Friday, January 30, 2015

Movie Review: Black or White


Black or White is basically Kevin Costner vs. Octavia Spencer - and ever since The Help, I'd go see a movie where Spencer reads the phone book, to be honest (I love her acting). This film touches upon many issues that are very relevant today, and it was interesting to see how it played out.

Elliot Anderson (Costner) has just lost his wife, and now is the only person raising his 7-year-old granddaughter, Eloise (Jillian Estell). Her father, Reggie (Andre Holland), is a drug addict who hasn't been in the picture for a while now, and Elliot's 17-year-old daughter died in childbirth. Eloise DOES have a grandmother, however (Spencer), and many cousins, all of whom live in a part of L.A. very different from Elliot's. "Grandma We-We," as her other grandmother, Rowena, calls herself, would like to raise Eloise as her own - she's already doing that for a few of her nieces and nephews; but Elliot won't have it. Soon, they both find themselves embroiled in a family court case, led by Rowena's lawyer brother, Jeremiah (Anthony Mackie), and although Rowena and Elliot both want what's best for Eloise, they both have very strong opinions, as well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

6 Movies Review + Giveaway: Robin Williams double feature + 4-in-1 Suspense Collection, ends 2/8

*Disclosure: I received these movies for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

On January 6, Mill Creek Entertainment released many movies via multipack, and I received the chance to review a few of them. I chose the Robin Williams double feature, as he was one of my favorite actors, and also the 4-in-1 Suspense Collection.

The Robin Williams double feature includes Jakob the Liar - one of the saddest movies you'll ever see, and also a great performance by Williams - and Moscow on the Hudson, from 1984, which I am looking forward to viewing at some point.

The 4-in-1 Suspense Collection includes Panic Room, Flatliners, Perfect Stranger, and Freedomland. I'm looking forward to watching Perfect Stranger and Freedomland, as I don't think I've seen those yet, and both Panic Room and Flatliners are very good.

Mill Creek also released the following, on January 6th, and the collections - at $11.23 each on sale - are a great deal. That's about $2.80 per movie, for the 4-in-1 DVDs!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Godzilla Returns ... Again?

Guest post by: Maria Ramos

Godzilla 1954 movie poster
He is the granddaddy of all movie monsters and the preeminent terror of Tokyo. He is Godzilla, the incredible fire-breathing titan of destruction, who caused audiences to rush from theatres in a frenzy of fear. Reactions to Gojira, the 1954 Toho Studios film that launched the franchise, tapped into national fears surrounding the then-recent use of atomic bombs on Japanese citizens. Since the 1950’s, several versions - 29 in all - of the monster flick were made by various international production studios. Recent news from Toho however, states that the original producers are ready to revamp Godzilla as he was in his initial incarnation - a sea monster bordering on godliness, defending the interests of the Earth.

In Japan, the original Godzilla picture is known as a science fiction kaiju film, a genre which roughly translates to mean "strange creature." In this case, the monster's attack is directly inspired by the American atomic bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945. When Godzilla attacks Tokyo, his nuclear-fire breath rains radioactive terror over all who are unfortunate enough to be in his path. The film was a sensational hit, and gave audiences a pop cultural reference point for their wartime grief.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

DVD Review: Best Men (1997)


*Disclosure: I received a copy of this DVD for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Best Men (1997) is now a MGM Limited Edition DVD, and I was excited to review the movie because Drew Barrymore is one of my favorite actresses. It turned out she wasn't actually in the movie much - it focuses more on her groom and his best men (hence, the title), who get involved in a bank robbery, even though they definitely weren't planning on it.

Official synopsis:
Hope’s (Drew Barrymore) big mistake on her wedding day was sending the groomsmen to collect her jailbird fianc√© Jesse (Luke Wilson) from prison. For on the way from the penitentiary, the best man, Billy (Sean Patrick Flanery), decides he needs a little cash infusion from the town bank…so he holds it up! But it’s not long before all of the groomsmen are held up – when the cops surround the place! And since neither hell nor high water will stop Hope from having her day…she rushes into join her fugitive wedding party, at the risk of spending her honeymoon – not to mention the rest of her life – behind bars!

This was definitely a blast from the past - I was 10 when this movie came out, and it's rated R, so I had not seen it at the time. Dean Cain, who is very hot here whom I used to love on his Superman show, plays one of the best men, as does Andy Dick and Dean Patrick Flannery. Luke Wilson is the groom-to-be, who never actually makes it to the church altar, because it turns out one of his best men is Hamlet, the infamous bank robber who decides to get in a quick robbery before going to his best friend's wedding! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Kernel Season's Popcorn Party Pack Giveaway, ends 2/1


Kernel Season's makes a variety of popcorn seasonings, and I have a party pack giveaway for one of my lucky readers to win! This would make a great addition to your popcorn on a family movie night or perhaps a night home with friends or a significant other.

