Thursday, October 6, 2011


3 1/2 STARS

Just about everyone who knows me knows I am not a sports fan AT ALL!  But I am a fan of a lot of sports movies. Oh how can we forget the classics and some of my favorites: Rocky, Raging Bull, The Longest Yard, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Rudy, The Sandlot. Then there are the ones that are destined to be classics: Jerry Maguire, The Blind Side.  Sports films tend to always be this inspiring underdog story that puts everyone in an emotional stooper which is sort of ironic when sports are supposed to be this macho, yelling, bonding experience.  Then why do many of the movies turn the audience into sniffling, blubbering idiots trying their damnedest to keep their eyes dry?

Lets face facts people, Brad Pitt is not just another pretty face.  This guy is one of the iconic actors of our time with such extreme talent that it makes me want to weep at the distances he takes his characters.  He definitely does the same thing in the portrayal of Billy Beane.  Moneyball is the true story of how Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's, turned the team into a profitable baseball club on an extremely tight budget in the early 2000's using computer analysis.  Now, of course, me not being a sports fan, I knew nothing about any of these events happening or anything on the background of this story.  However, the story was poignant, uplifting, and told in a way that any non-sports fan like myself could still appreciate what was happening.  Brad Pitt's performance is equally uplifting.  He wanted the audience to feel his frustration when it was right and it was the same when it was time to be excited.  I especially liked the camera work in the movie; how it would zoom in so close to his face and his reactions were so on time and dead on that it was like we were in those moments with him.

I was very impressed with Jonah Hill's supporting dramatic turn as the brains behind the computer analysis program Beane used to turn the team around.  Philip Seymour Hoffman played Coach Art Howe true to form as the hard ass Art Howe probably was, but of course, I wouldn't know.  I never had to break out any tissues for this one but there were some uplifting moments that gave me chills.  Even though Moneyball is the story of doing something great with very little, this film is certainly worth the donation from your own tight budget.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.




From the first time I saw the trailer I wanted to see this movie but I really didn't know what to expect.  I mean, a comedy about dealing with cancer and one of it's stars is Seth Rogen.  Well, for all of you who have not seen this movie of course, the casting was very solid.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is at the top of his game (and lately he has definitely been playing in the majors) in a performance that should win multiple awards.

He portrays Adam, a guy living it up in Seattle with a great job at a radio station, a great girl in Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) and of course, he has his best friend Kyle (Rogen) by his side.  Kyle's best friend duties are certainly put to the test after Adam is suddenly diagnosed with a rare form of cancer (he has a tumor on his spinal chord).  Right after the diagnosis, the audience is immediately transported into Adam's world of despair as everything he knows starts collapsing.  Well before he realizes this is all happening to him, he has to tell people starting with Kyle.  Seth Rogen was the perfect choice for this role.  50/50 is ultimately a dramedy with Rogen providing most of the comic relief as he normally does.  As I was watching the movie, I thought most cancer patients would love to have someone like that by their side while going through chemo and wondering if they were going to die.  Adam's mother is played by the great Anjelica Huston, whose portrayal is so heartfelt and intense that you may sometimes not notice her extreme domineering, except that quality of hers would fill the Panama Canal.  Bryce Dallas Howard plays Adam's girlfriend. She's a scank and I hate her but she plays the part well.  The adorable Anna Kendrick plays Adam's therapist.  She is so endearing in her part, you just want to put her in your pocket and take her home.

This movie has its funny parts.  You will laugh out loud several times.  However, the drama is intense.  It has to be, the subject matter is cancer.  I of course chose this as my next blog since it is following The Big C blog which is very reminiscent.  I think it is very brave for these movies and television shows to be made, finding the humor in possibly dying, but I also believe that these movies and shows are helpful to people going through this in real life.  There maybe a fifty fifty chance that Adam will or will not survive his illness, but the movie is a 100% helluva good time.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Big C (Season 1)


Who said having cancer can't be funny?  For 1 and a half seasons so far, this Showtime dramedy has proven it can be funny, poignant, amazing, heartfelt, and life-altering.  Showtime has certainly done right yet again (Weeds, Dexter, Nurse Jackie).  The network has again showed its courage and tackled a subject matter that I do not think any other network, cable or otherwise, would be brave enough to show in such a humorous and absolutely brilliant light.  And someone chose the most perfect actors for this most perfect show.

Lets face it, Laura Linney can do no wrong.  The woman is a beacon in even the dullest of movies (Man of the Year) and always puts in a performance that shines brighter than the sun itself and let me tell you, she puts the sun to shame in The Big C.  This show focuses on Cathy Jamison (Linney), a teacher and suburban mom living in Minneapolis who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma and has been told that she is dying.  For the entire season, Cathy decides to live life to the fullest, all the while putting up with the very unique people around her.  There is her 14-year old son Adam, her very environmentally conscious brother Sean, and her neighbor Marlene.  Cathy has also taken one of her summer school students under her wing.  Andrea the world can kiss my ass Jackson is portrayed by Precious herself, Gabourey Sidibe.  Then there's her husband Paul, played by the incomparable Oliver Platt.

