soul, brings in his own board consisting of people that range from soul sisters, to Black Panthers and Africa motherland supporters, a black Arab, the spiritual leader of the group, played by Huggie Bear (Antonio Fargas) from Starky & Hutch and one milk toast white guy which is never explained. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/06/putney-swope-robert-downey-sr.html


Brent Van Camp (Paul Iacono) is exactly all that, but he's been playing down his flamboyancy in school, waiting for the right moment to come out and claim his place as the coveted GBF. Brent's best friend Tanner (Michael J. Willett) is definitely gay, but doesn't aspire to come out in high school or be fabulous, he intentionally stays under the radar in general. Unfortunately, it's Tanner who's outed instead of Brent through a mix up with a gay app detector on Tanner's phone. He's then claimed by all 3 clique queens, made over and used as a gay accessory.

The fun of this film directed by Darren Stein and written by George Northy, is in the kid's dialogue, put downs and slang, which I'd need to see the movie a second time in order to really demonstrate, although Fawcett referring to AIDS as "the hivs" was one such novel colloquialism. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/07/qfest-opening-film-gbf.html

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

My brother introduced me to this comedic diminutive, dynamo back in 06, with his first special "I'm a Grown Little Man" we watched that bootleg several times, laughing hysterically at the story where Kevin and a friend piss off an ostrich with a pen. Alright alright alright. You're gonna learn today! became a catch phrase from his 2011 special "Laugh At My Pain", where Hart talks about his coke addicted father stumbling into his spelling bee, wearing sweatpants with no underwear - just swinging in the breeze. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/07/lab-makes-good-kevin-hart-let-me-explain.html

20 Feet From Stardom

The idea for this doc came from former president of A&M records Gil Friesen, who suggested it to Morgan Neville for his next project. Neville said when he began researching the world of backup singers he found very little information, movies, articles etc on the subject and wound up interviewing over 50 different singers of varying ages, race and musical backgrounds. And I think in light of this, the subject deserves a second pass with this wider spectrum in mind...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/06/just-taste-20-feet-from-stardom.html

World War Z
World War Z(2013)

I appreciate World War Z, because everything just.... happens, and it happens in a very realistic manner. It's enough to make you wonder if it's time to start stockpiling cases of water and canned food in your basement. Who can really predict when the world will end and by what means. Unlike Contagion, another well-executed and frightening portrayal about the end of civilization, the origins of this zombie apocalypse are unknown, and that ladies and gentlemen, is the scariest thing about this film.READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/06/candis-corner-ahhhhhh-zombies-surviving.html

The Bling Ring

Why can't people quit while they're ahead? The most important thing I've learned from watching heist type movies is that people who steal, meet their doom by doing one more job, getting greedy, cocky or by not being satisfied with having gotten away with it once or twice! Seeing how Sofia Coppola's newest film, The Bling Ring, is based on actual events, it would seem this compulsion to keep going till you get caught, is just part of a thieving mentality...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/06/decadence-bling-ring.html

The Heat
The Heat(2013)

Is it getting easier to make me laugh or are writers getting funnier? I laughed like a fool at This is The End (click for T&T post) and like an idiot at the female cop (Melissa McCarthy) vs female FBI agent (Sandra Bullock) / female cop partnered with FBI agent comedy - The Heat.

Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo, are best known for their "Ronna and Beverly" podcast, in which they play two stereotypically Jewish radio show hosts, as well as the hilarious spoof series called "The Real Housewives of South Boston." . In The Heat they play two rough-hewn girlfriends hooked up with the brothers of McCarthy's character.

Tinsel & Tine (me) got to sit down with the two comediennes at Dave & Busters. The below video is just an excerpt of our chat (4:51). - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/06/belly-laughs-heat-interview-jessica.html

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)

For me, the fight scenes seemed endless. I like a rock'em sock'em comic book battle as much as the next guy, but all those scenes could have been shortened to allow for more fun, quick references, like naming Clark's classmate Lana (Smallville) and a truck getting destroyed branded with the LexCorp logo.

Still, on the whole, no complaints. But no matter how many Superman reboots come in the future, with equally or even hotter men in blue tights, it will always be Christopher Reeve & Margo Kidder from the 1978 Superman that represent the franchise for me. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/06/robust-man-of-steel.html

This Is the End

I can't begin to get across all the crazy, absolute stupid, comic genius that happens in this movie! Believe it or not, I still haven't seen Superbad, hated Knock Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin and never heard of Pineapple Express, so I expected to be mildly entertained at best, not cackling throughout. The true funny comes from the fact that everyone at the James Franco house warming party is famous and playing highly exaggerated versions of themselves. If they had taken the same premise of 6 guys surviving in a house while the apocalypse rages on outside and these same actors where just playing characters, it wouldn't deliver the same punch. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/06/grazing-this-is-end.html

Fill the Void

It is interesting to peek into the window of a religion and community most of us know nothing about, Hasidic Judaism - the prayers peppered throughout everyday exchanges with one another, the customs of arranged marriages, the hairstyles of the men and head wraps of the women, the close family bonds and all the singing. What's not interesting is the handling of the plot. So okay, Yochay is left with a brand new son and no wife. This is grievous. But Shira, her mother and his mother are all there to help raise the child without complaint. Why does he have to have an official mother for the baby right away? READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/06/nosh-fill-void.html

The Purge
The Purge(2013)

DeMonaco was smart to keep the movie manageable by setting it in a gated community with a focus on one family. The Sandin's - father James (Ethan Hawke) has made a financial killing during the year selling home security systems to protect "good folk" from the dangers of The Purge. His wife, Mary (Lena Headley) on the surface seems to be enjoying her safe, upper class suburban lifestyle, but with a pallor of unease beneath the surface. Daughter, Zoey (Adelaide Kane) is only vaguely aware of Purge night, like the way most celebrate St. Patty's Day, you know when it is and what's going on, but if you're not Irish, it's really just another day. Zoey's only concern is that her father has forbidden her from seeing a boy who's older than she. Brother, Charlie (Max Burkholder) is the moral center of the film, the only one questioning the right and wrong of The Purge.

And it's Charlie's "bleeding liberal heart" that brings The Purge to the Sandin's own front door, in the form of the Preppy Purger (Rhys Wakefield) and his equally self-entitled friends. The masks are eerie, but Wakefield's polite smile is chilling.

Now You See Me

The script was penned by two sets of writing partners and I think some of the original dialog was kept from the early scenes like when Rhodes meets Interpol detective Alma Dray (hate that name) (Mélanie Laurent) and when the Four Horsemen are first brought together, both these scenes have terribly corny lines, which is not true of the rest of the movie. I also think in an earlier draft the 4 knew something of the person that summons them, by their reactions upon receiving the invitation, as if they had been waiting to be inducted by someone or something. But upon arrival, it's as if they know nothing at all. Later we hear about the legend of the eye of Horus being the pinnacle of a magician's aspirations, but this should have been a clearer motive from the onset.

I also think if the relationships between Atlas, Mckinney, Wilder and Reeves were expanded upon just a touch farther, it would have made for a more engrossing movie. But then again, that would have thrown off the tight pacing and polish of the film; sometimes it's hard to achieve both slick and satisfying.

Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf's

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's isn't as scintillating and tension filled as the Anna Wintour driven flick The September Issue. This movie is more archival, with great interviews, including Cher and Joan Rivers, footage of Babs (Funny Girl days) playfully singing "Second Hand Rose" dancing comically around the store and interesting stories, like Jackie O's most famous Halston hat and John Lennon's fur buying extravaganza. All interspersed with the blood, sweat and tears, or rather beads, sparkle and toil of window designer David Hoey, as he works with his team to produce another breathtaking holiday shopping theatrical window experience!

The Great Gatsby

I anticipated similar pomp and splash for Lurhmann's latest inspiration to remake The Great Gatsby. And when it comes to the big party scene this is what we get, verve, elaborate costumes, gaiety, circus like atmosphere, whirlwind of camera angles, music and dancing, something resembling a scene from a Ziegfield show! So, obviously Lurhmann was inspired to recreate the Jay Gatsby parties, but was he inspired by the rest of the book? Or was there a point in which he realized the rest of the story doesn't translate very well into what feels like a staged musical? Not that there's other dance numbers and singing, just Jay-Z's tracks pumping in the background, but the movie looks and feels campy & staged. I thought I was down for this, but it became for me, a cartoonish, ham-fisted, parody of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/05/the-great-gatsby-1974-vs-great-gatsby.html


There's a lot that sounds funny in this movie about a wealthy African American family "The Black Kennedy's" who, lead by patriarch Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier), look perfect from the outside until the arrival of an unexpected guest, Grace's boyfriend Wade (Craig Robinson) unintentionally begins to unravel family skeletons left and right.
Just wish that sound had carried through.

I did get to videotape Q&A with Craig Robinson - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/05/the-great-gatsby-1974-vs-great-gatsby.html

Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3(2013)

I'll leave it to the fanboys to really pick it apart or give it praise, but for me, it had everything: pacing, timing, amazing visuals, superhero humor (verbal & physical) hit the mark, creative new Iron Man suit technology and several dynamic well plotted storylines going on simultaneously:

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) suffering from Post Traumatic Shock Syndrome as a result of his Avengers experience.
Tony & Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) figuring out domestication.
Crazy Ben Kingsley developing two perfected characters.
Emaciated, but still powerful, Don Cheadle as the government's renamed Iron Patriot.
Hot black Ops (and I don't mean sexy) super soldiers.
Guy Pearce as a villain, maybe more despicable than his role in Lawless.
Even the addition of the kid, Harley (Ty Simpkins) and I don't normally like it when kids are added, but because Tony treated him in the same off-hand, sarcastic, quick witted way he deals with everyone, it worked.

Pain & Gain
Pain & Gain(2013)

Despite not meeting with the survivors, and those that committed the acts, this film tells a great story and is really one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time. If you turn easily to blood and gore, you may have your hands over your eyes for a large part of the movie. But still, it's worth the price of admission. Those behind Pain & Gain muscles up the courage to turn tragedy to comedy, and love or hate it, this movie will have you die laughing - pun intended. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/04/a-comical-look-at-true-story-pain-gain.html

The Big Wedding

Susan Sarandon age 66, caught in the act with her panties down, makes being on the other side of the hill, sexy! And in terms of style, energy and love of life, same goes for Diane Keaton and Robert DeNiro. I'm sure it comes as no surprise, that these three are the reason to see writer/director Justin Zackham (screen writer of The Bucket List) new movie The Big Wedding...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/04/more-icing-than-cake-big-wedding.html


When seeing a movie that deals with the mind, you rather expect it to be trippy at times. Trance is no exception, you're often not sure if certain scenes have actually taken place or is it something one of the characters has been lead to think? This effect although at times confusing, helps to create the atmosphere of a hypnotic trance. In fact, I had very weird dreams the night I saw this movie. I kept waking up, but then wasn't sure if I was awake. The next morning I worried that maybe the film had a subliminal message hidden within the frames. Perhaps anyone who sees this movie and is highly suggestible, will all meet up in the middle of a field one night and wonder why we're there!

The Place Beyond The Pines

Great start to the film, Luke (Gosling) tatted up, black t-shirt, walking through a carnival; soon we find out he's a caged motorcycle stuntman, traveling with the carney. Then you see sexy Eva Mendes, no bra, waiting for him, asking if he remembers her name. He does, it's Romina. It seems they hooked up the last time the carnival was in town, which had to be a year and nine months ago as he discovers he has a son, Jason...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/04/two-sultry-dusky-women-trance-place.html


I never thought about it before, but it seems people speculate that had baseball not been integrated, perhaps the Negro Leagues would have eventually out-shined and out-revenued the Major Leagues.

Although Branch Rickey had some altruistic motives for wanting to integrate the sport of baseball, he also made no bones about the fact that in the long run it would spell big bucks! Perhaps he was also trying to divert the growing popularity of the Negro Leagues... http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/04/blog-contributor-42-hits-home-run.html#comment-form


Food in Film Moment: The dried packets of space food are far from appetizing; but at least Vicka puts the pieces on pretty plates and sets a lovely table.

Bottom line: That's the main theme of Oblivion - The things that make us human no matter the circumstances. First and foremost the "L" word, but also a sense of responsibility to help those in need, creature comforts like music, literature and nature, along with thinking for ourselves and asking questions, and most importantly, kicking-ass when anyone or anything threatens any of these basic humanities.

Evil Dead
Evil Dead(2013)

Q: Was it tough to find a balance there between what you loved about the original [Evil Dead] film and what you were trying to say with your film?

ALVAREZ: The whole process is tough. Writing film is definitely tough by itself. It's not easy. If it were easy, there would be awesome films every weekend and there's not! So it's really tough to make any film. In general, it's hard to write a new film. At the end of the day, it was a challenge, but because I am a fan of the originals [Evil Dead movies], I naturally wanted to bring so many things from the original films. I think they were trying to stop me at some points from bringing so many of the other things, but for me it was important from a spiritual point of view to have a lot of references from the original film. The fans will spot some of them, but not all of them. I knew that all we had to do was tell a story where it didn't matter if you had seen the original films or not, you will get it, you will understand, and you will be a part of it. Once we started showing the movie to audiences we realized that a lot of the fans loved it and the references to the originals.

Visit Tinsel & Tine for complete interview with director Fede Alvarez - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/04/candis-corner-interview-with-new-evil.html


Admission is not a comedy. It's one of those poignantly humorous, finding yourself type movies. The movie has good bones. It's well written and it seems as if good effort went into researching the application process for Princeton or the general procedure for obtaining entry into an Ivy League school.

Rudd and Fey have passable chemistry and the storyline keeps you interested; and yet I just can't find praise for the movie. Worth checking out on DVD.

The Call
The Call(2013)

Surprisingly, The Call is crazy, scary fun! It starts out trying to show the complexities, stress and incredible presence of mind it takes to be a 911 operator. Very commendable, but not what really grabs you and takes you on an exhausting ride. That part comes from viscerally feeling Abigail Breslin's panic while trapped inside the trunk of a psychopath's stolen vehicle. If only she wasn't calling 911 from an untraceable TracFone. If only the emergency operator, (Berry) hadn't messed up the 911 call the last time this sicko got a hold of a young, blonde cutie. If only that town car driver could have been more on the ball. If only they hadn't put such a bad wig on Halle Berry!

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Director Don Scardino) - is the right vehicle for the comedy stylings of both Steve Carell and Jim Carey. Carell as Wonderstone, gets to do that obtuse, self-aggrandizing, but deep down I'm a good guy thing - as his character goes from dorky magician, to iconic Vegas showman and womanizer, to losing everything including his "Siegfried and Roy" partnership and his love of the craft. Carey gets to submerse himself into a mockingly disturbed David Blaine type illusionist, which allows for plenty of nutty physical grotesqueness. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/03/buffet-incredible-burt-wonderstone.html


Stoker - I had no idea who this filmmaker Chan-wook Park was and didn't understand why everyone was making such a big deal about him doing an English speaking movie. Now I'm excited about him too because Stoker is truly one of those seen through the eyes of the auteur type of films; yet not pretentious or inscrutable.

I've been a fan of Mia Wasikowska since the first season of In Treatment, she's gone on to many film roles since, and I think I've seen them all, however, this role as India Stoker was written for her timeless, compellingly strange persona. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/03/buffet-incredible-burt-wonderstone.html

To Rome with Love

The only story that had any merit was the one with Alec Baldwin harking back to his last time in Italy as a young man (Jesse Eisenberg) experiencing a crush on his girlfriend's (Greta Gerwig) pretentious, unassumingly sexy friend (Ellen Page). I would have preferred this story be fleshed out as the full movie, eliminating the other two vignettes.

Oz the Great and Powerful

One of the things most talked about as we awaited the release of this "prequel" was the fact that Disney legally could use source material from L. Frank Baum's books, but couldn't use iconic images from MGM's 1939 movie; most notably, The Ruby Slippers. In Baum's original novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wore Silver Shoes. No one in their right mind would change back to silver now, so instead they just left the shoes out of Oz the Great and Powerful altogether.

I can live with that, but I can't live with how much the flying monkeys have changed. My childhood fear calls out for those upright walking, bluish gray faced, winged, demonic creatures. The flying monkeys in this new version are just animated baboons, they lack that creepy ability to keep a small child up at night...READ MORE


Life of Pi
Life of Pi(2012)

Finding God - is the movie too religious for a mainstream audience?

Pi is a young man of many faiths. He becomes fascinated with world religions at about the age of 6, finding some elements of credibility and truth in each. The differences in the philosophies and beliefs does not concern him; instead he's taken in by the similarities. At one point he makes a joke saying as a Catholic Hindu "We get to feel guilty before hundreds of gods, not just one".

Still, I think it's a story about finding God if that's what you are looking for (and perhaps the book is more spiritual) But Lee's main focus seems to be to tell a story about ingenuity, the human spirit and bonding. Which in truth, is where you'll find God... http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/02/meerkat-snack-life-of-pi.html

Jack the Giant Slayer

The biggest and best of these additions being, Jack not only must defeat one giant, but a whole world of 25-foot, nasty, dirty, pockmarked, hairy, grotesque, disgruntled, bloodthirsty, hungry giants. There's a Fee, a Fi, a Fo and a Fum and then some. Including a two headed leader whose alter-ego got short changed in the giant brains department...READ MORE - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/02/serving-up-jack-giant-slayer.html

Side Effects
Side Effects(2013)

I haven't seen all of Director Steven Soderbergh's movies, but I am a fan and have seen quite a few.

I decided to rank them based mainly on my enjoyment and secondly on quality - #1 being my favorite and fittingly #13 being my least favorite:

1. Erin Brockovich (2000)
2. Magic Mike (2012) (click for T & T post)
3. Traffic (2000)
4. Contagion (2011)
5. Side Effects (2013)
6. Ocean's Eleven (2001)
7. Out of Sight (1998)
8. Haywire (2011) (click for T & T post)
9. The Limey (1999)
10. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
11. Ocean's Twelve (2004)
12 Ocean's Thirteen (2007)
13.The Girlfriend Experience (2009)

As you can see Soderbergh's latest work "Side Effects" (written by Scott Z Burns) ranks fairly high on my list, yet I'm stuck on what I want to write about the film; mainly because I don't want to give away any plot twists...READ MORE

Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies(2013)

Even though R is among the walking dead, his inner dialog and narration is quite lively and funny. He introduces us to this post apocalyptic world of the dead who roam a defunct airport terminal in search of any living creatures to feed upon. These zombies are aware of the existence of other predatory creatures called Bonies, skeletal hellions who for the most part leave the zombies alone, but viciously hunt for human life.

We don't really need to know what caused more than half the population to become either Bonies or Zombies, because this is not really a Sci-Fi flick; for all intents and purposes, Warm Bodies is a young adult, Twilight saga-ish romance...READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/02/sweetbreads-anyone-warm-bodies.html


Lopez's character Leslie doesn't enter into the action until part way through the movie. She's a scrappy Real Estate agent in affluent Palm Beach. Although extremely knowledgeable about how things work in this playground for the rich and famous, she's on the outside. Her life in a shambles after a bad divorce left her with no other options than to move in with her irritating mother (Patti Lupone). With nothing to lose but a life she's not happy with anyway, she lays out a business proposition for Parker which he reluctantly accepts.

