Saturday, May 31, 2014

Upcoming: Cinetopia International Film Festival, Ann Arbor + Detroit (June 4-8, 2014) + my Top 5 list


Some of you may know that I'm a University of Michigan alum (class of 2009), so I was excited to hear that Cinetopia will be returning to Ann Arbor (one of my favorite cities), and I will be attending as media. It promises to be a whirlwind of screenings, and right now I plan on seeing 10+ movies during it. (!)

The festival takes place in both Ann Arbor (Michigan Theater, State Theater, and UM's Modern Languages Building, or MLB) and Detroit, and showcases 50 films, in 10 venues, and 110 screenings overall (wow!).

You can click here to see the full schedule, or here to purchase tickets.


More about the festival:
Created for the people of southeastern Michigan, the Cinetopia International Film Festival features the best feature-length dramas, comedies, and documentaries from the world’s best film festivals (e.g. Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, SXSW, Tribeca, etc.).

The extensive festival program is selected exclusively for Cinetopia by a team that includes Indiewire Influencer Russ Collins (from the Michigan Theater) and the national “dean” of art house programming Elliot Wilhelm (from the Detroit Film Theatre).

Cinetopia honors the rich heritage of cinematic culture and Michigan’s proud legacy of outstanding cinema artists through special pre- and post-film events, including presentations, discussion panels, and Q&A sessions with directors, writers, and stars.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Movie Review: Maleficent


Maleficent is the newest Sleeping Beauty movie to come to the big screen, except this version focuses on the villain and not the princess. Vividly reimagined by Disney, Angelina Jolie excels in the role, and the cinematography is simply breathtaking throughout.

As a young girl, Maleficent looked very much human, other than the horns coming out of her head and the wings sprouting from her shoulders. She befriends a boy named Stefan, and surprisingly a friendship and later a romance is born. He later leaves her for the humans, though, and eventually winds up in King Henry's court. When Maleficent does wrong by the King, who is now dying, he wants her head on a platter, and offers a tempting deal: anyone who can slay Maleficent and bring her to him will be heir to the throne, and able to marry his daughter, as well. Stefan knows he can coerce Maleficent into spending some time with him, and he goes into the forest to see her.

Later, Maleficent is angry at Stefan, and takes out her anger on his new daughter, Aurora: she curses her to prick her finger on a spinning wheel on her 16th birthday, and she will be in a sleep-like death state, unless she is given true love's kiss. Maleficent then gets to know Aurora as Aurora grows up, however, raised by three fairies who call themselves her aunts, and she regrets this curse; by that point, however, it is unbreakable.

Movie Review: A Million Ways to Die in the West

A Million Ways to Die in the West movie review

I had a feeling that A Million Ways to Die in the West was going to be either hilarious or a huge disappointment, and unfortunately, for me it was the latter. It's directed by (and stars) Seth MacFarlane, of Family Guy and Ted fame, so going in you can safely assume the humor will be bawdy and target any and all ethnicities; but the film could have done without most of its sophomoric humor, too.

Albert (MacFarlane) is a sheep herder who lives with his parents. His girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), has recently dumped him, and he's depressed and wants her back. She's taken up with Foy (Neil Patrick Harris), who works at the mustache store (and indeed sports a magnificent handlebar mustache himself), and Albert somehow finds himself challenging Foy to a duel. Luckily, Anna (Charlize Theron), who is new in town, is able to postpone the duel for another week, and gives him lessons on how to shoot. What he doesn't know, though, is that Anna is the wife of Clinch (Liam Neeson), one of the most notorious bandits in the West, and Clinch will be arriving in town soon with the intention of reuniting with Anna.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Son of God on Blu-ray, ends 6/8

I didn't get a chance to see Son of God when it was in theaters (or, on TV as a mini-series prior to that), but everyone I know who saw it said they liked it, and that the story was interesting.

Official synopsis:

SON OF GOD brings the story of Jesus' life to audiences through compelling cinematic
Son of God Blu-ray giveawaystorytelling that is both powerful and inspirational. Told with the scope and scale of an action epic, this film features powerful performances, exotic locales, dazzling visual effects and a rich orchestral score. SON OF GOD shows the life of Jesus from his humble birth through his teaching, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection.

Led by an all-star international cast, SON OF GOD boasts phenomenal performances from Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado as Jesus Christ, Roma Downey as Mother Mary, Darwin Shaw (Casino Royale) as Peter, Sabastian Knapp as John (28 Days Later) and Amber Rose Revah as Mary Magdalene (From Paris With Love). Oscar® and Grammy®-winning composer Hans Zimmer unites with acclaimed vocalist Lisa Gerrard – along with Lorne Balfe – to create the majestic musical backdrop for this epic production.