Laura Linney plays every part with such comic grace and dramatic style.  I mean seriously, someone would have to be able to do all of those things playing the part of a dying woman and still making life funny.  She has already won a Golden Globe this year and I see many more awards in her future.  Also ditto for Oliver Platt, John Benjamin Hickey (Cathy's brother Sean), and Gabourey Sidibe, who followed a head-turning, multi-award winnning, Oscar nominated introduction into the entertainment industry (Precious) with a perfect comedic turn in what is sure to be a long running cable series.  So, I urge you to watch season one of The Big C, but I do highly recommend a big box of klennex for that season finale.  There is one scene that is a big T, for tearjerker.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Rite

4 STARS - Anthony Hopkins

1 STAR - the actual movie

Bottom line, this movie was mediocre at best.  It's slow, drab and not scary (as most scary movies these days are not really scary anymore).  There is a climax toward the end of course but it is probably the most exciting thing to see.

I read some reviews of the The Rite after I watched it (which I rarely ever do) just to see what others thought.  It was all pretty much the same across the board.

Even though Sir Anthony Hopkins is billed as the star of this movie, the story focuses on Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue), a young seminary student who has lost his way.  Right at the moment he is deciding to quit his studies, Michael is persuaded by one his teachers to pursue classes on being an exorcist in Rome.  So he travels to Italy for a two-month stay and after a few class meetings, he is still not convinced until he meets Father Lucas Trevant (Hopkins) and witnesses an actual exorcism, which Father Trevant tells the young Kovak, takes many sessions.

The exorcism sessions could have been a little more intense for entertainment purposes, however, this is based on actual events so producers were probably sticking to the accounts.  Anthony Hopkins provides the only real exciting moments in the film and puts much gusto in his very chilling, head-turning performance.  Colin O'Donoghue just doesn't do much at all.  He just kind of loafs about the entire movie, providing very little intensity and even less gusto.  I am sure that I expected a lot because of the great Anthony Hopkins being in it.  He was most excellent but you definitely have the rite to miss this one.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer


MOVIE:  To be decided

This movie is a bit of a head scratcher.  I honestly do not how to pinpoint an exact review of what I exactly think.  The movie is good, not great though.  A lawyer (Matthew McConaughey) defends a rich man who may or may not have assaulted a prostitute. Yawn.  Been done before and before and before and so on.  Yes, this guy practices law from the back seat of an old black Lincoln Town Car.  Still, not enough of a twist for me.  Even the major twist of the movie is revealed in the freaking trailer.

On the other hand, powerhouse performances with an even more powerful cast.

Along with McC, Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Frances Fisher, Ryan Phillipe, John Leguizamo, Josh Lucas. and the great William H. Macy.  There's even a cameo by country music star Trace Adkins that is awesome.

I have to say McC is destined to play a lawyer.  He has had some good movies in the past (Dazed and Confused, We Are Marshall, Frailty) but the one that stands out, for me anyway, will always be A Time to Kill.  Now there was a stellar, magnificent law movie and he was terrific in that as he was in The Lincoln Lawyer.  However, unlike A Time to Kill, The Lincoln Lawyer just doesn't have the juices flowing when it comes to plot.  When I find myself facebooking rather than watching, then I am just not interested.  Which is a shame because this was a great group that were put together.  There was just no umf in the movie at all.  Now, I say put all of these people in a great, who-dun-it mystery with an action packed climax then you got yourself a movie.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

True Grit (2010)


Damn fine movie. Damn fine.

I knew from seeing the trailer that I was going to love this movie.  And the trailer was correct. This is one of the most mesmerizing and engrossing movies I have seen this century so far (along with Avatar).  That also makes True Grit one of the best remakes ever to be made.  Kudos and cheer to Joel and Ethan Coen.  Also, I think every actor in this movie, starring, supporting, hell even just the cameos and extras, were incredible.  True Grit was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and did not win one.  Seriously?  I mean, granted I have yet to see The Kings Speech, but I cannot fathom that it is better than this movie.

Jeff Bridges's performance (nominated and lost to Speech's Colin Firth) was literally mind-blowing in John Wayne's role from the 1969 original.  For a moment, on the subject of the original, it also was a great movie.  However, a huge thanks for the casting of Hailee Steinfeld (nominated) as platinum-tongued Mattie Ross.  It really took me several times before I could finish the original one because, and I am sorry to say, Kim Darby was annoying and did not portray tom-boy Mattie Ross as well as Steinfeld has..  She was so much more likable and her voice did not pierce my eardrums.  Although, I have always loved the Mattie Ross character and they keep her the same with every detail in this movie.  If she were living today, she would definitely be a lawyer, and a damn fine one too.  Anyone who can argue like that and know latin, should be in the courtroom.  Matt Damon of course, portrays LeBoeuf without a hitch.  He was able to transform that boyish exterior into a gruff Texas lawman, which was surprising to me.  I always thought he was too cutesie for a western but he also did well in All the Pretty Horses.  Josh Brolin as Tom Chaney was definitely one of those small, but very pivotal roles. 

