Friday, October 26, 2012

Liberal Arts

Liberal Arts explores the relationship between a 19-year-old college sophomore, Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), and a 35-year-old man, Jesse (Josh Radnor). Jesse now lives in New York City, but in the 1990s he attended a small liberal arts college in Ohio. He returns to his alma mater to celebrate the retirement party of his favorite professor, Peter Hoburg (Richard Jenkins), and ends up meeting Zibby.

Jesse and Zibby meet through Zibby's parents, and they have an instant connection. After Jesse leaves the college, he agrees to write Zibby via snail mail, and they keep up a "courtship" or sorts for a few months through this, until Zibby asks him to come visit her back at the college. Jesse knows that the age difference between them is too much to ignore (at one point, he makes a list with the columns "When I was: [x] age" and "She was: [x] age", coming up with depressing numbers like 19-3 and 16-0), but he finds himself greatly enjoying Zibby's company. The movie explores them trying to figure out if what they have would work in "real life," but it's also about Jesse and how he's never really felt happy since he left college.

Fun Size

Fun Size movie poster

The movie Fun Size presumably gets its name from the shirt that one of the main characters wears for a brief minute near the end of the film, which says "I'm not short - I'm fun sized." However, this film was anything BUT fun, and is in fact one of the worst movies I've seen in quite a while - despite the comedic intentions, it isn't funny at all.

Wren (Victoria Justice) and her friend April (Jane Levy) are thrilled when they receive a Halloween party invite from a hot guy at their high school, Aaron Riley (Thomas McDonell). There's only one problem: Wren's mom, Joy (Chelsea Handler), is going out to a party with her 26-year-old boyfriend, Keevin (Josh Pence), and needs Wren to babysit her younger brother Albert (Jackson Nicoll) that night. Wren and April take Albert trick-or-treating, and while in a haunted house they manage to lose track of him. They scour the town looking for Albert, and wheedle school dorks Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Peng (Osric Chau) into driving them around so that they can find them. What they don't know is that Albert is off on an adventure of his own, where he meets gas store clerk Fuzzy (Thomas Middleditch) and some new friends and ends up attending a Halloween party of his own.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Alex Cross

I will confess that I've never seen any of the Madea movies nor read the Alex Cross book series, but I didn't have high expectations for this film, although the trailer looked interesting. Although there are some good performances in the film, they are marred by the unrealistic situations and sometimes cheesy script throughout, and also a few gaping plot holes that the writers left open.

I was later told that this movie is a prequel to the series, as books Alex lives in D.C. and works for the FBI; in this film, he is a cop living in Detroit and he is thinking of applying to the FBI. Alex (Tyler Perry) has just learned that his wife, Maria (Carmen Ejogo), is pregnant with their second child, and he thinks that moving to D.C. will be better for the family - however, Maria wants to stay in Detroit. Meanwhile, Alex and his partner Tommy (Edward Burns), are on the hunt for a murderer who killed a heiress, and who later abducts fellow cop Monica (Rachel Nichols), who is also secretly dating Tommy. The murderer (Matthew Fox) has a hit list, but when he sees that Alex getting too close to catching him, he deviates from that list to kill someone that Alex loves.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review and GIVEAWAY: Hallmark Spiderman and Twilight ornaments

BlogHer 2012 Hallmark
Hallmark's NYC party, August 2012
When I was in NYC for BlogHer '12 this past August, Jackie at Free is my Life invited me to attend Hallmark's off-site party as a guest. Hallmark had rented a suite at a small boutique hotel across the street from the Hilton, and the view was AMAZING. We were also treated to desserts and were able to see their products for the upcoming holiday season.
Edward and Bella Hallmark ornament, Twilight

Recently Hallmark sent me two of their movie-themed ornaments to review, and I also have a set for one lucky reader to win, as well.

I received the "Edward and Bella's Wedding" ornament ($17.95), from the Twilight series, and an Amazing Spider-Man ornament ($14.95) in the mail, two of which I had admired at Hallmark's NYC party, where there was a huge Christmas tree with all sorts of goodies. The detail on Edward and Bella's ornament is amazing - the back of her dress looks just like it did in the movie. I also was laughing at how much the man figure looks like Robert Pattinson (Edward), though the female figure doesn't resemble Bella as much. This ornament would be ideal for anyone who is a fan of the Twilight movies or book series, and would make an interesting addition to a Christmas tree.

The Amazing Spider-Man Hallmark ornament, Christmas
The Spider-Man ornament is in a classic Spidey "web-slinging" pose, and is brightly colored. The quality is good as well, and I could see little boys or any Spidey fans enjoying the sight of this ornament on their tree come Christmas morning.

Hallmark has very generously agreed to give a set of these - one Edward and Bella's Wedding ornament and one The Amazing Spiderman ornament - to one of my readers. This would make a nice addition to your tree or a great holiday gift for a movie fan in your life.

Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter. The contest will end on Friday, October 26th at 12am EST and the winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email; if he/she doesn't respond within that time frame, an alternate winner will be chosen.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 12, 2012


Argo is one of the best movies of the year thus far, which isn't surprising when you consider its cast and crew. Ben Affleck plays the lead role and directs, and George Clooney helped produce the film. John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber, and the escaped U.S. embassy employees in Iran all deliver great performances as well, and the movie showcases a turbulent time in U.S.-Iran relations that many people may not know much about.

The movie starts out giving us a basic rundown of the crisis up to that point, for the uninitiated. It's the late 1970s and Iranians are storming the U.S. embassy, because their Shah (former leader) has been allowed to enter the U.S. for medical treatment, and the Iranians are very anti-American by this point. The doors are finally kicked in, and 52 of the employees there are taken hostage; 6 of them, however, escape out the back door. The six go from embassy to embassy, but the only one that will take them in are the Canadians: Ken Taylor (Garber) and his wife. Iran is becoming more and more turbulent, and the CIA must come up with a plan to get the six employees out of Iran and back to the United States, before they are found and tried as spies (and then most likely executed). Tony Mendez (Affleck) comes up with a detail-oriented back story: he and the employees are a Canadian film crew, filming an exotic movie named Argo, and they are in Iran to scout locations. A script is found, a production office put together (headed up by Arkin and Goodman's characters), and a blurb is published in a trade magazine about the movie. Mendez must get into Iran, teach the six employees their cover stories and fake identities, and hopefully return to the U.S. with the six, unharmed.

Seven Psychopaths

With an all-star cast and a quirky trailer, Seven Psychopaths appears to have it all. However, the film is more weird (or quirky, as some call it) than it lets on, and the plot is a bit messy as well.

Marty (Colin Farrell) is writing a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths but is out of ideas. His friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) tries to help by placing an ad in the paper asking all psychopaths to call Marty, with the possibility that their stories will be used in his movie. Meanwhile, Billy is making his money by helping Hans (Christopher Walken) with his "dognapping" business: they kidnap dogs and then, when they see reward posters for them, Hans returns the dog and collects the money. They make the mistake of kidnapping the shih tzu belonging to a gangster by the name of Charlie (Woody Harrelson), however, and Charlie is not pleased. Soon Billy, Hans, and Marty are running from Charlie, and finding all sorts of material to write about for Marty's screenplay on the way.

Here Comes the Boom

Kevin James is back on the big screen in Here Comes the Boom, which is suspiciously similar to 2011's Warrior except that in this case, the main character is trying to raise money for a school music program rather than needing money for himself and his family. Boom is also a comedy, whereas Warrior was a drama. I originally wrote Boom off in my mind, thinking it was going to be a silly movie about MMA (mixed martial arts), but it actually had a few funny moments and ended up exceeding my expectations.

Scott Voss (James) once loved teaching, but now is a slacker: he shows up late, gets docked vacation days, and doesn't care about his class. His friend Marty (Henry Winkler) is the orchestra teacher at the school, and one day Scott comes across them practicing and is impressed by how good they sound. When the school principal (Greg Germann) announces budget freezes and says that the music program will be cut, Scott realizes that Marty might lose his job, and decides that he will work together with the other teachers to raise the $47,000 or so needed to keep the program. This is easier said than done, though, especially because most of the teachers, with the exception of Bella (Salma Hayek), don't really care about putting in the extra time to save the orchestra. Scott used to wrestle in college, and after his friend Niko (Bas Rutten) tells him how much MMA fighters make, even for losing a match, he hatches a crazy scheme to enter the ring and raise the money for the music program. Scott doesn't anticipate how hard it will be, though, and gets thrown around in the arenas more than a few times before hitting his stride.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I will confess that I wasn't super excited to see Frankenweenie, even though Tim Burton's movies (as well as Disney films) are usually great. It's completely in black and white and the little kid with the weird teeth in the previews for it (who we later find out is named Edgar "E" Gore - get it?) was more than a little creepy. Now, however, I completely take back my earlier sentiments, as Frankenweenie was not only unique, but intriguing as well.

Victor (voiced by Charlie Tahan) doesn't have many friends aside from his dog, Sparky. Victor wants to enter the school science fair, but his dad (Martin Short) makes him a compromise: he can do the fair as long as he joins the baseball team as well. During his first game, Sparky gets loose from where he's tied to a post, and runs into the street after the ball, getting fatally hit by a car. Victor is distraught until his new science teacher (Martin Landau) shows the class how all dead animals have "muscle memory," which gives him an idea; he decides to try and bring Sparky back to life.

The experiment works, surprisingly, and Victor is overjoyed; at least until Edgar (Atticus Shaffer), the other class "weirdo," finds out what he did, and demands Victor to teach him how to bring a dead animal back to life. Later, some of their classmates find out Victor's secret too, and they all want to get in on the "resurrection" business so that they can win the school science fair ... but their experiments don't work quite as well as Victor's did.