The Blu-ray and DVD have some special features as well, including the following:

• SON OF GOD: REBORN
• FROM THE SET: THE PASSION
• Son of God: Un Reino sin Fronteras
• Put your faith into practice; introduce children to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
• Theatrical Trailer

Monday, May 26, 2014

GIVEAWAY: 1 Year Supply of YumEarth Candy, great for the movies! Ends 6/9


Sponsored by: YumEarth

Hosted by: NYSavingSpecials

Co-hosted by:

Ronda Writes - Total Randomness!, Barbara's Beat, Brooke Blogs,

Mamal Diane Keeping Life Simple,

My Devotional Thoughts, Simply Sherryl and Dividing by Zero



I've partnered up with several other bloggers to bring you this giveaway, because, well, who DOESN'T like candy?! This would also make a great movie snack if you are the lucky winner, and the winner receives a whole year's supply of YumEarth Candy.

One Year Supply of YumEarth Candy

(Worth over $100)

Looking for healthy candies, with less sugar and less calories?
YumEarth Organics offer gummies, sour products, Fruit snacks, drops, gift items and many more. One of my kids favorites is the lollipops because each lollipop is only 22 calories, they are 100% vegan, peanut free, fat free, artificial dyes and 100% Daily Vitamin C.
You can purchase YumEarth Organics at your local stores like Target. Also save on YumEarth at Amazon.com iherb.com luckyvitamin.com drugstore.com shop locally and also online on their website. To read my full review please go here.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Blu-ray review: Still Mine

James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold in Still Mine

I received Still Mine in the mail a few weeks ago to review, and hadn't really heard of it, except of course we all know James Cromwell from films like Babe and others. It's a Canadian film that's based on a real story, and I'm always a sucker for those types of movies.

Official synopsis: Oscar Nominees James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold star in this love story based on actual events that proves love is the ultimate triumph. Determined to build a more suitable house for his wife Irene (Bujold), whose memory is failing, Craig Morrison (Cromwell) is met with resistance from an overzealous government inspector. Facing a possible jail sentence, and with Irene becoming increasingly ill, Craig races to finish the house in this beautiful story filled with heart and humor.

The performances in this film were great, but it suffers from an extremely slow pace (longtime readers of this blog know that that's something I have issues with). The story is very interesting, so much so that I seeked out the real story after the credits rolled (see link above), which is very similar to the movie: a man in his 80s wanting to build a new house for his wife, who had Alzheimers, but lacked "permits" and all sorts of ridiculous things needed to build. The Globe and Mail calls it "a true Canadian story, a cautionary tale of the tremendous power of the state over the individual in an age of pervasive bureaucracy. It is, indeed, a profound parable of irretrievably lost independence and casually forgotten freedoms."

Friday, May 23, 2014

Movie Review - X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men Days of Future Past review

I agree with a friend of mine who said this installment of X-Men is less action-packed than before, but instead caters more to the diehard fans. While this X-Men film is definitely worth seeing, but it didn't hold my attention quite as much as its previous incarnations.

The film takes place in 2023, where mutants are being hunted by Sentinels: machines that have the ability to mimic the mutants' powers, and therefore are able to kill them. Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) come up with a plan to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to 1973, in an attempt to stop the creation of the Sentinels; when Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) killed Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) that year, she was captured by the government, and they were able to replicate her DNA to use in their Sentinels. Thus, if she was never captured, the Sentinels would not have been perfected - right?

With the help of Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) and other current mutants, they're able to send Wolverine back, where he must convince a much-younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his then-enemy Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) of his mission and get them to help him save their own futures.

Movie Review: Blended


Those of you who are long-time readers of my blog may be shocked by this review - Adam Sandler movies are usually hit or miss for me, but this one was truly hilarious, and may in fact be the funniest movie I've seen in a while. I'm guessing that Drew Barrymore (and the writers, of course) may have something to do with that, but I was pleasantly surprised at how funny the film ended up being.

