Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Worst and Most Surprising Films of 2011

"Why am I doing this movie, again?"
2012 is upon us, and I originally wanted to do a "Best of" list for 2011; however, that's not very original, and if you've been reading my reviews, you can most likely tell what my favorites were for the year.

Instead, we have something much more fun: a "Worst of 2011" list and also, for variation, a "Most Surprising Films" list.

Click here to read the rest of the article at my Examiner.com page.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Darkest Hour

Oh, Max Mingella. What are you doing in a movie like Darkest Hour? Emile Hirsch, you're in it for the paycheck, I get that - you haven't done a ton of movies recently - but Mingella is fresh off such hits as The Ides of March and The Social Network. Mingella and Hirsch are two actors I like a lot, so I was happy to see that they were in this movie ... until, of course, I actually viewed it.

American friends Sean (Emile Hirsch, Taking Woodstock) and Ben (Max Minghella, The Ides of March) have traveled to Moscow to present an idea for a new social network, which they are hoping to expand to Russia. It turns out, however, that a Swede named Skyler (Joel Kinnaman, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) has stolen their idea and is ready to present it to the Moscow company. Ben is in despair over this, and he and Sean go for a few drinks at a club, where they meet fellow Americans Natalie (Olivia Thirlby, No Strings Attached) and Ann (Rachael Taylor, TV's Charlie's Angels). They have fun together until the power goes out, and the clubgoers are forced out to the streets, where they see something weird: a orange electrical force of sorts, that soon kills a policeman and many others.

This induces mass panic, of course, and the four of them end up cowering in a storage room at the club, along with Skyler, who has somehow weaseled his way in there with them. After three or four days, they decide it's safe to come out, and they want to find their way to the U.S. Embassy (even though the streets are deserted, there will be people at the Embassy! Right?). They find a map to help them, and they soon figure out that the alien forces, whatever they are, activate electricity, so they learn to only venture out at night, when they are able to sense the aliens before they are in danger. Eventually they meet up with a few other survivors, and they find out that there's a submarine ready to depart Moscow the next day, to meet up with survivors around the world. They must get themselves to the sub, although it means going through alien-infested areas, before it leaves Russia.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Artist

With the focus on big-budget special effects, 3D movies, and Blu-Ray movies, it's somewhat anachronistic to see a silent movie in 2011. Nonetheless, The Artist tells a story about the film industry in the 1920s, as "talkies" first arrived on the scene. Although there are a few modern actors in it that you may recognize, the two main actors are foreign (French and Argentinian, respectively), so most Americans probably won't know them by sight.

The year is 1927, and silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin, A View of Love) is enjoying a lucrative and successful career. By chance, he meets Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo, Prey), and pictures of the two of them are splashed on the front page of Variety the next day, to the chagrin of Valentin's wife. He later has a run-in with Peppy again, as she has auditioned for and been cast as a dancer in his new movie. Two years later, however, in 1929, the "talkies" start production, and studio exec Al Zimmer (John Goodman, Red State) wants a fresh cast of characters; he fires Valentin and brings in Peppy and some younger actors to start this new era in filmmaking.

Valentin decides to become a director and make his own film, since the big studios are no longer doing silent films, but it flops. Meanwhile, Peppy's star is rising, and she has become one of the more sought-after actresses in the business. However, she still remembers that it was Valentin that gave her her start in the business, and, in fact, even advised her to add a mole of sorts to her face, to make her stand out from the other actresses; indeed, her mole is now her signature "look." She tries to help Valentin but unfortunately he sinks deeper into depression and despair, since he is no longer the star that he was just a few short years ago.

War Horse

War Horse is directed by Steven Spielberg, and distributed by Disney/DreamWorks effort, which gives you one reason right there to see it. From the trailer the film looked a little sappy, and it was, but overall it was an interesting film, if a little long.

After his father (Peter Mullan, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1) overpays for a horse at auction, Albert (newcomer Jeremy Irvine) gets to train the horse. Albert names it Joey, and he must train him to till their fields, since his family is now in debt to their landlord since they spent so much on the horse. Joey will not be tamed easily, but Albert gives him love and respect, and soon the fields are ready for planting. After an ugly storm, however, their crops are ruined; in addition, World War I is upon England. Albert's father sells the horse to the English army, amidst Albert's protests, so that they will not be homeless, and the officer who will take Albert as his own horse (Tom Hiddleston, Thor) promises to take good care of him.

As these things usually go, Joey ends up with a myriad of different owners throughout "his time" in the war, including a little girl and her grandfather, the Germans, and many other armies. When Albert is old enough, though, he joins the army, and he hopes to maybe find Joey again some day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin is based on a European comic book series written by an author who uses the pen name Hergé, and at the beginning of the movie we see a poster of one of the book's covers on the wall of an apartment. Just like the books, the film follows Tintin, a reporter, and his dog, Snowy, as they uncover wrongdoings and have many adventures. There are no cell phones or internet searches here, just "old fashioned" sleuthing; in a way, Tintin reminded me of Nancy Drew, but with a male protagonist.

Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell, Jane Eyre) and Snowy are browsing at a market one day when he comes across a miniature ship model that he has to have. Immediately upon buying it, a shady-looking man approaching him and offers to pay him twice what he paid, but Tintin refuses. Another man, too, comes up to him and offers to buy it, but Tintin takes the ship and brings it home. Later, Snowy gets into a fight with a cat in Tintin's apartment, and the ship's masthead breaks, with a secret part inside of it falling to the floor; this later turns out to be fortuitous because Tintin's apartment is broken into, and the ship is stolen. Tintin eventually finds the secret part on the floor of his apartment, and he begins to piece together why it is so important.

A side plot involves the Inspectors Thompson and Thomson (voiced by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) trying to find a wallet thief, who has stolen Tintin's wallet as well. They devise a plan to catch him, which works, but the two are not the brightest, and they don't figure out that the man is indeed the wallet thief until later.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

A Game of Shadows is the sequel to the 2009 Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Although the new film features a lot of action sequences and intrigue, I still prefer the first Sherlock Holmes movie, and you must watch the first film before the second in order to understand the characters and motivations in A Game of Shadows.