However, Leslie, her policeman suitor (Bobby Cannavale) and soap opera watching mother, don't really feel like they belong to this movie, it's as if these characters are crossing over as guest stars from the set of their own story. Still, she's an interesting enough distraction while we wait for Parker to let loose his wrath on his back stabbing ex-partners.- READ FULL REVIEW - tinseltine.com


But to my relief and disappointment. MAMA isn't very scary. It's creepy, and at times disturbing, but it certainly doesn't have that melancholy, haunting, can't shake it feeling of The Orphanage, nor is it darkly sinister. The movie is based on a short story and the thing about all short stories, what makes them work, whether they be ghostly in nature or not, is you go into them without much background, and you leave a short story with a lot of unanswered questions. When a writer, in this case, Neil Cross, Andrés Muschietti (writer/director) and Barbara Muschietti, decides to expand on a short story, it often becomes watered down to a point where it's no longer effective. I believe that's what happened with this film. READ MORE - http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/01/missing-ingredients-mama.html

A Haunted House

Marlon Wayans - "I'm the type of guy where you don't have to lie to my face-you can tell me straight-up if you hated the movie or not," says Wayans. "I've told people that I want them to tweet me their opinion of the movie, and I'll retweet them all, good or bad. So far, only two people haven't liked it, so I'm ecstatic."- READ MORE Matt Barone ComplexPoPculture.com

Here's my over 140 character tweet to Wayans - @marlonlwayans #AHauntedHouse is a bad title, too generic, no black people are gonna call it this, why didn't u just go with Paranormal Blacktivity? Ur writing is raunchy, juvenile, stupid, racial and ridiculous yet I LOL'd so much in spite of myself. This movie will find it's core audience and they'll be lovin :-D the whole thing!

Django Unchained

Yeah, yeah, there's the movie's detractors who take offense at the "N word" being bandied about so loosely. But during pre-Civil War, I'm sure the term was interchangeable with slave. And slaves had so much misery to contend with, taking offense over a derogatory name would have been the last thing on their minds. It is interesting how some words hold such power and the ability to see history through its use - a hateful insult during segregation, unspeakable post Civil Rights, claimed by rap late 80's early 90's, and now almost necessary in a pop art, highly regarded mixed cast, set during slave times movie, written by a respected director. READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2013/01/candyland-white-cake-showdown-django.html

This is 40
This is 40(2012)

...Although my turning 40 was closer to "The 40 Year Old Virgin", I related much more to this movie and wouldn't want to cut any of this family's trials, tribulations and daily dysfunction, or that of their friends, co-workers, extended family and community. Which includes an "in tune" personal trainer (Jason Segel) a super hot possible embezzler (Megan Fox) Pete's mooching father with 2nd family of tow headed triplets (Albert Brooks), hilarious mom at school (Melissa McCarthy) and many other cameo appearances, but surprisingly none from Heigl or Rogan... READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2012/12/will-you-stop-eating-cupcakes-this-is-40.html

Hyde Park on Hudson

How could anyone seduce the President of the United States wearing oxfords, long printed frocks and spinster cardigan sweaters? Even if said President was crippled by polio and the year is 1939. Yet Margaret "Daisy" Suckley (Laura Linney) dressed thus, became Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (Bill Murray) intimate confident and companion during a major portion of his life...http://www.tinseltine.com/2012/12/much-todo-about-hot-dogs-hyde-park-on.html

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

My favorite part of the movie is of course crazy, creepy, precious, two-faced Gollum (Andy Serkis) and the game of Riddles he plays with Bilbo.

My least favorite part of the movie is the constant peril. There's very little down time between fighting, running, falling and escaping. I really wished we could stay at the Elvish City long enough to catch our breath. Still, all-in-all, looking forward to vol 2.... READ MORE http://www.tinseltine.com/2012/12/feast-fit-for-dwarf-hobbit-unexpected.html


...Most audiences are going to want to see this movie for "the making of " Hitchcock's classic thriller Psycho; particularly the filming of the shower scene - in which Hitch dismisses the ineffectual stunt killer, grabs the famous knife and begins to torment poor Janet Leigh with violent stabbing motions that come far too close for her to have to "act" terrorized. Also supposedly it was Hitchcock's wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) who insisted the screeching violins, violas, and cellos by composer Bernard Herrmann be used as the sound to accompany this iconic killing.

Unfortunately, although the structure of the story centers around this time period (filming Psycho) in Alfred Hitchcock's life, it's not actually what this movie is about... Continued on Tinsel & Tine http://www.tinseltine.com/2012/11/light-fare-hitchcock-movie-2012.html

Sleepwalk With Me

Is it a laughing matter to be so completely out of it that you jump through a 2nd story glass window only to wake up bloody, bruised, and a hairsbreadth away from having bled to death?

Surprisingly, it is! comedian/writer/director/producer/actor Mike Birbiglia has put together a rather amusing film about standup comedy, fear of marriage, family pressures and sleep disorders. I found it very entertaining!

For complete review visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

Rise of the Guardians

Impressive cast, but I didn't expect much, not with the trailer featuring all those gnome like elves running around looking very commercial. And never having read "The Guardians Of Childhood" series by William Joyce, the books from which this latest DreamWorks feature is based - the whole concept seemed cutesy at best.

Boy was I wrong! "Rise of the Guardians" is absolutely engaging, interesting, spiritual, mature yet child-like and exquisitely beautiful. The film deals with concepts of finding one's center; the insidiousness of fear and the higher consciousness and knowledge that each one of us possesses the power to bring light into the world and defeat the evil grip of dark thoughts. At the same time, the movie is never preachy, or esoteric, it's completely kid friendly and there's plenty of action and humor for all!
For complete review visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

Anna Karenina

As the theater darkened, I thought - I can't wait to be swept up in a romantic, dramatic, grand scale period piece.

And then Anna Karenina began with lighthearted hustle and bustle both on and behind a theater stage. The underlying music had comedic tones, the whole thing was choreographed as if it were the opening to a high stepping, rousing musical theater piece. WTF! What does any of this have to do with what I've known of Leo Tolstoy's immortal classic "Anna Karenina"?

Tom Stoppard's screenplay holds no poetry. It's deliberately streamlined. Certainly not written for anyone looking to get caught up in romantic, elegant dialogue or narration. Director Joe Wright's decision to create an avant-garde fringe festival type showcase, instead of a BBC epic tale, was quite disappointing to me.... For complete review visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)


I've still yet to catch up on many of the classic James Bond movies featuring Sean Connery and Roger Moore. And although I enjoy the franchise on the whole, the Bond movies I've seen are all a vague memory to me; even the most recent two preceding Skyfall, featuring Daniel Craig.

So I maybe incorrect in saying Skyfall seems to be the most sentimental of all the Bond flicks with its themes of being put out to pasture, a wet behind the ears Q (Ben Whishaw) and love/hate mother issues involving M (Judi Dench). But it seems to me, it was less plot driven, less action driven and more relationship driven.


Argo successfully manages to keep us glued to a plot in which we already know the outcome. The Hollywood element to this film is not only fascinating in it's actuality, but cleverly and very humorously pokes fun at the industry. Here's the trick- somehow the movie allow these scenes to be light and insider-ish, yet never takes away from the taunt tension and palpable anxiety when switching back to the scenes of the 6 American hostages.

For complete review visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic comedy in which the real passion is centered around Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Eagles.....

Although the movie deals with mental health disorders, it's not a dark comedy. It stays mainly upbeat and humorous. There are scenes when Pat's at the height of his mood swings, where close up shots are used and the angles show a frenetic energy, but that's not the tone of the film.

I'm always impressed with Bradley Cooper's range as an actor and Jennifer Lawrence is one of my favorite ingenue actresses, but I couldn't picture them together as a couple - really thought Jennifer would play too young ; not the case.

For complete review including red carpet photos and Q & A with David O. Russell visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine com)

Hello I Must Be Going

The film reminds me a lot of another small Indy movie called "Tiny Furniture", where similarly an average looking, un-thin young woman moves back home after college to live with her successful mother and try to find herself.

Both movies explore the theme of that famous quote: Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. Or perhaps it should be while you're too depressed to make other plans, Or as Amy's father gives as his only words of advice - "What can you do?" - For complete post visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

The Words
The Words(2012)

The old man's (Jeremy Irons) backstory is not very compelling. We are made to believe his banal tale of love and lost became more enthralling when written down in black and white, but I can't imagine how.

The Dennis Quaid character, who we assume is an older version of Cooper's character in the future, tells the story, in another book, of what Cooper's character is going through in the present, or is that the past? At any rate, it's confusing and involves an annoying cat and mouse seduction of Olivia Wilde's character, who has no meaning to any story.

Robot & Frank

I think most of us who watched The Jetsons as a kid, figured by the year 2012 we'd all have a Rosie the Robot to help us with chores and child rearing, and most importantly, she'd be like a part of the family. Sadly, although we rely heavily on technology, this family robot way of life doesn't exactly seem to be right around the corner. But it is the concept behind this sci-fi-lite film by first time filmmaker Jake Schreier and writer Christopher Ford. They have envisioned a "near future" where robots make for handy librarians, healthcare workers, assistants and such. READ MORE - http://www.tinseltine.com/2012/08/serving-up-robot-frank.html


The story takes place shortly after prohibition is declared. I've always wondered if the government didn't put prohibition in place purposefully as a way to create commerce. Perhaps they didn't know just how bloody and violent it would get; but like wars, it was profitable. After all, it's human nature to want what you've been told you can't have; and there will always be those that not only find a way to break a law, but make great gains from the disobedience.

Such was the case in Franklin County, Virginia, the town in which Lawless is set, where anyone who wasn't a bootlegger was related to one. Three such moonshine bootleggers are the Bondurant boys... READ MORE - http://www.tinseltine.com/2012/08/lawless-writer-matt-bondurant-post.html


On the one hand, it's refreshing not to deal with poverty and racism in a film starring a black cast. But on the other hand, I felt Dee so easily going off to be a doctor and the grandness of the house they all lived in, seemed unrealistic for the time period.

For anyone unfamiliar, Sparkle can easily be confused with DreamGirls, or even, Mariah Carey's 2001 bomb at the box office, Glitter. But Sparkle came first. It is the story of 3 choir singing sisters (siblings) who for a brief period of time become singing sensations in Harlem (1958), but are brought low by an abusive gangster and the pitfalls of reaching for a dream - visit Tinsel & Tine to compare and contrast the old version with the updated Sparkle - http://www.tinseltine.com/2012/08/second-helping-sparkle.html


I saw the story holes. And Scott knew he was taking a risk on pleasing "Alien" lovers. But for me, I was just looking for some alien beings, speculation on the existence of God and origins of man, ancient myths, prophecies, hieroglyphics, space travel, a lot of goo, birthing alien babies and an unnerving robot - that's what I got and I loved it!

It's was also a treat to have two men that I think are the sexiest alive in one movie - Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba. Although in this film, Fassbender is super creepy and convincing as a pansexual, free thinking Android. This guy is quickly becoming an actor's actor.

Magic Mike
Magic Mike(2012)

Tatum's character Mike is ambitious in that cocksure way some young guys have of running a lot of hustles, determined to get somewhere, able to party hard and still keep an eye on the ball, all the while, underneath, actually feeling lost.

British newcomer with a flawless American accent, Alex Pettyfer, plays Adam, who has "rules" and keeping to these rules have landed him broke on his sister's couch. He and female newcomer, Cody Horn, have a good, believable chemistry as brother and sisters.  You definitely get the impression they've been on their own for sometime and she's used to playing big sister, even though they're close in age.  

One of Mike's daytime gigs is construction, where he meets Adam and takes "The Kid" under his wing, getting him a job at Xquisite, a male revue night club, as a props guy. Adam's introduction to the other male dancers and their world of thongs, spray tans and male enhancement paraphernalia is hilarious!

This is where the focus of the film is kept and rightly so; not only is Tatum an unbelievably genius hip hop stripper, but all the stage scenes and stripper/customer interactions are good, funny and hot!

agic Mike sets a tone which is able to successfully blend song, dance romance and plot without being the least bit corny. It's exactly what I believe the movies Burlesque and Rock of Ages were aiming to do, but failed miserably.  I'm looking forward to checking out Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect to see how they handle this mix of elements.

Food Footnote: We headed straight to South Street Diner after Magic Mike for breakfast foods! (you'll get it when you see the movie).

Safety Not Guaranteed

The concept of Time Travel is one of those collective, universal fascinations that never wanes. The idea seems to constantly be orbiting pop-culture from Orson Welles to countless TV series and movies. For most of us, The Back to the Future trilogy comes to mind when thinking going back in time. And more recently, Midnight in Paris was highly touted for it's imaginative premise of a present day writer meeting literary heroes of the past. I actually liked Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana in The Time Travelers Wife. Now joining the time travel movie galaxy is Safety Not Guaranteed, a quirky, romantic comedy, written by Derek Connolly, expressly for the deadpan, somberly funny Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Recreations).

It also stars one half of the movie-making Duplass Brothers (The Puffy Chair, Jeff Who Lives at Home) Mark Duplass, who along with brother Jeff act as executive producers, putting their improvised dialogue and casual filming stamp all over this movie... Continued on tinseltine.com

A Little Bit Of Heaven

The movie is a candidate for straight to video; but on that level it has merit. Much less frothy than some of Kate Hudson's other fare such as: Bride Wars, My Best Friend's Girl or You, Me and Dupree, A Little Bit of Heaven is basically the female equivalent of Joseph Gordon Levitt's 50/50.

Marley Corbett, while under anesthesia for a colonoscopy, is told by God (Whoopi Goldberg) that she's dying and has 3 wishes. Okay, that part's a bit hokey, but Hudson dealing with work, family, friends and finally falling in love, all while delivering her swan song, is, for the most part, touching and funny.

On a side note: Why has The Almighty been portrayed by Morgan Freeman and Whoopi Goldberg; when it's men that look like Michael Douglas and Donald Sutherland who rule the world? Interesting...

This Means War

This Means War stars Reese Witherspoon as the lucky lady being courted by two super cute spies. Of course Reese's character, Lauren thinks she's just dating two super cute guys. Lauren is an executive at a consumer products research firm, who lately has had a run of bad luck or no luck in the romance department. Her older, married friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler) decides to start an online dating profile for Lauren without her knowledge.

Actually, I think Trish and Lauren are peers, but Handler's on and off-screen boozy, crude, live-it-up lifestyle, has always given her an over-the-hill countenance; which fortunately for Handler, plays into her humor and brand.

On the boys side - Tuck (Tom Hardy - Warrior, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and FDR (Chris Pine - Star Trek, Unstoppable) are CIA agents temporarily benched at desk jobs because of a messy, too public mission, worthy of...

To Read Full Post visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

The Vow
The Vow(2012)

What drew me, is an underlining theme which explores do-overs. When Paige wakes up from her comma, she can remember who she is, how to walk, talk, eat - however, she's lost the last 5 years of her life. She believes she lives at home with her wealthy, polished parents (Jessica Lange and Sam Neill), she's in law school and about to marry a handsome, business-minded guy from her social set (Scott Speedman).

Therefore, Paige not only doesn't remember marrying or knowing Leo. She can't remember the Paige that left law school to pursue being an artist of large sculptures and she doesn't recognize her choice of bohemian clothes or friends.

The question becomes: if you had the chance to go back and make different decisions, would you wind up making the same choices all over again?

Unfortunately, because the story is told mostly from Leo's point of view, earnestly trying to win back the love of his life and wife. And because the character of Paige is played by perfect Rachel McAdams, instead of someone more relate-able like Amy Ryan - this "do over theme" is not played out to its full potential.

For complete Valentine's Day post visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

Big Miracle
Big Miracle(2012)

What I like is how many points of view and agendas get woven together to tell this story: Rachel (Drew Barrymore) is the spokesperson for Greenpeace and former girlfriend of Adam. She's militant, headstrong, and good at making the powers that be in Washington look bad in the press.

Ted Danson superbly plays the wealthy, arrogant, cocksure Oil Magnet with a God complex. I doubt Danson had to do much acting to play this part.

Also in the mix: an aide to President Reagan (Vinessa Shaw) whose job it is to make sure the President gets good mileage out of the story; The Coast Guard (Dermot Mulroney) in charge of the rescue operation, who thinks it's a waste of valuable time and money, but at the same time, is all about duty; another ambitious news reporter looking for her big break (Kristen Bell); two clowns from Minnesota with a de-icing invention; the Barrow natives, including a wiseman of the old ways, whose trying to teach his walk-man wearing grandson to respect something other than Def Leopard.

For complete review visit tinseltine.com

Red Tails
Red Tails(2012)

The film does a magnificent job in portraying the skills, patriotism, bravery and honor of these men, and I'm glad the few remaining Tuskegee Airmen lived to see Lucas's version and vision of the film.

However, George Lucas is a real geek - consumed with toys, cool shots, bringing you inside the plane, making you experience the battle, the action - excellent special effects! What he lacks is the ability to bring you inside the characters or to find the heart of the piece. Oh, the elements are there: each character has a foible, Joe has a love interest, the pilots band together as brothers, but the elements don't blend together to become one really good, engrossing picture.

Still, it's an important movie to go see in terms of history and in a show of support to let Hollywood know black casts can create box office revenue. So don't illegally down load or buy a bootleg copy for this one, PLEASE!

For complete Red Tails post visit tinseltine.com

Joyful Noise
Joyful Noise(2012)

Then there's singing! Lots and lots of enjoyable numbers, both spiritual and secular and secular done spiritually. Basically, I feel the writer/director Todd Graff thought to himself: What would happen if I took some of Tyler Perry's down home drama and mixed it with Ryan Murphy's teen angst/songfest Glee to create a movie amalgamation?

But so what, it's not really important, because the movie for the most part is fun! Particularly the film's climax at the choir competition, where we as an audience felt as if we were part of the show audience; clapping and moving in our seats... http://www.tinseltine.com/2012/01/commentary-joyful-noise.html

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

...The same elements used in the first film, work to make this fast-paced, studio vehicle equally or perhaps more fun: Downey carrying the film - slightly insane, with irrepressible humor and uncanny abilities (not unlike his Iron Man persona in many ways). The homosexually tinged banter and loyal friendship between Holmes and Watson. All being held together with the filmmaking technique of magnified, slow motion examination of each action sequence and fight scene...

Contined - http://www.tinseltine.com/2011/12/commentary-sherlock-holmes-game-of.html

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Those looking for a lot of spy thrilling action, may be disappointed in this film; the concentration is on faces - expressions and lack thereof. It's about depicting a moody, dingy, 70's London, it's about building an atmosphere of mistrust and fraternity...

Continued - http://www.tinseltine.com/2011/12/commentary-tinker-tailor-soldier-spy.html

New Year's Eve

...Same holds true for Garry Marshall, for taking national holidays and making them into movies. He can probably just keep this format going for years - Memorial Weekend, Halloween, Election Day, is Christmas too cliche? Is anything too cliche for Garry Marshall?
I make fun, but actually I admit to enjoying the cavalcade of stars in overlapping and intersecting, sentimental storylines...


Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

...I go in looking for crazy stunts, espionage and amazing locales. And that's what you get; with a good dose of spy humor to boot. My only problem with the film was they killed Josh Holloway off too quickly. I'm still having Lost withdrawal and seeing him even with shorten locks, was a soothing balm.


We Bought a Zoo

...The story centers around the loss of Mee's wife and the mother of the children, whose recent death at the start of the film is the impetus for starting a new life. In the real-life version, Mee's wife dies shortly after they moved into the zoo.
The film has a lot of heart and Disney-esque qualities. Scarlett Johansson plays down her sexy, as the head zookeeper, but still of course plays Mee's love interest. There's a cast of characters that make up the small zoo family and plenty of talented animals. Basically, making it a nice film to take the family to see or more likely to rent.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

...The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Director David Fincher) - I saw the original Denmark version directed by Niels Arden Oplev during the 2010 Philadelphia Film Festival, where they showed the complete trilogy back to back. This was a great way to become totally engrossed in the saga. I was completely satisfied having not been bothered by the subtitles and wasn't going to see the American version; but, it was what my friends wanted to see the Friday leading into the holiday weekend, so I changed my mind...

