Thursday, December 26, 2013

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill

Could this be it, the movie that finally wins Leo DiCaprio his Oscar? The Wolf of Wall Street, based on the novel of the same name by Jordan Belfort, the "Wolf" in question, makes it seem like Leo should at least get an Oscar nomination for the role; however, the Academy has snubbed him in the past, so we'll have to see. He's already secured a SAG Award nomination as well as a Golden Globe nom, and after seeing this movie, he more than deserves an Oscar nomination for it.

Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) starts as a trader on Wall Street in October 1987, the same month and year of a major crash. When his firm closes, he takes a job at a tiny place in a strip mall, wheeling and dealing "penny stocks": stocks that sell for pennies and probably will not make their buyers any money. He soon strikes out with Donnie (Jonah Hill) and they create their own firm out of the garage of an auto shop; Belfort eventually gets rich, expands the firm, and is living the high life, until the FBI's Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) starts investigating him. Belfort's personal life starts unraveling as well: things aren't good at home, with his second wife (Margot Robbie) and his drug addiction has gotten out of control. Belfort has to decide whether he will turn himself in to the FBI and take a plea bargain - also involving stepping down at his firm - or continue thumbing his nose at the FBI and taking the punishment for whatever crimes for which they can prosecute him.

Movie Review: Grudge Match

Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Alan Arkin

Grudge Match has a stellar cast, and it was fun to see Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro duke it out, as boxing rivals who haven't fought each other in thirty years. I haven't seen Kim Basinger on a screen in a while as well, and Jon Bernthal (Shane from Walking Dead!) plays De Niro's son. Alan Arkin also has a great part as Stallone's former trainer, who agrees to train him for the upcoming match, dubbed "Grudgement Day."

Billy "The Kid" McDonnen (De Niro) and Henry "Razor" Sharp (Stallone) each lost one boxing match in their careers, to each other. There was a third match that was supposed to occur, but Razor suddenly announced his retirement from boxing, and the match never happened. Thirty years later, The Kid and Razor run in to each other at a video studio, where they're recording movements and voicings for a video game depicting them, and they start fighting; one of the employees posts the video on YouTube and it goes viral. Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart) convinces both of them to participate in "Grudgement Day," where their 3rd and final match will finally happen, but before that day they both need to deal with many unresolved issues, including the woman that The Kid slept with who used to be Razor's girlfriend (Basinger) and The Kid's now-son and grandson.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Movie Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Ben Stiller, 2013 movie review

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
is actually a remake of the 1947 movie of the same name, which was based on a 1939 short story by James Thurber. It was in a book called My World and Welcome to It, which was then turned into a one-season TV show, from 1969-70. This version of Walter has an all-star cast, of which it makes ample use, and it's definitely one of the more unique movies I've seen this year.

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) works in negative assets protection at Life magazine, meaning that he is in charge of all the photograph negatives that come through the building. Life has just announced that it will be moving to an online publication, and the person facilitating this transition (Adam Scott) wants the newest Sean O'Connell photograph from him for the cover of the last ever issue of Life. There's one problem, though: Walter never received that photo from Sean O'Connell, and Sean is nowhere to be found. With the help of his coworker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), they track him to Greenland, and Walter makes an impulsive decision to jump on a plane and fly there in the hopes of finding Sean and the missing photograph negative.

Monday, December 23, 2013

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Jump, 12/31 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 5 winners

Detroit movie giveaway
The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week, with the last film of the year! Jump will be playing on Tuesday, December 31st, at 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI) - it would make a great night out before or after your New Year's Eve celebration.

Film synopsis:
This New Year is going off with a bang!

Jump follows the lives of four twenty-something's whose lives collide one fateful New Year's Eve in a night of fast talk, wild coincidence and intrigue. The unseen yet crucial occurrence of this tale is the strange disappearance of Eddie Kelly, which hangs over the city like a dark cloud. A wayward corpse and the busy intrigue of New Year's Eve all compose the jigsaw puzzle of this out of sequence, multi-stranded story. And as the night's events expertly fall into place, Jump weaves an existential portrait of our characters' lives as their hopes, fears and secrets are revealed.




GIVEAWAY:

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. The ticket giveaway will end this Sunday, December 29th at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified the morning of December 30th. Winners must respond within 24 hours or other winner(s) will be chosen. Tickets are in PDF form and will be emailed to winners, who may print two tickets each (one for you + one for a guest).

Good luck!

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Legend of Hercules poster, autographed by Kellen Lutz - ends 1/4/14

Legend of Hercules contest

The Legend of Hercules hits theaters on January 10th, 2014, and I have a poster you can win - signed by Twilight's Kellen Lutz, who plays Hercules in the movie!

