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 (Zoƫ 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.