Saturday, September 20, 2014

Movie Review: A Walk Among the Tombstones

I didn't know before seeing this movie that A Walk Among the Tombstones is actually a book - #10 in the Matt Scudder series, by Lawrence Block. Interestingly enough, the film works fine as a standalone movie, with Liam Neeson (a go-to action hero, if ever there was one) in the part of Matt Scudder.

Matt Scudder (Neeson) is a retired NYC cop who goes to Alcoholics Anonymous. He was asked to leave the force eight years ago, when he gunned down two criminals as they fled the scene; one of the bullets took a "bad turn" and killed a little girl. Drug trafficker Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens, also starring in The Guest this weekend) asks him to find the murderers who killed his wife - he paid them $400,000 to get her back, and instead they left her body parts for him to find. Matt is able to track down one of the perpetrators, but he was only the driver, and that lead soon runs out; when the murderers abduct another girl, however, he intervenes to try and get her back safely to her family.

Friday, September 19, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Gone Girl at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) on 10/1 - 5 winners, ends 9/29

One of the movies coming out next month (October 2014) that I'm very excited about is Gone Girl - not only does it have a great cast (Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike), but I have read the book and it's one that still sticks in my mind, two years later.

The Maple Theater will be screening the film on October 1st at 7:30pm, before it premieres in theaters, as part of its New York Film Critics Series (NYFCS), and five of my lucky readers can win a pair of tickets to see it for free.

{to purchase tickets ahead of time for Gone Girl at the Maple, click here}

Official synopsis:
Directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife? - 20th Century Fox

Part of the New York Film Critics Series - a monthly screening that invites you to see everything from indie hopefuls to big awards contenders before wide release. All screenings include preshows and Q&A's featuring the talent behind the films. Hosted by Peter Travers of Rolling Stone Magazine.


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, September 29th, and winners will be emailed on September 30th and have 24 hours to respond, or alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

You must live in the metro Detroit area or be willing to drive to this area for the screening in order to enter this giveaway.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Movie Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner movie review yes/no films

Before seeing The Maze Runner, I knew that the movie was based on the best-selling dystopian novel, but I had not read the novel; I actually never got the chance to watch the trailer, too. The plot of the film is quickly understood, though, and it ended up being a very good, Hunger Games-esque movie.

Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes up in a box in the middle of a field, with no memory of how he got there, or even his name. A group of boys in the field pulls him out of the box, and promptly give him the nickname of "Greenie." The boys, and now Thomas, live in this field, and only a few of them, called "runners," dare to enter the stone walls of the giant maze, which surrounds the field. Some of the boys, like Gally (Will Poulter), have been living in the field for almost three years now; once a month, like clockwork, the box appears from the ground with supplies and a new person. Thomas is frustrated that the boys have been there for so long and no one has found a way out of the maze yet, and he decides to take it upon himself to figure out the way to escape the maze.

Movie Review: This is Where I Leave You

Continuing our string of books-to-movies this week is This is Where I Leave You, based on the novel by Jonathan Tropper, who also wrote the movie's screenplay. I have not read the book, but I was hoping that, based on its cast alone, the movie would be a mix of funny and serious elements - a dramedy, perhaps. Unfortunately, the film could have been funnier, and I wasn't that impressed with it overall. 

Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) is having a rough year. He discovered his wife, Quinn (Abigail Spencer), cheating on him with his boss, radio personality Wade Beaufort (Dax Shepard), and he moves out of their beautiful loft into a small bachelor-esque apartment. His sister, Wendy (Tina Fey), then calls him to say that his father has passed away, so he leaves NYC to head back home to sit shiva with his mom (Jane Fonda) and his other two brothers, Phillip (Adam Driver) and Paul (Corey Stoll). While back home, he reconnects with an old crush, Penny (Rose Byrne), which throws a wrench into things, especially after he learns that (semi-spoiler) his estranged wife is pregnant with his child. Judd also must reconnect with his siblings, none of which he's especially close with, as they sit shiva for seven days to mourn his father's passing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Movie Review: The Guest

The first five minutes of The Guest almost feel like a horror movie, with suspenseful music and abrupt scene changes, which made me a little nervous since I don't generally enjoy horror films. It ended up being a crazy, albeit sometimes cheesy, ride, and it's a film that is sure to entertain.

David (Dan Stevens) shows up at the Peterson's house one day, and introduces himself to Mrs. Peterson (Sheila Kelley), saying he served with her (now deceased) son in the war, and actually was with him when he died. He's welcomed into the house, and when it's revealed to Mr. Peterson (Leland Orser) that David doesn't know where he is headed next, he's invited to stay with them for a few days. He's a handsome guy and makes friends easily, but something seems a bit off to him to Anna Peterson (Maika Monroe), the daughter, and she calls the army to verify he is who he says he is. That spurs into motion a series of events which doesn't sit well with David, and in fact triggers something within him that will have consequences later.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Yes/No Films on the Road: HalloWeekends at Cedar Point {Sandusky, OH}, now through Nov. 2nd

*Disclosure: I received media passes to visit Cedar Point. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I am no stranger to Cedar Point - I went for the first time in 1999 or 2000, I believe, with my middle school orchestra, and I've continued to visit every year since. From the first visit until 2005, I went with my school orchestra - we had competitions in Ohio and the award ceremony would be that same day at the park - and after 2005, I didn't think I'd be back soon.

However, I've actually gone back every year since, usually with friends, and there's a reason for that: Cedar Point is known for having some of the best roller coasters in the country, as is a short two-hour drive from the metro Detroit area.

L to R, clockwise: 2006 on Top Thrill, 2009 in Camp Snoopy,
2010 + 2013 in front of Millennium Force

In 2006, my UM dorm hallmates and I carpooled together to attend HalloWeekends at the park - the first and only time I had been to HalloWeekends, until this year. I was excited to visit the park when it was a little cooler out, and this past weekend was the first HalloWeekends, which goes until November 2nd.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Movie Review: The Drop

Much like Tom Hardy's character in this movie, The Drop will end up surprising you. I would maybe even give it a higher star rating than I am going to give it, except the film moves at a slow pace. It's a classic story of mobsters, hired guns, and killers, and it's also the last movie ever to star James Gandolfini.

Bob (Tom Hardy) works at a bar that his cousin, Marv (Gandolfini), used to own; Marv's name is outside on the door, but mobsters took over the bar from him about ten years ago. Bob is walking home from work one day when he hears some sounds coming from a trash can - when he opens it, there is badly beaten pitbull puppy inside. The woman who lives at that house, Nadia (Noomi Rapace), lets him into her home and they help clean up and heal the puppy; later, she decides that he should be its owner, and he names it Rocco. Soon, though, Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts), a killer who's well-known around the neighbor, shows up at Bob's front door, claiming that Rocco is his and that he wants $10,000 if Bob wants to keep Rocco, or he'll go to the police and show them Rocco's registration papers. At the same time, Marv's bar has recently been robbed, on Drop Night - meaning, the money stolen was the mobsters' money, and they're not happy that it's missing - and he's facing more pressure from them because of this.