About the movie:
In the epic origin story THE LEGEND OF HERCULES, Kellan Lutz stars as the mythical Greek hero -- the son of Zeus, a half-god, half-man blessed with extraordinary strength. Betrayed by his stepfather, the King, and exiled and sold into slavery because of a forbidden love, Hercules must use his formidable powers to fight his way back to his rightful kingdom. Through harrowing battles and gladiator-arena death matches, Hercules embarks on a legendary odyssey to overthrow the King and restore peace to the land.

First, check out the widget below:




GIVEAWAY:

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Contest ends on Saturday, January 4th, 2014 and winner will be emailed on January 5 and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen. Prize will be sent via FedEx or USPS - no P.O. Boxes, please. U.S. and Canada residents only.

Each household is only eligible to win ONE Autographed Poster via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 20, 2013

Movie Review: Saving Mr. Banks

Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks

Saving Mr. Banks
is based on the true story of Walt Disney's fight to acquire the rights to Mary Poppins from author P.L. Travers. Travers and Walt Disney (the actual man, not the company) went back and forth for about twenty years before Travers finally sold the rights to him, and their relationship is included in the movie. Although the film isn't entirely historically accurate, it is a great movie, and I was surprised by how much I liked it.

The movie jumps between the past, when P.L. Travers flies to L.A. from London to negotiate Mary Poppins, and the present, in Australia, when she was a little girl. Young P.L., whose real name is Helen, lives with her father (Colin Farrell) and mother (Ruth Wilson), and although her father is a banker, he is a man of whimsy; he always makes her feel special, and for a long time she doesn't realize he's an alcoholic who sometimes even drinks before going to work. Eventually, her father gets very sick, and a nanny of sorts comes to their house to take care of him, and also make sure the house is in tip-top shape - much like Mary Poppins, although her job is to care for the children in that family.

In the present, Travers is having a hard time with "Mr. Disney" (even though he insists she calls him Walt) and because she still owns the rights to the book, she is able to make ridiculous demands of him. The Sherman brothers (B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman) and their original songs keep getting shot down by her, and even the kinder songwriter, Don (Bradley Whitford) is having a tough time with "Mrs. Travers," as she wants to be called. She's not any nicer to her chauffeur, Ralph (Paul Giamatti), either, and she absolutely loathes that Disney has filled her hotel room with Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and other Disney character paraphernalia as a welcome present. Disney promised his daughters a long time ago that he would bring their favorite book to the big screen, and he says that he never goes back on a promise to his children; therefore, he must learn to work with Travers, and accept some of her (sometimes crazy) demands.

Movie Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

Oscar Isaac, John Goodman, Carey Mulligan

Inside Llewyn Davis is going to appeal to a specific set of people, most likely, although others may enjoy it too. Those that like folk singing will like this film, or those that like period films, as it takes place in 1961 Greenwich Village. The movie is directed by the Coen brothers (Ethan and Joel), and that is very obviously throughout the film as well.

The title character, Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) is a down-on-his-luck folk music performer. He performs regularly at a little club called the Gas Light, owned by a friend, and roams from couch to couch for sleeping arrangements, as he doesn't have his own place. One such couch is owned by Jean (Carey Mulligan), who lives with Jim (Justin Timberlake), and Jean has a problem: she's pregnant and there's a 50/50 chance it could be Llewyn's. Meanwhile, Llewyn has lost a cat owned by other friends, the Gorfeins, and must find him before he shows up to sleep on their couch again. Llewyn also has no money, and doesn't make much at the few gigs he can get; he has to be able to pay for Jean's abortion and maybe have enough to pay his sailor's union dues, too, if he wants to fall back on that as a career choice.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blu-ray Review and FREE Digital Download: The Poor & Hungry, directed by Craig Brewer

The Poor & Hungry is the type of movie I usually hate: shot in black and white, it's an indie movie that was filmed in the '90s and released in 2000. However, mostly because of the interesting characters and the interspersion of country music - it was filmed in Memphis - with cello music, I surprisingly did not hate this film. It's a little slow, which was a dislike, but the plot is interesting, and for the most part kept my attention.

Official synopsis (nytimes.com):  In this gritty independent drama, Eli (Eric Tate) is a car thief who works for Mr. Coles (John Still), the owner of a not entirely legit salvage shop. Eli has begun to have qualms about his career, and one day, after stealing a car from Amanda (Lake Latimer), an attractive young music student, he's wracked with remorse, and when he meets Amanda at an impound yard where she hoped to find her car, he offers her a ride home. A romance begins to blossom between Eli and Amanda, but as Eli tries to tear himself away from his life of crime, another woman named Harper (Lindsey Roberts) tries to draw him back in. Harper is a novice car thief herself who has a deal with Cowboy Earl (T.C. Sharpe), the owner of a seedy massage parlor, for a black-market Cadillac. However, to get the car Earl wants, Harper will have to go through Mr. Coles, and she sees Eli as the perfect go-between. Shot on digital video equipment in Memphis, TN, The Poor and Hungry was the first feature film from writer and director Craig Brewer.

