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Friday Flicks: 50/50

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Awesome scene

Have you seen this movie? Don’t judge it by having Seth Rogan on the cover. Yes, Seth Rogan plays a big role in this movie. Yes, he plays Seth Rogan, the buddy who does these crazy antics and wants to “get laid” and “get wasted”. But there is a purpose to his actions, which you find out at the end of the movie.

The basic premise of the movie is that Adam, played by Jason Gordon Levitt (who is an AMAZING actor), is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer at age 27. He immediately starts chemo to hopefully beat the 50/50 odds of surviving the cancer. During this time his girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) has been supportive, but the support slowly starts to diminish the longer Adam is sick.

Therapy session

During the sessions of chemo Adam befriends two other guys, Alan and Mitch, who become his mentor in cancer, life, and love. Also during this time Adam starts to see a therapist, Katherine (Anna Kendrick) who is very inexperienced at therapy, in fact Adam is only her third patient. She tries to reach him, but in truth he’s very resistant to therapy.

Kyle (Seth Rogan), finds out Rachael is cheating on Adam, and presents the evidence to him. Adam promptly breaks up with her and tries to do the dating thing, but that doesn’t really work out. Adam’s mom is bugging him and keeps trying to take care of him, but he wants nothing to do with her. Katherine ends up showing Adam that his mom is being pushed out, so maybe he needs to cut her some slack.

Skeletor the dog 🙂

Adam gets some bad news in that the therapy is not working. His only possible chance at survival is a very risky surgery. In this decision he not only has to decide his own fate, but he also gains much insight into his life and the lives around him. Kyle hasn’t been a dick this whole time, he’s just been over compensating as he’s scared. His mom just wants to have someone to talk to. His therapist may be more than what she may be on the surface.

I honestly really liked this movie as it seemed pretty realistic. Yes, there were a lot of “bro movie” aspects to it, but the emotional relationships that are built in this group seemed very real.

I give the movie a 9 out of 10.

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Film Review: Point Break

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Sorry I missed last week’s flicks Friday, but here we go again…  I’ve seen a few random movies lately, so I was a little uncertain about what I should review for today.  But Point Break won out.  For some reason HBO or one of the movie channels has been playing the movie pretty much non-stop over the past two weeks.  So, here it goes.

Point Break

I have a few things I want to say before I get to the actual movie.  The first is that I puffy heart Keanu Reeves.  Like probably more than I should.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really want to hear him talk (all I hear is him in Bill and Ted), but he’s done some pretty awesome movies and I really like the way he looks.  Secondly, everytime I see Patrick Swayze now it makes me a little sad.  He looks so alive in this movie that it is a very big contrast from the pictures you saw of him right before he passed.  And lastly, Kathryn Bigelow directed this movie.  WHOA!  She of Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker fame made a surfer movie.  Just sayin.

The premis of this movie is that the FBI is trying to take down a group of bank robbers.  The lead on the case, Pappas as played by Gary Busey has a hunch that the bank robbers are surfers.  So, a new recruit named Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) goes undercover as a lawyer that wants to learn how to surf.  Johnny hooks up with a group of surfers lead by Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) and ends up joining in their lifestyle.  While learning to surf he ends up falling for Bodhi’s ex-girlfriend Tyler (Lori Petty).

Nice abs!

The longer Johnny is under cover, the more he loses sight of what he went under for.  He convinces his supervisors to raid this rival surfing group’s house, which goes horribly wrong (hello Anthony Kiedis!) and the group turns out to be meth dealers NOT the bank robbers.  Eventually Johnny realizes it can only mean that Bodhi and his friends are the guys behind the Ex Presidents robbing jobs.  Pappas and Johnny are at the site of a robbery and catch the guys after the fact.  Johnny chases down the guy wearing Reagan mask, but he can’t shoot him (and has one of the best scenes in the process).  At this point Johnny reveals to Tyler that everything he’s told her is a lie.  She’s angry, but yet, Johnny still thinks that he’s still ok with Bohdi and his friends.  He even goes sky diving with them.  Of course they have a whole other plan, which includes another robbery and escaping to Mexico.  I won’t tell the end of the movie, but it’s pretty predictable.  Lots of people die.

Best Scene

I give this movie an 8 out of 10.  It’s SUPER entertaining and the sheer adrenaline from the surfing scenes and other extreme sports is CRAZY!

Film Review: Win Win

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Win Win

Welcome to the New Year and a new edition of Friday flicks. Yes, I realize I have not really been blogging lately, nor have I really done a Friday flicks feature. But hopefully that will change. I want to blame the hiatus on the fact we moved (from just outside Baltimore, to the Hampden area of Baltimore), but that would only be a partial truth. I think with the craziness of the holidays I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of cooking/baking I was doing. I’ve slowly eased back into the cooking, so here’s hoping for some new delicious recipes.

