Saturday, June 27, 2015

Movie Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl


I was excited to see this film, because when I checked Rotten Tomatoes before the screening, its "tomatometer" was at 100% - fairly rare for a film. I found Me and Earl and the Dying Girl to be a mixture of Juno and other indie movies I've seen, and although it moves at a slow pace, overall it's worth seeing.

Greg (Thomas Mann) has found the secret to surviving high school: become friends with all of the "groups," but never good friends, and you'll be able to coast through. This technique has been working for him up until his senior year of high school, when his mom (Connie Britton) makes him befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a schoolmate who has been diagnosed with leukemia. Their "doomed friendship," as he calls it, is initially very awkward, but they soon become good friends. Greg's friend Earl (RJ Cyler), with whom he makes home movies, also becomes friends with Rachel, and together they decide to make a movie for her.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Movie Review: Max


The trailer for Max looked like it was going to be a film for which you would need to break out the Kleenex, yet surprisingly it wasn't that sad. Max focuses on its title character, a Marines dog who went to Afghanistan with his former owner, and who has some trouble adjusting to life back in the U.S. after his owner passes away during combat.

Kyle Wincott (Robbie Amell, The DUFF) and Max have been inseparable since he was a puppy. When Kyle dies during combat, Max is brought back to the U.S., and is very violent and also gets scared when there are loud noises. Interestingly enough, he calms down in the presence of Kyle's brother, Justin (Josh Wiggins), and the Marines give Justin and his family an ultimatum: either they take Max home, or he's going to be put down. With the help of Justin's friends Chuy (Dejon LaQuake) and his cousin Carmen (Mia Xitlali), Max starts to become normal again. However, Justin soon realizes something strange is going on with one of Kyle's war buddies, who also recently returned home, and the friend and the town sheriff claim that Max bit the sheriff and needs to be put down; Justin decides to investigate, and he and his friends get in over their heads.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Upcoming: Roadside America & Motor Muster at the Henry Ford/Greenfield Village {and a ticket giveaway!}

*Disclosure: I receive a season pass to The Henry Ford / Greenfield Village in exchange for these posts. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

If you live in the metro Detroit area, you've undoubtedly heard of The Henry Ford Museum and its counterpart, Greenfield Village. They have a few events going on this weekend (and one starting this weekend and going through January 2016) that look fun that I am hoping to check out.

credit: thehenryford.org
Motor Muster:
Check out all sorts of cars this Saturday and Sunday at the Motor Muster! The event is open until 9pm on Saturday, too. Your experience will include:
  • Classy Classic Cars
  • Vintage Trucks, Motorcycles and Bicycles
  • Military Vehicle Display
  • Car Talk
  • Dancing in the Streets
  • Special Demonstrations
  • Pass-in-Review Parades (1pm on Main St. each day)
  • Awards
  • (*Sat. 6/20 only) Record Hop USA! "Jump back" to June 1964 and twist the night away - featuring live entertainment, costumed dancers and original recordings. 7pm at the Main Stage on Main St.
Admission is free with Greenfield Village admission, and discounted tickets can be purchased at select Meijer locations.

Movie Review: Inside Out


Inside Out is one of those Pixar movies that kids will like because of the colorful graphics, but the story is really meant for adults; it's interesting and also a tearjerker (bring yourself some Kleenex!), and parts of the story might go over younger kids' heads.

Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) is 11 years old and has led a very happy life in Minneapolis with her mom (Diane Lane) and dad (Kyle MacLachlan). This is due to the emotions inside her head cooperating together and giving her (mostly) happy emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler) tries to have her lead a happy life, while Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) sometimes play a part too. When Riley and her family end up moving to San Francisco, though, things start to get out of whack with her emotions, and Joy and Sadness accidentally end up removed from HQ, and must find their way back, before Riley ends up being unhappy for the rest of her life.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Catching Faith on DVD {2 winners, ends 6/26}

The film Catching Faith is coming to DVD, Digital HD, and On-Demand on August 18th, but you can win a copy here first!

About the film:
This August, R LJ Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: RLJE), under the Image Entertainment brand, presents a moving story about a woman who seems to have it all; a perfect marriage, a daughter at the top of her class, and an athletic son at the top of his game. But things are not always as they appear. On the very night her father dies, things begin to unravel when her son is caught drinking at a party violating the school’s behaviour policy for athletics. The police and the community turn the other way, willing to allow the young athlete to bring them victory regardless of the bad lesson it teaches him. His sister’s pressure to perform is no less severe. At the top of her class, she is expected to be valedictorian, but High School Latin has proven to be much harder than she expected. She finds the perfect opportunity to cheat, and wavers on the decision to be honest, or to be victorious. 

Inspired by the real life experiences of his co-writer, Christian Counsellor, Andrea M. Polnaszek, John K.D. Graham directs a powerful film about one family’s journey toward a true relationship with God and each other, despite the pressures of the community to keep on with the fa├žade. It will be available on DVD, Digital HD, and On Demand this August. For more information or to see the trailer, go to www.CatchingFaith.com.