Any fan of the original knows the story.  Mattie Ross is a fourteen year old girl who, after hearing about the murder of her father, hires drunken U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), who is made of "true grit" as she hears, to find the murderer (Tom Chaney). LeBoeuf is a Texas Ranger who accompanies them on the journey.  Lets face it, Bridges and Steinfeld are the reasons to watch this film.  Oh, and of course, as with any good western, the scenery.  As bad as she needs him in her life to help her find her father's killer, he needs her just the same, even more.  You would never think that such a hard nosed bastard would mesh so well with such a little opinionated smart ass.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

CST's Top Television Programs Thus Far - Part 2

7. THE X-FILES (FOX 1993-2002)

Even to this day, if you want to break the television boredom, pop in a DVD or go onto Netflix and watch this groundbreaking series that introduced the world to Mulder (a true believer) and Scully (the skeptic).  Some episodes were funny, some were very dramatic, some were creepy, and others were down right frightening.  At the time, there were episodes that were even banned from television (Home).  For most of the nine seasons (and 2 blockbuster motion pictures), writer/creator Chris Carter spawned some of the most interesting characters and intriguing story lines ever.  As much action and weirdness that went on, I can remember an episode (Season 3, Quagmire) when Mulder and Scully had a conversation for nearly the entire episode and it was brilliant, humorous, and smart. That is some brave and stellar writing.

This has to be, and I know there are millions who would agree with me, one of the best shows cancelled WAYYYYYYYY too soon.  I discovered it on accident when I typed in dysfunctional families in Netflix and Arrested Development was one of the programs that popped up.  The best one-liners you will ever hear of any comedy on television with one if not the best cast ever assembled.  These people have a dynamic so intense that you really think they could be a real Bluth family. The Bluth family seriously put the fun in dysfunction. 

9.  LAW & ORDER: SVU (NBC 1999 -   )
Twelve years and 272 episodes later and this is still one of the highest rated shows on television and is also the only show on this list still on the air.  Also, it has kept the same cast for 250 of those episodes.  These are facts that are rare, but exceptional in the world of the long running television drama.  However, Christopher Meloni (Detective Elliot Stabler) has left the show in the 2011 season finale.  There has hardly been an episode that followed the generic cop show formula.  SVU follows only the formula of shock and awe.  There is nothing here but stellar acting by a stellar cast with story lines that are sometimes surprising to be seen on network television. 

10.  REBA (The WB 2001-2007)

I know this was a show loved by many but I also realize that it may be a surprise to find Reba on a list of top television programs.  Even though it was on for 6 seasons, it's run seemed to fly by.  A family sit-com so true to form, its well, funny.  There were shows like Roseanne who did similar story lines but were considered controversial.  Reba was all in the execution.  The show dealt with some very racy and mature issues, just in the pilot episode alone, but did it with grace, style, and plenty of humor.  In the pilot episode, no, should I say, in the first 5 minutes of the pilot episode, the audience finds the Hart family in a psychiatrist's office because of an altercation with the entire family during a court proceeding.  We then learn that not only is Reba's 17-year old daughter pregnant by the quarterback of the football team but that her husband has knocked up his dental hygienist (who later in the show becomes best friends with Reba) at the same time. If that is not a family sit-com, I don't know what is. 

11. SAVING GRACE (TNT 2007-2010)

Yes, I know, another police drama.  However, Saving Grace had one major twist with several other that made for one of the most compelling dramas on television.  It was on for three very short seasons (cancelled not because of low ratings or critical acclaim, but because of high production costs).  This show was taken off way before its time to really shine.  Holly Hunter portrayed Grace Hanadarko (an award winning performance every week it was on as far as I am concerned), a detective with the major crimes division of the Oklahoma City Police department.  Grace makes every day her bitch with plenty of attitude, sex, and a lot of liquor. She's a hard living woman who brings down the unwashed of OKC with the force equal to the bomb that brought down the federal building, which is a major back story of the show and has affected each character, especially Grace who lost her sister in the bombing.  In the first episode, Grace hits a man while driving her porshe (which is named Connie) drunk one night.  When she finds the man gone, she is then visited an angel named Earl.  Earl is far from conventional.  He's got a Southern twang and spits tobacco in a bottle any chance he gets while wearing very funny t-shirts.  For 46 episodes, Earl guides, at least tries to guide Grace to do right in life since she did get a second chance but finds she is not budging from her hard hitting ways, like sleeping with her married partner.  The audience is taken into some very dark and compelling cases.  This show so deserved to keep going.  I would have loved to see how more evolved the characters would have become.  It did, though, have a final episode which will entail a few tissues.  However, I wish Earl could give this show a second chance.

Well, there is the list thus far.  If you haven't seen any of these shows, I strongly advise to relax on your next day off, go rent or Netflix a season or two and lay up on the couch with some snacks.  I am sure in a few years or so there will be another list.  There may be a Weeds on there, with a little Dexter, maybe some Brothers and Sisters and True Blood. Possibly, a little of The Simpsons there and The Closer here.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CST's Top Television Programs Thus Far - Part 1

I love television.  I mean, who doesn't?  Every night and day, you can sit in front of this box and get sucked into other people's lives when yours is not going so great and all you want is an escape.  But, I have to say, do not do it too much.  Go outside and get some Vitamin D people. You can always DVR it.