Continued on Tinsel & Tine - http://www.tinseltine.com/2012/01/5-quick-commentaries-artist-girl-wthe.html

The Artist
The Artist(2011)

...Silently, sans color and with few subtitles, we follow these two early Hollywood lives and careers as they intersect and separate. Gimmick wise I can understand why this film is getting so much buzz, it's cute, the costumes are perfection and it's got a fine Tinseltown ending...

For complete film commentary visit -http://www.tinseltine.com/2012/01/5-quick-commentaries-artist-girl-wthe.html

In the Land of Blood and Honey

...In terms of Angelina's directing style, I'm glad that she just shot it straight, it's clean and authentic. She didn't try to be an auteur, no gimmicks, nothing vague or highbrow. And as a side note: each scene was shot twice; once in English and another in the language of the region, creating two versions of the film....

For complete film commentary on In the Land of Blood and Honey visit - http://www.tinseltine.com/2012/01/commentary-in-land-of-blood-honey.html

Young Adult
Young Adult(2011)

I'm certain Patton Oswalt (Spence from King of Queens) never in his wildest dreams thought he'd ever in this lifetime get a chance to have a love scene with Charlize Theron. His romance with Rachel Dratch on the TV series was most likely more romantic action then he'd ever thought to see as a character actor.

Surprisingly, it's the chemistry between these two actors which allows Young Adult to find its footing and like-ability. The movie is written by Juno screenwriter, Diablo Cody, who seems to have a knack for making geeks look desirable...
For complete commentary visit Tinsel & Tine -http://www.tinseltine.com/2011/12/commentary-young-adult.html


Michael Fassbender has a Dirk Diggler size schlong! And an Adonis rear-end. Beyond that, I don't remember anything about the film Shame. Just kidding. Well, about the film resonance, not about Fassbender. In actuality, the film stayed with me for quite awhile. Seeing two people in so much pain with no clue how to get relief, yet basically from the outside, look as if they are managing the day in and out of life...
For complete commentary visit Tinsel & Tine http://www.tinseltine.com/2011/10/20th-philadelphia-film-festival-shame.html


For my taste, I like a bit more fantasy, magic and supernatural elements, like in "Harry Potter" or "Chronicles of Narnia". Still, I feel "Hugo" will be a timeless treasure to be discovered generation after generation.

For my complete commentary on Hugo visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

J. Edgar
J. Edgar(2011)

Films like this are why I love biopics. I was never a very good student of history and although I realize biopics are certainly no replacement for the accuracy of classes and books; they fill in hazy knowledge of what was going on in specific time periods. How certain events intersected and the origins of things we just take for granted now.

Before watching this film, what I knew of J. Edgar Hoover - he ran the FBI for a long time. I had no idea he created it, nor did I realize he served through 8 United States Presidents! And then of course, in later years, we all heard about the cross dressing. I like the way the movie handles this possible quirk... - For complete review visit Tinsel & Tine (http://www.tinseltine.com/2011/11/commentary-j-edgar.html)

The Big Year
The Big Year(2011)

Excerpt from Tinsel & Tine commentary on The Big Year-

What are these three guys played by Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson trying to achieve? A Big Year! A term in Birding (not to be called bird watching) for an entire year spent traveling around the country, up hills, down rivers, over streams, in the tundra, peering between branches and sailing the oceans in search of bird species. The person who spots the most variety of birds within that year is called "The Best Birder". That's it - no prize money, no endorsements, not even an ugly green jacket like the one Tiger Woods has gotten to sport 4 times; nope, just the title, and awe from others within the birding community...

To read the full post - http://www.tinseltine.com/2011/10/commentary-big-year.html


Even when I change my pocketbook to a small dress purse, besides lipstick, keys and phone, the one really essential items is hand sanitizer. In my everyday purse, I carry Airborne. I have never once left a public bathroom without using a paper towel to open the door. I use a glove to pump gas, and feel we should adopt the Asian way of bowing to one another in greeting, rather than a hand shake, of which, the former has more spiritual significance anyway.

So I guess you're getting the picture, that a movie like Steven Soderbergh's pandemic, bio-threat thriller, Contagion is really my worst nightmare! Both he and screenwriter Scott Z. Burn do an amazing job of keeping this movie seriously realistic. This is no what if, scifi, action-packed blockbuster. The film feels more like a premonition of a world-wide, horrific event. In fact, it was kinda eerie seeing it on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

It's hard to believe it's been over a decade since I've seen Soderbergh's Oscar winning Traffic, although I've always meant to watch it again; but I strongly recall the movie's large cast was used very effectively with seamless transitions and brilliant interweaving of storylines. Contagion uses similar techniques, with yet another all star cast - excerpt from Tinsel & Tine Commentary

Martha Marcy May Marlene

The title of this 2011 festival circuit darling, gives the impression four women share top billing, but in actuality newcomer Elizabeth Olsen (cast only two weeks before shooting), is not only the subject of the multiple monikers, she hauntingly carries the full weight of this dark drama; along with some good, creepy assistance by John Hawkes (Winter's Bone).

The film explores the mind altering experience of cult life. A group of mostly 20-something men and women share an old farm house in upper state New York. The initial impression is one of communal, live off the land, find your role, Utopian society. This impression is short-lived and in its place we come to see a Charles Manson-like, bull-shit philosophy, no escape,dangerous type cult.

In fact, we get such a strong sense of the presence of the cult, it's hard to believe the bulk of the film takes place after Martha (Olsen) has escaped and is taken in by her sister (Sarah Paulson) and new brother-in-law (Hugh Dancy). The cult scenes are technically shown in flashback, but I hate to describe it as such, because that cheapens it. Rather, the director creates and uncanny rhythm of past and present that keeps the viewer as off-kilter as Martha herself.

This film was shown as part of Philadelphia Film Society's weekly sneak peeks, with the additional bonus of a Q & A with the director, Sean Durkin and lead Elizabeth Olsen.

I think the tone of the film had the audience a bit unnerved, as the Q & A had a prickly vibe going on between the audience and Durkin and audience on audience. It seemed most people appreciated the brilliance of the film, but there were a number of I-don't-want-to-think-that-hard movie-goers that wanted Durkin to fill in the blanks and clarify some points of the film.

Durkin (who could have been a bit more patient) tried to get across the fact that the film stands on it's own and you bring to it your own interpretation of any parts that seem unclear.

To read an except of the Q & A visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

The Debt
The Debt(2011)

If our civilization continues into the 22nd Century and we evolve into beings who finally respect and view each other as equals; we undoubtedly will still be telling stories of these two most heinous times of our history - Slavery and the Holocaust. There are many societal, economical, historical and psychological reasoning's for the continual re-examining of these atrocities; but artistically, every time these topics are seen through the eyes of new characters the story is looked at from yet another perspective. As such, is The Debt by director John Madden (Shakespeare In Love), based on the novel Ha-Hov by Assaf Bernstein and Ido Rosenblum.

Although the film deals with Israeli patriotism and the hunting down of a Nazi war criminal, "The Surgeon of Birkenau" (Jesper Christensen) The Debt is less about delving deeply into these matters, and more a typical espionage thriller.

The story begins in the late 1990's with Rachel (Helen Mirren) being honored as the topic of her daughter's novel, which is based on Rachel's heroic acts as a Israeli agent in the 60's. Young Rachel is played by the now ubiquitous Jessica Chastain (Tree of Life, The Help). The team consisted of Rachel and two other agents, Stephan (Marton Csokas) and David (Sam Worthington) their mission was to track down Dieter Vogel (The Surgeon of Birkenau), take him alive, and have him returned to stand trial.

As you can imagine, it's not all work; whenever you have two great looking men and one beautiful woman in constant close proximity, only one thing can happen - A love triangle.

On the whole, it's a gripping tale, a lot of places to flinch and worry. I'm not crazy about the casting of the two men that play the aged David (Ciarán Hinds ) & Stephan (Tom Wilkinson). Both Caliber actors to be sure, but neither capture the essence of their former youthful selves. And if anything, the older actors should have switched roles.

The Tree of Life

I left this film thinking what a crap role for Sean Penn, I suppose he'd only accept such a non-role from someone considered a mad genius, like Terrence Malick.

I could not engage in the interminably long segment of the film that depicted scenes of nature's glorious wonder, firmament and imagery of creation. I consider myself a spiritual person, but this was just frame after frame, during which, my mind wandered to thoughts of needing to do my laundry when I got home. Then the dinosaurs brought me out of my domestic mental check list, only to think, what the hell do these dinosaurs have to do with the death of someone's son?

Clearly, Malick did not concern himself with the obvious criticism this type of filmmaking inevitably inspires. But for every where's this going? moment, there's countless beautifully quiet, elegantly filmed, simplistic moments of storytelling. If I were to watch the film again, I would ignore the confusion and just be taken in by the depiction of 1950's suburban family life - children idly at play on summer evenings, when it's permissible to stay outside till dark. Mother's who have had their third child at an age when most women today aren't even ready to think about having their first. Stern father's who make their children call them sir, set strict rules, criticize and manhandle their off-spring; and yet at the same time want their children's love, respect and affection. All played with such understanding, by Brad Pitt.

But if you planned to see the movie, because you're a fan of Sean Penn, than you're S.O.L. And please, somebody tell me they also think Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard must have been separated at birth! I swore throughout the whole movie that I was watching the latter, until the credits rolled. Oddly enough, they were born in the same year, in the same month, and Jessica's given last name was Howard, although no relation.


SNL wacky woman, Kristen Wiig has co-written a surprisingly textured humorous tale of woe.

With a tone similar to the 40 Year-Old Virgin, Bridesmaids mixes a crazy cast of characters, laughter and heart to create a pleasing pre-summer bouquet of comedy.

Life began crumbling for pastry chef, Annie when her bakery stopped making her dough ($$). Soon after closing the shop, her boyfriend leaves her, she's forced to moved in with her mother, and finds herself in a degrading - no friends, just benefits relationship with a self-inflated prick (Jon Hamm).

Now on top of everything, she's got to muster up money, energy and enthusiasm for her best friend from childhood, Lillian (Mya Rudolph) who's just gotten engaged and wants Annie to be her Maid of Honor.

Being someone's maid of honor is really a dubious distinction, as much as you want to be a part of your friend's happy day,planning and organizing is a bitch. It's made worse for Annie in having to compete with one of Lillian's bridesmaids, Helen (Rose Byrne) a maid of honor wannabe, who's a mixture of Martha Stewart and The Housewives of Beverly Hills on crack.

The other bridesmaids seem to come from all walks of Lillian's life. A saccharine sweet, virginal newlywed (Ellie Kemper), abrassy mother of three (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and the groom's rough and ready sister, (Melissa McCarthy) a scene stealer - I always thought she was a good supporting character in the TV show the Gilmore Girls, haven't watched her new show, Mike and Molly; but surprisingly, in this movie, McCarthy is comedically fearless!

Rounding out the cast is an adorable local police officer (Chris O'Dowd) as Annie's under-appreciated love interest.

Bridesmaid's not going to be a run away hit, but the movie has good momentum. Wiig's ability to be a lovable loser and
trademark under-her-breath commentary, combined with the chemistry she and Rudolph share as real-life friends, adds to the watchability.

And what's a comedy without some over the top bathroom humor? - a fully decked out bride squatting and shitting in the street is quite a visual.

(Directed by: Paul Feig)

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Writer/Director Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) has delivered a witty, insightful, pioneering and entertaining documentary which delves into the prevalent and ubiquitous world of product placement, cross promotion, media impressions and asks the question, is there truth in advertising?

His idea for the film actually came from an episode of the show Heroes, in which Hayden Panettiere's character receives a Nissan Rogue SUV for her birthday - the keys, the car, the name is displayed as if it were up for bid on The Price is Right. The displacement of being force fed a commercial in the middle of a favorite show, gave Spurlock one of those light bulb moments. And so, technically the Nissan Rogue can take credit for The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, even though it's not one of the 22 sponsors of the film.

Now, if I say Nissan Rogue a few more times and link to the product, can I have one?

What I like most about this documentary is Spurlock himself. One scene in the film has him going through a rigorous Q & A session with a brand specialist to come up with his own brand in order to sell himself to the brands he wants to sell the movie to. (make sense?) Anyway, what they come up with is that Spurlock's own brand is Mindful and Playful, and this is a very good assessment. He does care about this subject matter, it's affect on society, the right and wrong of it, the question of selling out or buying in? But he's able to explore the matter with great humor. And not acerbic, sarcastic humor, rather with mirth and cleverness, he's able to brings a sense of fun to the topic. And he's an excellent pitch man, he approaches each brand meeting as if he's been working on Madison Ave for years; while remaining open enough to let the film take him on a journey, and still maintain a firm hold on the reins.

And those reins include keeping creative control away from the brands and corporations. None of the sponsors got final approval of the movie, of course they did try, can't blame a company for trying, but Spurlock and his team pushed back and won. To the brands credit, they all became a real partner in the film by allowing the doc to show the inner workings of how these deals are made, including dollars and cents.

Although Pom Wonderful (pomegranate juice) gets top billing as the film's million dollar sponsor, the shampoo Mane 'n Tail got the best deal. They have a policy of not paying for product placement and did not pay to be in the film. Yet, they allowed Spurlock to have some fun with their product and the results are hilarious, giving Mane 'n Tail really excellent exposure in a "mindful/playful" manner.

PFS was invited to a round table interview with Morgan Spurlock at, where else? The Hyatt at the Bellevue. And I love it when they send me, as blog contributor extraordinaire, to cover these interviews - TO READ MY INTERVIEW WITH MORGAN SPURLOCK visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

Exporting Raymond

I saw this film opening night of Cinefest 2011 in Philadelphia, and I cackled uncontrollably throughout this comedic documentary chronicling Phil Rosenthal's misadventures while recreating his hit show Everybody Loves Raymond, with a Russian cast, for a Russian audience, in Moscow. Followed by a jocular Q & A with this quick-witted talent.

One of the things that I, like many others, love about the show Everybody Loves Raymond, is the humor comes from the fact that people are funny just being people. And this fact translates universally throughout the world, but recreating this concept does not. Phil Rosenthal is told by Sony Pictures Television, that studio executives in Russia are interested in having the rights to make their own version of the show, but require Rosenthal's expertise to get them started. So off he goes to Moscow, with very little idea of what's in store for him, other than having been advised to purchase K & R Insurance - kidnap and ransom.

To be fair, the Russian TV industry people he encounters are gracious, but the writers have never seen the original show, and even after Rosenthal has them watch an episode, they can't get their minds around a man being that weak; for Everybody Loves Kostya, the lead must be a dominating male. The costume designer on the show is a Czarina from Central Casting; honestly, look up glamorous, hoity toity, Russian princess in the dictionary and there would be a picture of this stubborn woman, who insists the Russian Debra dress like a high fashion model.

An agreement is finally made with regard to casting Kostya the Russian Ray Romano. To do the show he must take a leave from his theater group. This shouldn't be a problem, right? Everyone in show biz agrees TV or film trumps theater, except in Russia when you are part of the Moscow Art Theater, the epicenter of theater, founded by Stanislavski himself. The Executive Director of M.A.T, adamantly refuses to release the actor, even temporarily to shoot the show, so it's back to the drawing board.

I realize none of this sounds particularly funny, but there is such honest humor in trying to explain what is funny from one culture to another. Plus Rosenthal is king of the one liners and reactions with facial expressions. His real-life parents are the epitome of Marie and Frank Barone, his parents on Skype will make you wet your pants.

The film is also cut with great clips from the real Everybody Loves Raymond episodes. It's also really sadly funny that Studio Executives (clueless suits) are exactly the same in Russia as they are in the United States, and I would expect all over the world.

Did you know that the actress Monica Horan who plays Robert Barone's wife Amy on the show is Phil Rosenthal's real-life wife? Well I didn't, but she along with their teenage daughter were also in attendance at the screening. Moran is originally from the Philadelphia area and had many friends and relatives in the audience and at the opening night party held at Independence Visitor Center.

The High Cost of Living

Quick About: Henry (Braff) is an American with an expired Visa living in Montreal making a living by dealing illegal pharmaceutical drugs. Nathalie (Isabelle Blais) is 8 months pregnant, happily looking forward to motherhood despite the fact that things are not very satisfying between she and her husband Michel (Patrick Labbe). Henry and Isabelle's world's collide one night while Isabelle is waiting for a cab to take her to the hospital and Henry is driving drunk going the wrong way on a one way street - bam! Hit and run. Days later he finds her and befriends her without revealing his identity as the driver.

Pleasing: Going in I was skeptical about Zach Braff credibly pulling off a low-life character. Fortunately, they don't try to go this way. He is a drug dealer and he is guilty of driving drunk, but early in the film he's shown to also be a caring, likable guy. He doesn't form a relationship with Nathalie to cover his tracks, but rather is drawn into her pain and anguish and wants to make amends.

Not So Pleasing: I'm not sure. Hard to put my finger on why I wasn't really engaged in the goings on. It's not too slow. It's not too sentimental or too romantic or even implausible. It's just watchable, nothing more. The plot does kinda remind me of Ben Affleck's The Town, but you care about that deception and reveal, a good 80% more than you do this one.

Hall Pass
Hall Pass(2011)

On Tuesday night I saw "Hall Pass", now I've said before that I don't love broad comedies. Don't care for the SNL skits turned movies, Christopher Guest is talented, but I don't flock to his films and even comedies that get a lot of attention like "Super Bad", "The Hang Over" or countless Will Ferrell offerings, get put on my Netflix Queue and then keep getting moved down. But as a blogger, I now see things I didn't used to when I just chose for myself; and in this case, I'm so glad for that because I would have missed out on some major hilarity!

Hall Pass is the latest from the Farrelly Bros. (There's Something About Mary, Me Myself and Irene, Shallow Hal). Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are two middle aged, suburban married guys whose wives Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate) are, well actually, too attractive for them, but these guys are at that place in marriage when the grass looks really greener. They're not actually looking to cheat on their wives, but their randy and juvenile actions push Maggie and Grace to grant their husband's time off from marriage; giving them an opportunity to go do whatever they want, including sex with other women for 1 week.

What I really give the film props for is not rushing to the plot point. In other words, it's not just funny after the guys are given the "hall pass", it starts out with Rick's kids delivering some dead on zingers, and the laughs just keep building from there. When they do start the clock on the first day of life without the chains of matrimony and commitment, and it's done with the sound byte and visual from the show 24 - cutting to the guys at Applebees, which turns into everyone eating themselves into such a ribs, chicken wings, fajita, beer stupor, they have to make day 1 a wash, you know you can't wait to see what happens on day 2.

My only fault with the movie is that Applegate and Fischer are not given the kind of comedic material the guys have to work with; their scenes allow you time to catch your breath. Although, I did appreciate the girls finding temptation, during this time off from marriage experiment meant only for the guys.

I don't want to give anymore away, other than a warning or an enticement, depending on your point of view, of male frontal nudity, thank goodness it's not Wilson or Sudeikis; there is some bathroom humor in one scene that had our audience laughing so long and hard you'd have thought we were paid to carry on. And "fake chow" will undoubtedly enter the pop culture lexicon.


Tuesday's PFS sneak preview was Liam Neeson's new action flick Unknown. And I'm really going to make this a short post because almost anything I say about this film will be a spoiler alert.

Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris, a botanist just arrived in Berlin for a summit. He's accompanied by his exquisite young wife, Elizabeth, played by my girl crush, January Jones. Upon arriving at the hotel, Dr. Harris realizes his briefcase is not with the rest of the luggage and leaves his wife to check in, while he grabs a cab back to the airport. The cab gets into an accident while heading to the airport and Dr. Harris wakes up in a Berlin hospital having been in a comma for 4 days. Even having arrived at the hospital without ID, it's odd no one has come looking for him. After all, isn't a hospital the first place you look when someone is missing? Yet neither his wife, nor anyone from the summit, has made any inquiries on his behalf. Why? Because as far as they know he hasn't been missing.