Here's a bit about the company:
  • It's local! It was founded in 1999 by then-University of Michigan student Brian Taylor, who was looking for a tasty addition to his popcorn. He mixed what is now the original Kernel Season's recipe in his college dorm room.
  • In the 2000s, Brian began teaming up with flavor experts to create a line of seasonings.
  • In 2005, Kernel Season's began selling its products overseas.
  • Today: the company is the leader in the popcorn seasoning category! It sells 12 different seasonings, ranging from your standards (white cheddar, popcorn salt, kettle corn) to the unusual (milk chocolate caramel, bacon cheddar, buffalo wing). 

Movie Review: Mortdecai


We officially have our first awful movie of 2015 ... and it's only January. I had high hopes for Mortdecai, because of its cast: Johnny Depp (in a weirdo role, as usual), Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, and more; however, the first twenty minutes or so of the film are boring, and the film continues to offer only light laughs - if any - throughout the rest of its runtime.

Mortdecai (Depp) is rich (or at least was, at one time or another) but he and his wife (Paltrow) are looking at bankruptcy, as they owe about $8M in back taxes. A detective (Ewan McGregor) who is familiar with Mortdecai's stolen art background comes to him for help in finding a priceless painting that was stolen, and offers a finders fee. Mortdecai, who lives in England, flies all over the world to find the painting, from LA to Russia and back, and learns a few surprising things about the painting in the process.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Movie Review: The Wedding Ringer


The Wedding Ringer is one of those perplexing comedies where about half of the movie is quite hilarious, but the other half isn't really that funny. It's Kevin Hart who makes the movie here, not Josh Gad, and some of the dialogue ended up being flat, but Hart still makes it work.

Doug Harris (Gad) has a problem: he's marrying the girl of his dreams, Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), but has no groomsmen, whereas she has about six or seven bridesmaids. Even worse than that, he has no best man. Doug hears about a "wedding ringer," aka a best man for hire, and finally meets up with him: Jimmy Callahan (Hart), a man whose Best Man services can be bought, for a price. Doug explains that he'll need groomsmen too, and Jimmy sets out to perform the first "Golden Tux": all "rented" groomsmen plus him as the best man. New identities are forged, and Doug goes about introducing his Best Man, "Bic Mitchum," to his fiancee and her family, with sometimes unintentional side effects.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Sartori cooler bag with 5 cheese wedges {$50 value!}, ends 1/24

You may remember my post from last month talking about Sartori cheese - I was able to try some of their flavors, and now I am addicted am a big fan of their products.

Well, guess what? One of my lucky readers  win a Sartori cooler bag, filled with five wedges of cheese (a $50 value!), including my favorite, the Rosemary and Olive Oil Asiago.


The cooler bag will include the following cheese wedges:
  • SarVecchio® Parmesan
  • MontAmor√©®
  • Merlot BellaVitano®
  • Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago
  • Extra Aged Fontina
You can find more information on these cheeses here at Sartori's website, and you can also buy the wedges there. In the Detroit area, I've found that Meijer and Hiller's sells Sartori products, and I believe Kroger and Whole Foods do too, as well as a few other area stores.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Paddington Collector's Edition on DVD {56 episodes!}, ends 1/23

When I was little, I used to have a Paddington bear - a cute little thing with a red hat and blue raincoat. He still lives at my parents' somewhere, I think in a tote in the basement.

When the newest Paddington movie came out, I was tempted to see it just because of that cute little bear. I haven't seen it as of yet, but I do have a great giveaway for you: 56 episodes of the stop-motion TV series.

{PS: I had no idea that Paddington had his own TV series!}

You can check out and also buy the DVD here ($14.99 MSRP, on sale for $11.23 currently), but here's a little bit about it:

Please Look After This Bear. Thank You.

Based off the acclaimed books by Michael Bond, Paddington Bear has captured the imaginations and hearts of young and old around the world for generations. Dressed in his characteristic blue duffle coat and oversized hat, the helpful and cuddlesome Paddington has a gift of putting his paws where he shouldn’t, creating hours of hilariously sticky situations!

A stow-away from darkest Peru, Paddington eventually finds himself alone in Paddington Station, a tag around his neck reading: “Please look after this bear. Thank you. ” When the Brown family take him home, they get a lot more than they bargained for.

This cuddly DVD collection features all 56 episodes and all three ½ hour specials of the original stop-motion production along with 13 episodes of the animated series The Adventures of Paddington Bear.


(Look how cute!)