It was hard to compile a list of just 10 shows, so made it 11.  However, just remember I am only 31 so there are a lot of great classic shows that I have never seen.  The oldest show on here started in 1985.  There are many shows on the premium cable shows that I never saw.  Also, these are all programs that have had ended their runs, except for two but they have been on so long, and in my opinion so great, I have to put them on the list.  There are some great shows on now but I feel I cannot write about them until they have a final episode because there have been some great ones that ended with not so great finales (Lost, The Sopranos). Finally, these are in no particular order except for number one.  It will always be my number 1!

1. SIX FEET UNDER (HBO 2001-2005)

   Simply put, a tour-de-force in acting, writing, and storytelling. Alan Ball (American Beauty, True Blood) created one of the best television families ever.  I want to watch the entire series (again) before doing an entire blog on it.  There is so much to write on this phenomenal program and the Fisher clan.

2.  FRIENDS (NBC 1994-2004)
 Love it or hate it, "Friends" was a worldwide, pop culture phenomenon.  I mean, it still is. The show is still going strong in syndication and I so very hope it stays that way.  I could not live in a world without Phoebe, Monica, Rachel, Joey, Chandler, Ross, or Smelly Cat.  This is one reason I always looked forward to "Must-see-tv" Thursdays. And the other was........

3.  ER (NBC 1994-2009)
It premiered in 1994 and right before the pilot aired, it was just another hospital drama.  This show was a juggernaut from the word go.  Intense, fast-paced story lines with a very large, even more impressive cast.
A young George Clooney has to dive into a flooded storm drain to save a boy, helicopters fall from the roof and onto doctors who also get their arms sliced off by their blades, interns are stabbed to death, rocket launchers are set off and blow up ambulances, and gun fights with machine guns are just a sample of the peril that went on for 254 episodes.

4. ROSEANNE (ABC 1988-1997)
Again, love it or hate it, or in this case, love her or hate her, this show was a ratings powerhouse for years.  It was the story of the Conners, a midwestern, bottom of the barrel middle-class, blue collar family just trying to scrape enough change to survive life's little obstacles.  And boy, did they have obstacles.  Sometimes, this show was more drama than situation comedy but it always kept the story lines going in the right direction and was never considered cookie-cutter.  The mom spoke her mind, the dad yelled back and kids were smart asses, it was as real as life got.  It started lagging by the 6th and 7th seasons and really got weird in Season 9 with the lottery winning. However, the series finale was one if the best ever with a brilliant twist.

5.  MEDIUM (NBC 2005-2010, CBS 2010-2011)

6.  THE GOLDEN GIRLS (NBC 1985-1992)
This show has been off the air for 18 years and is still one of the most watched shows in syndication.  When it was on the Lifetime Channel (Now it is on the Hallmark Channel), even with 3 of its 4 stars now deceased, people were contacting the network asking for tickets to its tapings.  Even when it premiered in 1985, it was far ahead of its time.  In the pilot episode, there were three women, all over the age of 50 living in Miami, who have a gay house boy and talk about sex.  Even in the pilot, these women are sitting around the table discussing orgasms.  "I didn't know it made your eyes roll back in your head," explains Rose Nylund.

Let Me In


If you start watching this thinking you are about to see what is hopefully an exciting horror movie, you will be very disappointed.  That's what makes this film so interesting to me.  Yes, there is blood.  Yes, there is gore.  Yes, there is that ominous background music, but very little.  Yes, there is even a little demon child vampire at the center of it all.

"Let Me In" is about the bond between two young tortured souls who both just want a friend, a fellow kindred spirit who understands their plight.  Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) portrays Owen, a bullied loner living with his alcoholic mother who is in the middle of a divorce.  He retreats to the courtyard of his low-income apartment complex every night after his mother drinks herself to sleep.  Its here he sits at a picnic in the cold New Mexico winter because he would rather be in the cold than watch his mom destroy herself.  Owen soon meets Abby (Chloe Moretz, Kick-Ass), a right-off-the-bat odd 12-year old girl who has just moved in with her dad.  Even though in their first meeting one night in the courtyard, Abby wastes no time telling Owen, "we cannot be friends," they soon find their way to each other.

The two young actors are both destined for great things in their futures in the movie business.  Smit-McPhee and Moretz are both flawless in their performances.  As the viewer, you genuinely feel for both of them and that they are both in need of just some simple friendship.  Moretz especially had a difficult role.  She had to be this little girl searching for a friend, then at times, an un-aging creature of the night who has to kill.  They are joined in this film by two veterans, Richard Jenkins (The Father) and Elias Koteas (The Policeman).  Jenkins, who has one of the most distinguished, but versatile resumes I've ever seen (The Witches of Eastwick, Sea of Love, Stepbrothers, The Visitor, Eat Pray Love).  At first, the viewer would think of him as a bad guy, but he quickly brings out the compassion in anyone who watches.

