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Archives for : November2013

Movie Review: “Angels Sing” Is A Heart Warming Tearjerker

As if I wasn’t excited enough for the Christmas lights that would be soon be surrounding me this season, Angels Sing has got me ready to plug-in the chord and illuminate my neighborhood.

The holiday spirit isn’t for everyone and for Michael Walker (Harry Connick Jr.) it’s been gone for over 30 years.  A terrible accident on Christmas morning caused him to loose his older brother.  Everyone around Michael has tried to bring out the happiness he once had.  Sadly, nothing has ever seemed to work.  Things only get worse when Michael and his family move into their dream home that is a part of the biggest neighborhood light-show in the country.  Michael refuses to be a part of the festivities, causing conflict with his neighbors.  But when tragedy strikes, and his son starts to follow in daddy’s bitter footsteps.  Michael realizes he must make amends with his past.  With the help from a generous stranger named Nick (Willie Nelson), he is encouraged to find the joy he once felt.

Compared to other holiday films, this is much sadder than most.  I had a constant lump in my throat the entire time I was watching.  The story was good and creative in its own way.  The last thirty minutes of the film drags.  You kind of know how it is going to end at this point, so you are getting anxious to see the outcome.

I particularly enjoyed the performances by Harry Connick Jr., Connie Britton, and Kris Kristofferson.  I liked how Connick didn’t go full “Scrooge.”  His character is still a loving father and husband.  He gives a realistic portrayal of how someone would feel about a specific day that resurfaces the worst memory from your life.  You don’t hate him, you sympathize with him.

I can’t say that this film will stand out among the wave of Christmas movies this year.  But the message of the movie should be one that no one forgets.  “Memories are the best gift a father can give his son.”  To put it in terms relatable to everyone, memories are the best gift you can give anyone.  So make sure you leave great ones for people to remember you by.

Rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief language.

Angels Sing is now playing or coming soon to select cities.

Originally posted on

Movie Review: “Rise of the Fellowship” should Entertain Tolkien Fanatics

Now this film isn’t for the ordinary Lord of the Rings fans.  It is for the hardcore fanatics that have probably watched the trilogy multiple times, and for any die hard gamer.

It’s the classic underdog story with a Lord of the Rings spin to it.  Randall Dooley(Justin Moe) and his three best friends are not exactly the popular kids in school.  Randall spends most of his free time playing online games.  He is constantly bullied by his brother and the other school jocks, all the while pining for the “beautiful” head cheerleader.  But everything changes when Randall hears about the Lord of the Rings gaming competition in Orlando, Florida.  Finally, a chance to prove himself as a winner!  Unfortunately, the chance for Randall and his friends to compete is comprised.  This leads them on an unforgettable journey, in the hopes to be named video gaming champions.

The parallel to the actual Lord of the Rings film in comparison to Randall’s real life is quite interesting.  You’ve got your flash drive that’s as precious as “the ring.”  A whispering, heavy breather dork that’s as odd as “Gollum.”  And even Baba Melvin Schnabel, the peaceful leader of a hippie group is as wise as Gandolf.

All the sequences flow well and maintain an interesting enough story.  The direction and filming is pretty good too, considering this is for an online network channel.  The acting is week among the supporting cast, but the core group is not so bad, particularly Melvin, played by Wolf J. Sherrill.  Though the film doesn’t generate many laughs, Melvin is the reason for whatever chuckles you may produce.

I will not say this is a film for everyone to see, especially not for people who dislike The Lord of the Rings franchise.  This is a pretty predictable film and follows the standard underdog storyline. But Rise of the Fellowship’s target audience of gamers and Tolkien fans will enjoy this somewhat of a parody film.

Releases on December 3rd.

Rise of the Fellowship Official Trailer

Originally posted on

Movie Review: “Black Nativity” is Passable for a Holiday Movie

Let me just say that this movie is lucky they had such a talented all star cast, otherwise it might have been unbearable to watch.

This is a simple and standard script.  The originality lies in its musical numbers and the interesting way they parallel the story of Jesus Christ’s birth with another pregnant couple who has nothing, but never seems to loose faith.  To be fair, the film is based on the 1961 Off-Broadway play.   I have a feeling this story works better on stage then on screen.