I happened on the movie Win Win by not changing the channel. I had seen stuff about it, but hadn’t really sought it out. FYI, HBO Comedy channel has some pretty awesome movies. If you are looking for a movie where Paul Giamatti is not playing a poor schlub of a man, then this is not for you. This role is what he does best. He plays a guy Mike who is married with two young kids. He’s a lawyer in his own practice, though shares the space with a CPA, and coaches wrestling at the local high school. Mike’s business is not doing well. His team is not doing well. His life is not doing well. It’s so bad that he started having panic attacks. So, the doctor told him to go running. He then has a panic attack while running (beside the panic attack actually happening, that was a HILARIOUS scene). Mike’s not making ends meet and he hasn’t told his wife about it. Well, he gets a client that is in early stages of dementia and currently lives at home by himself. As he is not competent to be by himself, the state wants to take over his care. Mike convinces the judge that he will fulfill the old man’s wishes and allow him to stay at his house. This would give Mike $1,500 a month for being the old guy’s guardian. The judge grants guardianship to Mike, who instead of figuring out a way to care from him at home puts the guy in a home. And he tells the old man that the judge told him he had to stay there. Yeah, not really a good guy…

Awkward!

Well, as you would have it, some kid shows up on the old guy’s steps. It turns out to be the old guy’s grand-son. The kid, Kyle, tells Mike that his mom sent him there. Well, now Mike has a kid he’s taking care of and for a while as the mom is in rehab for a few weeks. We don’t really learn much about Kyle’s home life at all. We do learn that he hates his mom. A LOT. Like more than anyone else in the world. But he is super sweet with Mike’s family and with his grandfather as well. At practice one day Kyle asks to wrestle. He does, and he’s GOOD. Apparently he had gone to the state championships back in Ohio. He was so good that Mike’s friend ends up joining the coaching staff (mostly to have a reason to do anything like play video games…). Mike enrolls Kyle in the high school and gets him to wrestle. The team starts to win and things are looking up for Mike. Then everything of course goes to shit. Kyle’s mom shows up and wants to take the grandfather, but the mom mostly just wants the money. People find out about Mike’s secret, and Kyle gets kicked out of wrestling. I won’t give away the ending, but it’s good.  Cracks me up…

Mostly, I just want to say that the acting was so well done in this movie. Paul Giamatti is great. He does that whole self-deprecation thing so well. Jeffrey Tambor plays the CPA/assistant coach. I wish he had been used more. I loved him in Arrested Development (can’t wait for that to come back!!!) and he is such a comedic genius I wish he’d been allowed more range. The wife is played by Amy Ryan. If you’ve ever seen The Wire or Gone Baby Gone, you’ve seen the nuances of her work. She draws you in to her story. While again I wish she’d been funnier, she was used so well in the poignant parts with Kyle. Lastly, the kid Kyle was played by Alex Shaffer. This was his first major role. It was pretty much his first role ever. CRAZY. He did an amazing job.

Again, the movie isn’t slap your knee funny, mostly it’s pretty awkward and really close to real life. But it really has its moments.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Bottle Shock Review

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If you look up the movie Bottle Shock on IMDB, it will give you like minded movies.  They include Juno, Thank You for Smoking, Sunshine Cleaning, and Lars and the Real Girl.  These are all movies that I have enjoyed, so it should be no suprise that I liked Bottle Shock.

I saw this movie on Netflix a few months ago and had never gotten around to watching it.  Well, hurricane Sandy came and I ended up with a four day weekend.  So, needless to say, I was itching to watch a good movie.  Honestly, my biggest complaint about the movie has nothing to do with the movie itself , but has to do with the fact that Netflix put this movie in the documentaries section.  This is not a documentary.  So, if you see this movie and are turned off by the idea that it is a documentary, I promise you it is not.  There are no original scenes from the historical French vs. California wines showdown.  I digress…

This movie is about Napa Valley coming into its own.  It centers around a winery called Chateau Montelena.  The winery is struggling to make the BEST chardonnay ever.  The owner’s son, Bo, “works” at the vineyard, though he spends much of his time wooing women.  A man in France who owns a wine shop and considers himself an expert on wines, wants to host a California (Amercia) vs. Italy blind taste test in Italy with people that have the best palate in the world.  So, he comes to California and happens on Chateau Montelena.  Of course there are more issues between Bo and his father and Bo and his friend Gustavo over a girl.