This is the kind of movie I recommend seeing opening week before you read too many reviews or hear too much talk. In terms of action, it's good, nothing new - car crashes, bombs, fights scenes with blades and broken glass. Neeson can really mix it up for a man of his age. But the thrill of the film is trying to figure out whether it's a SciFi mystery, a game, a dream, mental illness, a misunderstanding? It's interesting to see the pieces unfold.

The movie did get me to thinking about other films that deal in memory loss and head injuries and really there's quite a lot of them:

Memento - A man, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife.

The Look Out - While driving with his headlights off down a country highway, Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), his girlfriend Kelly (Laura Vandervoort) and two friends crash into a stalled combine on the road. Chris and Kelly survive, but the other two do not. Chris' injuries include brain damage that affects his short-term memory in the form similar to anterograde amnesia.

I Am the Cheese - Adam rediscovers that Grey attempts to kill him and his family, instantly killing his mother, injuring his father, and giving Adam a concussion which causes amnesia.

Overboard - Rich bitch Joanna hires country carpenter Dean to build a closet on her yacht. When the two don't see eye-to-eye, Dean is left unpaid while Joanna sets sail. The following day, Joanna is fished out of the sea, after falling overboard, suffering from amnesia.

Sliding Doors - In the timeline in which she misses the train, she then hails a taxi instead but a man tries to snatch her handbag. Helen hits her head in the scuffle and goes to hospital.

The Manchurian Candidate - is a political thriller novel about the son of a prominent US political family who has been brainwashed into being an unwitting assassin for the Communist Party.

Desperately Seeking Susan - A bored suburban housewife, seeking adventure to her life, accidentally gets hit on the head, wakes up with amnesia, and is mistaken for a free-spirited New York City drifter named Susan.

And I know there's more. Feel free to make comments about others.

Also found an interview where Neeson talks about his real life bout with slight amnesia - "It was quite frightening, actually," Neeson recalled. "I was about 16 or 17 and it was actually a fight I won on points. And I remember coming out and my father saying, 'Get your clothes on,' and I remember thinking, 'Clothes? What do you mean clothes?' 'Dressing room,' they were alien words to me," he explained. "And after about three minutes, I gradually came back and thought, 'Whoops, I don't like this, I better get out of this game.' " - By Kara Warner MTV.

I'm going to end this with just a random observation about the movie that doesn't have any potential for spoiling the plot- Diane Kruger plays the cab drive, and I've never seen anyone where a wool winter hat so well.


Be prepared to feel as idle as Johnny Marco, Stephen Dorff's character in Sofia Coppola's latest auteur offering, Somewhere. Watch him drive, sit, drink coffee, look out the window and give new meaning to the phrase just hanging out. It's all done in real time, without any background music or underlining score. Her reasoning behind this torturous storytelling device is understood, and it works; and mercifully, it doesn't last longer than about the first 20-25 minutes of the film, it just seems longer.

After that I wouldn't say it exactly picks up, just the scene length and editing style become traditional to our expected way of viewing a film. The story is about an action hero/movie star, a Jason Statham type, but not as seasoned, living in the infamous LA haunt, The Chateau Marmont; only all the shots make this historic, chic hotel look like a flop house.

With so little to do from day to day, you would think Johnny would be on top of work related responsibilities, like scheduled appearances and photo shoots to promote his new film or going to the studio for pre-production stuff on his next film, but he's totally clueless about his itinerary until called by his manager.

This character is not clinically depressed or even self-destructive, although while partying at the hotel, he does get drunk, fall down the stairs and break his wrist. Still, he's not really a bad boy type. He even likes his porn clean, often hiring these twin stripper-pole dancers; adorable double beauties, dressed in little tennis outfits, their non-erotic dance routines are totally PG-13, it's funny and about as sexy as synchronized swimming.

The feeling you get is that Johnny's life is in a holding pattern, where everything just feels empty. Everything except his daughter, Cleo, played by the remarkable Elle Fanning. Johnny perks up when she comes to visit, and when she's deposited on his doorstep by his hapless "I need sometime to go figure out my life" ex-wife, all his "hanging out" becomes fun when done with Cleo. And it's clean fun, you won't see any scenes of her taking a drink or snorting coke or witnessing debauchery. The beauty of the film is in their relationship. It's obvious that her 11 years of life with precarious parents has taught her not to make waves or be demanding. Instead this young girl with a piquant face and adolescent long legs, often bared, is easy, good company, very capable and along for the ride. And because her high scoring Guitar Hero father has a Peter Pan complex, they meet nicely in the middle.

Excerpt of indieWIRE interview with Sofia Coppola:

AT: Marco's like a kid with his daughter; he's a playmate. Was that what you had in mind for their interaction?

SC: I thought he's that kind of guy that, 'oh, it'll be fun, let's get a helicopter and go to Vegas,' because that's how he does things. Yeah, he doesn't do the more grounded, you know, day-to-day things like take her to the dentist or whatever-he comes in for the fun. He's that kind of guy, like my dad or my cousin Nicholas, they would, "Let's take a helicopter for fun." It's not normal real life that your mom would hire a helicopter. So it's that kind of guy and that kind of lifestyle that's a little bit removed from reality, but fun.

AT: Did you have experiences like that as a child, that were over-the-top, like the hotel in Milan?

SC: Yeah, we stayed there, we went to the Telegatto awards, that's how I know about that, and this hotel suite with a swimming pool, which was something I'd never seen before. But I have memories as a kid...we stayed in that actual room one time, my whole family, my mom, my brother. Yeah, definitely some of these trips with my dad, it can be pretty over the top. But I remember as a kid it was always fun and exciting to go with him to places kids don't usually get to go to, he always brought us into these kind of grown-up worlds.

I think I may have enjoyed this film more if it had been told completely from Cleo's perspective, as Sofia put it, a young girl being brought into a grown-up world. I know I would have like it more, if I understood the ending.

No Strings Attached

Guess what? No Strings Attached, for the most part, actually works! Romantic Comedies, I feel are the trickiest of all genres. It's an unknown quotient of ingredients needed to make a good cocktail of two people falling in love, amidst a contrived plot. You often end up with something too sweet, or too flat, too light or too dark, or just unpalatable. I felt that James L Brook's How Do You Know had some good ingredients, but No Strings Attached, directed by Ivan Reitman (Up In The Air) does a better job of mixing it all together.So in keeping with my rom/com cocktail metaphor, the movie would rate 3 out of 5 cherries.

The tag line for this film is "Can sex friends be best friends?", but what I like is the fact that Emma (Portman), a hospital Resident and Adam (Kutcher), an aspiring TV writer are NOT best friends.

They meet a series of times over the years, first at camp, then at a college dorm party, then on the street with friends; but they don't really know each other, which takes that stupidity out of the plot. Cause face it, in life if two heterosexual male/female people have been close friends since pre-puberty - before graduating high school they will have had sex and probably dated. Maybe they could go back to being friends later, maybe; but it would never be they get to age 25 and have never been with each other.

I also like that Emma and Adam fall into the sexual relationship first, before discussing the parameters. And the film keeps the physical comedy down to a minimum.

It's obvious the Universe is looking favorably upon Natalie Portman in this time of her life, amdist Black Swan earning her all kinds of accolades, nominations and wins, she's happily planning her wedding and instant family, not to mention, she has 3 more movies coming out in 2011 - Cloud Atlas, Thor and Your Highness . We share a birthday, June 9th. Do the stars have such grand plans in store for me as well?

Ashton Kutcher is not my ideal for a leading man, he'll forever be Kelso (That 70's Show), but the chemistry of her aloofness and his openness create the right spark. Plus Kutcher has a sweet bare ass!

Kevin Kline plays Adam's father, a former sitcom star, now past his prime and dating his son's left overs. It's a good Kevin Kline type role. Actress, Greta Gerwig (Greenberg) is very watchable. She plays Emma's roommate and fellow Resident at the hospital.

This whole friends with benefits topic, will be under discussion again this summer when Portman's Black Swan co-star Mila Kunis becomes sex buddies with Justin Timberlake in a movie entitled, what else? Friends With Benefits. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against the current offering. Personally, I just got out of a relationship of this type and what I learned from it was, whether it be a friendship, a family relation or a romance, relationships are meant to take on a life of their own without being ruled by intellect and practicality. Borders and preset limitations are for property, not people.

The Dilemma
The Dilemma(2011)

It's not Ron Howard's finest moment. I get the feeling he thought, why am I killing myself making movies where I have to stay true to history or someone's book, create good visuals and well-rounded stories, when people flocked to The Hangover which made mad money hand over fist. So I feel he decided to direct a little schlock of his own.

I watched an interview with Howard on The View. He said the idea for the movie came from a true life experience with his long time business partner, Brian Grazer. Grazer thought he saw Howard's wife of 35 years, being extra chummy with a guy on the street. He could only see her from behind, so he made a point to keep following until he could see her face and assure himself that his best friend and partner wasn't being cuckolded.

Later he told Howard about the incident and it soon became a "what if" topic of discussion around the office. Similar to the water cooler talk back in '93 when Indecent Proposal was released.

The women of The View used the scenario as one of their hot topics, and I was surprised that all the women except for Elizabeth Hasselbeck said they would NOT tell their best friend if they saw their husband cheating. Normally, I'm not a Hasselbeck fan, but on this one I think she's correct. I'm practically the only single person left among my friends and I'm chummy with their significant others, but if I clearly witnessed it the way Ronny (Vince Vaughn) saw Geneva (Winona Ryder) and Zip (Channing Tatum) going at it in the foliage of Long Wood Gardens, (movie set in Chicago, but I can tell they must have shot those scenes here) I would have to tell what I saw. And Ron Howard said, if it had been true, he'd have wanted to be told.

What adds to the dilemma in the movie is the fact that Ronny and Nick (Kevin James) are business partners in a venture to create super engines in electric cars. Nick is the engineer and the pressure to perfect this engine before their meeting with one of the top car manufacturers is crucial to both men. It's not a good time to distract Nick with a marital crisis. In addition, when Ronny confronts Geneva about her infidelities, she turns the tables on him to the point where Ronny realizes Nick would never believe him without proof.

The film is not without it's funny moments, Vince Vaughn's trademark, deadpan delivery of obvious improvisational dialogue is always something to give you a chuckle. He's particularly funny giving a presentation that leads off with how "Gay" electric cars look. However, in my opinion, the movie would have played better without an overall comedic tone. Could still have cast Vaughn and James, but comedians actually come up with funnier moments playing straight, then when the pressures on to create an atmosphere of levity.

So, OK Ronny (Howard), we kinda let you phone this one in, now where's your next Frost Nixon?

Country Strong

So after the PFS preview of Country Strong on Wednesday night, I was discussing the film with a staff member who felt the movie was too song oriented. I could tell he was not a Country Music fan, so I agreed with him and said I feel the producers of the film were more interested in selling a soundtrack than making a good movie, which I truly feel. What I didn't say, was that I would be one of the people looking to buy said soundtrack. I was already on YouTube yesterday watching the music video of Gwyneth marching around in her red cowboy boots to the title track. And looking for the "Give In To Me" duet sung by Leighton Meester & Garrett Hedlund. I was disappointed to discover their version is not on the soundtrack, Faith Hill sings it instead; nor did their duet of "Friends in Low Places" make it onto the album.

In terms of the singing, I thought all 3 did a very credible job. It seems that Leighton did have some previous singing experience. Her character, Chiles Stanton is a beauty queen turned honky tonk bar singer with a case of stage fright that gets to her every now and then. I've only seen one whole episode of Gossip Girl, I don't remember taking note of Meester one way or another, but I wasn't feeling like her role in Country Strong would be too promising. I was wrong. She's the best character in the film. Meester plays the role with different levels of vulnerability and unsure vibrato and sexual prowess. She's got an unusual mouth, like she wore braces on her teeth too long. I like it though, it keeps her from being too ordinarily pretty.

Hedlund had no previous singing experience. He started training 4 months before shooting. I loved his voice best. Real deep and soulful, just a little scratchy, he was very confident on stage and he's got this 2 parts good guy/2 parts bad boy sex appeal going on! I hear he was wooden and stiff (not in a good way) in Tron Legacy, so he's lucky to be able to redeem himself so quickly with this performance in Country Strong.

We all learned of Paltrow's singing aspirations over a decade ago from her film Duets and more recently her guest appearance on Glee. In one of the interviews I watched, Paltrow admits to not having any real country music knowledge, that she did more preparation for this role than any of her previous movies; learning to play the guitar and listening to a heap lot o country music from George Strait to Brad Paisley and Loretta Lynn to Carrie Underwood. I think the research comes through, it's no Oscar winning performance, but she's pulling it off. Like most people, I see Gwyneth Paltrow as a well-educated, patrician, former debutante. I enjoy her in roles like A Perfect Murder or The Talented Mr. Ripley; for me, she has to work twice as hard to play against type.

Tim McGraw ironically doesn't sing in the film at all. I would have liked a scene where he as Kelly Canter's (Paltrow) husband and manager, sing a duet. Not on stage, just as a little moment between the two. The character of James Canter is somebody who is in control, ambitious and a bit arrogant. McGraw does a good job of showing the cracks, as if underneath his stomach is in constant knots.

I read that writer/director Shana Feste (The Greatest) got the idea for this movie from Brittany Spear's breakdown back when she shaved her head and all. I wish we got to live through this kind of drama with Kelly Canter, but the story opens with her in rehab. She's already had a major breakdown culminating in being drunk during a concert, falling off the stage, resulting in the loss of her unborn child. Beau (Hedlund) is singer by night and rehab orderly by day. He and Canter have started an affair during her recuperation. Kelly's husband/manager, James (McGraw) decides to put Kelly back to work before her rehab is over, she tells him she wants Beau to open for her. James says he's got somebody else in mind, Chiles Stanton (Meester), but after seeing Beau rescue Stanton from stage fright during her "audition", he decides to book them both.

There's some interesting interplay between all four characters. There's two scenes where Kelly makes up lyrics for a song on the spot like a rapper spittin rhythms, there's a good moment where Kelly is drunk and laying on Chiles' lap in a cab and realizes this girl is "just somebody's daughter". And a few other well-written moments. But there's no build, there's no pay off, and most importantly, there's not enough backstory to Kelly. Basically, It's no Walk The Line, but if you're a fan of country singing, go and enjoy the music.


I watched Hello Dolly for the first time at the age of 6 and have been charmed by movie musicals ever since. It's my happy place! I can't count the number of times I've watched Ann-Margret be sweetly sassy in Bye Bye Birdie, Barbra
Streisand be seduced by Omar Sharif on a chaise lounge, in Funny Girl, I know all the lyrics to "If I Were a Bell" from
Guys and Dolls and Gigi, well, I don't think I love anything or anyone, more than the movie Gigi.

Although another one of my favorites is Gypsy, I always wish that Natalie Wood turned into Gypsy Rose Lee sooner in the movie, so there would be more scenes when she's vamping it up!

In a way, I get my wish in the movie Burlesques, although not voluptuous, Christina Aguilera makes an excellent pinup
girl, she's got the looks, the moves, and better than a silent pinup girl, Christina has those huge pipes which the movie showcases in number after belting number. Some of which were written by Aguilera as original music for the film -"Express," "Bound to You," the big ballad of the movie, and "Burlesque," the finale.

Then there's Cher, timeless, iconic, no one knows how to "Vamp it up" and command a scene like Cher. Her voice is as strong today as it was when she first started singing "Gypsy, Tramps and Thieves".

And that's the movie - these two powerhouses, excellent musical productions, a great set that truly feels like an old speakeasy, other beautiful girls in creative lingerie (I love the one made only from strings and ropes of pearls) and Stanley Tucci as a gay stage manager/seamstress.

Actually, that's all the movie should be, but instead writer/director Steve Antin tries to give it form and narrative, creating a very clumsy plot and script and please don't let me get started on the dialogue. Now remember, I love good, light, predicable movie musical cheesy. There's nothing clever about the premise for Dream Girls, but it works. I'm just about the only person who wrote in defense of the movie musical, Nine (see my Rotten Tomatoes review). But Burlesque misses the schmaltzy story beats at every turn. Nor does it deliver something fresh and involving. I won't ruin the scenes for you by going into detail, but I will say that Kristen Bell's character is useless and if you're looking for a good old fashioned cat
fight, you'll be sorely disappointed. It makes no since to cast the incredible DWTS, Julianne Hough in the role of a
dancer who gets pregnant and can no longer dance. I love Alan Cummings , but they use him for little more than
occasional set dressing. And Eric Dane should have said, I've got better things to do with my time and turned down the roll entirely.

In fact, I feel they should have done away with storyline entirely. It would have been better to write quirky little vignettes between staged musical numbers, perhaps with a little of the darkness of Cabaret. The whole film should take place inside the club, just a dysfunctional group working together like a family; showing little squabbles and backstage shenanigans, flirtations and jealousies. All the girls could have big, bold characteristics that could easily be brought into focus, leading into the next performance.

After the preview screening of Burlesque this past Wednesday. I interviewed two attendees Gail (coincidentally, a fellow blogger - "Gail Sees A Movie")and her friend Kathy Here's their comments:

"I thought it was a lot of fun, enjoyed it from start to finish. If I thought about it, I don't think I'd say it was a good movie,but I enjoyed the visuals, good production value. I liked looking at the girls in the costumes. It was colorful, the dance number were good, Cher was great!" - Gail

"Yes, I thought it was a visual spectacle. I was entertained the whole time. Predicable story, but you don't expect it to
have great plot and drama, that's not what this movie is about. It's more like cotton candy, sweet and a fun night out!" - Kathy

Tamara Drewe
Tamara Drewe(2010)

Actress Gemma Arterton ("St Trianians") embodies the titled role. It's impossible not to be seduced by her, although she's not particularly likable. I kept thinking she'd be perfect playing a comic book, take no prisoners, kick-ass heroine. Later I found out she was considered to play The Black Widow in "Iron Man 2", but got passed over for Scarlett Johansson. Sexy Johansson did a fine job, and of course has star box office draw, but they should have gone with Arterton, who smolders with danger and deceiving vulnerability with one arch of her perfectly sculpted brow.


There's plenty of cliches you can use to describe this movie, like - "it's a non-stop thrill ride", "It's got enough steam to be a run away hit" or "Catch this power packed vehicle before it leaves the theater". All apt descriptions, as director Tony Scott has delivered a really intense action movie that had our preview audience noticeably cringing, rooting and cheering for veteran train engineer, Frank (Denzel Washington) and newbie Will (Chris Pine) as they try to chase down a runaway train, carrying highly toxic and flammable material into populated areas outside of Pittsburgh.

The movie is based on actual events, and I have no problem believing some overweight, slack-assed, unconcerned peon - Dewey (Ethan Suplee), not following protocol could allow a train to, as he puts it, "get away from him". I felt for the Yard Master (Rosario Dawson) made accountable to corporate for human error. They did a good job of portraying the corporate suits concern for lost lives in terms of lawsuits and stock holder damage. The big question is, how much heroism and risk of life an limb was displayed in the actual events.

Not that it really matters, the real star of the movie is the train, you know just enough about the main characters and the people in their lives to care about the outcome. But Scott keeps the action on the run away train, unable to be derailed, going too fast to climb aboard, smashing through stuff at crossing intersections- all surprisingly ominous. I heard someone in the audience yell out, "That train is a beast!" It's no Godzilla destroying Tokyo, but it is rather menacing!