Dr. Watson (Jude Law, Contagion) is about to get married, and he is counting on his friend and comrade Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man 2) to throw him a "stag" (bachelor) party. However, Holmes needs Watson's help on an unfinished case. It turns out that Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris, TV's Fringe) has been stockpiling weapons and bandages and has become involved with specific events that he hopes will turn France and Germany against each other, thus resulting in a war for which Moriarty will be able to meet the demand for supplies. Moriarty sends assassins to kill Watson and his new bride (Kelly Reilly, Sherlock Holmes) on the train which they are taking to their honeymoon destination, but luckily Holmes has anticipated this and is on the train as well. From there, Holmes and Watson must join forces once again to take down the Professor, who is planning on causing an incident at a Peace Summit in Switzerland. In addition, they receive some help from the gypsy fortune teller Madam Simza (Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), whose brother may be involved in the Professor's plan.

Young Adult

There has been lots of buzz that Young Adult could be a "dark horse" Oscar contender, and I was interested to see it, especially at an early screening. I generally like director Jason Reitman's movies a lot (Juno, Up in the Air, Thank You for Smoking, etc.), and he worked with writer Diablo Cody on Juno, which is one of my favorite movies. Unfortunately, Young Adult ended up not really being "my cup of tea," though perhaps others will like it better.

Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron, Hancock) is a ghostwriter of a young adults series, Waverly Prep, which has just been canceled. She needs to write the last book in the series, however, and she has no inspiration for it. Sick of the random guys with whom she's been having one-night stands, she convinces herself that her high school sweetheart, Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson, TV's A Gifted Man), is the one she is meant to be with, even though he is married with a newborn daughter, and so Mavis returns to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota, for an extended stay at the Hampton Inn. Mavis tells everyone that she's in town for a real estate deal, even though she's there trying to snag Buddy, and some people are excited that she has returned, as she is a "famous book writer" now.

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is the newest film by director Garry Marshall, and is sort of a follow-up to last year's Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, even though the formula was basically the same, NYE's script was not half as good as its predecessor's. On top of that, the movie is far too long, clocking in at 117 minutes ... and you know there's a problem when I enjoy the bloopers in the credits more than the actual movie. I would normally say that the problem was cramming too many characters into one movie; however, Valentine's Day managed to do that and make itself interesting too.

It's New Year's Eve in New York City, and everyone is getting ready for the ball to drop. Claire (Hilary Swank) is in charge of the ball-dropping spectacle herself, but she has somewhere urgent she needs to be at midnight. Tess (Jessica Biel) and her husband Griffin (Seth Myers) are waiting to have their first child, and they just found out that whoever gives birth at their hospital closest to midnight gets a cash prize. Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) has just quit her job, and she wants to complete her 2011 resolutions list before midnight, so she hires a bike messenger, Paul (Zac Efron), to help her complete the tasks. Stan (Robert De Niro) has rejected chemotherapy for his cancer, and is waiting in a hospital to die; Aimee (Halle Berry) is a kind nurse who doesn't mind spending the night talking to him. Laura (Katherine Heigl) is busy catering an event for the famous rock star Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi), with whom she happens to have a past. Randy (Ashton Kutcher) is trapped in an elevator with Elise (Lea Michele), a back-up singer for Jensen who needs to get to Times Square before midnight.

And if that's not enough for you, there's more ... Hailey (a grown-up Abigail Breslin) desperately wants to get to Times Square at midnight to be kissed, but her mom (Sarah Jessica Parker) absolutely forbids it. Sam (Josh Duhamel) has a problem because he needs to get into the city for a meeting, but his car just broke down. We also have Ryan Seacrest as himself, Hector Elizondo, Penny Marshall (as herself), Ludacris, Matthew Broderick, and Sofia Vergara; in short, New Year's Eve definitely has no shortage of star power.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday movies: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, 1990
The holidays will soon be upon us, and as the weather gets colder here in Michigan, it's a great time to curl up at home with a glass of hot cocoa and a movie.

Here are my top five best holiday movies, and a few "worst" ones as well.

Best:

1) Love Actually, 2003. 135 minutes, rated R.

From IMDb: Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely and interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.

There are a lot of movies out nowadays that use this format - lots of stories, but they all relate to each other in some way (see: Valentine's Day, and New Year's Eve, out in theaters soon). Love Actually has a stellar cast as well: Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, and others. It's one of my favorite Christmas/holiday movies, and I own it on DVD so I may watch it again this season.

2) Bad Santa, 2003. 91 minutes, rated R.

Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa
From IMDb: A miserable con man and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss discovers the plot.

This is a hilarious film, but definitely not for everyone, especially the younger set. Billy Bob Thornton is Santa, but not your typical one - he swears, drinks, and hates children. He and his partner plan to rob a department store on Christmas Eve like they do every year, but they run into some problems along the way. There have been talks lately of a sequel to this, which hopefully would be as funny as the original.

3A + 3B) Home Alone, 1990, and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, 1992. PG & 103 minutes; PG & 120 minutes.

Home Alone: An 8-year-old boy, who is accidentally left behind while his family flies to France for Christmas, has to defend his home against idiotic burglars. (IMDb)

Home Alone 2: One year after Kevin was left home alone and had to defeat a pair of bumbling burglars, he accidentally finds himself in New York City, and the same criminals are not far behind. (IMDb)

I used to LOVE these when I was a kid, growing up in the '90s, and they are still great movies that have stood the test of time. I believe I have Home Alone 2 on VHS somewhere too. Macaulay Culkin played the unfortunate Kevin, who had to catch burglars in the first movie, and, in a twist of fate, reunites with them in the second. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern play the burglars, and these are a great example of slapstick comedies.

4) Arthur Christmas, 2011. Currently playing in theaters. 97 minutes, rated PG.