"Let Me In" is very dark, but its so much more than a horror movie.  I do not see it that way at all.  Its a drama, plain and simple, but for the smarter horror fan.  So when you start it, let yourself in but be careful with those little girls who only go out at night.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Medium (Television Series 2005-2011)


*I do apologize for the length of this blog. This is about a show on for 7 years so there is a lot to write about.* 

"There really is an Allison DuBois. Really......."

I have been captivated with this show ever since those words graced my television screen graced right before the series premiere in 2005.  I have to say possibly one of the finest network television shows ever.  Fine acting.  Superb writing! Some of the most imaginative storytelling to be on the the small screen in years.  Genuinely creepy at times.  The DuBois family is one of the most wonderfully weird television families ever written, making the Addams Family look like the Cleavers.  Honestly, I do not personally know another fan of the show besides my dad and myself.  I so hope that people read this blog and then go onto Netflix and watch all seven seasons.  I really cannot see how anyone with half a brain could not be disappointed with this show.  I say again though, you have to possess a brain to even half-way enjoy this unbelievable program.

Patricia Arquette portrays Allison DuBois, a medium and profiler who actually exists.  She is married to man named Joe, an engineer, and has three girls.   Although, their names were changed in the series.  Also, as in the show, she resides in Phoenix, Arizona and does often work with law enforcement like the Texas Rangers, as shown in the pilot.  Arquette was a brave, but smart choice as Allison.  Arquette was famous for playing trashy, criminal types (True Romance, Stigmata).  She played the soccer mom role to a T, caring for her family as any mom would but also possessed just enough raw edginess to deal with the crazed lunatics of her job.

I urge you not to go into this program and think it is some cookie cutter police drama about some soccer mom trying to put some excitement in her life.  I like to call many of the episodes deliciously demented.  "Medium" deals with some of the most violent predators, psychotic serial killers, and out right sadistic crimes ever shown on network television. The writing and story ideas are so very smart, some of the smartest I've ever seen.   They really try to make the DuBois family as real as humanly possible.  They live on top of each other in a regular 3 bedroom home.  They certainly have their share of money troubles.  Allison spends most of the show's run driving an old Volvo station wagon.  The only difference is she and her very patient husband have the ghosts of murder victims and serial killers coming in and out of their lives, often coming into their home or even possessing her body all together.  But the majority of her visions come through in her dreams, which is how every episode starts off.  I spent most of the 129 episodes feeling so sorry for Joe. He should get a medal, living in a house of 4 females, all of whom share the gift.  He and Allison have a dynamic that only a man married to a medium can have.  They get into knock down drag out fights just like real couples, except not all of the arguments are over the usual family things.  There are also many episodes where Allison wakes up with one or more of her 5 senses missing or as someone else completely through possession.  For example, in About Last Night (Season 5, episode 4), Allison is possessed by a young hispanic woman who needs her to saw off her hand from her dead body and use the fingerprint to gain access to a computer which will help solve the dead girl's murder.
Her kids are a very important part of the show, also dreaming or seeing things normally linked to a case she is working on.  However, at times it could be a totally different storyline all together.  In one episode, the youngest Marie, talks to a voice coming from the home alarm system which is of course connected to one of Allison's cases for the Phoenix District Attorney's office.  The oldest, Aerial, is featured in a groundbreaking episode (Season 6, episode 20 Time Keeps on Slipping) where she keeps losing time, so much that she sees her life way in the future as a married woman with a child of her own.  Bridgette, the precocious middle child seems to have the significant dreams.  In Season 3, episodes 1 and 2 (Four Dreams), Allison and Bridgette both dream about the same case, just in different ways.

I was personally engrossed from episode 1 to the final, which was brilliant, yet heart felt, but closed the series nicely.  Especially if you like anything supernatural or horror in nature when it comes to your movies, you will also love this show.  "Medium" can be damn creepy at times, but far from creepy in a cheesy way. Between The Twilight Zone and The Walking Dead, there was Medium.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon


 I am going to say right off the bat, great movie! Now, thats going against most of what my friends had to say. Right away, it is about an hour too long.  There was a little too much filler and lag in the middle for my taste but,  its Transformers so of course, I had to love it. The 3D was great but, it really didn't need to be a 3D movie. Action and special effects were superb as usual. The comedy was dead on. Shia LeBouf was definitely at his best in this one.

Early reviews had it as being too long which I do agree with for once.  There was too much filler and it did sag in the middle a bit.  Early reviewers also said that Sam Witwicky's parents were not needed. I am sorry but I have to disagree. His parents are always needed.  I think they are unbelievable in all the movies especially the mom (Julie White).  I loved the second one (Revenge of the Fallen) so much because they had a much bigger part.  Now, on the subject of Megan Fox's (MaKayla) replacement, Rose Huntington-Whiteley (Carly).  Yes, a tad bit better actress than Fox, but I have to admit, I missed MaKayla.  Despite the "so not Oscar worthy performances" of the previous movies, she is still a part of them in my eyes and I have to say, I missed her.  Also, she could have gotten dirty just a bit. I know if I slid down a skyscraper, I would have at least gotten some smudges somewhere on my person.