But what's the connection between director Tony Scott, Denzel Washington and trains? First "The Taking of Pelham 123" and now "UNSTOPPABLE", what will be their next collaboration? Maybe a remake of "Murder on the Orient Express" ?

Due Date
Due Date(2010)

Anyone who has followed my blogging knows that I'm into highlighting what it is I like about a film and much less about picking it apart. It's kind of that old adage, if you can't say something nice... Or maybe I should say, when I feel I have something interesting to say about what's lacking in a film, I'm compelled to write about it - nicely. In the case of "Due Date", I've got very little to impart either way.

I can say, I think the Masturbating dog is funny, and Galifianakis tip swishing around in his capezio jazz shoes. I hate to put down the man that was supposed to be my husband, but I feel Robert Downey Jr plays his role way too stiff. He seems to be trying too hard to be the straight man.(of course, stiff wouldn't be a problem if he really were my husband ;)

I can also say, I brought my 22 year-old, white, male, beer pong playing, computer gaming building, friend Robert along to get his reaction to the film and he said about the same thing- "eh, it was OK, pretty funny."

Blue Valentine

After the screening of Blue Valentine on Friday night, Producer Jamie Patricof gave us a little background on how long it has taken to get this film to the screen. He's been on board for 9 of the 12 years Derek Cianfance (Brother Tide) was in the midst of both writing and directing this wonderfully, heart-wrenching depiction of a couple learning each other, needing each other and then needing different things and hurting each other.In the first incarnation of the screenplay Cianfrance had planned to cast an actress by the name of Shannon Plum, although she ultimately never got the role, she did land the director, Cianfrance and Plum are now married with two kids.

At one time the movie was to feature Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner, but it was before these two were who they are now and nobody was interested. Rachel McAdams wanted the role, and again, was nobody at the time - hard to get financing without a name star attached. He also said Michelle Williams early on fell in love with the script and was actually stalking Derek to get the part, but this was when she was just the girl from Dawson's Creek and they weren't interested.

Fast forward a couple of years, now they are interested in Michelle, are ready to start production and Heath Ledger dies, which of course, understandably causes yet another delay.

And as if things weren't delayed enough, Ryan Gosling wanted to shoot all the scenes when they meet and fall in love, and then wait five actual years later to start shooting the scenes when the relationship is falling apart.

Well, it would seem everyone involved got the timing right now. This movie is on everyone's list of must sees, getting high praise for it's honest depiction of a marriage. Your first response is to the complete commitment both Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams give to the roles. But you also respond to the atmosphere of the movie, with scenes like the one shot in the odd blue light of the "romantic getaway" Future Room. The room is so much like their relationship, seems like a good idea, should be enjoyed, but instead it's annoying and claustrophobic. I also love their argument reflected in the glass of the doctor's office front desk partition; simultaneously we can see the co-workers real facial expressions and reactions.

That's the thing about this movie, afterward you bring your own experience and reactions, you want to discuss who's right and who's wrong in the relationship. My first reaction was that Cindy (Williams) should just take a chill pill; other than the receding hairline, mustache and extra weight, what happened to change her feelings towards Dean (Gosling) so much? Then I flipped and thought, well, he can be a bit obnoxious at times and too childlike, she really has out grown him.

I couldn't help but be reminded of the recent split between Courteney Cox-Arquette and David Arquette, "a deals a deal" (wedding rings inscription) until Courtney got sick of this deal that granted her an adopted son, rather than a husband.

As far as the NC-17 rating is concerned, I couldn't figure out how Gosling going down on Williams is any more sexually explicit than Kunis going down on Portman in Black Swan. Then a friend pointed out that the sex scenes in Blue Valentine do go on a bit in real time.

It's not due out until around Christmas, hopefully, they'll do some minor edits to receive the R rating. It would be wrong to have anything else get in the way of this film on the way to the Oscars!

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)

What Aronofsky's Oscar nominated The Wrestler has in common with his latest film Black Swan is self destructive lead characters, and a lot of hand held, unfiltered camera shots; that's where the similarities end, as The Wrestler was a true smaller Indie flick and Black Swan has the sweeping grandeur of an old-movie thriller.

There's an ominousness surrounding the film from the start. Even as you are experiencing the innocence pouring out of Nina (Natalie Portman) dressed in pristine whites shrugs and scarfs and baby pink coat, you feel there's something else in store, you're afraid of seeing something extremely disturbing. The film explores a lot of themes: Perfection is an impossible state of being; We can be our own worse enemy: The opposite scales of black and white in terms of Nina being very controlled and Lilly (Mila Kunis) being uninhibited and full of impulse. Mostly (sans the prince) it's the story of the Swan Queen come to life in film.

The impression you get of Darren Aronofsky is that he has to control his impulse to be a smart-ass. His biting wit reminds you of Sean Penn, if Penn draped himself in fringe scarfs. Kinda of hard to picture Aronofsky with Rachel Weisz who embodies such an Ivy League quality. Of course, if she was looking to marry a super talented director, than she chose very well.

To read Q & A with Director Darren Aronofsky after Philly premiere visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)


Paul Moses is a retired Agent of the CIA, formerly working in "foreign acquisitions". Living in a secluded area, his human contacts are limited to pleasant phone calls to his handler (who desires what she believes to have been Moses' type of work) and letters to a niece who lives in England.

Michael Beesley, the newly politically appointed Director of the CIA, is taken to Room R as part of his initiation, where he learns of Moses' existence and the full extent of his activities. Disgusted by what he has seen, and fearing public reaction should any of those secrets leak out, he orders the assassination of Moses. Moses calls his handler only to learn that she has been transferred. He informs the Agency that his status has changed from Green to Red before leaving his house and going on the hunt.- Wikipedia

That's the plot for RED comic book mini-series; is it the plot for the movie RED ? Not so much, but once again the love affair between a graphic novel and Hollywood has been consummated to satisfaction.

Bruce Willis plays Paul Moses who is a retired CIA agent. Although the back story for his early retirement is rather mundane and never becomes a plot point, the opening montage does a good job of showing us that although he's living among average suburbanites, he's not feeling content. The highlight of his month is pretending his pension check has not arrived, giving him an excuse to call Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), a customer service, paper pusher who has no idea she even inadvertently works for the CIA. Their understated, flirtatious phone romance, picks up speed after assassins come to kill Moses in the middle of the night. In shadows of darkness, Moses expertly, coolly, calmly evades assassination and heads to Kansas City to find Sarah, realizing their casual association makes her a target.

I like the romantic quotient in this movie, Willis and Parker have a bubbling under the surface sexual chemistry. There's also a delightful attraction between Red agent, Victoria (Helen Mirren) and ex-KGB, Ivan (Brian Cox). This may be due in part to director Robert Schwentke, who also directed The Time Traveller's Wife. I know that movie didn't get a lot of good attention, but the romantic aspect was well played in my opinion.

As you would surmise the rest of the plot deals with Paul and Sarah trying to discover exactly who is trying to kill them and why. To this end they seek the assistance of other Retired Extremely Dangerous agents, one by one (a la Wizard of Oz) Joe (Morgan Freeman) living in a rest home, Marvin (John Malkovich) living extremely paranoid and the aforementioned Victoria, living in grand style (as fitting Helen Mirren, would that I could be that gracious and lovely if for only one day). Further comedic casting - Karl Urban as a fantastic super geek CIA agent, tough enough to go toe to toe with Willis, Richard Dreyfuss a hilariously obnoxious inside man and Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck) small role as a petulant United States Vice President.

RED is not a comic book come to life, or an action adventure flick, rather a parody of both. It's the type of movie you won't really remember two months from now, but while your sitting in the theater it's a blast!

It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story, is aptly named. After all, there's nothing funny about mental illness, yet unfiltered communication and unpredictable behavior can make for great comedy. It's also like, how did a bright, capable 16 year-old boy from a normal family end up in the psych ward of a hospital? Well, It's kind of a funny story...

Craig (Keir Gilchrist) is suffering with mild depression, brought on by high anxiety. His father (Jim Gaffigan) pushes him a bit, but the real pressure to succeed and map out the course of his entire life at the ripe old age of 16, is put on by Craig himself. When his thoughts of suicide increase, he goes to the emergency room and asks to be admitted. From there he meets an ensemble cast of folks who "need a vacation" from life, including Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) who can't seem to get it together on the outside, but gives sage advice and leads the pack on 3 North. And Noelle (Emma Roberts) who looks like the kind of girl most young girls aspire to be and most young boys want to be with, yet she's been admitted for cutting herself.

At the same time Craig is still juggling his life on the outside - not wanting to miss an application deadline to a
prestigious summer school program. His obsession with Nia (Zoe Kravitz), and a best friend, Aaron (Thomas Mann) who
seems to just skate through life, getting everything easily, including Nia.

The movie centers on relationships and about finding life wherever you are standing at that moment. It's about learning how to give yourself a break. For those of you reading this old enough to remember "After School Specials", in some ways, although not cheesy or hokey, that 's what this movie reminds me of; I think it might have the ability to change the perspective of some kids going through these same overwhelming fears about life.

Gilchrist feels like a real kid, he plays the role low key and believable, he's not trying to go for the quirkiness of a Michael Cera. I like the non-traditional casting of Zoe Kravitz (daughter of Lenny Kravitz & Lisa Bonet), no where is it mentioned that's she's African American or mixed race, she's simply the "hot girl", which is great. The film is based on the book by Ned Vizzini and feels rather like a memory, although told in real time. Perhaps it's the fantasy touches here and there. The best being a rock video of all the hospital inmates performing Queen's "Under Pressure".

In fact, I became aware that the whole soundtrack for this movie is getting a lot of attention. Before the screening a
representative from YNot Radio.net was doing CD giveaways, and there's a lot of talk in the movie about a band named
Vampire Weekend. I swear everything is vampire anymore; this time is going to be known as generation blood
suckers;however if this generation becomes as in tune with themselves as Craig, then maybe it's not such a bad thing.

The Social Network

The Social Network - (Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Benjamin Button))
One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Saverin (Andrew Garfield) tells his psycho girlfriend, Christy (Brenda Song) he doesn't know how to change the relationship status on his fb page. When I got home I checked to see if I had filled in that page. I had, but I'm open to a status update!

I agree with critics that say this is an Oscar contending film. Jesse Eisenberg's robotic, almost autistic portrayal of facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg is bound to earn him a "best actor" nomination. I also really hope Aaron Sorkin is nominated for his fast, quick witted dialogue and accessible, interesting storytelling. Whenever revealing a story based on true events, a lot of embellishments are added, but this feels truthful, unlike The Runaways, which has a lot of contrived "putting the band together" sequence of events. And, unlike Money Never Sleeps, where Stone's script aims to show just how tuned in he is to the financial market. Sorkin's script allows the litigation details, even the programming jargon, to acts as nuances. The word play in the opening scene where Zuckerberg and his girlfriend break up, is pure good writing inspiration!

I had never heard before that the guy who invented Napster wheedle his way into getting creator shares in facebook. But I love that they got a musician, played expertly by Justin Timberlake, to play the person who caused such upheaval in the music industry. Truth is stranger than fiction, those Winklevoss twins make for one perfect, stereotypical, Harvard privileged character. However, the actors are not twins! Tyler (Josh Pence) and Cameron (Armie Hammer).

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go - (Directed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo)) SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read anything about this film and don't want to know what it's really about, stop reading. I was glad I came to the film only knowing who was in it and nothing else. I never expected it to be a sci-fi flick! The style of the movie appears to be a coming of age story about three young friends, Kathy (Carey Mulligan) Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) growing up in an English boarding school. Then little by little the true plot is revealed. These children are clones! They are being bred to be live organ donors. From that point you'd think the tone of the film would change, but it never does, the whole thing is handled with such genuine believability, you think, could this really happen?

The first scene in the movie has Kathy in a hospital saying she's a "carer", but I thought she was saying "carrier", and figured she had contracted AIDS, then she mentioned donors and I was mystified how someone with AIDS could be a donor. So the beginning of the film didn't clue me in at all. This role is a good fit for Mulligan's quiet strength and independent maturity. Knightley truthfully conveys someone desperate to create love during her short life span. Garfield, who plays a heart wrenching, too sweet imbecile in this film, must be loving his career path, as he's also in The Social Network as facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin, and slated to be the next Spiderman.

Two questions: 1) No one stopped the clones from having sex, what if one had gotten pregnant? That would make for a very inferior specimen, would the child have been removed from the clone parents and killed? 2) The clones seemed to have every emotion and intelligence as real human beings, except the notion to just run away. I didn't feel like the regimen at the school was strict enough to kill all instinct of freedom.

Life as We Know It

Life As We Know It - (Director Greg Berlanti) first off, why do they name movies after cliches? - Somethings Gotta Give, As Good As it Gets, Just Like Heaven. These kind of titles make the movie so ambiguous, you always have to say "Is that the one with...?"

This is the one with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel taking on more than they bargained for when agreeing to be God parents to their best friend's little girl Sophie. There's nothing brilliant here, it's done exactly how you'd expect it to be; but it holds up better than a lot of romantic comedies. Technically, I don't feel this movie classifies as a romantic comedy, it should fall under the category of dramurous (dramatic humor). It's not that Heigl and Duhamel don't have chemistry, but it's not what holds the movie together, it's just part of the story package.

I saw Katherine Heigl on Regis & Kelly, she adopted her daughter, Naleigh at the same exact time this movie started shooting, so she was actually going through a lot of the same emotions as her character. Because of this, she considers Life As We Know It to be her best movie thus far. I've only seen Knocked Up and that movie is NOT funny to me, it's illogical and has some of the worst pacing and timing of any comedy I've ever seen. 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth and Killers, could be cute renters, but I feel she's perfect for a TV sit-com; her expressive, animated features and lovable personality would translate so much better in a weekly half hour format. With the right vehicle, Heigl has the potential to be the next Mary Tyler Moore.

Jack Goes Boating

The slow pacing, Jack (Hoffman) and Connie?s (Ryan); often awkward, hesitate dialogue, along with Jack?s new found empowerment trick of visualizing what he?s trying to accomplish, is all well and good in a film, but I would imagine on stage it would seem interminably long and boring.

Now don?t misunderstand me, I do enjoy ordinariness in storytelling. Very genuine characters that would fade into the background in reality, but when brought into focus on screen, creating a closer inspection, suddenly we care. Although, on a caring scale of 1-10, I would give these characters a 5 1/2. To Read Full Post go to filmadelphia.org/blog


...Surprisingly, a lot can take place inside a confined space, but I won?t give away spoilers. Some of the phone calls I felt had too much levity, however Cortes feels the structure of Chris Sparling?s screenplay in the mistreatment of his main character, lends itself to a bit of comedy. I suppose I see his point, rather like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, whose ?friend? Wilson, the soccer ball, makes for humor. In fact, Paul?s companion is not as much the people he talks to on the cell phone as the cell phone itself, with it?s abrading vibrating hum.

I talked to one PFS member who left the film part way, she said she couldn?t take it anymore, but I feel Buried has the possibility of being a sleeper hit like Paranormal Activity. For a film that was made for under 2mil and shot in 17 days, wouldn?t that be a coup! TO READ FULL REVIEW - filmadelphia.org/blog

The Town
The Town(2010)

Wish I?d seen Gone Baby Gone, so I could give an opinion on Ben Affleck?s abilities as a director then and now; would love to hear from readers who?ve seen both. For me, I?ve always questioned Affleck?s appeal as a leading man. Yes, back in 1997, (OMG was it really that long ago?) I was swept up in the Good Will Hunting frenzy and was happy for these supposed upstarts success. But after that, I really didn?t care for Affleck in anything. The Town has brought me around. I?m sure it?s because he?s in his element. After all this guy knows Boston, and he?s very believable, an rather hot as a local boy who makes good, but screws it up and winds up back ?in the hood? so to speak. TO READ FULL REVIEW go to filmadelphia.org/blog

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

? but what is too much wealth and by whose standard? What really constitutes wrong doing in such a high stakes way of life? To me, Insider Trading is just a lucrative game of Whisper Down the Lane. Business Execs whispering in the ears of their peers and watching what happens as it travels to those that are listening out on Wall Street. Will the final message be accurate, completely distorted, or an amalgamation? No matter the outcome, why should it be illegal if this is the game? Although, I have to admit, as amusing as it was to play Whisper Down the Lane, it never really was a good game cause their were no rules, nothing was at stake; the last person didn?t have to try very hard to come up with the original message, cause it really didn?t matter. TO READ FULL POST go to filmadelphia.org/blog

Mao's Last Dancer

This film premiered at Toronto last year, but this was the first I knew of it.

The film is a biopic based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin, a ballet dancer who created an international incident in the early 80?s by defecting from the Republic of China. Cunxin was invited to the US as an intern with the Houston Ballet and was soon catapulted into ballet stardom.

I assumed I was going to see a foreign film from China; actually, it was produced in Australia and doesn?t feel like a foreign film at all. There are scenes shot in China, which are subtitled and capture the cold, stark, oppression of rural Qingdao under Chairman Mao?s Republic of China, but on the whole the film truly feels as if it were filmed in the US in the late 70?s, early 80?s. It?s not just the sets, there?s something about the very color of the film that feels perfectly dated. Along with the actors.

Bruce Greenwood is quite good as Houston Ballet Artistic Director, Ben Stevenson, his very kind manner of speech and effeminate gestures seem right on target. I was also quite impressed with all the dancing we are treated to in the film. It makes me wonder if Li Cunxin could have been that much better than Chi Cao, who plays him in the movie.

Although the film can?t help but be a commentary on political freedom, at its heart its a film about the love of dancing.

The Extra Man

The type of humor that really makes me laugh, not just smile or be amused, is odd, nonsensical, off beat humor, of which The Extra Man (Co Directors Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini) has in spades!

Who better than Kevin Kline to play the part of Henry Harrison, an eccentric, old ex-aristocrat who is both sexually repressed and misogynistic; yet spends a great deal of his time being an escort or ?Rosen Knight? to a 90 year old Billionairess, Vivian Cudlip (Marian Seldes). Because women tend to out live men, a society widow often needs an ?Extra Man? to invite to dinner parties, art openings, the opera and such. It?s a coveted position, as the ?Extra Man? reaps the benefits of dining sumptuously and rubbing elbows with a social set that would otherwise be out of his means.

Although I?m not an extra man, I did have a similar arrangement with a Vivian Cudlip of my own named Ms Monte. Ms Monte was a diminutive, fabulous, Chanel wearing, 80 something, grand dame. She was a benefactor to a theater company where I was working and for some reason she took a shine to me. Started inviting me to concerts, ballets, fine dinners and fashion shows ? all expenses paid of course. My friend used to refer to her as my Miss Havisham from ?Great Expectations?. I made the mistake once of not calling Ms Monte to thank her for one of our evening?s festivities until almost a week later and found myself no longer in her good graces. I sent a letter of apology, to no avail, she had moved on to a new companion. I must say, wouldn?t mind finding another similar arrangement; after all, I?m delightful company, know how to handle myself in polite society, and ? but back to the movie.

Louis Ives (Paul Dano) is a wan, self-conscious young man with a penchant for women?s clothing and under garments. After being relieved of his teaching position, precipitated by a bra incident. Louis moves to New York to pursue writing and answers Henry Harrison?s ad for a room to rent. The apartment is a junk shop, filled with Christmas balls and God knows what. Louis? room is small, sparse and barely private. But he becomes intrigued by his idiosyncratic landlord and becomes his protégé of sorts.

The film has a literary feel; in fact parts of Louis life are narrated as he likes to imagine he?s a character in a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Often scenes end with a circle going black and opening again, adding to the feel of a much earlier time period. There?s a cast of other odd characters played by a very thin Katie Holmes, Dan Heyada, Celia Weston, Patti D?Arbanville and a most hilarious, John C. Reilly as Gershon.