When his mom (Jennifer Hudson) is forced to foreclose their home, Langston (Jacob Latimore) must spend Christmas break with the grandparents he never knew.  Played by Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett, the two welcome their grandson with open arms.  Since it is clearly obvious his grandparents have been living a life of luxury, Langston becomes suspicious and angry as to why they haven’t helped him and his mom financially.  Langston begins to ask more and more questions.  Leading up to what some might call a “shocking” reveal, the family secret starts to unfold.

Now I did enjoy all the moments with Whitaker and Bassett.  The two are just such great actors.  Even in a mediocre film like this, they some how make it pleasurable with their performances.  The music is great, and once again Jennifer Hudson shows off her strength in her power ballads.  Everyone else sings well, but there is a clear “Idol” out of the bunch.

It’s not even so much the cheesiness of this film that bothers me.  I like musicals, so that was not a problem for me either.  Although, some of the songs ran longer than they should have.   It was more the fact that so many problems that occurred would get resolved so unrealistically quick.  Because this film is a family holiday movie, minor details like that can be overlooked.  Had it premiered during the Lifetime channel’s Christmas movie marathon, Black Nativity would have fit right in.  In fact, the film would have been a stand out TV movie.  Unfortunately, big screen holiday competitors like The Best Man Holiday and Frozen are likely to leave more lasting impressions this season.

Rated PG for thematic material, language and a menacing situation.

Black Nativity hits theaters November 27th.

Black Nativity Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on

Movie Review: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Burns Brighter than the First

If for some reason you thought Jennifer Lawrence would get lazy or dial it back a bit after her Oscar win last year, you would be incredibly wrong.  If anything, she’s proving that she would be worthy of many more!

Now I loved the first Hunger Games, but Catching Fire is in every way better than the first.  The actors seem more mature and comfortable.  There is more character development and much more chemistry between Katniss and both of her love interests, Peeta and Gale.  And overall the directing was better.

In the second installment of the Hunger Games franchise, Katniss has returned home to District 12 after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta.  As Katniss and Peeta are about to start a victory tour around the country, President Snow pays her a visit.  He explains that when she defied the Capitol by breaking the rules so that she and Peeta could both survive the last Hunger Games, she inspired rebellions in the districts.  Now she must continue to pretend to be in love with Peeta, or her family will be killed.  The two play along well and keep up the charade to avoid any conflict with Snow.  However, after Peeta, Katniss and Haymitch save Gale during a dispute with the Commander, Snow becomes angry over a “once again” defiance.

Snow announces that the 75th Hunger Games will be the Quarter Quell, meaning a new rule will be added to the games.  In an attempt to show the Capitol is still powerful, the new rule states that existing victors from each district much compete again!

This film allows us to get to know all the characters a lot better.  It was nice to see Effie as part of the Katniss team along with Peeta and Haymich.    Stanley Tucci as Caasar still makes for some great comic relief.  And thank you Jena Malone, who plays the blunt Johanna Mason, for continuously saying what everyone in the theater was thinking.  The best thing about Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is how you could feel every emotion Katniss was feeling.  Whether it was the reminder of Rue’s death, or even the love she feels for Peeta and Gale.  Whatever the emotion, she nailed it and it will be the reason that you may tear up at multiple times through out the film.

Though the premise may sound like a repeat of the first film, it’s not.  They are heading in a completely different direction, and with a more central focus of “remembering who the real enemy is.”  With the films just picking up right where they left off, the build up has audiences anticipating something big.

It is an absolute must see for everyone, even if you haven’t read the books (like me).  I assure you it is a film that not only entertains visually and mentally, but it accomplishes one of the main reasons I love film; an escape from the stress of our lives.  Catching Fire might just be one of the best films of the year so far!

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is in theaters now!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Official Theatrical Trailer HD

Movie Review: “The Future” is Anything but Exciting

The most important thing that I learned from this film is don’t trust two random Italian guys.  Especially, when they say they only want to stay over for one night.  They will overstay their welcome and you will hate them.