On Christmas night at the North Pole, Santa's youngest son looks to use his father's high-tech operation for an urgent mission. (IMDb)

I saw this movie at a screening a few weeks ago, and it was hilarious. It shows that it literally takes a village (of elves) to succeed in "Operation Christmas," and even then, it's possible for one child to be overlooked. The 3D was pretty good as well, and my favorite character in it was Grandsanta, the previous Santa, because he was a bit crazy. Arthur has a talented voice cast as well, including James McAvoy and Hugh Laurie.

Will Ferrell in Elf
5) Elf, 2003. 97 minutes, rated PG.

After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity. (IMDb)

I remember Will Ferrell being hilarious in this film, as an elf that wasn't quite like the others. James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Amy Sedaris, and Zooey Deschanel star as well.


Worst holiday movies (aka, watch if you dare):

1) Four Christmases, 2008. 88 minutes, rated PG-13.

A couple struggles to visit all four of their divorced parents on Christmas Day. (IMDb)

One would think that a film with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn in it would be great ... but no. At 88 minutes, the film drags on far too long, and I almost didn't finish watching the DVD because it just wasn't a funny movie.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Julie Gonzalo, and
Tim Allen in Christmas with the Kranks
2) Christmas with the Kranks, 2004. 99 minutes, rated PG.

With their daughter away, her parents decide to skip Christmas altogether until she decides to come home, causing an uproar when they have to celebrate the holidays at the last minute. (IMDb)

I was excited to watch this film, because it's based on the novel Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, who consistently writes great books. However, the movie adaptation, with a new name and starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, was just so-so. It's always a disappointment when books don't translate well to the big screen, and I imagine that many of Grisham's fans were let down by the movie.


What holiday movies are your favorite? Are there any that you watch every year?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Palladium to host canned food fest on Dec. 8th

from metrotimes.com
If you're looking to see a movie in December while at the same time being charitable, check out the Uptown Palladium's "Filmanthropy" festival. The first 1,000 people who show up between 6pm-9:30pm on December 8th with three canned goods each can see any "first run" movie of their choosing, except for those in 3D. Metro Times, the Palladium, and 93.9 The River are sponsoring the event, and the canned goods will go to Gleaners Food Bank of Southeast Michigan.

From 93.9 The River:

This is an opportunity for individuals and families to give back to the hungry in their communities while having a fun night out together during the holidays!

It is recommended that guests arrive early as Film-anthropy is only open to the first 1,000 attendees. Donations that consist of quality canned goods that are not expired nor will expire within the upcoming months are preferred.


I'm planning on seeing Happy Feet 2 (in 2D), since I missed the screening of that movie. What will you see?

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Week with Marilyn

"Biopics" are generally hit or miss movies. If the actor has done a good job studying the mannerisms and history of the actor they are portraying, then the film is successful. If they have not, or play the part too differently (especially if it is a person in recent history, that some may remember), the film is generally less successful. As Marilyn Monroe, Michelle Williams captivates the audience from the minute she opens her mouth during the film's opening scene, and My Week with Marilyn is a great movie because of her, as well as her supporting actors.

The film is from the point of view of Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne, The Other Boleyn Girl), a 23-year-old who has just secured himself a position as 3rd assistant on a Laurence Olivier film. He has heard a lot about Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine), as she is the lead actress in the movie, and when she finally arrives in England, he gets to meet her. She is much more fragile than he would have thought, however, and she lacks confidence, much unlike the "public" face of Marilyn Monroe that graces the front of all the magazines and newspapers of the time. Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh, Valkyrie), as the director and main actor of the film, has a hard time with Marilyn, as she frequently shows up late for rehearsal, and constantly requires the presence of her "method" acting coach, Paula (Zoë Wanamaker, TV's My Family) on set. Colin and Marilyn soon forge a close bond, as he is the only person who "tells her the truth," as she says; Olivier and the rest of the cast aren't very happy about this, since she is married, to Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott, Love's Kitchen), and they find the friendship highly inappropriate.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Descendants

A good movie is one that makes you care about its characters, and The Descendants fulfills this on all counts. The performances by all of the actors are great, especially Clooney's and his daughters', and the Hawaii setting is gorgeous, even though the movie shows that living in paradise doesn't always equate to having a perfect life.

Matthew King (George Clooney, The Ides of March) is a lawyer who works a lot of hours, and he doesn't spend as much time with his wife and two daughters as he'd like. When his wife (newcomer Patricia Hastie) goes into a coma after a boating accident, Matt has to step up and become the "main parent" for 17-year-old Alexandra (Shailene Woodley, TV's The Secret Life of the American Teenager) and 10-year-old Scottie (newcomer Amara Miller). Alex, the more rebellious of the two, had been off at boarding school on one of the other Hawaiian island, and Matt and Scottie must retrieve her from school, since her mother doesn't have much time left. Once she is home, Alex tells Matt the reason she and her mother had been fighting recently, and its something that he might not have wanted to hear, as it will affect his relationship with his wife and his opinions of her.

The reason the film is called The Descendants is because Matt and his family are directly descended from Hawaiian royalty, and because of that, they have acres of "virgin Hawaiian land" that they are about to sell. Matt and his cousins are already well off, but this sale will make them even richer. They also have to sell the land, because the trust in which it was placed will run out in seven years. Matt and his family have a few buyers that want the land, and they must decide which of them will make the best use of it.

Free screenings of The Departed and The Aviator at Emagine Novi this weekend

In honor of Hugo's release, Emagine Novi is doing free screenings of Martin Scorsese movies! Today and yesterday was Goodfellas, and you can see The Departed (2006) on Friday and Saturday, and The Aviator (2004) on Sunday. All screenings are at 10am and are first-come first-serve for seating, so I would recommend getting there early.

Here are the synopses for both movies, from IMDb:

The Departed:

Two men from opposite sides of the law are undercover within the Massachusetts State Police and the Irish mafia, but violence and bloodshed boil when discoveries are made, and the moles are dispatched to find out their enemy's identities.

The Aviator:

A biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes' career, from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s.

Both films are great with fantastic casts (I've seen both), and it's always nice to see a FREE movie!