KUDOS! I say again, KUDOS on the new supporting cast. Frances McDormand portrayed a USDA prime rated bitch and did it with class. And yes, Patrick "McDreamy" Dempsey was deliciously bad and certainly pulled his weight in this huge summer blockbuster. John Malcovich was simply brilliant as always. His comic timing was on point at all times.

Aside with the length, the movie was great. It's thoroughly enjoyable but it's time to end the franchise. It had surpassed what it can do on the big screen. It is, dare I say, "More than meets the eye."

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

127 Hours

3 1/2 STARS

Wow, wow, oh and did I forget.....WOW!

James Franco gives the performance of his career in this gut-wrenching true story from director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later). 127 Hours tells the true story of Aron Ralston, who in 2003 during a canyoneering trip in Utah, fell in a crevice and got his arm trapped by a boulder against the canyon wall.  He remained in that crevice for five days, sipping on what little water he had with him, suffering paranoia and intense hallucinations.  What made his story so compelling was on the fifth day, after many attempts to dislodge his arm, he purposely breaks it and proceeds to cut it off with a very dull utility knife he had with him.  With an amputated arm, he climbs out of the crevice and gets rescued.

Now, the movie is predictable.  I had read Ralston's story in National Geographic and watched his awesome interview with Tom Brokaw on Dateline so I already knew the plot of the film going into it.  For most of it, 127 Hours sort of drags along with filler.  But, when the shit hits the fan, Franco pulls out a set of acting balls bigger than that boulder that was pinning his arm.  His portrayal is intense, gritty, and awe-inspiring.  He even received a much deserved Oscar nomination for the role.  I do have to warn that the amputation scene is graphic and gave even me, someone who has witnessed two live autopsies, chills. There was even a time when I thought I was going to go numb.  There is never a moment when Franco doesn't make you feel what Ralston was feeling that day in 2003.  127 Hours will definitely make you feel as if you are between a rock and hard place.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Walking Dead (Season 1)


Finally, a fine horror television series that can only be called groundbreaking.
Finally, a horror television series with real actors that can damn well act and don't all look anorexic.
Finally, a horror television series with real dialogue.
Finally, a horror television series!

This show is developed by Frank Darabont, who works often with adapting Stephen King novels.  Darabont is writer/director of two of the finest movies ever put on film (which also happen to be Stephen King stories), The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. So, it is safe to say this show would have to be superb.

Honestly though, I had my reservations about this show before watching it.  I did not watch the actual season on television.  As with all other shows these days, in the time of everything being on DVD and Netflix, I wait until I can watch the entire season at once.  With what I read about the premise of the show, I thought about how Darabont could pull off an entire series with nothing but zombies.  It sounded a little too 28 Days Later to me.  I can tell you now is, he definitely pulled it off with some very talented writers and actors.

Now, I do not believe in giving too much of a great story away so I will keep the show's events to a minimum as much as possible.  The Walking Dead begins when Rick Grimes (played by British actor Andrew Lincoln), a sheriff's deputy in a small Georgia town, suffers a near fatal shooting and falls into a coma.  When he awakens in the hospital, Grimes finds the world has been turned inside out by a zombie apocalypse.  Grimes finds himself in the company of other survivors and it becomes a constant battle of survival for the group as they try to make their way away from the hordes of undead.

The first season is only six episodes long but, if you are like me and watch it on DVD for the first time, its like a very long movie.  Season two has been picked up by AMC and will begin on, as it did last year, Halloween with thirteen episodes this time and I am very ready.  I strongly urge everyone to watch the featurettes after watching the actual show.  There are some great Making of.... specials for every episode.  The work Darabont and everyone put into this show was nothing short of incredible.  I was in awe of the AMC network with what they let Darbont get away with in this show.  Every episode has what every horror fan loves, suspense, genuine creepiness, blood and gore.  The entire cast (many who appeared in several of Darabont's movies) work their asses off to make this a very character driven piece, whether they are covered in the blood and gore, or in one of the more emotional scenes.  Believe it or not, this show has its tender moments too.  I have yet to meet anyone who has not loved this show.  I think it will appeal to most all, whether you are alive or undead.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Friday, May 13, 2011



Upon first seeing the trailer for this film, I thought, Clint Eastwood directing. Matt Damon starring. Yes please!

This movie gets off to one of the most incredible starts I have seen in years.  So, of course after knowing who was behind the camera and in front and then that beginning which was so intense and visually stunning, I was intrigued and had high hopes.  Honestly, the rest of the movie sagged and just dragged on and on.

Hereafter centers on the subject of death and how it is affecting three people, a journalist from France, a young boy in England and a factory worker in the United States.  It begins with the French journalist Marie Lelay (Cecile de France) who, while on  vacation, experiences a monumental disaster.  That, as I mentioned earlier, being an amazing cinematic moment.  We are then introduced to American blue collar employee George Lonegan (Matt Damon) who at one time was a renowned psychic/medium and decides to walk away from his gift to speak to the dead.  London is where the viewer is introduced to twins Marcus and Jason.  Their junkie mother has to go away then a death occurs of course.