Growing up is hard to do, and for Bianca (Manuela Martelli) it is something she forced to do once her parents die in a car accident.  Now her and her younger brother, Tomas (Luigi Ciardo), must take care of themselves.  Bianca must take full responsibility of Tomas, otherwise they will be separated and placed in an orphanage.  In the beginning, it seems hopeless.  Bianca gets a job as hair washer at a salon, and Tomas keeps skipping school.  On top of that their apartment continues to pile up with a mess.  However, things change once Tomas allows his two new sleazy gym friends to stay over.  Though they can cook and clean, they have made themselves annoyingly comfortable in Bianca and Tomas’ home.  To make matters worse, the two have come up with a plan to get a huge sum of cash by having Bianca engage in a sexual relationship with a once famous actor (Rutger Hauer) who is now blind.  Hoping that while she is in his home she can find his safe and rob him blind… I’m sorry that was too easy.  But things get complicated when Bianca starts to care for the actor who was once known as the incredible “Maciste.”

The film was not horrible; it was just not that great.  Nothing “big” ever happened.  It is like the film maintained a steady pace the entire time.  While you are watching you keep expecting some twists or even some scare, but that never occurs.

I can not knock the acting, it was solid and Manuela Martelli is not only beautiful, but she is a joy to watch.  She has an effortless about her when she is on screen.  Literally, she could be doing nothing and yet she is still so enchanting.  This is probably why the relationship she has with Maciste is so believable.

This is a great self discovery story.  More about finding a normalcy within yourself to get your life back on track, and maybe start over with the new found you.  The Future has an interesting plot and great acting, but sadly the execution dragged and lacked anticipation.


The Future (2013) Trailer HD

Originally posted on

Interview: Steve Coogan talks “Philomena”

It is the film every journalist should see!

After losing his job as a Labour government adviser, Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) meets Philomena Lee (Judi Dench).  A woman who recently admitted that 50 years ago she was forced to give up her son in Ireland, because she was not married during her pregnancy.  She has thought of her son every day since she had to give him up, and desperately wants to track him down to just know if he is okay.  Initially not interested in doing a human interest piece, Martin decides he needs the work and takes on the story.

In what happens to be a more comedic team during a tragic situation, Philomena and Martin travel to Washington, DC.  They soon uncover a shocking truth that will have you walking out of the theater with anger and satisfaction.

To no surprise, the performances in the film are exceptional.  Though this is about a serious topic, the real surprise is how you will catch yourself laughing more than crying due to the incredible screenplay written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.  Taking a story that you might normally dread to hear, and turning it into a light-hearted drama with an endearing message.

Based on true events, Philomena is a captivating story about seeking answers, while respecting feelings and truly accepting forgiveness.

Steve Coogan took time to sit down and talk about his new film.


It’s interesting to see the transition of how Martin goes from unsympathetic to more caring of Philomena’s situation.  In your opinion, do you need to lack a certain amount of sympathy to get the answers you want for a story?

“Well, obviously there’s a line isn’t there?  If you just considered not wanting to offend anyone at anytime or upset anyone at anytime, you probably wouldn’t get to the truth. So there’s a case of sometimes having a little, chutzpah in trying to pursue things.  I think you can’t make hard or fast rules, but I think that there are ethics involved.  And it’s a judgment call about what those ethics are.  And I think there are some very tenacious journalists who are in the pursuit of the greater truth and are motivated by that.  Then there are journalists who are just bottom line willing to shift people and are looking to just pay their mortgage.  And that’s understandable, but it doesn’t necessarily make it noble.  So, as I said I think it’s a judgment call.  Martin has struggles with that in the film.  Really, it’s partly about cynicism and how he is cynical and Philomena is not cynical despite what all has happened to her.”

One of my favorite lines Philomena says was, “You should be nice to the people on your way up.  You might meet them on your way down. 

“(Laughs) That line is what my mum said to me once. So I put that in the movie.  But I like the simplicity of the language.  She wasn’t over eloquent; we kept her simple and straight forward.”

That line just stuck with me.  Have you come across with anyone that maybe wasn’t nice to you before your success?