Synopsis: 
John and Alexa Taylor appear to have the perfect life – they’re the envy of all the parents in town. Their son Beau is the high school football star and their daughter Ravyn is a straight-A student. But when Beau is caught drinking alcohol, his place on the team and his bright future are on the line. With the football season at stake and the judgmental community turning their backs on them, every member of the Taylor family is at a crossroads. Now, they must find the strength from one another, and the spiritual courage from within, to prove that faith and family is the only score that really matters.

{Click here to pre-order from Amazon}

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cinetopia 2015 {Detroit + Ann Arbor}: thoughts and mini-reviews


*Disclosure: I received a media pass to attend the Cinetopia film festival. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

At last year's Cinetopia festival, my first time attending, I saw 12 films. This year, the festival was week-long rather than just over a weekend, and I saw sixteen - 12 of them in Ann Arbor, 3 in Detroit, and 1 at the Maple Theater (metro Detroit area).

Last year I wrote a whopping NINE posts about the fest, including a pre-fest write-up and a few reviews; however, that's a lot, and considering I work FT and also run my book blog, I'm going to try and condense it to just this one post this year.

*To see all 16 of the films I saw and a synopsis of each, click here to see my LETTERBOXD list.


Cinetopia 2015 - MINI-REVIEWS


Saturday, June 6th: Detroit day
  • Macaroni and Cheese
    French film that reminded me of Sex and the City, though it wasn't as good. Ironically, it was about these women that went to a film festival (one of them was a filmmaker) and their hookups and crushes from it. 2.5 out of 5 stars
  • Set Fire to the Stars
    I had been looking forward to this one because Elijah Wood was in it, and it was black and white. I may have taken a short nap during it ... it moved VERY slowly. The premise is that Wood is escorting an esteemed poet around his tour to different colleges and cities, but the poet (Dylan Thomas, who is actually a real person) was a drunk and not very reliable.
    2 out of 5                                      {Find it here - comes to Blu-ray on 7/21/15}
  • The Summer of Sangaile
    This was in Romanian with English subtitles, and is my winner of that Saturday, as it was an interesting story that hasn't been done before. A girl wants to fly / be a pilot, but has vertigo and therefore has issues going up in planes. She meets a girl who encourages her to pursue her dreams, and they embark on sort of a "sexual awakening" relationship that summer as well. The director did a Q&A via Skype after the film as well, from Tel Aviv, which was fun. 
    3.5 out of 5.
     
The Summer of Sangaile

Friday, June 12, 2015

Movie Review: Jurassic World


Jurassic World is the fourth movie in the Jurassic Park series, though Jurassic Park III came out 14 years ago, in 2001. Needless to say, it's been a long time since we've returned to the park, but in this case the wait was worth it.

Jurassic World is the newest and best in technology. The park, which is located in Costa Rica, has about 20,000 visitors daily, and today two of those visitors are Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), who are the nephews of Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), one of the higher-up managers of the park; their parents have sent them to the park while they are busy getting their divorce finalized. Claire is far too busy to actually hang out with her nephews at the park, though, so she assigns her assistant, Zara (Katie McGrath) to them.

The problems start to begin when the park can't seem to find its newest dinosaur, a Tyrannosaurus Rex-sized specimen that was created in a test tube. Owen (Chris Pratt), who works with the raptors, is sent out to take a look at him, but the hybrid is not in his assigned area ... or so they think. As you can imagine, once the dinosaur escapes, all hell breaks loose, and the top priority is quarantining all of the park guests so that no one gets killed like the last time.

Monday, June 8, 2015

I can now talk to my TV remote {introducing: the new Xfinity X1 remote, and Xfinity Share}



*Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Xfinity where I receive services at a discounted rate. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Last Wednesday night, I headed to the Xfinity store in Plymouth, MI to learn more about the company's newest and greatest, and what they've come up with is pretty cool.

First off, the new remote: in the picture above, you'll see there's a button with a blue microphone symbol. You can now hold down that button, say a command or a question, release the button, and have your TV  screen change. It's kind of like Siri but for your TV!

Some examples that you can say to the remote are:

  • Changing the channel: “Watch ESPN”
  • Searching for movies or shows: “The Walking Dead”
  • Browsing Xfinity On Demand: “Show me kids movies”
  • Setting a recording: “Record Saturday Night Live”
  • Finding sports teams, games and events: “When do the Phillies play?”
  • Getting recommendations or seeing what’s popular on TV right now: “What’s trending?”

I created an Instagram video (forgive the fast talking, IG only gives you 15 seconds for videos) and a Periscope about the remote, and it was fun to play around with. 

A video posted by Liz Parker (@yesnofilms) on

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Blu-ray combo pack review & GIVEAWAY: The DUFF, ends 6/17

I reviewed The DUFF in February of this year when I saw it in theaters, and on June 9th it will be released on Blu-ray combo pack, DVD, and on-demand.

I'm a big fan of the book of the same name, which the movie is based off of, and although they did change a lot of things from the book, the movie is still entertaining.