This would make a great gift or a nice addition to your child's DVD collection.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

GIVEAWAY: 5 pairs of tickets to see Cake at the Maple Theater on 1/20, Detroit area - ends 1/17

Welcome to 2015, Detroit movie fans! The Maple Theater has its first NYFCS (New York Film Critics Series) of the year on January 20th, and will be showing Cake, the new Jennifer Aniston movie, at 7:30pm.

Aniston has already received both a Golden Globe and SAG nomination for her work in this film.

To purchase tickets from the Maple, click here.

Here's the movie's official synopsis:
Claire Simmons (Jennifer Aniston) is in pain. Her physical pain is evident in the scars that line her body and the way she carries herself, wincing with each tentative step. She’s no good at hiding her emotional pain either. Blunt to the point of searing insult, Claire’s anger seethes out of her with nearly every interaction. She has driven away her husband, her friends — even her chronic-pain support group has kicked her out.

The only one left in Claire’s otherwise solitary existence is her housekeeper-cum-caretaker, Silvana (Academy Award nominee Adriana Barraza), who barely tolerates her boss’ need for liquor and prescription pills. But the suicide of Nina (Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick), one of Claire’s fellow chronic-pain group members, prompts another fixation. In pursuing questions about the death of a woman she barely knew, Claire explores the boundaries between life and death, abandonment and heartbreak, danger and salvation. As she inserts herself into the lives of Nina’s husband (Sam Worthington) and the son Nina left behind, Claire just might find salvation. - Cinelou

Friday, January 9, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Gone Girl Blu-ray + copy of the novel, ends 1/20

I didn't review Gone Girl when I saw it in theaters, but it was a great adaptation of the book, which I did review when I read it back in 2012.

Gone Girl is now out on Blu-ray, and you can win a copy of BOTH the Blu-ray and the book, by Gillian Flynn, here at my blog.

First, here's the book's official synopsis:
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Movie Review: Selma


Selma tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, focusing on the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. David Oyelowo is fantastic in the title role, and although the movie is a bit slow in parts, it's definitely worth seeing.

Dr. King (Oyelowo) and his wife, Coretta (Carmen Ejogo), have four children, and he has become the face of the civil rights movement. Although Dr. King has met with the President, Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) a few times, he hasn't been able to secure new legislation, and because of that, African-Americans have been having trouble registering to vote (due to intimidation, ridiculous requirements, and other impediments). He and his team decide that Selma, AL would be a perfect place to have a non-violent protest, and they decide to walk the bridge in Selma; this leads to police brutality and is also broadcasted to the world via TV. King and his family and team must struggle to gain equality for African-Americans, in a time when segregation in the South is still rampant and many don't want a fair world.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's a DANUARY giveaway! The Guest + A Walk Among the Tombstones Blu-rays + prize pack, ends 1/18

No, that's not a typo in the title of this blog post - it's officially DANUARY, as both The Guest and A Walk Among the Tombstones (both featuring Dan Stevens) are now out on Blu-ray combo pack.

I reviewed both of these movies when they were in theaters, and check back soon for Blu-ray reviews of both as well.

Here's the official synopsis for both movies:

The Guest
Recently discharged from the military, David Collins (Dan Stevens) unexpectedly shows up at the Peterson family’s doorstep, claiming to be their late son’s Army buddy. Welcomed into their home, the well-mannered stranger becomes part of the family until a shocking wave of violence raises daughter Anna’s (Maika Monroe) suspicions that the mysterious ex-soldier is not quite what he seems.

A Walk Among the Tombstones

In this intense thriller, Liam Neeson plays Matt Scudder, an ex-NYPD cop turned unlicensed private investigator who reluctantly agrees to help a drug trafficker (Dan Stevens) hunt down the men who brutally murdered his wife. When the PI learns that this is not the first time that these men have committed this sort of twisted crime -- nor will it be the last -- he must blur the line between right and wrong as he races to track the deviants through the backstreets of New York City before they kill again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Get On Up + Blues Brothers Blu-ray + aviator sunglasses, ends 1/15


Get On Up has just been released on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack today, and I have a great prize for one of my lucky readers to win: Get On Up on Blu-ray plus The Blues Brothers (also Blu-ray) and aviator sunglasses. I didn't write a review of the film, but I did see it in the theater and enjoyed it a lot - Chadwick Boseman is great as James Brown.

First, a bit about Get On Up:
Pioneering American music icon James Brown goes from rags to rhythm-and-blues royalty in Get On Up, a spectacular portrait of the life of the charismatic performer, debuting on Digital HD on December 9, 2014 and on DVD and Blu-ray™ Combo Pack including Blu-ray™, DVD, and Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ on January 6, 2015 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Director Tate Taylor follows up his Oscar-nominated breakout film, The Help, with an explosively soul-packed story filled with stunning remixes of Brown’s original recordings, dramatic recreations of the singer’s memorable stage moments and a mesmerizing star performance by Chadwick Boseman (42) as “The Godfather of Soul.” The Blu-ray™ Combo Pack also features over an hour of bonus material, including never-before-seen interviews with the filmmakers and cast, extended and deleted scenes and additional unforgettable musical performances.