“I have to be very careful (Laughs) because sometimes I think I’m going to see that guy one day.  Especially sometimes there are those people that don’t give me roles that I wanted and thought I could have done.  And I’m like “well they’ll be sorry now” (Laughs).  If you start thinking like that it’s like what Philomena said to Martin at the end of the film.  “I don’t want to go through life hating people.”

Yes, that was another great line!

“Yeah!  And because you know, as we all know, sometimes you get eaten up by that stuff and in trying to seek revenge, the person you destroy more than anyone is yourself.  But it’s ok to recognize it, as long as you recognize the limitation of your feelings and how they are not always right, I think that’s good.  You just need to think out loud about it.”

 Philomena hits theaters November 27th.

Philomena Trailer HD

Originally posted on

Special Events: Ben Stiller Adds his Hands & Footprints to Chinese Theatre!



Recent handprint-footprint celebrants have included Robert DeNiro, Jackie Chan, and Sandra Bullock 

(Hollywood, Calif., Nov. 5, 2013)—The most famous movie palace in the world, The TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX® (, is set to honor actor-writer-director BEN STILLER, who stars in and directs the upcoming feature film, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY ( which opens Dec. 25, 2013. The traditional handprint-footprint ceremony honoring Stiller takes place Tues., Dec. 3, at 11AM.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is James Thurber’s classic story of a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker (Kristen Wiig) are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York is about to devote an entire weekend to Ben Stiller’s work behind the camera. The Film Society will screen five Stiller-directed films from Dec. 6-8 in a program called Ben Stiller Directs.

Stiller is currently in production on Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young opposite Naomi Watts and Amanda Seyfried. He previously collaborated with Baumbach in 2010 and received rave reviews for his lead role in Greenberg, which also earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Lead Actor.

In 2008, Stiller starred in, co-wrote and directed Tropic Thunder under his Red Hour Films production banner. Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black and Tom Cruise, the film garnered several award nominations including an Academy Award®, BAFTA, SAG and Golden Globe® for Robert Downey Jr. as well as a Golden Globe® nomination for Tom Cruise. The film also won the Broadcast Film Critics Award and Hollywood Film Festival Award for Comedy of the Year.

His other directing credits include Reality BitesThe Cable Guy, and Zoolander, which he co-wrote and starred in. As a writer, Stiller won an Emmy Award® for the short-lived sketch comedy series The Ben Stiller Show, which he also directed and produced.

Stiller’s acting credits include: Permanent MidnightYour Friends & NeighborsFlirting with DisasterEmpire of the SunThere’s Something About MaryThe Royal TenenbaumsNight at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the SmithsonianTower Heist; Meet the ParentsMeet the Fockers and Little Fockers; and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, a Red Hour production.

Movie Review: “MOMO: The Sam Giancana Story” Reveals more than you Expect

Out of all the documentaries I have seen this year, Momo: The Sam Gianca Story, would not be my top recommendation. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic documentary and absolutely worth the watch for the shocking details alone. The film tends to drag bit, and is more informative than emotionally impacting. It’s a documentary about the infamous Chicago mob boss, Sam Giancana.  The narration is done by two of Sam’s loving daughters, Bonnie Giancana and Fran Giancana, who are now both in their sixties.  They are speaking about their father publicly for the first time in 30 years, and present audiences with never-before-revealed insight into Sam when he was at home.

Sam ran the Chicago Outfit from the late 50’s to the early sixties. He had a long running relationship with famous singer, Phyllis McGuire, from the McGuire Sisters.  He had three daughters that he raised and adored very much.  He was also best friends with Frank Sinatra.

Given his abusive background from his own father, Sam proved to be nothing like his old man when raising his little girls. Sam’s daughters loved their father, which is shocking that this man could be two totally different guys at once.  Half the time he was a loving dad, while the other half he was one of the coldest hearted bosses ever to run Chicago.