Newly-divorced Lauren (Barrymore) goes out on a date with newly-widowed Jim (Adam Sandler), and it does not go well - he takes her to Hooters and makes her split the bill with him. She ends up seeing him again, though, and they both find out that her friend Jen (Wendi McClendon-Covey) just broke up with her boyfriend - coincidentally, Jim's boss - and won't be going on their trip to Africa. Barrymore and her two boys really need a vacation, and Jim and his three girls do too, and they both end up going to Africa and pretending that they are Jen and her boyfriend - which involves the "romance" hotel package and more.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Movie Review: Godzilla (2014)

Review by: Jon Vitale

Godzilla movie review 2014All right, let me say one thing first: I’m a huge Godzilla fan. When I offered to write this review, I went in expecting to hate it; I was expecting another disappointment like the 1998 film of the same name, a movie I like to refer to as “giant iguana goes to New York, eats a bunch of fish, has the unfortunate luck of meeting Matthew Broderick, and gets killed by jets.” However, this is not that movie - this is actually a Godzilla movie.

The movie starts with a series of accidents that look to be Godzilla's doing. Massive amounts of radiation disappearing and a meltdown at a nuclear power plant in Japan. Bryan Cranston does his best Bryan Cranston not believing it was a simple accident; he was a supervisor at the plant pre-accident. Cranston gets arrested sneaking into the restricted area, which gets his son Ford (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) to travel to Japan to bail him out. The two end up sneaking back in and getting caught again. This leads to a series of events that awakens a new monster.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Movie Review: Don Peyote, now available on iTunes and VOD

Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler in Don Peyote

*Disclosure: I was provided with a screener link for this movie for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I had not heard of the film Don Peyote before receiving a screener link to watch it, but from the trailer it looked like your typical stoner movie. Unfortunately, it was less coherent than I expected it to be, and overall it's not one I can recommend to watch.

It's hard for me to even attempt to describe this film's synopsis, so instead I'll give you IMDb's:

DON PEYOTE tells the story of Warren Allman, an unemployed stoner who finally finds a purpose in life after an unpleasant encounter with a homeless man preaching the end is near. Fueled by vivid apocalyptic dreams, Warren becomes obsessed with 2012 doomsday theories and decides to make a documentary on the subject while his fiance is busy planning their wedding.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Blu-ray review: Napoleon Dynamite, 10th Anniversary Edition

Napoleon Dynamite 10th anniversary Blu-ray

I was intrigued and also felt very old when I received Napoleon Dynamite's 10th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray to review. The movie was released in 2004 when I was in high school, and I remember how awkward Napoleon was (played by Jon Heder, who I haven't seen in anything recently either, although there's a reason for that - see below) and how the film spawned various catchphrases, such as "Vote for Pedro."

In case you've been living under a rock - here's the film's official synopsis, from Fox Searchlight:

Napoleon Dynamite 10th anniversary Blu-rayFrom the rural town of Preston, Idaho, comes Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder). With a red 'fro, his moon boots, and illegal government ninja moves, he is a new kind of hero. His family consists of fragile brother Kip (Aaron Ruell), who's seeking his soulmate in online chat rooms; Uncle Rico (Jon Gries), who is stuck in his "glory" days of high school football; and Grandma (Sandy Martin), who enjoys going out to the dunes on her quad-runner. Napoleon spends his days drawing magical beasts, working on his computer hacking skills to impress the chicks, and begrudgingly feeding his Grandma's pet llama. When his friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) decides to run for class president, it is Napoleon to the rescue to help him triumph over adversity.

I rewatched it with a friend and we were both laughing at some of the more awkward scenes, but overall the film was just okay - it wasn't quite as funny as I remembered it to be. However, it still has quite a "cult following" - I tweeted with the hashtag #VoteforPedro, and when I clicked on the hashtag, a ton of tweets came up.

Friday, May 16, 2014

GIVEAWAY: $15 Fandango gift card and 3 bags of TWIX Bites, ends 5/24

*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by TWIX Brand, although I did not receive any compensation for writing it.

There's a ton of great movies coming out this summer - Godzilla is out today, The Fault in Our Stars on 6/6, and X-Men soon too - and you could win a $15 Fandango gift card to go see them!

Some info about TWIX Bites:
Sharing is the ultimate way of saying you care about someone! And what better way to do that, than with TWIX Bites! Offering the same rich caramel, crunchy cookie and smooth milk chocolate as a full-size TWIX Bar, TWIX Bites are unwrapped and now available nationwide in two convenient sizes – 2.83-ounce sharing size and 7.0-ounce resealable stand-up pouch – that are ideal for sharing and on the go.

With such big taste in such small bites, you’re probably wondering why they didn’t think of this sooner? To find out why, call 1-844-WHY-SO-LONG! You’ll hear decade-by-decade excuses as to why!