One of the characters in this movie, Amanda, who Eli begins to fall in love with, is a cellist, and I really liked how some of the key scenes had cello music throughout. The entire film was shot in Memphis, and shot digitally, which was unusual for the time period; I've never been to Memphis but it was interesting to get a sense of what the city is like, through this movie.

Amanda and Eli
The reason that The Poor & Hungry is now being re-released is that the director, Craig Brewer, has enhanced the film and also added a "remastered Dolby 5.1 sound mix." The movie won Best Digital Feature at the Hollywood Film festival in 2000, and received rave reviews from critics, especially since it's Brewer's debut film. Since then, he's made Hustle & Flow and the recent Footloose remake, but he says that "So much love went into this movie [Poor & Hungry] ... it's the one I'm most proud of. That's why I want people to see it. Especially young filmmakers who want to make their first film."

If I had to give The Poor & Hungry a rating I'd probably give it a Maybe and 3/5 stars. However, if you're a fan of black and white movies or indie films - or really just movies that tell an interesting story - you should check it out, and the best part is, Brewer is currently offering a FREE DIGITAL DOWNLOAD of the movie online.

[You can click HERE to view the site and get your free digital copy]

The way the two main characters meet here also reminded me a little bit of Bounce, which came out in 2000 as well, in that Eli would have never have met Amanda if he hadn't stolen her car - they end up meeting at the car impount lot, as she's staring at the husk of her car, after Eli and his crew have stripped it for parts.

*Disclosure: I was given a Blu-ray copy of this film from the director for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Pretty Old, 12/17 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 5 winners

Pretty Old
The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week! The documentary Pretty Old will be playing on Tuesday, December 17th, at 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI). This film looks like it could be an interesting take on your normal beauty pageant.

UPDATE: A few of the senior contestants from this movie (see below for synopsis) are from Michigan and will be in attendance at the screening, with a Q&A following the movie. They will also be in full pageant regalia!

Film synopsis:
Beauty is not a number.

When 30 women aged 67-84 from across America and around the world descend on Fall River, Massachusetts to compete in the 30th anniversary of the Ms. Senior Sweetheart Pageant, hilarity and heartbreak ensue. Under the doting attention of pageant founder and personality, Lenny "Low Price" Kaplan, these women share intimate experiences, discover new-found passions and stir lifelong insecurities that challenge common misconceptions of aging. Following four diverse competitors as they prepare for, travel to and compete in the pageant, PRETTY OLD is a profound and intimate look into what it truly means to age beautifully.




GIVEAWAY:


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. The ticket giveaway will end this Sunday, December 15th at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified the morning of December 16th. Winners must respond within 24 hours or other winner(s) will be chosen. Tickets are in PDF form and will be emailed to winners, who may print two tickets each (one for you + one for a guest).

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 6, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Monster Jam at Ford Field, Detroit, January 11 - ends 12/15

El Toro Loco
Monster Jam is coming to Ford Field in Detroit on January 11, 2014, and that means monster trucks galore! I've never actually been to a monster truck show but I bet it's a fun time, and I have both a discount code and a giveaway for you to win tickets.

A bit about the show:
Monster Jam®, starring the biggest performers on four wheels: Monster Jam monster trucks! The twelve-feet-tall, ten-thousand-pound machines will bring you to your feet, racing and ripping up a custom-designed track full of obstacles to soar over or smash through! Monster Jam provides a massive night’s entertainment tailored perfectly for your family’s budget, and these colorful, larger-than-life beasts are sure to capture the hearts of both young and old.

Featuring: Grave Digger® driven by Chad Tingler, Radio Station - driver TBA, Iron Man™ driven by Lee O'Donnell, Zombie℠ driven by Sean Duhon, Max-D℠ driven by Morgan Kane, Mohawk Warrior® driven by BJ Johnson, Northern Nightmare℠ driven by Cam McQueen, Monster Mutt℠ Dalmatian driven by Taryn Laskey, Monster Energy driven by Damon Bradshaw, El Toro Loco® (Yellow) driven by Becky McDonough, Crushstation driven by Greg Winchenbach, Aftershock driven by Bob Robbins, Krazy Train - driver TBA, Bounty Hunter driven by Darren Migues, Iron Outlaw driven by Trent Montgomery, Bad News driven by Brandon Derrow, Raminator driven by Mark Hall and Mopar Muscle driven by Mike Miller! Subject to change without notice.