Synopsis (from my previous review):
Bianca (Mae Whitman) is best friends with Jess (Skyler Samuels) and Casey (Bianca A. Santos), both of whom are considered the school "hotties." Her neighbor Wesley (Robbie Amell) informs her one day that she is their DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Bianca has never heard of a DUFF before, but when she Googles it, she quickly realizes he is right - and she dislikes this so much that she "breaks up" with her friends and tries to make a go of it solo. She brokers a deal with Wesley: she'll teach him Chemistry, as he's failing the class, if he teaches her how NOT to be a DUFF, as she wants to go out with her crush Toby (Nick Eversman). What they end up learning about each other in the process, though, is surprising, and she soon finds that she likes Wesley more than she thought.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Movie Review: Spy


Spy has an all-star cast and is the antithesis of a James Bond movie: it knows it's making fun of the genre, and it definitely doesn't take itself too seriously, though it's also chock-full of action throughout.

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) has worked at the FBI for many years now, providing tech backup for Bradley Fine (Jude Law), on whom she also harbors a secret crush. When one of Fine's missions goes awry, and her boss, Elaine (Allison Janney), needs someone to go "into the field" to do some research, Susan volunteers; after all, she's blended in her whole life, so this assignment will be perfect for her. Susan flies to Paris, where she finds that a rogue CIA agent, Rick Ford (Jason Statham) has followed her there, in a misguided attempt to help her and/or solve the mission before she gets in over her head. Once Susan befriends Raina Boyanov (Rose Byrne), however, the mission really starts to pick up, and she and her other coworker, Nancy (Miranda Hart) must get themselves out before it's too late.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Beyond the Mask signed posters (two winners!), ends 6/10

Beyond the Mask is in theaters tomorrow, June 5th, and I have a chance for two of my lucky readers to win a signed movie poster!

Official synopsis:
The leading mercenary for the British East India Company, Will Reynolds, has just been double-crossed and is on the run in the American colonies. Working to redeem his name and win back the woman with whom he's never been fully truthful, Will now hides behind a new mask in hopes of thwarting his former employer. As his past life closes in, Will must somehow gain the trust and the help of his beloved Charlotte—as well as Ben Franklin—while he races time to defuse a plot of historical proportions.




Both posters include the autographs of actors Andrew Cheney (SEASONS OF GRAY), Kara Killmer (Chicago Fire) and John Rhys-Davies (LORD OF THE RINGS, RETURN TO THE HIDING PLACE).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Top 10 List: Cinetopia International Film Festival, Ann Arbor + Detroit (June 5-14, 2015)


I had a fantastic time at Cinetopia last year in Ann Arbor, and I'm very excited to attend again this year. My plan is to see a few of the Detroit movies this Saturday, and then I'll be in Ann Arbor next weekend to see more films there. The Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills) is a new venue this year, as well, and I'll be seeing a movie there next week too.

You can read more about what Cinetopia is here, in my 2014 "intro" post, but the gist of it is this:

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.).

Last year I saw a lot of awesome films, a lot of weird films, and a lot of interesting films. My total movie count last year was 12, but because the festival runs for a week this year rather than just a weekend, I have about 20 films on my Google calendar to see.

Individual tickets ($12 or $9 for Michigan Theater members) can be bought on Cinetopia's website, and you can also buy a festival pass that allows you to see as many movies as you want (which in my case, is pretty dangerous!).

Without further ado, my top 10 picks (in no apparent order) for this year's festival:


1. Beside Still Waters



Reason: I love Ryan Eggold from The Blacklist. This movie kind of looks like 2010's The Romantics, but better than it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

GIVEAWAY: MyShower (smart bath + shower organizer), ends 6/16

MyShower Giveaway

Sponsor: MyShower

I've teamed up with a few other bloggers to bring you this giveaway. Good luck!

Prize: MyShower, the smart bath and shower organizer to replace your dated and frustrating shower caddy.

MyShower helps you get the last drop out of every bottle of product, regardless of the shape of the bottle. And when you replace your inconvenient shower caddy with the stylish design and flexibility of MyShower, you’ll have something to sing about in the shower.

Dates: 6/2-6/16
Open to: US Residents 18+
Enter to win using the widget below. Good luck!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Upcoming: Jurassic World Day & Dinosauria at the Detroit Zoo, June 6th

As a huge fan of the original Jurassic Park movies, I'm getting excited for Jurassic World to hit theaters on June 12th. The Detroit Zoo will be hosting "Jurassic World Day" on Saturday, June 6th, from 10am to 2pm, and you can win some Jurassic World prizes - including screening passes!




Things to know before you go:
  • Dinosauria is ongoing through September 7th, but you can only enter to win Jurassic World prizes on June 6th.
  • Prizes include screening passes and promotional items, while supplies last.
  • Dinosauria includes 40 lifelike animatronic dinosaurs that snarl, move, and even spit! 
  • The DinoTrail is 5 acres and includes displays of adult dinosaurs, young dinos, and a nest with eggs and hatchlings.
  • Dinosauria is open daily 9:30am to 5pm, and until 8pm on Wednesdays in July and August.
  • Tickets are $5 with zoo admission, for visiors ages 2 and older, and can be bought at main admissions or the Dinosauria ticket booth.

Are you planning on seeing Jurassic World when it arrives in theaters on June 12th? And have you seen the original Jurassic Park movie?