It is actually a shame I do not have much to say about this movie.  It is beautifully filmed with some very fine acting. There's just not much going for it.  There is an especially stand out performance by Cecile De France.  She brings much intensity to Marie Lelay that she is almost the center of the movie if it weren't for Matt Damon taking up the entire movie poster.  Damon couldn't really do much in his role since George Lonegan wasn't really much anyway.  But, seriously, how could he say no to a Clint Eastwood film.  I certainly never would.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Saturday, April 23, 2011



Bruce Willis                            John Malkovich                     Brian Cox
Morgan Freeman                    Mary-Louise Parker              Ernest Borgnine
Helen Mirren                          Richard Dreyfuss

I listed the cast because this movie, this action movie filled with gun fights and explosions, is littered with cinematic icons and legends but trash, they are not.  This movie is fun, funny, and a wild ride to experience.  I mean seriously, the cast speaks for itself.

Bruce Willis plays Frank Moses, an ex-CIA operative who is retired from his old life and feeling very bored and lonely.  His biggest thrill in life are the phone calls to a representative (Mary-Louise Parker) who works for the call center who pays his government pension.  Suddenly, his past with the CIA comes back to haunt him and it seems his former employer wants him dead. Frank then gets his old team back together to get to the bottom of the mystery of who wants him dead and why.  They trip is filled with plenty of laughs, gunshots, explosions, and the cast works off each other so well you would think they had been working on this movie for years.  And watching this movie, you will certainly see why they are called RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous).

Helen Mirren definitely leaves her role as The Queen way behind in this movie.  I do not think the Queen could hold a machine gun anything like her character in this movie does.  Only Helen Mirren could attempt an assassination and still look like a lady doing it.  Morgan Freeman is hilarious. Another one who can do no wrong. But the one who steals the show has to be John Malkovich.  He plays Marvin Boggs, who as a younger man was a supposedly a test subject for the government, and now is a paranoid loon living in Florida.  His banter mixed with his extreme paranoia and proving he is not an old man provides most of the comedic relief in this movie.  If it weren't for the receding hairline and salt flakes mixed in, I would have thought he was a kid again this movie.  I could tell the man was having fun with this character and he forced Marvin Boggs to have some damn fun.

The characters are more than Retired Extremely Dangerous; they are legends showing these muscle bound super heroes in tights we see on the screen nowadays how to fuck shit up!

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Country Strong


You gotta love country music.  I have to admit, I haven't been keeping it up with it the past 10 years.  I was a much bigger fan in the late 80's and early to mid 90's.  I've always enjoyed the genre but nothing gets to me like rock n roll.  I was raised on it and I will always be a hard core rock n roll child.  However, there will always be a place in my eardrum for some good country music.  There is supreme talent all over the place coming out of Nashville and no one can deny that.

As soon as the beginning credits of Country Strong started rolling, I knew I was going to love it. Hell, I knew when I saw the trailer for the first time last fall.  Although, when I started the film, I thought here is another predictable movie about a fallen singer who comes back at the end and then everything is okay.  And that is what the movie pretty much is about.  I did end up loving it but lets face it, the storyline is tired.

Gwyneth Paltrow portrays Kelly Canter, a multi-platinum selling, multi-Grammy winning songbird who at one time, soared through the world of country music.  This songbird's wings suddenly quit flying when she practically drowns in the booze and performs a disastrous show.  She enters rehab then, with the help of her husband and manager Charles (a head turning performance by Tim McGraw) and sponsor Beau, a struggling singer/songwriter, Kelly stages a comeback tour. 

Granted, yes, this storyline has been done time and time again.  However, if you are any kind of fan of country music, you need to see this movie.  Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw give outstanding performances and yes, that is her actually singing, as she did in Duets.  You will find there are many movies that I may not care that much for as a film but sometimes has performances that I love.  That was definitely the case here with Paltrow and McGraw.  Garrett Hedlund (Troy, Four Brothers) and Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl, The Roommate) are solid but their characters do not have much depth anyway.  It really was a good movie with great music but the story itself, was nothing new.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

I Spit On Your Grave (2010)


Oh yes, it is the age of the horror remake. Well, its the age of the remake of just about anything these days.  I personally think there have been some good ones. To name a few, I personally liked The Amityville Horror remake. Nightmare on Elm Street wasn't bad.  The Crazies and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were also watchable.

Anyone who knows me and my movie watching habits, I love thrillers and horror movies. I am especially a fan of the revenge flick. That old saying "revenge is a dish best served cold," I find to be total bullshit.  I say, an eye for an eye bitch!  Which brings me to a great revenge thriller, Eye for an Eye with the great Sally Field.  Then, on the subject of  great horror remakes and revenge movies, there was 2009's Last House on the Left, which I found to surpass the original. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it as long as you can get through the brutal rape scene. But, its a DVD, just skip through it.

Now I come to this blog's movie, I Spit On Your Grave. This is a remake of the 1978 movie of the same name which I am sorry I have to admit, I have not seen.  I only have one friend who has seen this movie and she loved it.  I read many things online about it before seeing it and mostly reviews say it surpasses the original.  However, this movie made less than $100,000 at the box office so I guess many people have not seen it. Also, it was a limited release too. It didn't play in theaters in my area at all.  I am sure it will do well on DVD rental. 