Additional: PARTY IN THE PITS from 2-5 PM. Meet the drivers, get autographs! Pit Party tickets are $10 each and can be purchased along with your show tickets on ticketmaster.com or on the day of the event at the Ford Field Box Office.

You can save $5 on your Monster Jam tickets by using the code MOM5. 
This code is valid on the $25 and $20 price levels only, and not valid on Pit Passes. Valid only on Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000. Limit 8 tickets per order.

Tickets are priced at $10 for kids and $20 for adults when purchased in advance; add $2 to ticket price if purchasing the day of the show.

Click HERE to buy tickets from Ticketmaster.

Zombie ... that's one scary truck!

GIVEAWAY:

Two lucky Yes/No Films readers will win tickets to Monster Jam! Normally I only have a family four-pack to give away, but because I am unable to attend that day, I have both that and a (big) family five-pack of tickets to give away! 

You heard that correctly - one 4-pack and one 5-pack of tickets!

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Contest will end on Sunday, December 15th at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified on December 16th and have 24 hours to respond, or alternate winner(s) will be chosen. You must live within driving distance to Ford Field or be willing to drive there to win these tickets. Tickets will be available for pickup at Ford Field on January 11th.

The first winner drawn for the giveaway will have their choice of the 4-pack or 5-pack of tickets; second winner will get the remaining pack of tickets. 

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and normally receive tickets to these events in exchange for posting about them. All opinions listed are my own. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TICKET GIVEAWAY: What's in a Name?, 12/10 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 5 winners

French film contest
The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week! The movie What's in a Name? will be playing on Tuesday, December 10th, at 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI). This film looks like it could be quite funny, and it's in French with English subtitles.

Film synopsis:
Can a name determine a life?

 Vincent (Patrick Bruel), a successful forty-something, is about to become a father for the first time. He is invited for dinner at the quaint apartment of his sister, Elisabeth (Valerie Benguigui), and brother-in-law, Pierre (Charles Berling) where he catches up with his childhood friend, Claude (Guillaume de Tonquedec).

Whilst waiting for Anna (Judith El Zein), his younger spouse who is always running late, his cohorts gleefully bombard him with questions on his fast approaching fatherhood... But when his hosts ask Vincent what name he has chosen for his future offspring, his response plunges the family into chaos.




GIVEAWAY:


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. The ticket giveaway will end this Sunday, December 8th at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified the morning of December 9th. Winners must respond within 24 hours or other winner(s) will be chosen. Tickets are in PDF form and will be emailed to winners, who may print two tickets each (one for you + one for a guest).

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 2, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Blu-ray #MovieMagic for the holidays, ends 12/11


So, have you tried watching Blu-rays yet? I personally own a Blu-ray player (that I got for cheap on Amazon a few years ago!) and I find the picture quality to be so much crisper and clearer than DVDs.

This holiday, rediscover the #MovieMagic behind your favorite films. Blu-ray offers exclusive special features that put you in the filmmaker’s chair, with a behind-the-scenes access to all of the magic: Special effects, talent interviews, alternative endings, unreleased scenes, bloopers, and more!

With a Blu-ray combo pack, you can enjoy your favorite films in high-definition whenever and wherever you want. You can keep the Blu-ray disc in the living room, DVD in the car, and the digital copy on your phone for when you’re on the move!

Grab your favorite movie lover a Blu-ray this holiday!

Highlights:
• With the combo pack you can take your favorite films wherever you go. You can keep the Blu-ray disc in the living room, DVD for the car, and the digital copy on your mobile phone while on the move!
• Blu-ray lets you to watch your favorite movies with unmatched sound and video that is SIX TIMES the quality of DVDs!
• Blu-ray offers the most premium possible in home entertainment experience
• You don’t have to worry about the buffering that happens with streaming videos




GIVEAWAY:

One lucky Yes/No Films reader will win one of the following on Blu-ray, which will be chosen at random:

• The Little Mermaid - Diamond Edition
• The Lone Ranger
• Monsters University
• Angels Rising
• Rise of The Guardians
• Despicable Me 2
• Turbo
• Grown Ups 2
• Wizard of Oz 3D
• The Wolverine
• Star Trek: Into Darkness
• White House Down
• Fast 6
• Pacific Rim
• After Earth
• Man of Steel
• Red 2
• World War Z
• 2 Guns
• Weeds: The Complete Collection
• Predator 3D

Definitely a varied list of films!

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Contest will end on Wednesday, December 11th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted via email on December 12th and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen. U.S. and Canada residents only, please - prize will be sent via FedEx, so no P.O. boxes. 

Some additional info:
Each household is only eligible to win ONE #MovieMagic Title via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway