Friday, November 26, 2010

"Love and Other Drugs"

Even though I had heard that this movie was only so-so, I was expecting more from it, maybe because it has two major A-listers starring in it, but also because the trailer looked really cute. Unfortunately, although the movie has its moments, it ended up just being another ho-hum romantic movie - not even a romantic comedy, actually.

The year is 1996, and Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal, "Prince of Persia") has just quit his job as salesman at an electronic company, and is looking for something new. His brother, Josh (Josh Gad, TV's "Woke Up Dead"), has a contact at Pfizer, so he hooks him up with a job as a Pfizer sales representative. Jamie is already charming, and he soon puts his charms to work, coaxing nurses and doctors alike to stock the shelves with Pfizer's products, especially once Viagra is released. He soon meets Maggie (Anne Hathaway, "Alice in Wonderland") at a doctor's office, however, and although they both swear that they aren't looking for a relationship, they soon begin to fall in love with each other.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"Faster"

Throughout most of this film, I was contemplating giving it a "Maybe" rating, because although it had a lot of nice cars and "shoot 'em up" scenes in it, overall it was just a so-so movie. The ending, however, changed all that, and immediately made me reconsider my decision.

Driver (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, "The Other Guys") has just completed a ten-year jail sentence and he's looking to kill the men who left him for dead and killed the rest of his bank robbery crew. What he doesn't know, however is that Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, "Going the Distance") has been hired by one of these men to kill him. In addition, after Driver starts murdering people, Cop (Billy Bob Thornton, "The Smell of Success") is hot on his tail, trying to catch him. The three characters won't come face-to-face with each other until the end of the film, but when they do, the result is epic.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"The Art of Power" premieres in Ann Arbor

By: Liz Parker
Pictures by Erin Gong, FORMzine
[via FORMzine]


On Saturday November 22nd, the premiere of the film “The Art of Power” was held at the Michigan Theater. There was a VIP party held at the theater starting at 6:30 P.M., which included a small buffet, drinks, and desserts, and the movie started at 8:00 P.M. There was also an after-party held at Sava’s on State Street. The movie is produced by First Element Entertainment, which is a Detroit-based film company, and Ann Arbor was the first to see the film in a theatrical setting. Adrian Walker, the founder and CEO of First Element, is a 2006 University of Michigan graduate with a B.S. in Engineering, and he started the company in 2009. He also is the writer and producer of “The Art of Power.”
The film takes place in D.C. and follows Wesley (Scott Norman) as he embarks upon a relationship with a girl he meets at a club (Erin Nicole). He doesn’t know that the girl, Alexis, is friends with his sister, Sienna (Marisa Stober, “Jingles the Clown”), who is trying to finish her degree in education at George Mason University. The film is “non-linear” so at the beginning of the movie we see Wesley being arrested for murder; however, we don’t find out who he is accused of murdering until the end of the movie.

Marisa Stober, '05 U of M grad and
one of the stars of "The Art of Power"
The movie was mostly filmed in D.C. but there were a few parts filmed in Ann Arbor, including scenes at the Blue Nile, Ten Thousand Villages, and Eve. There was also one short street scene filmed in Ann Arbor, as I recognized it as Washington Street. Erin Nicole, the actress who plays Alexis, is a reporter for local news channel WDIV, and Marisa Stober, who plays Sienna, is a 2005 U of M grad, so the film has a lot of local connections.

At the Q&A after the movie, Adrian Walker and director Nathanael Sherfield took the stage to answer questions from the audience. Adrian said that they did “preproduction in two months” and he started writing the screenplay in February 2009. It was “the fastest [I’ve] ever written a screenplay” – it only took him three months to write – and they began shooting in summer 2009, in both Ann Arbor, D.C., and other Michigan locations. The film was edited in early 2010.
The story is very “non-linear,” as Walker called it – it’s not in chronological order – and he said that “the only way we felt we could keep people’s attention was to keep them guessing, and a non-linear story can do that.”