The Blu-ray™ Combo Pack includes a Blu-ray™, DVD and DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet™.

  • Blu-ray™ unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture resolution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.
  • DVD offers the flexibility and convenience of playing movies in more places, both at home and away.
  • DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet™ lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly stream or download.

Monday, January 5, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Sesame Street Live, January 23 - February 16, Fox Theater (Detroit), ends 1/16


Sesame Street Live will be coming to the Fox Theater this winter, and I have a chance for you to win a family four-pack of tickets!

First, a bit about the show:
No matter where you’re from or where you’ve been, everyone is special - so join in! Elmo, Grover, Abby Cadabby, and their Sesame Street friends welcome Chamki, Grover’s friend from India, to Sesame Street. Together, they explore the universal fun of friendship and celebrate cultural similarities, from singing and dancing, to sharing cookies! Celebrating 25 years as Detroit’s family favorite tradition at the Fox Theatre, Sesame Street Live will make its annual return to the stage with the all-new Sesame Street Live “Make a New Friend” starting Friday, January 23 through Monday, February 16.

Chamki is from far away and she’s visiting Sesame Street for just one day! Grover has a long to-do list for his friend, from kayaking to hot yoga, but Chamki is busy enjoying cookies with Cookie Monster, singing with Abby Cadabby, and doing ‘The Elmo Slide.’ Will an appearance from Super Grover get Chamki’s attention? Join the fun and make a memory with your friends and family!

Friday, January 2, 2015

DVD Review and GIVEAWAY: The Identical, ends 1/10

*Disclosure: Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

My family and I sat down to watch The Identical last night, which was a movie I was excited to see. I gave away a copy of the soundtrack back in August 2014, and it's always fun to match up the songs from the soundtrack to the scenes in the movie where they are played.

In case you haven't heard of the movie, here's the official synopsis:

The IDENTICAL tells the compelling story of twin brothers unknowingly separated at birth during the Great Depression. DREXEL HEMSLEY becomes an iconic 50’s rock ’n’ roll star, while RYAN WADE (Blake Rayne) struggles to balance his love for music and pleasing his father. The Reverend Wade (Ray Liotta) and his wife (Ashley Judd) are sure their adopted son has been gifted and called by God to be a preacher. But Ryan challenges his parent’s vision for his life, and unflinchingly chooses to launch his own music career with his best friend (Seth Green). Encouraged by his wife (Erin Cottrell) and employer (Joe Pantoliano), Ryan embarks on an unpredictable, provocative path - performing the legendary music of Drexel Hemsley in sold out venues all across the country. As the brothers destinies tragically collide, Ryan discovers that Drexel is his identical twin which leads him to question everything he’s ever believed about God, family, and his own identity.

This was definitely a unique movie. My mom didn't like that one of the twins was given away at the beginning of the film, but that is what starts the ball rolling on the plot, so to speak - the twins' parents are poor and can't care for both of them, so their father decides to give one of them away to the local reverend and his wife, who are unable to have children of their own.

Ryan Wade/Drexel Hemsley's singing kind of reminded me of Elvis - it had that same doo-wop/rock 'n roll type feel to it. It was interesting that even though they were separated at birth, they both had a passion for singing, although Ryan has to struggle against his father's beliefs and Drexel makes a career out of it. 

Parts of this film were definitely cheesy, but it's a good "family night" film (no swearing, etc. in it) and I found the plot to be interesting. It also has a pretty good cast, including Joe Pantoliano, Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta, Seth Green, and Blake Rayne, in the title role.

The Identical is rated PG, with a runtime of 107 minutes. 3 out of 5 stars

{Click here if interested in purchasing the film}

You can win your own copy of The Identical here on my blog, as well!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Year in Review: The Best and Worst Movies of 2014

2014 was a big year for movies, and both the Golden Globes (Jan. 11, NBC) and SAG Awards (Jan. 25, TBS/TNT) are coming up this month.

Take a look back through my movie reviews from 2014 to see which you should definitely see, which you should save for a rainy day, and which you should avoid at all costs.

Guide:
* = Golden Globe award nominations (movie or actors/actresses)

** = SAG award nominations (movie or actors/actresses)

(*/** = both)

Movies with a + at the beginning = some of my favorites from the year.

(link) next to a movie means you can purchase it on Amazon using my affiliate link, if interested.

TOTAL MOVIES REVIEWED IN 2014: 95.
(total movies seen, between DVD/etc, might be a bit more)

YES movies