Director, Dimitri Logothetis (Champions Forever, The Lost Angel), does a great job of not only showing us the two sides to Sam, but also revealing secrets about his life that I would have never known.  Including how Sam helped John F. Kennedy get elected President by swinging several Midwest and eastern states.  He was also hired by the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Just from the batch of documentaries this year, if you want an informative and gripping documentary that will literally haunt you even after it is over, watch God Love Uganda.  However, you will still be pleased with Momo: The Sam Giancana Story.

Available on DVD and Streaming on November 19th

Originally posted on

Special Events: “The Search for the Next Ron Burgundy” Contest

EPIX and Paramount Launch “The Search for the Next Ron Burgundy” Contest 

Live Auditions in 9 Markets and National Submission through Instagram Video 

Winner to Anchor EPIX Red Carpet Coverage of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Premiere in NYC

New York, New York (November 14, 2013) – Attention Anchorman fans – it’s time to dust off the red blazer and pour yourself a “scotchy scotch scotch!”  Premium TV network EPIX and its joint venture partner, Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom, Inc., are holding a nationwide search for the next Ron Burgundy.  One lucky winner will have the unique opportunity to act as news anchor for the EPIX network and report from the red carpet of the Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues premiere in NYC on December 15, 2013.  As Ron Burgundy himself might say, “It’s kind of a big deal.”

Fans can audition in one of two ways.  To enter online, visit the contest hub beginning November 21, 2013 and watch the “how to submit” video from Channel 4 News Team member Champ Kind (David Koechner). Fans can upload a 15-second audition video via Instagram using the hashtag #IAmRonBurgundy and use the social networking tools on to campaign for votes.  The entrant who receives the most votes by closing date December 1 will become one of ten finalists.

The remaining nine finalists will be selected from local promotions taking place Thanksgiving weekend across the country.  The Channel 4 News set will be on-site in shopping malls in major cities and fans will have the opportunity to create a “screen test” video and share their video with friends via social media.  The top local finalists will be selected by a local TV news anchor in each market.

“We’re pleased to work with our partner, Paramount, to showcase Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” said Mark Greenberg, EPIX CEO and President. “The legend that is Ron Burgundy resonates with all ages and this contest will give one lucky fan the chance to try to fill the shoes of the anchorman we all know and love in anticipation the Anchorman’s much awaited sequel.”

The Channel 4 News set will be on-site on Black Friday, November 29, for screen tests in the following locations:

o   New York City – AMC Lincoln Square

o   Los Angeles – Westfield Century City

o   Dallas – Stonebriar Centre

o   Seattle – Northgate Mall

o   St. Louis – Chesterfield Mall


And on November 30, in the following locations:

o   Atlanta – Mall of Georgia

o   Denver – Cherry Creek Shopping Center

o   Philadelphia/Cherry Hill, NJ– Cherry Hill Mall

o   San Diego – UTC Westfield Shopping Center

The local finalist in each market and the national submission with the most votes will be featured on  www.IAMRONBURGUNDY.combeginning December 4.  From these ten finalists, select cast and crew from Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues will personally choose the Grand Prize Winner, to be announced on the website December 7. The Grand Prize Winner and nine finalists will also receive a Sony Playstation 3 and a 1-year digital subscription to EPIX.

With the 70’s behind him, San Diego’s top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), returns to the news desk in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”  Also back for more are Ron’s co-anchor and wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), weather man Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), man on the street reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner) – All of whom won’t make it easy to stay classy…while taking New York and the nation’s first 24-hour news channel by storm.  Produced by Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Written by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay.  Directed by Adam McKay.

“ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES” opens in theaters everywhere December 20th, 2013.

For official rules and further contest details visit


BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will explore cinema’s roots in stage magic and sleight of hand and show how visual deception drove the development of movie special effects, on Wednesday, November 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. “Like Magic” will examine how some of the techniques used in the earliest “trick films,” such as forced perspective, cuts, dissolves and multiple exposures are still used by filmmakers in the digital age. Hosted by sleight-of-hand artist Ricky Jay, special effects supervisor Shane Mahan, and stage and screen illusion designer Michael Weber, the program features clips from such pioneering films as Georges Méliès’s “The Magician” (1898) and contemporary favorites like “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012). It also includes live demonstrations and conversations with some of the films’ creative teams. Click here for more information


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners­—the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.