As Henry is fond of saying ? ?So there we are, where are we?"

Eat Pray Love

...I really don't remember why I finally started the book, it was probably one of the many nights like Liz where I got down on my knees, crying, desperately asking God to help me. All I know is like so many women, I really responded to every page. It took me almost 5 months to read it! I was loving it, but the only way I could manage to read was if I did it in stages.

I think a lot of what makes the book so powerful is Liz Gilbert's bravery in admitting she had everything and was still deeply at her core unhappy. I think deep down or perhaps not so deep down, we all believe that unless you are in poverty with 10 children and an abusive husband, we have no real right to complain... To READ THE FULL POST visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

The Square
The Square(2010)

I saw a well done, cleverly shocking short called Spider by a director named Nash Edgerton at a previous film fest, but I'm not the kind of film-goer with an encyclopedic memory for names of actors or directors, so I didn't decide to see this film, The Square, because I was looking forward to seeing this director's first feature length film. Maybe one day I'll be that plugged in, but I wouldn't have known if it wasn't for the fact they showed Spider before this film, which was great to create context for the director's style.

The Square is not as unexpected as Spider, but it is a well devised Film Noir. (screenplay written by brother, Joel Egerton) Set in Australia in a mostly blue collar type town, where instead of train tracks, a small body of water seems to be a dividing line between the really blue collars and the management blue collars. This body of water doesn't prevent Construction foreman, Ray (David Roberts) from starting an affair with beautician, Carla (Claire van der Boom).

We're not privy to how long the affair has been going on or how they met, we meet them at the inevitable cross roads of most affairs - "when are you going to leave your wife and run away with me?" of which the man in the affair gives the standard answer of "soon". Here's where the standard makes a departure, Carla discovers the man she lives with has been up to some wrong doing and has stashed a duffel bag full of cash in the attic crawl space. Carla decides this is the perfect opportunity for escape with Ray, she proposes they steal the money and hire an arsonist to make it look like the house happened to catch on fire. But Ray's a normal guy, nothing gangster about him, he may be willing to cheat on his wife with a younger woman, but he's not looking for real trouble, so he turns Carla down, at first. If only he stuck with his first mind,
but because Carla breaks it off with him for refusing the plan, he agrees; which unfortunately sets off a chain of tragic events which Ray can't stop.

The heart wants what the heart wants, but my personal thought on the matter is, if you are going to commit a crime for somebody, that person should be smart, incredibly beautiful, fascinating, unique and really hot. Carla is ordinary attractive, kinda a cross between Paula Marshall & Lee Lee Sobieski(example pics), which Egerton says was intentional- read below for hightlights from the Q&A:

Edgerton was asked about starting out as a stuntman.

NE: Yeah I started doing stunts when I was 18 to work in the film industry. Me and my friends would work on action sequences on the weekends to put in our show reels to get stunt jobs. The appreciation for the craft of making films came out of that.

What movies did you work on as a stuntman?

NE: The Matrix, Mission Impossible, Star Wars, I did a lot of different things, about 120 different films and TV shows.

The genre is Film Noir , the hero is very ambiguous in terms of his morality, you want to like him you want him to be a good guy, but he keeps making all these bad decisions. And Carla is not your normal femme fatal, she's not really a scheming seductress.

NE: I didn't want them to be black and white characters. I wanted them to be more like real people. When real people have an affair, they don't look for an evil seductress, they have an affair with someone they found a connection with. She's in a relationship where they don't really communicate, he's in a marriage where they've fallen out of love. And because they've found each other doesn't mean their affair has to be this steamy, sexy thing. They've made a connection and may be in this for a while... I just wanted them to be like real people so when they did all these things it would be more feasible and probably more tense because they aren't heightened characters.

Your brother Joel plays the arsonist in the film and he co-wrote the screenplay, what is your working relationship with him?

NE: He's my little brother so he just does what he's told :) No, he's my best friend, we get along really well. The story was his idea, it came out of his sick mind and I like to encourage that mind of his; we have skills that compliment each other.

Do you have distribution for this film?

NE: Yes. Apparition. The film opened in New York, it opens in Philadelphia on April 23rd, next San Diego, Berkley and Boston, it's slowly kinda rolling out. I got an amazingly strong review in the New York Times today. Consistently, it's received good critical feedback everywhere it's played in Australia and France where it's been prior to the US today. The audiences are always very vocal like you all were tonight. So I don't know if that means there's something wrong with me or something wrong with you :)

Do you feel any affinity with the Cohen Brothers?

NE: I definitely like their films. And yeah, me and my brother are brothers. I'm mean it's flattering to be compared, but I feel like we've made one film and they've made many, so let's see what happens in the next 10 years.

Rating: 2 Tines (* Excellent - 4 Tines * Great - 3 Tines * Good - 2 Tines * Fair - 1 Tine * Poor - Tarnished)

Going the Distance

This romantic comedy also feature?s Barrymore?s real life love interest Justin Long and Charlie Day (It?s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) for added comic relief. The movie deals with the pitfalls of long distance relationships. Garrett (Long) meets Erin (Barrymore) when he blocks the screen of her old school centipede arcade game ? ?Who does that?? What starts out as a casual hook up, turns into the real thing. Problem, Erin is in NY for a summer internship at the Sentinel Newspaper and plans to go back to San Francisco to finish her degree. Garrett is just establishing himself as an A&R rep at a small record label.

Personally, I?ve never been in a truly long distance relationship, but I once dated a guy that lived in Delaware (less than 2hrs away) and he broke up with me citing -logistics. Dated another guy in Allentown, (again, less than 2 hrs away in the other direction) sent him a text once with a very steamy promise if he agreed to drive to me after work. His reply, ?Not during the week, cause I?d have to leave your place super early in the morning to get to work on time?.

So the movie?s theme is very real and relate-able. The chemistry between the two is good. Their initial ?sleep over? involving Top Gun soundtrack is laugh out loud funny. The standard falling in love montage works. Things like trust issues, phone sex, and surprise visits are all covered with good humor and realism. Side issues like both characters working in industries that are in states of major change and severe cutbacks add to the dilemma. Christina Applegate and my personal favorite comedian, Jim Gaffigan are fun as Erin?s dry humping sister and brother-in-law. And Garrett?s two side kicks, mustachioed, Box (Jason Sudeikis) and bathroom open door policy Dan (Day) keep him busy during Erin?s absence. Still, somehow, I feel the movie is a little flat.

To read or listen to the Q&A with Director, Nanette Burstein go filmadelphia.org


Christopher Nolan (writer/director) must be some kind of mad genius to come up with two of the most intricate and mind-boggling films of the decade: first, Memento in 2000 and now Inception. Add to that The Dark Knight and Prestige, all equaling total brilliance. However, Inception may become his pinnacle, in the way M. Night Shyamalan was and has never again reached the level of The Sixth Sense.

Dreaming is one of the most Universal experiences the human race shares. How many times have we said to each other, " I had a dream last night that...." We take dreaming as a matter of course, whether we're the type to fly in our dreams, have more dreams remembered, or more dreams forgotten, more based in reality vs fantasy, nightmares vs oh what a good dream. But when you really think about the endless possibilities of what it means to dream, many exciting and mind expanding concepts could come to mind; Inception being one of them.

The movie starts out with a slick James Bond high stakes type dialogue and action, but we are soon made aware of the unreality, only to discover the reality seems to be equally dangerous. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are part scientists, part mercenaries dealing in shared dreams or being able to enter another person's subconscious. This shared dreaming can only take place in a controlled environment for going under, a needle in the arm from a contraption inside a metal briefcase. This devise can be recreated inside of a dream allowing for dreams within dreams within dreams. Although the feasibility and scientific explanation of the dream briefcase is never discussed, it matters not to the originality of the plot.

Although I wouldn't classify the film as completely sci-fi, sci-fi addicts will appreciate the parameters placed upon the dream world - whose having the dream; what the other shared dreamers subconscience brings to the dream; the difference between what happens if you die in a dream and if you die in a dream within in a dream; and most importantly, the dream architect, which is where Ariadne (Ellen Page) comes in to play, as Cobb is no longer capable of being the architect due to his personal tragedy of losing his wife (the exceedingly lovely, Marion Cotillard).

The only part of the movie I didn't like was the fact that it features Leonardo DiCaprio, for two reasons 1) I didn't get the feeling he was truly living and believing the concept, thank God it's just such good writing, because Leo's not really delivering. 2) It's a role too close to his role in Shutter Island, the whole plot of being haunted by a mentally unstable wife is played out again and he seems to give the same performance.

Best part of the film, the ending. Like Gone with the Wind, it's the kind of ending that film buffs will be wondering about for years to come.

The Kids Are All Right

Co-writer and Director Lisa Cholodenko, decided to make it a lighthearted look into the non-traditional family. There?s a social commentary being made; however, entertainment value was obviously the director?s main objective. Which I don?t have a problem with at all; but those looking for a more creative, Indie feel, may feel it?s too studio. Those looking for a Gay film may feel it?s not issue driven. And on the other hand, those looking for a mainstream comedy with two hot (well, formerly hot) stars having sex scenes, may be disappointed. It straddles all three genres, I would say with good balance.

After the screening I got to chat with four intelligent movie-goers who also happened to be lesbians. Two were a couple together 14 years, the other two, just friends. One of the friends thought the film was very enjoyable and agreed with most aspects of the plot and the relationship between Jules and Nic. She?s a proponent of adding a mainstream element to some gay films in order to get them made and out to the public. The other friend felt there was way too much heterosexual sex taking place, and she didn?t like or identify with any of the characters. The couple, felt the characters were unlikable by design, to create a certain stereotype, not just the lesbians, but Ruffalo?s character as well.

Jules character is that of an eat organic, create a compost, can?t commit to a career choice.

Nic is the matriarch of the family, a doctor with strict rules on etiquette and discipline. She disapproves of one of her son?s friends and describes him as being ?untended?.

Paul is a motorcycle riding, free spirit type, who is just now starting to put down roots with a new restaurant and home.

Joni is a smart, good-girl, now ready to fight for some independence from ?Mom?s?.

Laser is on the cusp of being either a decent kid with some abilities as a jock, or being a smart mouthed, screw up.

Tanya (Yaya Dacosta) is Paul?s hostess and ?f? buddy, before he meets his kids, which has nothing to do with the plot, but I like this model turned actress and just wanted to give her a shout out.

I didn?t find the characters to be unlikable, neither by impression or design. I thought Moore and Bening were convincing as a couple and both pulled off a slight masculinity that made them credible as lesbians.

Another point brought up in our after film discussion was about the dialogue interjecting too much ?Oprah Speak?, they felt although lesbians do have a tendency to process everything to death, this film went a little overboard to illustrate the point.

My main problem with the film was that Paul was made to be the villain, yet he was no more guilty of tearing the family apart than Jules. Although perhaps I?m biased, after all, Mark Ruffalo is my second favorite Hollywood Crush after Robert Downey, Jr., so I can totally see why even a lesbian would have trouble staying out of his bed.

Despicable Me

Last night (6/30) Philadelphia Film Society offered a limited number of tickets for the preview screening of "Despicable Me" (Directors Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud). The latest in what seems to be a slew of Computer-animated 3D films. Steve Carell gives voice to the super-villain, despicable Gru, whoâ??s in the midst of hatching a plan to steal the moon, assisted by his near senile, evil scientist, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and his brood of commercially viable minions (pictured). The plan goes awry when he decides to involve three orphaned girls, Margo, Edith & Agnes (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher) and gets further complicated by the young, super-nerd villain, Vector (Jason Segel).

The filmâ??s humor and writing is not as spot on ridiculously funny as the "Shrek" movies or as clever as the "Toy Story" movies, but it is delightful! Its silly humor often caught me off guard, creating sudden bursts of laughter. And I am a sap; thereâ??s a Grinchâ??s heart growing out of the frame element to the movie that will melt the hearts of children and adults alike.

Jonah Hex
Jonah Hex(2010)

Whenever a film is based on a comic book character, I always feel intimated about making commentary. Sure there have been constant DC (and other) Comics made into flesh and blood movies; some like "Batman" & "Superman" done 2 & 3x over. Comic book aficionados seem to be accepting of the fact that deviations and poetic licenses are made for the big screen versions of their favorite graphic novels.

But when it comes to critiquing these films, I feel a background in knowing the character from its original source is needed to do a proper assessment. My knowledge is strictly based on a childhood of Saturday morning cartoons, of which "Jonah Hex" was not apart.

So, that being said, here's my take -- First off, it is blissfully short -- running time 85 minutes. Probably a good thing for Josh Brolin, who as the lead character, has to chew off words out of a crooked slant. The prosthetic is awesome, but really looks uncomfortable. Now in the movie, this deformity comes from being branded with a QT by his nemesis Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich). Hex later takes a fiery axe and brands his own face to at least obliterate the initials.

According to Wikipedia, the story of his deformed face is quite different... TO READ THE FULL REVIEW go to Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)


I had seen a trailer for "Cyrus", but hadn't read any reviews from Sundance. The trailer led me to believe it was a total comedy, maybe not as broad as "Step Brothers", but close. If you're looking for that type of movie, then you'll be disappointed in Cyrus, but if you are looking for something much more real and relatable, then you'll feel like me, pleasantly surprised... TO READ THE FULL REVIEW INCLUDING JOHN C. REILLY Q & A visit Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)

I highly recommend seeing Juan Jose Campanella's
The Secret In Their Eyes, (winner of this year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film - Argentina). If you read some reviews or even the synopsis, it makes the film sound too complicated and slow. True, it is a hearty soup of genre's - Film Noir, Murder Mystery, Drama, Love Story, Crime Novel, but the ingredients compliment each other, never one overpowering the other.

The subtitles are written as if nothing is lost in translation, particularly the surprising humor. The story within a story, storytelling has been done a million times before, but in this case it's done with such subtleties and seamless transitions between the past and the present. I won't give the details away, but I was so taken by the fact that the missing "A" has the power to turn "Fear" into "Love". - tinseltine.com

Winter's Bone

If I had been born a mountain girl of the Ozarks, I would know that God didn't love me and that I was being punished for past life mistakes. Shooting and skinning squirrels for dinner, chopping wood, wearing no makeup, living in an unadorned cabin, and stepping outside to view bleakness all around me, sounds like a fate worse than death or jail.

PFS screened the 2010 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning film, Winter's Bone on Wednesday night as part of the filmadelphiaEXPERIENCE Screenings series, which included a Q&A after the film with Director/Screenwriter, Debra Granik.

The film is based on Daniel Woodrell's novel of the same name; Granik and her writing partner, Anne Rosellini eagerly delved into adapting the book into a screenplay and set out to the deep hills of Missouri to film. Which actually only took 24 days to shoot, so perhaps even I could rough it for that long - Nope.

Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) is a 17 year old girl living in the Ozarks solely caring for her two younger siblings and a mother who decided to mentally check out from this harsh existence. The father is a key figure in the film, he's out on bail, having been arrested for "Cooking Crank" aka making crystal meth. His court date is coming up and he's no where to be found; since their cabin and land was put up for collateral, if he doesn't show, they lose everything.

The set up sounds like the background to a musical, like Oliver or Les Miserable, and there are times when Ree's odyssey to locate her father is a little too deliberate - traversing the countryside, dealing with "The Law" and distant family members with fierce "gate keeper" mentality; it is a story about perseverance and survival. However, it is in no way melodramatic. It's a solid look at certain realities of life lived in this Ozark culture, and at the same time, it's an engrossing movie. Jennifer Lawrence, who I also really liked in The Burning Plain, (click link to see Tinsel & Tine's The Burning Plain commentary) took on a very challenging role, she's in just about every scene and is so terrific.

I enjoyed Debra Granik's thoughtful and detailed answers to the audience's questions at the Q&A, but transcribing it verbatim - not happening . Here are some highlights with some responses summarized:

Q: Were the actors cast from the area?

A: The leads were cast on the coast. Then a tier of actors from Missouri, many trained in acting classes from Missouri State University, although none of them were ever in a film before. Then the last section was cast during research and location scouting, "a couple of people just crossed our path and looked so right for certain roles, that we cast them". The children that play Ree's siblings have no prior acting experience. In fact, the little girl was cast because she lived in the house where the film was shot. Originally, the script called for two brothers, but this little girl looked like she came from "this piece of earth".

Q: How long was the pre-production period?

A: Scouting happened in increments over two years, seven trips. The first was to meet the author, he hooked us up with a few important people, a historian, musicians, a guide who could be the liaison between the film and the community. He was able to knock on doors that we wouldn't have been able to go to directly.

The actors, Jen and John Hawkes (who played Teardrop) came down a week ahead of time. Jen had to do a lot of work learning how to use the farm machinery and the squirrel skinning. John visited some bars and got recordings of people's voices in the community to learn accents. "This was a crucial part of the production, to have time before rolling to get acclimated and steeped and immersed in the groove."

Q: How was the film received in that part of the country?

A: I was there these past four days in the Ozarks. We had four screenings- in the home base where the film was shot, Northern Arkansas and West Plain, which is the author's area. The first screening had a biased audience of people from the area and associated with the film, so they felt very proprietary and proud. The second screening was attended by the head of the Ozarks Studies department at Missouri State. He said the film got a lot right. The question came up about perpetuating a notion that Hill Country people are quicker to violence than other parts of the country. He felt this was statistically not true, but there is a tradition to handle problems outside the law; yet the legends and the lore that have grown up out of this place exceed the actual number of incidents.

Granik having spoken about the definition of Hillbilly for the last year, given that she's not one, feels it will be crucial to include in the DVD extras, "27 definitions of Hillbilly" as defined by anyone who identify themselves as one. To have people from this area put words to this term, verses the history of defining it from the outside. "At what point do you retire the Hatfield's and the McCoys?"

Q: Did you have any connection to Ozark culture before reading the story?

A: "I did not have a relationship or connection or understanding of Ozark culture. Southern Missouri was not a place I had been to or knew about in any significant way. I think what drew me to the story is the character of Ree Dolly. I was very drawn in by this female protagonist, cared about her very quickly, cared about her struggles and her interests and aspirations. I was very curious about her. Ultimately, I wanted to see her prevail and wanted to know how she would do that and the book kept me in suspense about that. How would she get to this place where she'd be able to make a difference in her family's life and maybe stop something, stop a cycle that was ongoing in her family."

Q: What else have you directed?

A: I did a film prior to this call Down to the Bone, starring Vera Farmiga , so the word bone does keep popping up. If we do another one, it will be the Osteo trilogy.


Sex and the City 2

When Busby Berkeley wowed and won over throngs of people in the 30's & 40's with his movies of sparkle, charm and eye candy, were there just no movie critics around or did movie critics used to be real people who can take things at face value, enjoy it and for God's sake, not pick, pick, pick like vultures on prey!

Oh my goodness, it so very simple - Sex and the City the TV show, was a platform for women's issues and relationships in a very savvy, sophisticated way, while working in the fashion and overt sex. Sex and the City the Movies deliberately take a broad stroke!

They focus in on the over the top quality for summer movie, escapism fun! Get it? For Goodness Sakes it's not supposed to be rocket science. We love these characters and we just want to visit them now and again, their problems don't need to be huge or deep or original, we just like to see them together!

I, myself, love abundance, sumptuous luxury, changing costumes three or four times a day and I need a personal butler. So if I haven't quite figured out how to achieve this in my own life, than I thank God for Michael Patrick King for bringing it to me on the big screen.