Writer/producer Adrian Walker and director
Nathanael Sherfield
When asked how much their budget was for the movie, Walker laughed and joked: “If I told you that I’d have to kill you – we’re in negotiations for distribution right now.”

“The Art of Power” is planning on screening in Grand Rapids, D.C, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto, according to its website, and I believe it will be as well received in those locations as it was in Ann Arbor.


star Erin Nicole, who is also a reporter for WDIV

Local reporter with star Peter Carey, who plays a senator in the movie

Delicious desserts at the VIP party

Chandelier at the historic Michigan Theater


See more pictures from the VIP party at FORMzine.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"127 Hours"

Going in to see "127 Hours," I knew that James Franco would be carrying almost the entire movie, and that it was directed by Danny Boyle, who also directed the hit movie "Slumdog Millionaire." I also knew that it is based on a true story. The film, however, ended up surprising me, and not really in a good way.

Aron Ralston (James Franco, "Eat Pray Love") is a solo adventurer. He decides to go "canyoneering" in the mountains by himself, and unfortunately he didn't leave a note at home or tell anyone the location to which he was going. When he climbs down into a particularly narrow part of the mountain, a boulder falls on his arm, and it pins his arm and his hand to the wall. Aron tries everything he can think of to unpin himself from the boulder, but unfortunately, his best efforts aren't working. As days start to pass by and his supply of food and water starts to rapidly dwindle, he must do the unthinkable in order to survive.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1"

Full disclosure: I am a big Harry Potter fan: I have read all the books, and seen all of the movies. However, the last movie was a year ago, in July 2009, and I last read the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when it was released, in July 2007. Therefore, I tend not to compare the movies to the books. This Harry Potter film, part 1 of 2 that covers the last book, was definitely a lot darker than the past six movies, which is why it deserves its PG-13 rating; however, although the film was good, it ended up being my least favorite of all the Potter films.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are still recovering over Dumbledore's death (as seen in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," the previous movie). Voldemort has assembled his minions and they have already taken over the Ministry of Magic; all "good" witches and wizards, then, are in fear for their lives. Harry and his friends must find and destroy the Horcruxes, which Dumbledore had told them about, as this is the only way to defeat the Dark Lord. On their quest to do this, they find out about the legend of the Deathly Hallows, and that one of the hallows, the most powerful wand in the world, is something that Voldemort desires in his mission to find and kill Harry.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Burlesque"

I had wanted to see "Burlesque" ever since I saw its trailer, and so I was pleased when a Detroit-area screening became available approximately two weeks before it comes out in theaters. I expected that the combination of Cher and Christina Aguilera would be explosive, and it turned out that I was right.

Ali (singer Christina Aguilera) is working a dead-end job at a restaurant in her Iowa hometown when she decides to hop on a bus to Los Angeles, where she hopes to make it as a singer. She goes to a few auditions and then she sees a burlesque club, and decides to venture inside. She is amazed by the dancing and singing, and tries to get a job there; however, the proprietor of the club, Tess (actress/singer Cher, "Stuck on You"), says that she'll have to wait for auditions. Instead, she just picks up a tray and starts waitressing, and eventually Tess hires her as a waitress and, after they need a replacement dancer, a burlesque girl. Meanwhile, she's living with a bartender at the club, Jack (Cam Gigandet, "Easy A" and the pony-tailed hunk from "Twilight"), who is engaged, until she can find a place of her own, while being pursued romantically by Marcus (Eric Dane, TV's "Grey's Anatomy"), who wants to buy the club from Tess.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Skyline"

It's lucky I didn't write this review last night, because I was so tired from doing a double-header of both "Burlesque" (at 7 p.m.) and "Skyline" (at 11 p.m.) that I might have given my synopsis of "Skyline" as "Cher and Christina Aguilera get abducted by aliens in L.A." (thus combining the two movies). However, I am now rested and coherent, and I can say that although "Skyline" was better than I thought it would be, it was ultimately not fulfilling, and left many questions unanswered at the end.