Emagine is located at 44425 W. 12 Mile Road in Novi.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Trailer for Beauty and the Beast 3D just released

It's a tale as old as time, and one that needs no introduction, I'm sure. Disney has selected a few movies from "the vault" that they will be re-releasing in 3D, since The Lion King did so well, and Beauty and the Beast 3D is the next to appear in theaters (on my birthday, January 13th!). Disney has made a new trailer for the movie, and you can see it below.

Will you be seeing Beauty and the Beast 3D when it hits theaters on January 13, 2012?

Arthur Christmas

There were two previous screenings of Arthur Christmas before this one, and it had been getting mixed reviews from its attendees. However, it had about 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, so I decided to "take a chance" and see it. I am very glad I did, as it ended up being one of the zaniest movies I have seen recently, and was hilarious throughout. It also has some major actors voicing its various characters, which I didn't find out until later, as their voices are not easily recognizable during the film.

Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy) is one of Santa's two sons, and his job at the North Pole is to answer letters that children send to Santa. Santa's other son, Steve (voiced by Hugh Laurie), is in charge of operations, and especially Operation Christmas, in which more than a billion presents are delivered to kids around the globe on Christmas Eve. Santa has been at his job for the past 70 years, and Steve fully expects him to retire this year, leaving him the "reins," so to speak, as the new Santa. Operation Christmas goes off without a hitch, as usual, until Arthur finds out that a little girl in England did not get her present delivered. Desperate to get her gift to her, Arthur teams up with his grandfather, Grandsanta (voiced by Bill Nighy), and they set off in Grandsanta's old sled to deliver her present the "old school" way, reindeer and all.

Hugo

Before seeing Hugo, I didn't know that not only is the film based on a book, but that Georges Melies, the character that Ben Kingsley plays, is an actual person. Even if you treated the movie as pure fiction, however, it was a great film, and the fact that it is based on real life people and events only serves to make it more interesting.

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) lives with his father (Jude Law, Repo Men), a clockmaker, until an accident makes him an orphan. His uncle (Ray Winstone, London Boulevard), who maintains the clocks in the train station, takes him in, and puts him to work. Later, however, his uncle abandons Hugo and his job as timekeeper, forcing Hugo to continue maintaining the clocks so that he can continue to live in the small living quarters inside the clocks without suspicion. Hugo lives life under the radar, and steals food and also mechanical parts from the businesses and people in the train station, as he is working on an "automaton" that his father had been trying to fix. One day, however, he meets Isabelle (Chloe Moretz, Let Me In), whose godfather George Melies has a toy shop in the station (Ben Kingsley, Shutter Island), from where Hugo sometimes steals spare parts. Melies has taken Hugo's notebook, which has special significance to him, and he needs Isabelle to make sure it stays safe; Melies has threatened to burn it.

The Muppets

Full disclosure: the Muppets aren't really my thing. Yes, they're cute, and when I was little, I was a fan; I should be a fan, because I grew up in the '90s. Spontaneous singing and dancing can be fun, too, especially when the creatures doing the singing and dancing are cute. However, contrary to the views that make up the 100% on Rotten Tomatoes the movie currently has at the time of this writing, I thought the movie was cute but still not really my thing. I fully expect staunch Muppets fans to gasp in horror at this, and perhaps throw rotten tomatoes at me. Disney hopes there are enough Muppets fans around (or that they can make new fans of it) to fill the theaters for this movie, and fans of the Muppets will probably like this film and still see it anyways, regardless of this review.

To celebrate their ten year anniversary, Gary (Jason Segel, Bad Teacher) takes girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams, The Fighter) on a trip to Los Angeles. However, he can't leave his little brother Walter (a Muppet, though he doesn't know it) behind, as Walter is obsessed with the Muppets and wants to see the Muppet Theater in L.A. When they get to L.A., though, the Muppets Theater is empty and deserted. Walter sneaks into what used to be Kermit's office, and overhears a conversation between some other Muppets and the evil oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper, The Tempest), who has told the Muppets that he is going to make their former theater into a museum, but actually plans to knock it down so he can dig for oil there. Walter, Gary, and Mary have to find Kermit and together round up the rest of the gang, as they need to make $10 million to buy the land outright so that Tex won't demolish the theater.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

The current Rotten Tomatoes rating for Breaking Dawn Part 1 says it all: 26% of critics enjoyed it, and 92% of audiences. This is not going to be an Oscar-winning movie by any means. However, it will be entertaining to fans of the series - either the movies or the books - and that is really all you can ask for with a global phenomenon like Twilight.

The latest installment drops us back into the Twilight world with no backstory, as is common with the series; it's counting on its fans to know the backstory. It opens with the wedding of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson), and Bella has wedding day jitters. Her dad, Charlie (Billy Burke, Red Riding Hood), walks her down the aisle, and as soon as she sees Edward her fears go away. During the wedding reception, some of the werewolves show up (in human form), and there is a bit of trouble, but nothing major. After the reception, Edward whisks Bella off to a secret location for their honeymoon, which ends up being an island that was gifted to them by his family, near Brazil.

Everything is idyllic there, and Bella asks Edward for sex their first night. I say "asks" because it is actually a big risk for them: since he is a vampire, and much, much stronger than her, there is a possibility that he could badly hurt her during it. It goes well, though, except for a few bruises on Bella; actually too well, as she soon finds out she is pregnant with a half-human, half-vampire baby, which everyone previously thought was impossible.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Have a Little Faith

I had the privilege of attending the VIP premiere of Have a Little Faith this past Wednesday at Emagine Royal Oak, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the film, which was made for TV. I have not read the novel, although I now own an autographed copy (all attendees received one), and I've read some of Mitch Albom's other books such as Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The movie ended up being a pleasant surprise, and I highly recommend seeing it on ABC when it airs nationwide on November 27th.

There are two parallel stories going on in the movie. In the first, Mitch Albom (Bradley Whitford, TV's The West Wing) returns to his hometown in New Jersey to help his former rabbi (Martin Landau, Mysteria) who has asked Mitch to write his eulogy, even though he is not sick or dying. Mitch is Jewish but hasn't been to synagogue/been religious for quite some time, yet his rabbi greets him with open arms, sing-talking "Hel-lo, Mitch-chell," to him every time they meet. Mitch and Rabbi Lewis become close again, and he finds himself flying out to New Jersey frequently.