Chris Pine with long hair. Told you

The drama is not what this movie is about.  You get to see such wonderful sweeping landscape of Napa.  And it really does look like that. Not sure if I’ve mentioned, but Ernie and I went to Napa for our honeymoon.  If you like wine at all, even a little bit, I suggest going at some point in your life.  You don’t have to be a snob.  Actually most places would prefer you NOT being a snob.  It’s just a beautiful place with some really great people.  Back to the movie…  The drama adds just enough to keep the movie from getting stale or too one note.  But there are some points that feel frivolous.  The point where Bo goes to see his mother for money for some new barrels?  Not needed.  Also, HATE the wig/extensions they put on Chris Pine to give him long hair.  It’s pretty distracting actually.  But you do get to learn that the term bottle shock comes from when a bottle of wine is transported, it needs about two weeks to sit/settle before being opened.  The jarring/jostling that happens during transport can taint the true taste of the wine.

I won’t tell you the ending, though I’m sure you can figure it out. I give this movie an 8 out of 10.  It really is good.  And I maybe kind of think Alan Rickman is awesome.

Dark Knight Rises

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Let me first say that I think I’ll watch anything by Christopher Nolan.  He has vision and he brings you into his vision in many beautiful and stunning ways.  I have seen seven of the eight full length films he directed.  If you add in his producer credits, you add in another full length film to the list.  I find his work to be absolutely amazing, even if he can be a little obvious about his commentary/thoughts on the world.

Everyone knows The Dark Knight, well, I’m assuming that everyone does.  It was a dark movie with intense action and some really brutal themes.  But Heath Ledger gave the performance of a lifetime.  He took what could have been a cartoony character and gave it depth.  He made The Joker a dark twisted yet theatrical person who was capable of so much horror but brought enough levity to make you not dislike the character.

I also fully enjoy some of his less known works.  One of Ernie’s favorite movies happens to be The Prestige, which Nolan was producer and writer on.  It’s an amazing period piece that includes David Bowie as Tesla!  David Bowie fully seals the deal.  Another favorite happens to be Memento, which is actually surprising to me.  The main character has short-term memory loss, so he tattoos bits of the story on his body.  I dislike disjointed time for the most part, but the story telling is SO amazing, you just can’t help but get involved.  But I digress…

I saw Dark Knight Rises after seeing all the hype and the info about it.  I think the casting was absolutely superb.  Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne is so good as he’s so intense.  I don’t love the voice he does as Batman, but that’s my thing.  I love that Alfred, played by the great Michael Caine, gets fed up with Bruce’s wanton need to self destruct.  He gets fed up with Bruce Wayne and leaves him.  There is also a new love interest for Bruce played by Marion Cotillard.  Another wonderful addition to the cast was Blake, played by Jason Gordon-Levitt.  He embodied all attributes that you HOPE a police officer would have.  His whole being was to protect and serve.  You see so much hope for humanity in him.  The other GREAT casting was Anne Hathaway as Selena Kyle.  LOVED HER!  Again, it’s hard to picture cat woman.  Halle Berry did a terrible job.  I liked Michelle Pfeiffer’s turn at it, but I didn’t see how the story would fit in on this latest story line.  Well, it was accomplished and was done well.  The character was both hilarious and had this depth to her that you understood her pain.  I wished there were more scenes with Serena Kyle. 

On the other hand, I did not love the character Bane.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Tom Hardy did an amazing job.  I think the acting was superb.  But, I think the character Bane was so evil, so unredeeming, that I could in no way ignore his terribleness.  I know the connection that Bane has with the one person he loves in his life (not giving it away!) is supposed to show a bit of humanity.  But I felt like it was too little too late.  I felt completely horrified by Bane’s actions/thought processes that I was turned off from him.  I did not feel this aversion to the Joker.  In Batman Begins I felt nothing towards either the Scarecrow (well, he was scary and funny all at the same time) or Ra’s al Ghul because they were just villains.  They were expected in my mind.  On the other hand, Bane just felt overly evil.  I just didn’t get it.

Sorry this is so long, but to summarize, I actually did really like this movie.  If you’ve seen the first two you HAVE to see this one.  If you haven’t seen the first two, I would suggest doing so.  And then see this one.  I give this movie a 7.5 out of 10.

One For The Money

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I realized I haven’t written a movie review in awhile, so I figured I owed it to everyone to write about this movie.  I unfortunately hurt my back on Sunday morning when cleaning cat litter (teaches me to get a cat/clean litter….).  But it did give me time to watch a movie.  Let me just say I’ve read all the Stephanie Plum series of Janet Evanovich‘s books. The nice things about her books are that you don’t actually have to read them in order.  Yes, the story line does continue on to some degree, but the first chapter is always more of a summary rather than new information.  The books are not serious, let’s be honest.  But they are entertaining and great beach reads.  I do recommend them, though some of the books do feel a bit more formulaic than others.

