Saturday, December 29, 2012

Movies of 2012: Roundtable

2012 movies, 2012 films, The Hobbit, Skyfall, Django Unchained, roundtable

There have been many films shown this year, including the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I along with two other critics have put together a roundtable to showcase the movies of 2012.

Critics include:

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Django Unchained

Django Unchained, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson

Django Unchained is the newest film by director Quentin Tarantino, which means you automatically know it's going to have a ton of bloodshed in it. This film definitely has that, and may run about a half-hour too long, but overall was one of the better films I have seen lately. It also has an all-star cast, including Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson, and the humor throughout will keep you entertained despite its long runtime.

Django (Foxx) is a slave who was recently sold and is being transported to his new master. Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) comes upon him and other slaves walking through the night, and kills the white men transporting them. Schultz is a bounty hunter and needs Django to help him find the newest men whom he's been assigned to kill; Schultz has never met them, but they were Django's old masters. Schultz gives Django his freedom and befriends him while training Django to be a bounty hunter. Django also wants to find his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who was sold to different masters than him, and Schultz agrees to help him find her. Along the way they encounter a mean plantation owner (Don Johnson) and the rich owner of Candieland (DiCaprio), Calvin Candie, who currently 'owns' Broomhilda, and Django and Schultz must trick him in order to get her back.

Parental Guidance

I did not have high hopes for Parental Guidance based on its previews, even though I'm a big fan of both Bette Midler and Billy Crystal. To be honest, it looked like a typical "family" movie that was all sap and no substance. However, I found myself actually enjoying the film, and most of the jokes throughout it were actually pretty funny.

Alice (Marisa Tomei) and her husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott) have three young kids, and haven't taken a vacation in forever. When Phil gets to go on a trip to present on his "smart house," R-Life, he asks Alice to go with him. Unfortunately, Phil's parents aren't free to watch the kids for the duration of their trip, so they're forced to call "the other grandparents" - Alice's parents, Diane (Midler) and Artie (Crystal). Alice and Phil's parenting style was very different from Alice and Phil's, however, and she gives them strict instructions: no sugar for the kids (ha ...), and they all have rigid schedules. They also live in an R-Life prototype house which causes some problems for Artie and Diane, since they're not used to a house that's so technologically advanced; even turning on the microwave turns out to be a challenge. The kids all pose different and unique problems for the two as well, but with some "tough love" they learn to work their way through them.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise, movie, film review, movie review

Jack Reacher is based on a series of books about a six-foot, 250-pound man, so apparently fans of the book were not pleased to hear that 5'7" Tom Cruise, more scrawny than brawny, had been cast in the role. However, he does a great job with the role; if the book fans can put away their biases, they may actually end up enjoying the film adaptation.

Jack Reacher (Cruise) is a ghost. He served in the military, mostly working as an investigator, and received many honors; and then, after that, he seemed to vanish. When James Barr (Joseph Sikora), a sniper who has shot five random people asks for him by name, he randomly shows up to talk to the DA, Rodin (Richard Jenkins) and his colleague Emerson (David Oyelowo) about the man, and ends up working with the lawyer defending the sniper, the DA's daughter, Helen (Rosamund Pike). All evidence points to Barr having committed the crime, but Reacher isn't so sure, and he must figure out the evidence before being run out of town by some shady characters.

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D

I am a fan of Cirque du Soleil, and have seen them twice in Vegas: their show Mystere, at Treasure Island, and O, at Bellagio. Both of these were a while ago (though I'm hoping to see a Cirque show when in Vegas next month!), but I still remember the artistry of their shows and the uniqueness of them. Worlds Away showcases more than five of these shows, while trying to string together a coherent story, and if you like Cirque you will like this film; if movies without words, for the most part, are not for you, then you will not.

The synopsis of this movie from IMDb is "Two young people journey through the dreamlike worlds of Cirque du Soleil to find each other." This is correct, except really the filmmakers only created this flimsy plot to hold together a film showcasing the world of Cirque, which is fine by me, as the sylph-like creatures, clowns, and people of that world are more interesting anyways. A girl goes to a circus and sees a handsome young man working there, basically, and goes to find him; a clown there shows her a picture of him, which is an advertisement for The Aerialist, the part he plays in the circus. She ends up getting lost in the Cirque du Soleil's world, so to speak, but finally (semi-spoiler) finds him in the end.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

This is 40

This is 40 is being billed as the "sort-of sequel to (2007's) Knocked Up," and so Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprise their roles as Pete and Debbie. However, you won't find Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl here at all, though there are a few other recurring characters, such as Jason Segel, playing an athletic trainer aptly named Jason, and Charlyne Yi, playing an employee who works at Debbie's clothing store (and who is so weird she actually steals a few scenes). I remember I saw a screening of Knocked Up when I was attending U of M and thought it was funny, and This is 40 matches that, though it's definitely not a movie for kids because of its language and adult jokes.