In the second story, which will intersect with Mitch's life about halfway into the movie, Henry Covington (Laurence Fishburne, TV's CSI) is dealing drugs in Brooklyn, New York. His life didn't start off that way, but he needs money, and soon he is not only dealing, but using as well. He marries his sweetheart Annette (Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana in The Princess and the Frog), but his lifestyle begins to hurt her as well as himself. He decides to get clean and eventually moves to Detroit, where he becomes pastor of a church, and where Albom eventually is introduced to him.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Battle of two Snow Whites

There are two Snow White movies coming out in 2012, but their trailers look VERY different. Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Charlize Theron, Kristin Stewart (Bella!), and Chris Hemsworth (Thor!), is out in theaters on June 1, 2012, and looks like its going to be action-packed, with Theron playing the super-evil queen. On the other hand, Mirror Mirror stars Julia Roberts as the evil queen, and Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the prince, and looks like it might be more of a comedy. Mirror Mirror will be in theaters on March 16, 2012, just a few months before the Snow White and the Huntsman.

Check out the trailers below - which version looks like it will be better? (and is it even fair to compare, since they look so different?)



Trailer for Disney's Brave released

Disney's film Brave, in digital 3D, will be in theaters on June 22, 2012, and the full-length trailer has just been released; check it out below. The film will have a strong (Scottish) female heroine, Merida. Here's a synopsis of the film from Disney:

Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In “Brave,” a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts.

Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and produced by Katherine Sarafian, “Brave” is a grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and the signature Pixar humor enjoyed by audiences of all ages. The film takes aim at theaters on June 22, 2012, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.

Have a Little Faith premieres at a sold out Emagine Royal Oak

Bradley Whitford and Laurence Fishburne in Have a Little Faith
(from freep.com)
Have a Little Faith, the made-for-TV movie based on Mitch Albom's bestselling novel, premiered yesterday at Emagine Royal Oak. The entire theater complex was reserved for the premiere, and the VIP party started at 5:30pm with food and drinks. Albom and some of the cast, including Laurence Fishburne, Martin Landau, and Bradley Whitford, arrived on the red carpet around 6pm, and the movie started playing at 7pm.

All of the proceeds from the event went to the A Hole in the Roof Foundation and the Rabbi Albert Lewis Fund. Albert Lewis was the rabbi in the movie (and in real life) with whom Albom has a close connection, as he was the rabbi of the synagogue in his hometown. Albom presented the charities with two $30,000 checks at the screening, a result of the monies raised from the VIP premiere ($125/ticket) and general admission tickets ($35/ticket), and Emagine Royal Oak provided the food and drinks at the premiere for free.

Bradley Whitford, who plays Albom
in the movie
I got the chance to chat with Bradley Whitford before the screening about Detroit and the novel. He said he knew Mitch [Albom] from Tuesdays [with Morrie], which he loved. He also "randomly knew about him because he went to journalism school with his brother, at Columbia."

On Detroit, he said: "I loved filming in Detroit. I loved the ballpark and Cliff Bell's, this old bar by the ballpark with wooden ceilings where they play jazz. It's a great place." He also said that he read the script before the book, and it was a complete "no-brainer" to get involved with the project, especially once he knew that Laurence Fishburne and Jon Avnet (the director) were already attached.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Win "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" on DVD!

The last epic installment of Harry Potter is out on DVD/Blu-Ray today, and I have one DVD to give to one of my lucky readers!

This series needs no introduction, I'm sure ...

The contest is being hosted on my Examiner.com page - to see the contest rules and find out how to enter, click here.

Good luck!

"Jack and Jill"

I am pretty sure that one day Adam Sandler woke up and said "I'm going to make a movie about myself and my twin sister, and I'll play both parts! It'll be hilarious!" He then roped as many celebs as he could into playing cameos (which were admittedly funny, for the most part) in order to boost the star power in the film, and then marketed it as a comedy that was sure to be hilarious. Unfortunately, Jack and Jill was far from hilarious, and I spent most of the movie wishing that it would end.

Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler, Just Go With It) dreads the holiday season because for him it means one thing: his twin sister, Jill (also Sandler) comes to visit. Jill is loud and obnoxious, but luckily lives across the country in New York, so she only comes to visit once a year. Jack's wife (Katie Holmes, The Romantics) and kids love seeing Jill, but unfortunately Jack does not. Jack is a PR exec, and while Jill is in town, he is trying to recruit Al Pacino for a Dunkin' Donuts commercial. Jack brings Jill with him to a Lakers game that he knows Al will be at, and Al meets Jill and immediately develops a crush on her. This might or might not be good for Jack, but Jack is determined to milk it for all it's worth, and he asks Jill to stay a few extra days, through New Years'.

"Like Crazy"

The mark of a good movie is if you are still thinking about it and its characters the day after you see it. While I was still thinking about the two leads in Like Crazy the day after I saw it, it was a very slow-moving film and could have been better.

Jacob (Anton Yelchin, Fright Night) meets Anna (Felicity Jones, The Diary of Anne Frank) while they are in college together in Los Angeles. Anna is British, and she in the U.S. on a student visa, which will expire soon after she graduates. Anna is intrigued by Jacob and leaves a note under the windshield wiper of his car expressing her feelings for him; soon after that, they become a couple. Jacob is a gifted furniture maker, and he gives Anna a chair that he makes for her, to replace the rickety desk chair that she was using. By the end of the school year, they are very much in love; however, it will soon be time for Anna to return back to England. She will be able to procure a work visa after a few months, so then she will be allowed back into the U.S., so they would only be apart a few months. Instead, though, Anna decides to ignore the terms of her visa and stay in LA for the summer with Jacob.