The basic plot of One For The Money is about Stephanie Plum, a divorced out of work female, who tries her luck at becoming a bond enforcement agent (bounty hunter).  Her first major case is her ex-boyfriend Joe Morelli, a cop.  She does track him down, but she’s so inexperienced, that he is able to get away from her.  Stephanie gets some pointers from a mysterious and hot bounty hunter named Ranger, but mostly she just relies on her knowledge of the ‘Burg and shear luck.  Morelli convinces Stephanie he is innocent, so she helps him solve his case to collect his bond.  There may also be a car that blows up, Stephanie gets handcuffed naked to the shower rod, and a sassy ‘ho named Lula (FYI, I love Lula).

This is not Jersey

That’s all I can really tell you about this movie.  Again, having read the book, I had ideas in my head about the characters.  First off, there is NO WAY that Katherine Heigl looks like a 30 year old slightly pudgy Jersey girl.  Her accent is TERRIBLE. Not Jersey at all.  I may also have a slight prejudice in that I don’t think that Katherine Heigl is a good actress.  I did like her in Grey’s Anatomy.  But then she left because her ego was bigger than her talent (or so I think….).  My next qubble is with who they

picked to be Morelli.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love Jason O’Mara.  He’s quite attractive.  But, I don’t see him as Italian Jersey.  His acting is fine, so I’m not critisizing him per se.  I’m criticizing the use of him as Morelli.

I guess my biggest issue is that I felt nothing for the characters.  I wasn’t empathetic to Stephanie for her divorce.  I wasn’t laughing along with Grandma Mazur.

The awesome Debbie Reynolds

I wasn’t getting the full Lula, attitude and all.  I wasn’t picking up on the sexual tension between Stephanie and Ranger.  I was digging Ranger.  I think they made a GREAT choice in Daniel Sunjata.  He is HOT.  And he was AMAZING on Rescue Me.

Yum!

All in all, I’d probably give the movie a 5 out of 10.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

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Yes, you are reading that correctly.  I watched this movie.  Maybe you don’t even remember seeing the previews back in 2010.  The only reason I even saw this movie is it was on Encore, so I could see it for free (with my monthly cable payment).  But before I get to the synopsis, I have to admit something.  I heart Nicholas Cage.  He’s a TERRIBLE actor.  I know this.  And yet, I can’t seem to get enough of him.  He’s had some honestly good movies like Moonstruck and It Could Happen to You.  But then there are some really bad movies that I totally enjoy such as Gone in 60 Seconds (though Angelina Jolie looks like a skank in that movie), The Rock, and Ghost Rider.  So, I don’t claim to watch only Oscar winners or indie films that invoke lots of thought.  I do enjoy some really “dumb” movies as well.

On to the movie.  When I first saw this movie was available, I really wasn’t sure I could take how bad this movie looked.  Nicholas Cage has long hair, a long trench coat, and is a sorcerer.  But I got over my reservations and watched the movie.  I’m actually pretty happy I did.  The premise of the movie is that Balthazar (Cage) is trying to prevent Horvath (Alfred Molina) from releasing the ultimate bad witch, Morgana, from the magic prison.

A boy named Dave (Jay Baruchel) is introduced to this struggle at age eight and is forever changed.  He is mocked as a child, but grows up to be a very skill physicist (in college).  Again, he ends up getting pulled into the fight between Horvath and Balthazar.  But this time he gets involved with magic.  He ends up becoming the apprentice to Balthazar.  We also learn that Balthazar was the apprentice to the famed magician Merlin.  As was Horvath and Veronica (Monica Bellucci, who is super hot), but back in the day Veronica chose Balthazar over Horvath and releasing Morgana is Horvath’s way at getting back at them.  So while this is a movie about “magic” there is of course the love part thrown in.  Dave’s crush Becky ends up getting involved and taken by Balthazar.  There is lots of fighting and a great ending to the movie, even if it’s super predictable.

Honestly, my biggest complaint with this movie was not Cage’s acting.  It was Jay Baruchel’s.  He was so whiney and annoying, it took away from Cage’s one not acting ability.  Yes, the character Dave is supposed to be a loser in life and love, but this actor did not step out of himself enough.  I found myself wanting ANY actor but him to be in the movie.  I’ve only seen Baruchel in movies where he’s played smaller parts (such as Knocked Up and Tropic Thunder).  He’s been fine in these roles.  Being in a starring role does not seem to agree with this actor.

All in all I give this movie a 6.5 out of 10.  You will not gain any brain cells by watching this movie, but it’s entertaining non the less.