Website – www.twix.com
TWIX Facebook – www.facebook.com/twix.us
TWIX YouTube – www.youtube.com/TwixVideos

Movie Review: Million Dollar Arm

Million Dollar Arm movie review

Million Dollar Arm reminded me a lot of Slumdog Millionaire, and in fact the films share an actor and a song. The concepts, however, are drastically different: the competitive world of baseball is the focus here, instead of trivia. Also, this film mostly takes place in the U.S., although the opening scenes in India were great and reminded me a lot of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was also set there.

JB (Jon Hamm) is in a bit of a bind: Popo (Rey Maualuga), his star football player, has decided to sign with a competing agency instead of his. He's so far behind on his bills that he has a renter (Lake Bell) living in his guest house. He's in need of some cash, and he and his business partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) decide to do something unconventional; they go to Indian to recruit the next big baseball credit, even though cricket (similar to baseball) is king there. They launch the Million Dollar Arm contest and bring their two final contestants, Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal), back to the U.S. to train for one year; after the year, the two boys will go for MLB tryouts. When they actually start practicing, though, JB realizes the boys have a long way to go before they will be MLB material.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Yes/No Films on the Road: Grand Ole Opry + Nashville, aka "right place, right time"



*Disclosure: I received an All-Access Pass for Nashville that I used on Grand Ole Opry tickets. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Last week, I went to Nashville for Yelp Elite spring break, or the trip that my friend and I jokingly called "right place, right time." We bought Grand Ole Opry tickets for that Saturday, because Friday we had a Yelp party, and the schedule wasn't finalized yet - and one of the headliners ended up being Carrie Underwood. The Fault in Our Stars was having an event in Nashville the day we arrived, too, and I was able to get last-minute media passes - you can read about that here.

Ansel Elgort and John Green, at TFIOS q&a

This was my first Yelp Elite spring break - it was hosted in Vegas in 2012 and New Orleans in 2013 - and I had a great time. Activities ranged from a hot chicken and waffles "drunch" (beer, hence the "drunch" part), to a Segway tour, which ended up being one of our favorite activities, to a "Spring Break Y'all" party. My favorite activities, however, ended up being the UYE's (Unofficial Yelp Events), where I got to meet Yelpers from all over the country; my friend and I have a lot of new Vegas and Phoenix friends now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Small Business Showcase, including Lia Sophia, Jewelry in Candles and more, ends 6/1


2014 Small Business Showcase



I've partnered up with Madame Deals and other bloggers to bring you this giveaway - the prizes are pretty awesome! Lia Sophia in particular has some great jewelry, one of my favorite pairs of earrings that I own is from there. Check them out and enter to win below. 


Direct Sales are a great way that many women work to stay home with their children and this month we are proud to present 8 small businesses with fantastic products. These women work hard each and every day and we want to give them a chance to share their products with you. Some of these products are new and some are old favorites.

As part of the Small Business Showcase, they have each donated a prize in our Huge Small Business Showcase giveaway. 8 lucky winners will be randomly drawn on May 26th and win a prize. So make sure to enter and share with your friends because there are many opportunities to enter daily and win.

FLASH GIVEAWAY: 5 pairs of tickets to The Maple Theater's Secret Cinema, ends 5/14

Five of my lucky readers will get to see Secret Cinema at the Maple Theater this Thursday, May 15th - but you have to act fast.

So what's Secret Cinema, you may ask?

Secret Cinema is The Maple's classic film series with a twist - you won't know what you're watching until the lights go down! 
Join your fellow cinephiles every first and third Thursday of the month for another unnamed classic. We've split the series into two nights: Old Hollywood and New Hollywood, employing the pivotal year of 1967 as a historical and thematic dividing line. 
May's New Hollywood selection will be presented by OU Lecturer Justin Remeselnik. The title is recommended for ages 14 and up.

If you want to buy tickets ahead of time, they're only $5, and can be bought here.

This Thursday's showing is at 7:30pm and is "New Hollywood," which means that we know it's a film from 1967 or later.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Yes/No Films on the Road: The Fault in Our Stars Nashville event #tfiosTN

This Thursday was a case of "right place, right time." I was in Nashville for Yelp Elite spring break (check back next week for a post about that), and the author and cast of The Fault in our Stars was also doing an event in downtown Nashville.