Anna has to leave to attend a wedding in England at the end of the summer, and when she tried to get back into the U.S. she is denied entrance, since she abused her student visa. She and Jacob talk on the phone, and they discuss him coming to visit her in England, but for the time being she is not allowed back into the U.S. When Jacob does visit her in England, Anna's father offhandedly suggests that things would be easier for the two of them if they were married - ie, it would be easier for Anna to overcome the visa problems - which freaks Jacob out a little, but they do eventually get married in England. Jacob returns to the U.S. shortly after and over time, more and more distance comes between them. When Anna finally does get her visa problems worked out, their relationship is not the same as it used to be, though they are still married.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Pitch Perfect" currently filming in Baton Rouge, LA

Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Banks on the set of Pitch Perfect
Credit: TheHob.com, and twitter.com/elizabethbanks
The other day, I saw a tweet that Elizabeth Banks had posted, asking for extras for her new film Pitch Perfect, which is currently filming in Baton Rouge. A friend of mine lives there, so I forwarded her the tweet, and she emailed and was accepted as an extra! She spent about 10 hours on Wednesday as an audience member for a few scenes in the movie.

According to IMDb, the film is "a comedy set in the world of college a cappella singing competitions." Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, Brittney Snow, Anna Camp, and Rebel Wilson star in it.

Here's some pics from the set:







I think the 2nd or 3rd from the left may be Anna Kendrick;
3rd looks like Rebel Wilson

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Have a Little Faith" to premiere 11/16 at Emagine Royal Oak

The Detroit-filmed movie Have a Little Faith, based on Mitch Albom's bestselling book, will be hosting its world premiere on Wednesday, November 16th, at Emagine Royal Oak. Albom, director Jon Avnet, and stars such as Martin Landau, Laurence Fishburne, and Bradley Whitford will be in attendance, and a Q&A will be held with the actors after the film.

Click here to read more at my Examiner.com article.

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Martha Marcy May Marlene"

Fox Searchlight has been promoting Martha Marcy May Marlene for months now, and it has very positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes as well. It definitely is a movie that will leave you thinking about it, but it could have been a much better film, and the ending is abrupt and had audience members at the screening I went to thinking that the projector had broken (yes, seriously), since the screen goes black after the end scene.

Martha (newcomer Elizabeth Olsen, sister of Mary Kate and Ashley) has lived in a cult for the past two years or so, though the word "cult" is never used. They're one big happy family - they all share chores, including child-rearing - oh, and all the women have sex with the leader of the cult, Patrick (creepily played by John Hawkes, Contagion) to "cleanse" themselves, and they also have mass orgies with the male members of the cult with him watching. You know, all the stuff that "normal" families do. When Martha first joins the cult, she knows something is amiss, but soon she is the one guiding the new recruits and telling them to enjoy their "special night" with Patrick.

At the beginning of the film, we see Martha run away from the cult, and she calls her sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson, TV's Cupid) to pick her up. Lucy brings her back to the lake house in Connecticut where she and her husband, Ted (Hugh Dancy, Confessions of a Shopaholic) are vacationing. Martha hasn't been in touch with Lucy for the past two years, and she tells Lucy that she had been living with a boyfriend in the Catskills. Lucy and Ted know something is wrong with her, however, because of her strange and erratic behavior, and Ted eventually suggests that Martha should seek psychiatric help.

"Tower Heist"

I didn't know much about Tower Heist before seeing the film except that it had assembled a team of highly successful actors for the project. The movie ended up being a little like Ocean's Eleven, and it is probably one of the funniest comedies I have seen in quite a while.

Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller, Little Fockers) is the building manager at The Tower, a high-rise building in NYC that is home to some of the wealthiest people in the city. Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda, Flash of Genius) is one of those people, and he is currently being indicted for embezzling from his clients. Unfortunately, Josh had placed the Tower employees' pension money into Shaw's hands to invest, and the money is all gone; needless to say, the Tower employees are not too happy with Josh. Shaw denies any wrongdoing, but the FBI knows he did the crime, and agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni, The Smell of Success) convinces Josh that Shaw did, in fact, steal Josh's money and the rest of the employees.' She also tells him that generally criminals of his caliber hide some of their embezzled monies in their (penthouse) apartment, so Josh and some of the other disgruntled employees decide to rob Arthur Shaw and take back what is rightfully theirs.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Puss in Boots"

You may know the illustrious Puss in Boots from the Shrek series, where he simultaneously managed to steal and also charm with his wide, innocent-eyed look. Now, he has his own movie, and while I thought I would miss Shrek and the gang, Puss brings along a new set of characters that are just as funny and enthralling.

The back-story of Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger) has never been revealed until this film, but soon he has cause to share it with us. He grew up in an orphanage in the small town of San Ricardo, taken in by his "mama" (voiced by Jessica Shulte, Megamind), and it was there that Puss met the boy who was soon to become his best friend: Humpty Alexander Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover Part II). The two of them plotted to leave the sleepy little town as soon as they were of age, and they played a few small tricks on people when they were younger; however, when they became older, Humpty began to escalate his crimes, and Puss wanted no part in it, especially after he became the town hero after saving an old lady's life.

Unfortunately, Humpty eventually tricks Puss into robbing a bank with him, and the authorities begin to chase them, which culminates in Puss escaping and leaving Humpty on a bridge, where he then takes his infamous fall ("They wrote a song about it!" he later yells at Puss). Now, years later, Puss is trying to track down some magic beans, so that he can find the Golden Goose and pay San Ricardo back for what he owes from the bank robbery. However, another cat is after the beans as well, and Puss soon finds himself having to cooperate with Kitty Softpaws (voiced by Salma Hayek, Grown Ups) and being reunited with his now-enemy, Humpty Dumpty. The beans are being hoarded by the evil Jack and Jill (voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris), and Puss, Kitty, and Humpty must catch them and plant the beans so they can get the golden eggs.

"In Time"

I love dystopian books and movies - those set in the future with a corrupt or unfamiliar government/life system - and In Time fits the mold exactly. I had been wanting to see this film ever since I first saw its trailer, and luckily it did not disappoint me.

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake, Friends with Benefits) lives his life on a day-to-day basis in the impoverished city of Dayton. When he wakes up each morning, the first thing he does is check his arm to see how much time he has left that day. Between rent and food payments, he and his mom (Olivia Wilde, Cowboys and Aliens) barely have enough time to get through the day. In the future, time has replaced money as currency. Want a cup of coffee? That will be four minutes. It was three minutes yesterday, but today is four, due to inflation. Today is Will's mother's 50th birthday, and also the day that his life is going to be irrevocably changed, though he doesn't know that yet.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried, Red Riding Hood) was born into time (born into "money"), in the upscale city of New Greenwich, where most Dayton residents only dream about visiting. When her clock kicked in at the age of 25, as is the custom, Sylvia had one year on it, as everyone initially gets. For her 25th birthday present, though, her father (Vincent Kartheiser, TV's Mad Men) gave her a gift of a century in time. She never has to worry about time over her life span, which she's lived in privilege - until she meets Will, who kidnaps her while trying to escape from the Weis mansion. Soon the two of them are on the run from the authorities (including the Timekeeper, played by Cillian Murphy) and they must try to avoid them, while at the same time making sure their clocks don't run out.

"The Rum Diary"

The Rum Diary is based on the novel of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson, and is considered a prequel of sorts to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), also written by Thompson. I haven't read the book, and thus have no basis for comparison, but the movie was 120 minutes of drawn out, pointless scenes, save for the beautiful scenery and the outfits worn by Depp and his cohorts. The film was shot a while ago and has been shelved for a few years, though Johnny Depp looks timeless as always, and it makes me wonder why the studio execs finally decided to drag it into theaters. The movie wasn't really a drama, and wasn't really a comedy either - though it certainly tried to be - and it leaves the audience wondering exactly what it's trying to accomplish.

Kemp (Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean) has just moved to Puerto Rico to work for The San Juan Star. His boss, Mr. Lotterman (Richard Jenkins, Let Me In) hardly runs a tight ship, and Kemp has the time to pursue other ... interests while on the job. He finds a friend in coworker Sala (Michael Rispoli, Kick-Ass) and elects to rent a small room in his apartment. Kemp soon gets tangled up in some shady dealings with Mr. Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart, Battle Los Angeles) and unfortunately develops quite a crush on his girlfriend, Chenault (Amber Heard, The Joneses), pronounced like "Chanel." Sanderson is trying to build a hotel on an island that the U.S. government is about to give up, and he wants Kemp to write some clever articles to help him accomplish this. We also meet the "religion writer" for the paper, Moburg (Giovanni Ribisi, Avatar), who rooms with Kemp and Sala as well, and a host of other writers that all work for Lotterman.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Chimpanzee" to be released in theaters April 12, 2012

I received the one-sheet from Disney Nature today for this and had to share - the chimp on the poster is SO cute!

Movie Details:

Disneynature takes moviegoers deep into the forests of Africa with “Chimpanzee,” a new True Life Adventure introducing an adorable baby chimp named Oscar and his entertaining approach to life in a remarkable story of family bonds and individual triumph. Oscar’s playful curiosity and zest for discovery showcase the intelligence and ingenuity of some of the most extraordinary personalities in the animal kingdom. Working together, Oscar’s chimpanzee family—including his mom and the group’s savvy leader — navigates the complex territory of the forest.

The world is a playground for little Oscar and his fellow young chimps, who’d rather make mayhem than join their parents for an afternoon nap. But when Oscar’s family is confronted by a rival band of chimps, he is left to fend for himself until a surprising ally steps in and changes his life forever. Directed by Alastair Fothergill (“African Cats” and “Earth”) and Mark Linfield (“Earth”), “Chimpanzee” swings into theaters on Earth Day 2012.

Fun facts:
· “Chimpanzee” is the fourth release for Disneynature, the first new Disney-branded film label from The Walt Disney Studios in more than 60 years. The label was launched in April 2008 to bring the world’s top nature filmmakers together to capture a variety of wildlife subjects and stories.
· The first three releases under the Disneynature label—“Earth,” “Oceans” and “African Cats”—are among the top four highest grossing feature-length nature films of all time.
· Walt Disney was a pioneer in wildlife documentary filmmaking, producing 13 True-Life Adventure motion pictures between 1948 and 1960, including “Seal Island” (1948), “Beaver Valley” (1950), “The Living Desert” (1953) and “Jungle Cat” (1958). The films earned eight Academy Awards®.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"The Three Musketeers" (2011)

There have been numerous reincarnations of The Three Musketeers over the years, but the newest version is likely the most fun. You have Orlando Bloom and Milla Jovovich as villains, and a motley crew of others representing the good and the bad people of France. Add some 3D effects, which means swords clashing in your face, as well as giant ships used for "air travel," and voila! You have yourself an exciting, action-packed film.

The Three Musketeers (Luke Evans, Matthew Macfadyen, and an almost unrecognizable Ray Stevenson) are no longer in their prime, and thus spend most of their time moping around. The young D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson and the Olympians), a wannabe Musketeer whose father was one, travels to France to meet them. Instead, he stumbles upon each of them individually, not knowing they are Musketeers, and manages to anger them all. He challenges each to a duel, and when they all meet in the town square they reveal that they are Musketeers. The group has bigger problems, though: the Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz, Water for Elephants) wants them dead, and he has sent their army after them, led by Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen, Clash of the Titans). The group and D'Artagnan manage to avoid the army, and in fact are praised for this by the king (newcomer Freddie Fox), although they were supposed to have been reprimanded.

A year earlier, Milady (Milla Jovovich, Stone) had tricked Athos (Macfadyen) into believing that she loved him, while instead betraying him and giving her allegiance to the evil Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End). Buckingham and Milady are now back, for a visit with the king, and Milady and the Cardinal hatch a plan to propel England and France into war for their own benefit. The Musketeers, however, refuse to let this happen, and so they are off to England to steal back the Queen's necklace which Milady has stolen.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Win "Winnie the Pooh" on DVD/Blu-Ray!

You can win a copy of Winnie the Pooh, which is out on DVD and Blu-Ray on 10/25, over at my Examiner page! The contest ends on Sunday, October 30th, at 7pm EST, so check it out before then. To enter is easy, all you have to do is "like" the contest post and then send me an email.