Jarrod (Eric Balfour, TV's "Haven,") and his girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson, TV's "Trauma") are going to L.A. for the weekend to visit his old friend Terry (Donald Faison, TV's "Scrubs"). The first day they are there, they have a huge party at his luxury apartment, and then around 4 a.m. the next morning, they are awakened by strange lights. Jarrod is drawn to the lights and almost gets sucked in by them, until Terry drags him back inside. By the time another of their friends "disappears" into the lights, they are thoroughly freaked out, and no one can figure out what is going on, except that there has been an invasion of some kind.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Unstoppable"

The screening I went to for "Unstoppable" was actually the third Detroit-area one (a previous one was at 2 p.m., which didn't work for me, and I was busy on the day of the other screening), but it was surprisingly packed. Perhaps it was because Denzel was in this movie, and movies with Denzel in it are usually good, or maybe it was Chris Pine, but whatever attracted moviegoers to "Unstoppable" proved to be a winner, as the movie was one wild ride.

Frank (Denzel Washington, "The Book of Eli") has been working for the same train company for the past 28 years. Will (Chris Pine, "Star Trek") is a newbie conductor who still needs to ride with an engineer (Denzel's character) before he is allowed to pilot a train on his own. On this particular day, however, it's a good thing that Frank is with him, as they soon find out that there is a runaway train - with no conductor - on the same track as them; in fact, it's heading straight towards them. They manage to divert their train, but when they hear that the train is headed for derailment in the town that Will lives in, and that it could wipe out the entire town, they decide to take action and stop the train.

Friday, November 5, 2010

"The Next Three Days"

This movie's title kind of confused me - for a while, I was calling it "The Last Three Days" by accident, and I don't think the title actually ever appears during the movie. The film starts in the present, and then a subtitle saying "The Last Three Years" comes up; later in the movie, time shifts to "The Last Three Months" and eventually "The Last Three Days," which probably didn't help my perception of the title. Rest assured, though, the movie is called "The Next Three Days," and I liked it, but others who saw it with me said that they thought it moved a little slowly.

John Brennan (Russell Crowe, "Robin Hood") has an ideal family life with wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks, TV's "30 Rock") and their young son, Luke (Ty Simpkins, "Insidious"). All of that changes, however, when Lara is arrested for the murder of her boss. She is convicted and sent to jail, and John continues to raise their son without her. After three years of her being incarcerated, he decides to break her out - but he knows that it's going to take a lot of planning and money, and time is going to be limited.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Megamind"

I will say it now: I am a sucker for 3D movies. Even if a movie was called "The Most Boring Movie Ever 3D," I would probably see it. So I was excited to see "Megamind," being that the last "kids' movie" I saw, "Tangled," was not in 3D. However, the story was very predictable, and it didn't hold my interest throughout it's 96-minute runtime.

Megamind (voice by Will Ferrell, "The Other Guys") has been fighting with Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt, "Inglorious Basterds") his entire life. Originally, Megamind wasn't a bad guy, but after years of being picked on and never measuring up to Metro Man, he decided to turn bad in order to keep things interesting. Megamind enjoys fighting with Metro Man and has devised a plan to kill him; he is surprised, however, when it actually works. With the city under his control and without anyone to fight, he gets bored, and so he decides to take some of Metro Man's DNA and create a new hero: Titan. Due to an unfortunate accident, he fires the DNA for Titan into a cameraman (voiced by Jonah Hill, "Get Him to the Greek"), and although Megamind trains him to be a hero, Titan ends up being a villain instead.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Due Date"

From the trailer for "Due Date," I was guessing that the film was either going to be really stupid or really funny. It ended up being a mix of the two, though luckily its humor was more on the funny side.

Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr., "Iron Man 2") is supposed to be flying home to L.A. from Atlanta so that he can make it back in time for the birth of his first child. When he meets the flaky Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis, "It's Kind of a Funny Story"), however, an incident between them on the plane causes him to be put on the No-Fly list, and he will have to drive back to L.A. from Atlanta. The only problem is that his wallet with his license and all his cash and credit cards was left on the plane; when Ethan asks if he wants to share his rental car, he has no choice but to accept. What then ensues, of course, is nothing short of disaster.