I found out about the event when Alisha (coilylocks.com), a blogger friend who lives in Nashville, offhandedly mentioned it to me. I Googled it and was SO bummed to find that the (free) tickets were all sold out; however, I later was able to get media tickets for Alisha and I, and was very excited!

John Green (author of TFIOS)

Shailene Woodley

Movie Review: Neighbors

Neighbors movie review

The trailer for Neighbors promised a raunchy party, which is exactly what you get - and it's a party you will not want to miss. This movie is definitely not for those who are easily offended, or who don't like movies like The Hangover and similar films, but overall it was hilarious.

Married couple Kelly (Rose Byrne) and Mac (Seth Rogen) have sunk all of their money into a new house in which they hope to raise their young child. They're not too happy, then, when a college fraternity moves in next door, even though its president, Teddy (Zac Efron), says that they will "keep [the noise level] down." Soon, Kelly, Mac, and their daughter are being kept awake all night by the frat's raucous parties, and a war develops between Mac, Teddy, and the rest of the frat house - with a lot of deviousness and tricks thrown in to the mix.

It was funny to see Rogen as the "parent" in this film, because he's usually playing a wild party-goer like Efron's character. You can immediately tell that although Rose Byrne and Rogen are the "responsible" 30-something parents in the movie, though, they're really just grown-up kids - which makes the movie that much funnier. Some especially notable scenes are where they get to party with the frat brothers, and another where they plot to drive a rift between Teddy (Efron) and his vice president of the frat, Pete (Dave Franco).

Yes, see this movie. It's the most enjoyable raunchy film and comedy I've seen in a very long time, and although some parts of it were unbelievable (like the fact that a frat house would even open in a quiet suburban neighborhood, for one), it was so funny that I was able to overlook. Lisa Kudrow has a small part as the college dean, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as one of the frat bros, and there's a few quick flashbacks where you can recognize other stars like Jake Johnson and Andy Samberg. The camera point-of-views were interesting in this film too - there were a few that almost made it look like someone was filming with a camera phone or something (very close up) which worked with the movie overall. If you like wild and crazy films like Animal House or The Hangover series, you are bound to like Neighbors, and that is the core audience for to whom I'd recommend this movie.

Neighbors is in theaters today, May 9th, and is rated R with a runtime of 96 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

FLASH GIVEAWAY: Fairytale Brownies Mother's Day Brownies & Bars Combo Box, ends 5/9

color_logo_brownies_tagline


I've partnered up with Lynchburg Mama and other bloggers to bring you this giveaway - a Brownies & Bars Combo Box, just in time for Mother's Day! I *love* brownies and sweet treats - at the movies or elsewhere - and I hope you do as well.
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A Little Background


Friends and owners, David and Eileen created a delicious gourmet brownie that is baked with a Dark Belgian Chocolate, Grade AA butter, farm fresh eggs, fluffy cake flour and their touch of magic.

Currently, there are 12 flavors available including:  Original, Caramel, Chocolate Chip, Cream Cheese, Espresso Nib, Mint Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Pecan, Raspberry Swirl, Toffee Crunch, Walnut and White Chocolate. There are so many different boxes that you're sure to find a mixture of several that you will love!

In addition to brownies, they also carry six flavors of cookies and and bars. All of their products are certified kosher! After 20+ years of being in business, I have to say that they are on top of their game with some amazing treats that I simply cannot put down.

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For Mother's Day, I received the Mother's Day Bar & Brownie Combo. This box includes 6 Fairytale Brownies (1 Caramel, 1 Chocolate Chip, 1 Original, 1 Peanut Butter, 1 Toffee Crunch and 1 Walnut) and 9 Fairytale Bars (2 Chocolate Chip Blondie, 2 Pecan Blondie, 1 Raspberry White Chocolate, 2 Cheesecake Swirl, 1 Cinnamon Crumb and 1 Lemon Blondie). 

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2



I remember liking The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, even though it was reboot of a franchise (with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst) that was still fresh in my mind. I liked this version as well, but it's weaker than the first installment in the franchise; there are too many plot holes and character inconsistencies overall.

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), aka Spider-Man, and his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) have been having some relationship problems lately ... probably due to the fact of him running around NYC and missing important events such as their high school graduation. They agree to separate since Gwen may be going to London for school, but they keep being drawn back together. Meanwhile, Peter's friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), heir to the Oscorp empire, is back in town after the death of his father, and wants to rekindle their friendship. When Oscorp employee Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) accidentally plunges into a pool of electric eels, though, and becomes Electro, Spider-Man has a new foe to battle, and Gwen starts to worry more about him.