Here's the link: Winnie the Pooh contest.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Answer This!"

I was fortunate enough to attend the world premiere screening of Answer This! at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor last October, and since then I have been waiting for the film to be picked up for wider distribution. Wrekin Hill Entertainment has picked up Answer This!, and to celebrate that, there was another red carpet premiere screening at the Emagine Royal Oak this past Thursday, October 13. I was interested in seeing if the distributors had made any changes to the movie, and if they had, they are little; however, the movie was just as good as I remembered it.

Paul Tarson (Christopher Gorham, TV's Covert Affairs) has lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan his whole life. He grew up there, went to the University of Michigan as an undergrad, and has spent the past eight years there working on his thesis in graduate school. His father, Elliot (newcomer and former UM professor Ralph Williams), is a Bible Studies professor at UM, and has just told Paul that he needs to finish his thesis this semester; in addition, Elliot is going to be retiring, so there is a prime associate professor spot open for Paul at the university. Paul needs to finish his thesis soon, but it is competing for his attention with one of his favorite pastimes: trivia. He's on a team with his friend James (Nelson Franklin, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and Izzy (Evan Jones, The Book of Eli), and they've just made the finals. Slight problem, though: the trivia finals are on the same night as when he is to defend his dissertation. Which will he choose to attend?

In the midst of this, Paul meets Naomi (Arielle Kebbel, TV's Life Unexpected), whom, he soon finds out, is a freshman in one of the Bible Studies sections that he teaches. It's a definite "no-no" for students to date their teachers, but they continue to see each other anyways. When Naomi stops showing up for his discussion section class, Paul happens to see her in the Diag (the heart of UM's campus), and she tells him that she doesn't want to be "tied down" right now; after all, she's only a freshman and she still has three years of school left. She also thinks it's a bit "lame" that Paul has stayed in Ann Arbor his entire life, and she challenges him to imagine a life for himself outside of the college city. Paul has to decide what he wants to do next year - stay in Ann Arbor and be a professor, or take off for different pastures - and he only has a semester in which to figure it out.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ann Arbor plays itself in "Answer This!"

As a University of Michigan alum, part of the reason I really liked the feature film Answer This! was because most, if not all, of it took place in Ann Arbor, and locations were easily recognizable.

The locations in Answer This! included:

University of Michigan locations:
-The Cube (see above poster) - near the Union on campus.
-School of Natural Resources and the Environment - where English 401 classes are held. Paul (Chris Gorham) and Naomi (Arielle Kebbel) meet in the Diag (center of campus) right outside this building; she is trying to find the building, which, of course, is right in front of her.
-Angell Hall - Paul's English 401 discussion class is held here.
-Rackham School of Graduate Studies - a memorable scene with Paul and Naomi was here. What was pretty funny was that they enter the front doors of Rackham, and walk through a library's reading room - actually the fabled Law Library reading room - and then end up in the stacks, which are actually in the Graduate Library. Three different Michigan locations, but one building in the film.
-The Law Quad.
-Michigan Stadium ... during an actual football game (Western Michigan game, 2009). Apparently they set up a camera in the aisle way to get the shots of Gorham and Kebbel and also a few of the field and players. I just noticed by watching this clip that they weren't sitting in the student section, either (you'd be standing if you were in the student section ... they stand the whole game).

"Answer This!" premieres to sell-out crowd at Emagine Royal Oak

from answerthismovie.com

The cast and crew of Answer This! returned to Michigan yesterday for a red carpet premiere at Emagine Royal Oak. In attendance was Arielle Kebbel, one of the stars of the show, and Chris and Mike Farah, the writer/director and producer of the movie, respectively. Ralph Williams, the former UM professor who plays Chris Gorham's father, was also in attendance; Chris Gorham, unfortunately, was in Europe filming Covert Affairs.

Motor City Trivia table
For the general audience, the movie started at 8pm, but for those who had purchased the $75 VIP tickets, to benefit local charities, the party started at 6:30, on the 2nd floor of the theater. Dinner and drinks were served, and Motor City Trivia was in attendance as well to get the party started with some one-on-one trivia. Arielle Kebbel arrived later, around 7:30, to mingle with the crowd, and the Farah brothers were in attendance there as well.

Before the movie started, Ralph Williams came to the front of the room to introduce the film, and Chris and Mike Farah, too, talked a little about the film and shooting it in Ann Arbor. Chris had been a student of Williams' at the University of Michigan, which is how he knew him and knew that he was perfect for the role of Elliot Tarson, Chris Gorham's father in the film. Williams said:

“In the 1990s, I had a brilliant student, who came to be a student in Near-Eastern studies, called Chris Farah. He came to my courses on the Bible and English … and then he disappeared. I saw him only once when I gave a lecture in Santa Monica, CA. I didn’t hear any more until about two years ago, when I got an email from him that said “Mr. Williams, I’ve written a script.” And I thought, how clever of him! And he said, “Would you do a part in it?”

actress Arielle Kebbel (left), who stars in Answer This!
Then he showed up in town with a producer. And I thought, this is curious, because I had expected him to show up with a handheld camera!"

Williams added: "To me, [Answer This! is] in some ways a love letter to Ann Arbor. I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed being a part of it.”

Chris Farah ended the short speech by saying: "If you love the movie – and you will love the movie – make sure to tell all of your friends. Word of mouth is how we’re going to get this going.”

Answer This! will arrive at Emagine Novi tomorrow (Friday, October 14th), and will expand to the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor on October 21st, as well as to other Midwest theaters, including Traverse City and Grand Rapids (see the film's website for more details).


Selling "Ice Tigers" t-shirts, which is the name of
Gorham's trivia team in the movie
Arielle Kebbel (left) and Chris Farah (right),
writer/director of Answer This!
Answer This! posters in Emagine's lobby
Dinner buffet (appetizers and entrees)
Panorama of the 2nd floor entertainment room where the
VIP party was held, Emagine Royal Oak