And by the way, Ella (Ella Taylor, critic from the Village Voice), Liza Minnelli was spot on perfect! I'm glad to know she's in good enough health to perform like that; in fact, it was so funny and outrageously unexpected, you really need them to pause the film for a moment in order to bring yourself back to the rest of the gay, lively, glow of Sex and the City 2. 4 Tines tinseltine.com

Solitary Man
Solitary Man(2010)

When I mentioned to a couple people I was going to a preview screening of Michael Douglas' new film Solitary Man, (Directors, Brian Koppelman & David Levien) their first response was "I like Michael Douglas". That does seem to be the general consensus, and I'm onboard. I first fell in love with him back in the 80's as Jack T. Colton, Kathleen Turner's romance book hero come to life in Romancing the Stone. However, not even Michael Douglas' likability will have you rooting for him in Solitary Man. Ben Kalmen is an immature, self-destructive, lech. He's supposed to be lovably irrepressible and sagaciously fighting back from professional disgrace. But mostly, you just feel like tuning out and leaving him to his own devices.

Of course, you wouldn't want Kalmen to have it all together, what good would that be in a character study type film. I feel the problem comes, in the execution of revealing who this character was, in relation to who he's become. We don't get that until the very last scene and that's just too late. The other difficulty -- it's too dialogue heavy, not in a clever, fast paced Nancy Meyer's film way, this is more expositional, soliloquy.

I love Danny DeVito, but he and Douglas's chemistry could have been used to better results. I love Susan Sarandon, she's aging so beautifully and she's still so sexy; she plays Kalmen's ex-wife, but her character seems too sympathetic to her ex-husband and although a few years have passed since their divorce, we aren't privy as to why she's so good with everything.

Imogen Poots is a most horrid name, but the actress with this unfortunate moniker was excellent in the film; she plays one of the young women Douglas seduces, who gets far more than what she gives.

2 Tines

I Am Love
I Am Love(2010)

he Phila Film Fest Spring Preview opened with a beautiful Italian film, I Am Love (Io sono l'amore) this film is a truly wonderful example of food in film. There's a lot of wonderful tactile food preparation and eating of incredible dishes. I love a scene in which a recipe for a Russian fish soup is being disclosed while in the midst of intercourse. The cinematographer zooms in on the colors and the splendors of not only the culinary succulence, but also the natural surroundings of Milan. The film also showcases the modern architecture of the Recchi family opulent mansion, where a good deal of the film takes place.

The plot of the film is light. We are introduced to the affluent Recchi family as they prepare for an elegant dinner party in honor of Grandfather Recchi's birthday. The matriarch, Emma Recchi is played by Tilda Swinton, who is actually quite attractive with long hair, makeup and designer clothes. The movies I've seen her in previous to this, normally portray her as asexual, odd and other wordly, but in this film she's sensual.

The patriarch Tancredi Recchi (Pippo Delbono) is stoic, his marriage to Emma seems comfortable, but not warm. The prodigal son is Edo (Flavio Parenti) he's involved in some sort of racing, which you assume is cars, however, the talk surrounding his recent loss doesn't really resemble race track jargon. At any rate, the nature of the sport is never revealed, it seems to serve as a plot device to introduce the amiable competitive relationship turn friendship with earthy chef Edoardo (Antonio Biscaglia).
The daughter, Betta (Alba Rohrwacher) has newly discovered her attraction to other women, one in particular. After which, she cuts her hair short, then no one can seem to keep their hands out of it when conversing with her. The 2nd son is seen but never heard. The patriarchal grandparents play an important role in the family dynamics, even after the death of the grandfather.

And so the movie moves at an indolent pace, even as attraction heats up between Emma and Edoardo, until sudden tragedy strikes!
[Director/Writer Luca Guadagnino]

Rating: 3 Tines (* Excellent - 4 Tines * Great - 3 Tines * Good - 2 Tines * Fair - 1 Tine * Poor - Tarnished)

Exit Through The Gift Shop

This film is better than a Nike commercial in terms of being inspiring to "just do it"! I love that this guy found his bliss, fame and made millions of dollars because it never occurred to him that he couldn't. The guy I'm referring to is Thierry Guetta a.k.a Mr. Brainwash.

PFS screened this documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, a couple of months ago, but I wasn't able to attend, so I was glad when they added it to the Saturday screenings during this weekend's Spring Preview Film Fest. It's sort of a documentary about turning the tables on a documentary filmmaker, only that documentary filmmaker never really intended to make a documentary.

Thierry Guetta (born in France) made a living owning a vintage clothing store in Los Angeles, but his hobby was filming with a hand held camera. Filming anything and everything around him, basically just seeing the world through a lens. Eventually this hobby lead him to filming street art/graffiti, which lead to late night outings into the streets of LA to discover these underground artists, befriend them and earn their trust, particularly Shepard Fairey, of the Andre the Giant "Obey" icon and Space Invader, creator of the video game creature mosaics. These artists, along with countless others, plaster their work all over building and bridges etc... in cities like NY, London, Paris, LA, it's almost like tattooing the world or creating a portfolio for all to see.

Like with any hobby or obsession, there's always your "Moby Dick", and for Thierry's it is the artist, Banksy, who is the most stealth, secretive, creative graffiti and installation artist known today.

I'm not going to give away anymore of the plot, but it is a hilarious, incredibly nutty telling of Thierry's rise from onlooker to world famous pop art genius - Mr. Brainwash. I wouldn't say his fame came by accident, but neither did it come by traditional means. There's a humorous, yet resentful admission by Banksy, when he expresses, Thierry broke all the rules, although in art there shouldn't be any rules, but he broke the rules. Which is true. This crazy man just totally lives by following his instincts. His art comes from mimicking the artists around him, although it's not plagiarism. He calls himself Mr. Brainwash, because he feels that's what these artists are doing, making people think something is important, just because you see it everywhere and don't know it's origins. However, he isn't mocking the artists either. He just guilelessly tries his hand at it, but on a large, large scale! To fabulous success!

Rating: 4 Tines (* Excellent - 4 Tines * Great - 3 Tines * Good - 2 Tines * Fair - 1 Tine * Poor - Tarnished)

An Education
An Education(2009)

You know that I loved this film! I sat there grinning ear to ear, thinking how much I still would love to have a sneaking around, high class affair with a man of means. Someone worldly who enjoys the finer things in life. Yes, of course, the ending tarnished the fantasy for me a bit, but on the whole this film was made for me. I think it ranks 1st place among my other two favorite Nick Hornby penned movies, About A Boy and High Fidelity. You can't help but also love British actress Carey Mulligan, who for me was a combination of all the ingenues I've loved over the years: Leslie Caron, Sally Fields, Audrey Tatou, Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel and of course, Audrey Hepburn.
For more mini-personal reviews on Oscar nominated films visit tinseltine.com

Welcome to the Rileys

Welcome to the Rileys, the debute feature of Jake Scott which had a great cast with James Gandofini, Melissa Leo and Kristen Stewart (see The Runaways above), but somehow failed to ignite and the ending was so trite and neatly parceled it was for this writer rendered unbelievable. The story centers on Lois and Doug Riley, an Indiana couple that are so frozen by a past-trauma that they are sleepwalking their way through their marriage. Visiting New Orleans on a business trip, Doug escapes the constricts of a networking conference and visits a sleazy strip joint. Here he meets an underage hooker, and guessing that she is the same age as his deceased daughter decides to take her under his wing. Combating her agoraphobia, his wife decides to travel south to reclaim their 30-year marriage. If a story about a man saving a prostitute sounds familiar, it is! Melissa Leo's changing hairstyles were an unintentional distraction: coiffed and hair-sprayed seemed to imply she was depressed while curly and natural indicated she was brave and ready for anything.

For more Sundance 2010 Film Wrap Up visit: tinseltine.com

The Runaways
The Runaways(2010)

The Runaways loosely based on Cherie Currie's memoir about her life in the first all-girl teen punk-rock band, did, for the most part, live up to the hype surrounding its world premiere in Park City. The legendary Joan Jett, who shares an Executive Producer credit, was in attendance with cast members (see images property of Hollywood Reporters). Choosing to chronicle the bands formation, meteoric rise and inevitable demise through the eyes of guitarist/vocalist Joan Jett and lead vocalist Cherie Currie, first time director Floria Sigismondi, in an inspired move, pairs the exceptionally talented Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame (Stewart also stars in Welcome to the Rileys reviewed below), with 15-year-old teen actress Dakota Fanning.

Though Runaways has a Hollywood sheen, and is certainly less gritty than earlier punk-rock biopics the film nevertheless engages. Stewart and Fanning provided ample on-screen eye-candy. The individualized fashions, the fan-frenzy, drunken-drug fueled excesses, the managerial manipulation, and even a moment of sexual intimacy between Jett and Currie, are all authentically recreated. With some in the band as young as 13 at the time of its formation, and nearly all from broken homes, it was inevitable that the girls found the pressures of touring and fame overwhelming. The celebrity clout of Stewart and Fanning headlining, is sure to pull in a younger demographic. Revel in the rebellion, its time to (re)discover the raw talent that was The Runaways... the film opens nationwide on March 19th in 1,4000 theatres!

To read reviews from other Sundance2010 Favorites visit tinseltine.com


Review from blog: Tinsel & Tine (tinseltine.com)

As I mentioned in my Golden Globes recap, I didn't want to see Avatar, it looked like a glorified Disney Pixar film, not that I don't enjoy Disney Pixar, but I wouldn't dream of spending $14 on an animated feature.

Still, I try to see as many Oscar nominated films as I can before The Academy Awards. In 2005 I saw all the Best Picture nominated films without even trying (Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways) I loved all these films. Since then, there's always a few films nominated that my friend and I call "Spinach Movies". These are films that are highly intelligent and well-crafted, but it's like eating spinach when you really want ice cream. (Munich, The Last King of Scotland, Babel, No Country for Old Men, and this year, The Hurt Locker). For 2010 the Academy nominated 10 films instead of 5, So I have my work cut out for me to see them all before March 7th. I'm playing catch up all next week, planing to do a double feature of An Education and Up in the Air . Inglorious Basterds is on back order on Netflix, so I'll rent that, and have queue up A Serious Man , bringing me to a total of 7 of the 10.

Back to Avatar, I resigned myself to don the detested 3D glasses. I know everyone else thinks this whole 3D thing is a gas, but I have trouble keeping sunglasses on for longer than 10 min at a time, so for me, until they can figure out how to do it without the glasses, I say just stick to 2D. However, just as I always say I'd rather not do subtitles, and then I get so engrossed in the film I forget I'm reading; same thing, once I was taken into the world of Pandora, I forgot all about the spectacles (and no motion sickness either!).

In it's simplicity, I found the mythology of Avatar to be more complete for me than Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and more thoughtful than, X-men movies; although, I truly am a fan of all of these films. True, the film does not have a terribly innovative paradigm as far as the storyline goes; the moment you see Jake (Sam Worthington) is a paraplegic, you know the end result will be him staying on Pandora with his Avatar body. An outsider trying to fit into another world, rivaling with the best and the brightest and falling for the daughter of the "King", is all standard stuff. The trick is taking universal stories and making them fresh and vibrant. I feel this was accomplished and depicted in a very innovative way.

The effect of the motion capture headgear with camera attachment, capturing the performance of the actors, rather than leaving it all up to animators or costuming, is truly fascinating. I viewed clips of Director James Cameron discussing the making of Avatar and was amazed to find out how long it took for this film to come to fruition. He wrote the screenplay 10 years ago. Then he waited for and contributed to, the advancement of 3D camera technology. In between, he and partner, Jon Landau set about developing the world of Pandora, combining science, nature and imagination. Every inch of the forest and it's creatures were well planned out 2 years in advance of shooting the film. I think the effort of these details really paid off in spades!

I also admire the fact that as a white male, Cameron feels comfortable vilifying the military, headed up by white, greedy, unenlightened warmongers. And in turn, creating the Avatars as ethnic beings of light, in tune with nature as God intended.

Upon leaving the theater (30 min from home) the snow had really started sticking and the blizzard conditions had begun. But I was unafraid, I've had my little Mazda Protege for 20 years, I've "bonded" with it, like Na'vi (Zoe Saldana) flying with abandon on her Lavi bird, and in moments I was home safe and sound.
Rating: 4 Tines
(* Excellent - 4 Tines * Great - 3 Tines * Good - 2 Tines * Fair - 1 Tine * Poor - Tarnished)


Review from blog - suckmyprettytoes:

I fell in love with the trailer for the movie musical Nine, because it appeared to be a visual feast for the eyes. In my opinion, Director, Rob Marshall, Cinematographer, Dion Beebe, Costume Designer, Colleen Atwood, Production Designer, John Myhre along with the Set Decorator, Makeup Department and Art Direction created the look of a magazine; very glossy, international, mixing styles, trends and eras in alluring arrays.

I've read approx. 10-12 reviews of Nine today,(many from RT) both from critics and moviegoers, a few give a back handed compliment to the visual aspect of the film, but most just want to hate this movie entirely. Some hate that most of the musical numbers are staged on the same set. I felt this was clever as the lead Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is desperately trying to come up with a script for a movie that has sets, costumes and much expectation, but no actual dialog or story. So as he seeks inspiration from the women in his life, he imagines each of them on that set.

Most despise the score, others hate that new songs were added. I've never seen a musical yet where every song is memorable. Fergie's belting out of "Be Italian" is a show stopper! I used to be a hostess at a Cabaret night club, so I was already familiar with a couple of the songs "In A Very Unusual Way" sung beautifully by Guido's muse Claudia (Nicole Kidman) and "My Husband Makes Movies" expertly brought to life by Guido's wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard) in fact, the only thing that all critics/moviegoers could agree upon was how stellar Cotillard is throughout; which I must agree, she has a truly lovely quality that rivals Audrey Hepburn.

In fact, the focus of the film is the women, perhaps a bit objectified, but I can't object to that. I love seeing women at their most fetching and each one in this film, those mentioned above, along with Kate Hudson, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Lauren, and even Dame Judith Dench are fabulously showcased.

A number of critics think Daniel Day-Lewis was miscast, perhaps not the best singer, but he wasn't awful. Think about Rex Harrison in "My Fair Lady" everyone let him get away with so called singing. Some critics say his part should have been played a lot lighter, with more humor and slapstick. It's difficult for me to comment upon this as I've never seen the Musical Nine staged, nor Fellini's 8 1/2, for which the musical was based upon. But I will say, I felt Daniel Day-Lewis embodied the necessary elements to make up the character as I saw Gudio Contini to be - the scruffy sex appeal, angst, often hunching his shoulders as if the weight of the world were upon him; alternating between elite celebrity and naughty little boy.

I feel critics should be ashamed of themselves for finding such joy in ruining artists hard work, not to mention the financial toll. And worse that audiences can be so easily persuaded to follow whichever way the wind is blowing. Discussing a film at length as movie reviewers/audience is an important part of the process. Everyone has a right to say what they feel didn't work in a film. However, I don't see the need to relish in your dislike. Panning a film should only be done on the most rare occasion when you truly feel nothing was accomplished and everyone's efforts were wasted.

Nine isn't the most magical, sweeping movie musical I've ever seen, but it's definitely done it's job to be musically entertaining and visually captivating, well-produced and shouldn't be missed on the big screen. Poor Rob Marshall will probably feel like Guido Contini next time he goes to make a film, as if the expectation is too much to live up to, destroying the child-like wonder of filmmaking entirely.

Rating: Pretty Index Toe

The Road
The Road(2009)

Post from suckmyprettytoes:

Just how near is the apocalypse?

My screenings last week consisted of 2012, a CGI version of the next Noah's Art event. And Philadelphia Film's Society's filmadelphiaIndependent presentation of The Road, a bleak, cold look at the future after an unnamed cataclysmic occurrence on the earth. Then to top it off or seal the doom, my Bible study class focused on Matthew 24:4-28, where Jesus tells his disciples of all the end time miseries and destruction to come, "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs".

One things for sure, if life continues after these "birth pangs" and its anything like The Road, then truly woe unto us all!

John Hillcoat has directed a poetic, thought evoking, yet unrelentingly despairing film about a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-Mcphee) who have survived after some catastrophic event has destroyed most every living thing and what's left are a few standing structures, and some bands of maundering cannibals. They set out on the road, heading to the coast, because it's the last instructions told to them by the wife/mother (Charlize Theron) before she walks coat-less into the cold night.

Have you ever waited over an hour for a bus during a cold, windy down pour, in uncomfortable shoes, carrying heavy bags, needing to go to the bathroom and eventually decide to start walking in hopes that the bus will still come? The whole time you're saying to yourself, "If I could just get home, get out of these wet things, put down these bags and make a cup of tea". Okay, so picture that image, double it times ten, and take away the part of ever reaching comfort; now you know how you'll feel if you go to see this film "The Road".

I wouldn't describe the film as being dull, there are a lot of tense moments and a good deal of gore, However, I can't imagine reading the novel the movie is based on by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, All the Pretty Horses). No offense to this Pulitzer Prize winning author and those who admire his talent. But just the thought of trying to get through this book, gives me flashbacks of 6th grade when I was forced to read Jack London's Call of the Wild. I remember feeling like my teacher was a sadist and that it was her plan to torture me with boredom. I cried tears of protest every time I attempted to read even a page. Funny, I can't remember if I ever got through it...

What was interesting about The Road was having the Visual Effects Supervisor, Mark Forker from Dive in attendance for the Q&A. A good portion of the film was filmed in Pennsylvania (more due to tax credits than visual landscape) Dive did much of the post-production work. Forker takes pride in the fact that primarily the visual effects of this film consist of effects the viewer shouldn't notice; photographic things like adding snow, ash, cold breath, removing any traces of sun; even filming in winter didn't make an austere enough background to capture the desolation. The visual effects were worked on for 6 months after filming wrapped. It was important that it not look like other disaster films like 2012, since the film is set post-apocalyptic, not as the event is happening.

Forker was able to answer for the absent filmmakers when an audience member commented on the depressing nature of the film. He answered, "At its core, the film is a love story between a father and a son, it's really a story of hope."

Rating Pretty Middle Toe

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

Post from blog-suckmyprettytoes:

Lee Daniel's Film Precious is uncomfortable in the raw, injustice of this young girl's life and all she must endure. The underlying premise of the film does speak to the prejudice in all of us, but the story is her's and her's alone- Clareece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey 'Gabby' Sidibe). She is a dark-skinned, hugely overweight, 16 year-old, illiterate girl, who is able to dream of having a "light skinned" boyfriend and being totally fabulous, despite her life of being repeatedly raped by her father, and abused physically and mentally, but her jealous mother (Mo'Nique).

Both Gabby and Mo' Nique have turned in Oscar award winning performances, truly.

In the past, I've wanted to support Daniels' work, Philly native and all, but I've always felt put off by his choice of material, too sad and too intense for me. And I was right, this story based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire will move the most hardened heart to tears.

However, there is triumph, there is hope, there are good cinematic touches that are effective in story telling, but also allow you to remember it is a movie, not just a voyeuristic view of this unfortunate girl's life.

Rating: It deserves a Pretty Big Toe, but because it's not the kind of film I find pleasing, I have to give it a Pretty Middle Toe

Lee Daniels was in attendance for a Q & A after the film. Here's some excerpts from his interview with Festival Artistic Director, Harlan Jacobson:

LD: "From Egypt to Cairo to Miro to Switzerland- I'm home! I love you Philadelphia, I'm so happy, so honored, so humbled, to be home showing this film to you all this evening at this Festival. I made this movie with the spirit of Philadelphia in mind; thinking that Philadelphian's black and white would be able to understand this story.

Philadelphian's, I found that when I was at Sundance and Berlin and around the world with it, that it was not just a story about black Philadelphians or Philadelphians, but a universal story, so when you are watching this, know that we put a lot of soul and a lot of heart into it and I made it with you all in mind."