Five years after Knocked Up, Pete and Debbie are turning 40, though Debbie insists on having "38" written on her cake. They're in some serious money troubles too, although Debbie doesn't even know the half of it; Pete's music studio isn't doing well, and he brings back one of his favorite "old fogies" and his band in a last-ditch attempt to make some money. Debbie has taken to smoking near windows in secret, and Pete eats too many cupcakes, so they decide to start a healthier lifestyle - which of course makes them miserable. Their oldest daughter, Sadie (Maude Apatow, real-life daughter of director Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann), is thirteen, too, and they're having a hard time dealing with her; their youngest daughter, Charlotte (Iris Apatow, sister of Maude), is hating that her sister and herself aren't close anymore, too. The movie follows these characters through their ups and downs, and brings a large dose of comedy with it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Guilt Trip

Seth Rogen, The Guilt Trip, Barbra Streisand

The Guilt Trip looked like it could be a fun "buddy" movie, only this case with a mom and her son instead of two men or two women, but unfortunately it's not that funny. Barbra Streisand hasn't been in a film since 2010's Little Fockers, but I thought Seth Rogen's reputation for comedy meant the pair would mesh well together, which they did; however, the script holds them back from making this movie a memorable one.

Andy Brewster (Rogen) has invented "Scioclean," an all-natural cleaning product that is not as toxic as its competitors. He's spent the past five years developing the product, and now it's time to hit the road and find a company that wants to buy it. After his mother (Streisand) tells him a story about her first love, Andy looks him up and finds out he lives in San Francisco; he was planning on ending his trip in Vegas, but decides to add San Fran to his trip, and invites his mother to go with him. Along the way, they encounter a snowstorm, a four-pound steak, and many arguments, but they end up growing closer as well.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit, Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

I should probably preface this review by saying that this is not going to influence you in any way to see or not see the movie (so, stop reading now! Kidding). You are going to see this movie whether I tell you it's good, awful, or somewhere in between. Much like the Potterites or the Twihards, if you are a huge LOTR fan you are going to go see it ... it's as simple as that.

I should also warn that I have seen three-quarters of the first LOTR movie, and also 100% of the third movie - but not in that order. I saw the third movie in my college dorm with a LOTR fan and was confused throughout the entire movie. I saw three-quarters of the first movie when visiting a friend in New Orleans last year (who is also a big LOTR fan) but it was late and I fell asleep with a quarter of the movie left, thereabouts. I tried reading The Hobbit a while back but found it incredibly detailed, and didn't get all the way through that either.

What I can tell you, though, is that although The Hobbit is a beautiful film, it was very confusing as well, at least to me, who is one of the LOTR uninitiated. I know about Gollum, and the ring, and the quests to destroy it, none of which I presumably needed to know for this movie, as it's a prequel, but some of the characters who popped up are from the other movies. In this film, we meet Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit (a short person), who lives a quiet life by himself - at least until Gandalf the wizard shows up one day. He convenes a meeting at Bilbo's house with many dwarves, and they then decide to travel to the Lonely Mountain to get back treasure that was stolen from them by a dragon. They bring Bilbo along as "the burglar," saying that because he's a lot smaller than all of them, he can creep around unnoticed. Bilbo doesn't want to leave his house, and comes along reluctantly, but soon finds himself on a great adventure.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blu-ray combo pack giveaway: Magic Mike OR The Dark Knight Rises

The holidays are fast approaching, and Warner Brothers has come up with a Happy Holidays blog app featuring some classic and new movies that are coming to Blu-ray. Check out the widget below to find some gift ideas for you and your friends and family this holiday season.

To celebrate, I have a Blu-ray combo pack of either Magic Mike or The Dark Knight Rises to give away to one of my lucky readers - prize will be chosen randomly by Warner Brothers.

To enter, check out the widget above, and then fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The combo pack will be sent via FedEx or UPS, so no P.O. boxes, please.

This is a shorter giveaway than my usual ones - it will end this Tuesday, December 18th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified the morning of 12/19 and have 24 hours to respond to my email, or else an alternate winner will be chosen.

Good luck, and happy holidays from Yes/No Films!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 7, 2012

Playing for Keeps

Gerard Butler, Playing for Keeps, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Dennis Quaid

Playing for Keeps looked like it would be a typical rom-com: it had a cute trailer, and I'm a fan of Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and all of the other A-listers who are in this film. However, although the movie does have some nice moments, overall I found that even Gerard couldn't save this film.

George (Butler) is a former soccer star who hit his peak in the late '90s, before he retired. Since then, he hasn't done much of anything, except he was once married to Stacie (Biel) and they now have an 8-year-old son together, Lewis. George walked out on them when Lewis was four, but he's recently moved to their suburban town of Virginia, and wants to spend more time with his son. He also finds out that Stacie is about to marry her boyfriend of three years, Matt. After George is a hit at Lewis's soccer practice one day, Stacie and the other moms ask him to coach the team; he agrees, and is able to spend more time with Lewis. This also means, however, that he has to deal with the soccer moms, be they divorced or married but unhappily, and they are all infatuated with the hot new soccer coach. George, however, only has eyes for one woman, but unfortunately it's the one he can't be with.