HJ: "So many of your characters, Monster's Ball, The Woodsman, Shadowboxer are characters that really have to fight for themselves, that's a link through many of your films, why do you think that is?"

LD: " Hmm, I think that I am a fighter, I left Philadelphia to go to Hollywood with a dream, and $7 in my pocket. I think that the streets of Philadelphia live in me and in my work. I think that Philadelphian's are tough. I see enough movies with a perfect ending, I can go to the studios to see that, I like to see stuff that make people think".

HJ: "Did you know growing up that you could be a director in Hollywood. Did you dream like that?"

LD: " Yes, my mother taught me to dream. I have a Godfather here who also taught me to dream, he was in dance class and took me to dance class. Yes, I was encouraged to dream."

HJ: "And were they your champions?"

LD: "Yes."

HJ: "When you had to take this dream and get it financed, did you have to fight to convince people that this could be a (sorry couldn't hear this word on my recorder) picture?"

LD: "I believe this film has been blessed with Angels. This was the easiest film ever to get financed. I knew not to go to the studios with it. I'd learned from Monsters Ball that they thought I was crazy; a movie about a fat boy dying and a white man, black woman, impossible to get that financed through the studios. Same thing with Woodsman. So I knew better than to go to a studio and say do you want to do a movie about a 355lb black girl. But I had grown and my reputation had grown, in a such away that these people (Smokewood Entertainment Group, Garry Magness and Sarah Siegel-Magness) just said "what do you want to do Lee?" And I said I want to do this movie and they just gave it to me, so they were my angels.

And then that Sapphire, whose work is unbelievable, [a lot of audience applause and hooting and hollering] it's mind boggling that she gave it to me, she didn't have to give me this book, she didn't want anyone to have this book. She a true auteur and a scholar in the biggest of ways. She thought that if someone made this into a movie, it could "f-up" her book. And she trusted me with it. And I'm honored.

The other angel was that we didn't go to DVD. I thought we were going to go straight to DVD and we didn't. I got accepted to Sundance and I won. (Distributors: Lionsgate) And as I'm winning, Oprah Winfrey is calling me. I'm walking up to the stage to accept my award and my phone rings and it's unknown, and I answer and she says "It's Oprah." Huh? "It's Oprah Winfrey". And I say, "Hi, I can't talk right now cause I'm getting my award now at Sundance. And she says, "Why are you picking up the phone?" But the only person that would pick up a phone is an independent filmmaker, cause and unknown number means you've got money or your famous, so that's why I picked up the phone. And so she called me back and that's another angel. She said she would do anything she could to support the film and that has really been a God send."

HJ: Music is such an incredible part of this film. It's also part of the fantasy life, the life line of Precious. What did you ask from your music guy Mario Grigorov to provide you to really help sell that message that there's a heart beating inside this girl that was going to carry her forward?"

LD: "Right. The music is again, Philadelphia inspired, the sound of Philadelphia. Gamble and Huff plays an import role in the movie. Labelle, vintage Labelle brings us in and takes us out. We brought them together after 25 years. Lenny Kravitz, I talked him into producing and bringing the girls back after all those years to sing a song together called system, about the welfare system."

Audience Q: "Was this Gaby's first experience acting? And does she have any other projects that she intends to do?"

LD: "Yes, that was her first job. 400 girls later. Literally, 400 girls I interviewed and Gaby auditioned for our genius casting director, Billy Hopkins and uh, and so she came in, and I saw the tape and when she came in she started talking like a white girl. She don't talk like Precious. The girls that I had auditioned where girls that were Precious. And I hired her because if I had hired any of those other girls, I would have been exploiting them. They would not have been acting. And yes, Gaby does have another job, she plays a bad girl in high school, beating up other girls."

Audience Q: "I have a question about writing a first time screenplay about a personal story. Do you have any advice?"

LD: "My advice is to reach me on Facebook".

Applause and end.

Eden à l'Ouest (Eden Is West)

Review from blog-suckmyprettytoes:
I knew from the film synopsis that Eden is West was to have some comic overtones, but I still didn't expect to enjoy it, I figured with all that talk of critically-acclaimed director, the film would be so full of deep meaning and subtext that I'd be itching for it to be over. Not so, actually it's completely engaging, maybe not from the first scene, but as soon as Elias (Riccardo Scamarcio) washes up on the shores of a nudist resort, the film stays on a lively pace.

Elias is an immigrant who along with many other of his countrymen is trying to illegally come into a new country in search of work, a better life, a new life, adventure? We're never told his full motives, nor are we told his country of origin or where he lands, this vagueness is intentional.

Writer/Director, Costa-Gavras explained during the post screening Q&A that he wanted to highlight the globalization of immigration; not as a throng of misbegotten people causing a problem for government, instead an individual story with a lighter tone. To obtain this lighter tone, Gavras created a character that is part lucky buffoon, part boyish charm, part quick-thinking escape artist and ALL sexy! He also sets this character on a quest, creating a road movie.

Elias encounters all walks of life along this journey, some who treat him extremely well, some just the opposite. At times his treatment is based on the clothes he's found, stolen or been given, other times it's because he's in the right place at the right time allowing people to make assumptions in his favor.

Now I look forward to viewing at least two other Costa-Gavras films: Z which received five Oscar nominations, including best picture in 1969 and Missing, starring Sissy Spacek and Jack Lemmon, which won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay in 1982.

Next up for the French Film Series- La Cinematheque:
OSS 117: Lost in Rio (OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus)
(2009, France, 101 minutes, Director: Michel Hazanavicius)
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut St. ? 6:45 pm
In French with English Subtitles
Synopsis: The imagined love child of James Bond, Maxwell Smart and Austin Powers, Agent OSS 117 is the man who can save the world in this emensly popular and very funny spy spoof flick. Sent to Brazil to retrieve a microfilm containing the names of Frenchmen who assisted the Nazi regime, OSS 117 joins forces with sexy lieutenant Dolores to track down an underground group of escaped Nazis. Purchase Tickets in Advance or at the door.

The Boys Are Back

Clive Owen is a widower suddenly left to raise his 6 year old son, Arty (Nicholas McAnulty). Then adding to the mix his teenage son, Harry (George MacKay) whom he left in England when he fell in love with Arty's mother, now wants to live with him in Australia.

The film explores the simple fact that parenting is a "fly by the seat of your pants" endeavor for almost everyone, and even more so for someone used to relying on another to be the "adult".

The beginning of the film is an unnecessary downer as we endure the scenes of Arty's mother dying from cancer. Dying scenes can be a necessity in many movies, but for this story a quick death would have been just as, if not more effective.

I also dislike when a film starts out using the device of telling the story of the past, from the future, with narration; but then doesn't commit to it. The rest of the story is told in a very linear fashion, which could have been done from the beginning to the end.

Still, this small glimpse into this man's journey into single fatherhood, with a backdrop of beautifully barren Australia, is moving and engaging. The relationship that develops between Harry and Arty is just short of being too sentimental and settles on heartwarming. Arty in fact, is the glue of the piece. The actor looks like a prepubescent Mick Jagger as he delivers his lines to perfection. I suppose Simon Carr, who wrote the book The Boys Are Back in Town that the film is based on, made notes on the things his son uttered in the months after his wife's death - because Arty's dialog seems spot on and so unintentionally funny in the way children are apt to be.

[Director Scott Hicks (Shine)]

Rating: Pretty Middle Toe
For more Toe Rated Reviews and Film Festival Coverage visit suckmyprettytoes.blogspot.com

Julie & Julia

Although I'm making a point to aim my blog away from studio films and concentrate on Indy and Film Festival releases, I just had to see Julie & Julia because it truly represents Film & Food! It's also about blogging and finding joy in what you do - all of which is my ambition from my head down to my "pretty toes".

This film takes you on the journey of two women's lives as they are on the brink of celebrity and success, although unbeknownst to them at the time. I read that Meryl Streep did not so much wish to impersonate Julia Child, but rather portray the image Julie Powell would have had in her head of Julia Child. This subtly worked well, but what else would you expect from Meryl Streep.

I realize Amy Adams has held her own with Streep in Doubt, but because of her roles in Enchanted, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Amelia Earhart in Night at the Museum, I think of Adams as being overly animated and cartoon-like, but with the trick of a very unflattering hairdo, she was transformed into a believable working woman, staring 30 in the face, unsure about her future and disappointed by the things that have not yet happened.

The director/screenwriter, Nora Ephron shot all the New York scenes first, with Adams and Chris Messina, who plays Julie Powell's "saintly" husband Eric. Once they wrapped, Ephron and crew went on to Paris and shot the scenes with Streep and Stanley Tucci, who plays Julia Child's ever-present, supportive husband, Paul. (Both husbands play a big role in the film, and I'll get back to that). As the shooting schedule suggests, the film is meant to be Julie Powell's story of finding inspiration in Julia Child, with a bit of Child's life sprinkled in to make it savory. However, Julie & Julia feels more like a Julia Child biopic - with Julie Powell's story added as contemporary flavoring.

Personally, I like the unevenness of it, because I fell in love with the post World War II, Parisian sights, sounds, food and romance between Julia and Paul. I always felt a bit jarred back into reality when the scenes returned to Julie's meltdowns and cramped kitchen.

Back to the husbands, One thing Ephron is famous for is romance, and she did not disappoint in the depiction of these wonderful marriages . These men were truly interested in what their wives were attempting to accomplish. They were helpful without taking over, desirous without being demanding, and most of all, they actually knew how to just listen.

I saw the film at 10pm, alone in a cold theater with every seat in the house empty but two; and I cried at the end, buckets of tears. Not because it was such a wonderful film, (it was good, not wonderful) but because I understand being lost. My unemployment is about to run out and whether the economy is picking up or not, I can't just take a job. I'm capable of giving and receiving much more than that. Were income not an issue, I'd already be covering film festivals all over the world. SMPT would be linked to the festival websites, I'd have readers to follow my coverage and make comments. The restaurants in the city where the festivals take place would comp my meals because I'd be writing about my dining experiences and encouraging other festival attendees to check out wherever I've discovered a good meal and wonderful ambiance. And somehow, someway, more than anything, I'd have a smart, wonderful, desirable husband as my lifelong companion on these adventures.

Julie, pushed past her fears and jumped in - 524 recipes in 365 days. I admire that. Julia, however, was free to find her bliss because she had nothing else to do and plenty of money. Now that's my style!

Food Footnote: It's all just one glorious food footnote! With such a delectable subject as French cuisine, the film was filled with a constant presence of food. Culinary consultant's were brought in Susan Spungen, food journalist for Martha Stewart Living and French Culinary Institute graduate and executive chef, Colin Flynn.

Rating: Pretty Middle Toe

St. Trinian's

Unbeknown to me, St Trinian's is the sixth in a long-running series of films based on the works of cartoonist Ronald Searle. The first four films form a series, starting with The Belles of St Trinian's in 1954, with sequels in 1957, 1960, 1966, and then The Wildcats of St Trinian's in 1980.

The current version starring Rupert Everett and Colin Firth has the potential to be entertaining, but if falls way short of the mark. Although, it's so off, on every level, that it also has the potential of being a kitschy cult-like flick, you wind up seeing again and again on FX.

Everett plays a dual role of formerly well-to-do, brother and sister, Camilla and Carnaby. Camilla runs St. Trinians, which used to be a posh boarding school, but is now little more than a home for wayward and delinquent girls. Carnaby, suddenly decides to drop his well-mannered, highly educated teenage daughter, Annabelle (Talulah Riley) at the school. This storyline is never fully explained, however due to her upbringing, she of course doesn't fit in with the other girls.

"The other girls", consist of a sleek Katy Perry type named Kelly (Gemma Arterton) who refers to herself as the "Head Girl", a brainiac, a trio of Paris Hilton's, a mixed race glamour punk girl, and a few other assorteds, along with a gaggle of 6-10 year olds.

Firth plays his usual stick-up-the-ass role, this time as Education Minister. He and Camilla have an adversarial relationship, due to the fact his job is to bring discipline and order to the school, but they also have a flirtatious old flame thing going on at the same time. And since Camilla is played by Everett, hilarity is supposed to ensue.

The other B plot is the fact that the school is in financial ruin and about to go under, until the girls devise a ridiculous plan to steal the famous painting "Girl with a Pearl Earring".

The problem with the film is there's no flow, no arc, you have a cast full of colorful characters that never really do anything, the girls hardly cause any trouble,(not even a food fight) Annabelle begins to fit in way too soon and too easily. The girls relationship with Camilla is neither here nor there. In other words, a very poorly written script. Which is exactly why it's been rolling around film festivals since 2007, instead of having a wide release.

I will say, it has a catchy theme song and a ambitious film website:sttriniansmovie.co.uk/sttrinians.html

Rating: Pretty 4th Toe - For more "Toe Rated" reviews visit: suckmyprettytoes.blogspot.com

500 Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer is being billed as an "anti-romantic" comedy, okay, it's not a "chick flick", but adorable chemistry and hopeful ending, spell romantic comedy in my book.

On the surface it's a simple enough contemporary story of boy meets girl at work, falls madly in love, thinks she's the girl of his dreams, until girl breaks boy's heart.

However, what makes this film unique and highly entertaining is Joseph Gordon-Levit's earnest humor and Zooey Deschanel's maddening, yet so appealing quirkiness. Adding to this are creative touches of unreality, smoothly interjected. For instance, the marking of time with sparsley drawn day slates, which allows for the story to be told like memories, just slightly out of order, a buyable sound track (a la Garden State, And I was particularly taken by a split screen scene of love's expectation vs love's reality.

The boyish duo, Director, Marc Webb and Screenwriters, Scott Neustadter puts me in mind of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's entree onto the scene with "Good Will Hunting".

The "(500) Days of Summer" creators are friends and admit to writing the piece cathartically for Scott, the shorter dweebeier one, to get over two major heartbreaks. Both the women represented by Zooey's character have seen the film, and both gave their approval, but neither wanted to get back with him".

Rating: Pretty Middle Toe

Peur(s) du Noir (Fear(s) of the Dark)

[size=3]Art Imitates [b]Fear(s) of the Dark[/b] is an example of why I think there should be a sliding scale price for certain genres of movies/films, rather than the time of day you attend the showing. [/size][color=black][size=3]This film is very creative, a little disturbing, a boon for the participating artists, and not at all worth $8.50.[/size][/color]

[color=black][size=3]The film is an animated feature of six shorts by illustrators and comic artists [b](Blutch, Marie Caillou, Pierre de Sciullo, Lorenzo Mattotti, Richard McGuire, and Charles Burns[/b]). The only guidelines the artists were given was that the film was to be in black and white and that the common theme was... fears of the dark.[/size][/color]

[color=black][size=3]What I found refreshing was the fact that the animation doesn't resemble the countless Japanese cartoons that seem to dominate animation, nothing Pixarish or distorted exaggeration a la Simpson's. (not that I have anything against any of these art forms) but it was lovely to see detailed book illustrations come to life in many of the segments.[/size][/color]

[size=3][color=black]For story content, my choice would be the piece by Charles Burns (of [/color][color=black]Philadelphia[/color][/size][color=black][size=3]) about a geeky bug collector, who finally succeeds in capturing the attention of the female species (a pretty girl) only to witness her progressive, horrific transformation. [/size][/color]

[size=3][color=black]For over all story and creative illustration, my choice would be Richard McGuire's silent piece of a guy who takes shelter in an abandoned house to get out of a snow storm. The house has no electricity, he is able to find a candle. This makes for the inspiration of the drawings, because only small portions of stark black and white images are depicted at a time. The mystery of the house is revealed so simply with such great effect. The ending predicament and sense of desolation is more chilling than the most wintry of winds.-[/color] Rating: Pretty Middle Toe[/size]

[size=4][b]For more Toe rated movie reviews go to: [/b][/size]


[size=3][color=black]Brother's [b]Steve & Derick Martini[/b] (director) wrote this film based on their [/color][color=black]Long Island[/color][color=black] upbringing in the 70's. If you've seen the film [i]The Ice Storm[/i], I think you'll agree that it has a very similar feel, although slightly more humorous. This may sound strange considering the movie is named after a debilitating disease; however, Lyme Disease is not the basis of the plot, it's just weaved interestingly into the fabric of the story.[/color][/size]

[size=3][color=black]Which is told from the perspective of a skinny, self-conscious youth, played appealingly by [b]Rory[/b][/color] [b][color=black]Culkin[/color][/b][color=black]. He deals with a bully, long-time crush, an older brother on leave from the service and his parent's marriage falling apart; all with a kind of observatory quality. [b]Alec[/b][/color] [b][color=black]Baldwin[/color][/b][color=black] is his big bag of wind, blu- collar turned white-collar, Real Estate Developer, father. He's the type of guy who really has no clue how to relate to his wife and sons, but is at least interested in trying. [b]Jill Hennessy[/b] ([i]see interview below[/i]) was a surprising choice to play the over-protective mother, longing for her life back in the [/color][color=black]Bronx[/color][color=black], but her accent was believable and she matched up with [/color][color=black]Baldwin[/color][color=black], better than you'd think. [b]Cynthia Nixon[/b] also plays against type as a loose, flashy, adulteress. New comer, [b]Emma Roberts[/b] (niece of Julia) possesses a fairytale beauty and poise. It's not hard to imagine her career taking off in a similar fashion to her aunts.[/color]
[color=black]It's her character's father that holds the key to the movie's title. He describes having Lyme disease as a constant trip on LSD.[/color][/size]

[size=3][color=black]Steve Martini and Rory Culkin were on hand for the Q & A after the premiere. A woman in the audience accused the filmmaker of making light of this often misdiagnosed sickness. Martini's response was that the character is based on his childhood memories of his girlfriend's father, who suffered with the disease. Also the Lyme Disease Prevention Association is working closely with [i]Lymelife's[/i] distributor because the Assoc. feels the movie is helpful in bringing awareness.[/color][/size]

[size=3][color=red]Spoiler alert![/color]
[color=black]Rory Culkin (19) was asked if his sex scene with Emma Roberts (17) was embarrassing. You could just tell he wanted to say, filming the scene wasn't half as embarrassing as being asked this question by a matronly old woman (60ish).[/color]
[color=red]End alert[/color][/size]

[size=3][color=black]All in all, the script is tight, probably due to one of it's illustrious producers, [b]Martin Scorsese[/b]. Martini didn't mention how two neophyte filmmakers were able to attached Alec Baldwin to their script who in turn brought along Scorsese, but really cool for them![/color][/size] - Rating Pretty Index Toe

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[color=black]I knew Tupac and Biggie's cross-over cuts, but I've never been big into Hip Hop or Rap, so my opinion on whether the actors portraying them really represented their essence, isn't worth much. I can say that the actor, [b]Jamal Woolard[/b] who played Notorious B.I.G is a natural, with a lot of heart. However[b],Angela Bassett[/b] wasn't the best choice to play Biggie's single, hard-working, trying to make good and keep her son out of trouble mother. They have to work too hard to make Angela Bassett look & seem ordinary. She's better suited to roles that have her being fierce, sexy, corporate -more fabulous.[/color]

[color=black]Surprisingly, The actor, [b]Derek Luke[/b], playing [b]Sean (Puffy, P Diddy, Diddy) Combs[/b], was indistinguishable and the character's influence on Biggie's success was played modestly. As Executive Director, I expected Combs to make himself look bigger than life in the movie, but he used admirable constraint, evenly allowing his character to be goofy at times.[/color] [color=black]

[/color][color=black]I did enjoy the film because I love Biopics. I never stop being intrigued by the rise and fall of fame. In this case, Chris Wallace goes from a sheltered (in the Ghetto) nerd, to a drug dealer, to a convict, to a rap artist. Not a unique tale, but one worth telling.
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