I Spit on your Grave focuses on Jennifer Hills, a novelist who rents a secluded cabin to work on her next book.  One night, she is visited by some local hoodlums and a series of savage assaults take place.  However, Jennifer quickly turns from sympathetic victim to vengeful all out bitch.  She tortures her assailants beyond belief in ways that had me half ass covering my eyes.  Sarah Butler portrays Jennifer Hills in what I read as a "fearless performance."  The original was banned on most of the planet so I feel as I should see it.  You can go online and look at the movie poster for the remake where one reviewer wrote, "if you can handle, then see it."  The movie is relatively slow and predictable at first.  It takes time before it gets off the ground.  It actually is very reminiscent of The Last House on the Left, which gets off to a better start then this movie.  Once Jennifer gets pissed off, it gets very interesting and a little painful to watch, especially for the guys.  Jennifer definitely  turns it into the "day of the woman."

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Friday, April 22, 2011

How Do You Know

This movie was actually very funny.  I only give it 3 stars because lets face it, you can tell by the previews that it is just another romantic comedy.  You know how it is going to end.  How do you know is from writer/director James L. Brooks and stars Paul Rudd, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, and Jack Nicholson.  How do you know is no where near the box office and Oscar gem some of Brook's previous movies were like Terms of Endearment (over 100 million dollars at box office and winner of 5 Oscars including Best Picture) and As Good As It Gets (over 300 million dollars worldwide and winner of 2 Oscars).  It earned just over 30 million dollars at the box office.

However, in true James L. Brooks fashion, the writing is hilariously genius and his characters are real, meaning they are flawed.  He doesn't use anorexic, over tanned teenagers in his movies.  Don't get me wrong, he uses attractive people, but attractive people with talent.  And he gets the best of the best when it comes to talent.

Paul Rudd has certainly certified himself as a comedic phenom over the years. Whether its a slapstick, ridiculous movie, Phoebe's boyfriend/husband in Friends, or now the leading man.  He plays George Madison, an executive who got his job through extreme nepotism from his father Charles (Jack Nicholson).  In a 24 hour period, he has some of the worst luck one person can have.  There is this scene with just him and a bloody mary that I found so funny.  Then he meets Lisa, a wonder athlete, who is also down on her luck but Lisa is dating Matty (Owen Wilson), a professional baseball player.  Timing couldn't be worse for both but I think that was the perfect time for them to meet.  Owen Wilson is right in place as the narcissistic baseball player.  Jack Nicholson is of course brilliant and still does not miss a beat to absorb every part of his character.  I am sure it was a huge honor for Rudd, Witherspoon, and Wilson to be in the company of James L. Brooks and Jack Nicholson.

Brooks turns them into almost this dynamic duo.  Their chemistry and comedic timing is flawless.  The last time we saw Reese Witherspoon on screen was in 2008's Four Christmases and I think this was the perfect vehicle for her to come back in.  Even though you may already know the ending, it is still a joy to watch.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.



**I know this movie was released a while ago and is already on DVD but I am just now seeing it for the first time.  Many movies I will be reviewing on this blog are movies that are no longer in theaters since I do not get to the theater as much as I like. However, I am sure many people have not seen this movie yet and may want to read about it. Also, this blog is not only an entertainment information tool but is also a creative outlet for myself. As I have written before, I love writing about movies and this is a great way to do it. So, along with new releases, I will also review movies that are already out on DVD.**

I say welcome back to the non-CGI laden good old fashion action movie!  Unstoppable was released in November of 2010 and stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pine and is directed by Tony Scott.  Tony Scott is the director behind some of greatest (in my opinion) action movies and dramas of our time.  He was behind the camera for movies like Top Gun, Days of Thunder, True Romance, and Enemy of the State. Scott and Denzel Washington have worked together before on what has to be one of the best movies of the 21st century so far (and I know many people who would agree with me), Man on Fire.

When the movie first begins, I am already surprised to find out that it is based on true events.  I honestly had no idea of that.  I was always under the impression that this was some kind of terrorism movie.  That it is not.  The story is actually pretty simple but executed in an awesome way. A freight train carrying hazardous chemicals with no conductor or engineer gets away from a fool of a train employee and is speeding toward a heavily populated area in southern Pennsylvania.  Folks, I can tell you after just watching this movie, the suspense is there, the action is there.

Denzel gives yet another great performance as a near-retired train engineer. Lets face it, the man can do no wrong.  He could stand on a sidewalk and spit and fart and people would buy tickets, may even win a third Oscar. Chris Pine is definitely well on his way.  I have to admit, I didn't even know who he was til his Oscar-worthy performance in Star Trek (Yes, I wrote that. Really watch the movie people. His performance was excellent!). When I got home from the theater from that movie, I researched him immediately online and have now watched some of his earlier work.  He's developed an ability of being calm and lighthearted one minute then jumping to disaster, "we have to save everyone" mode without missing a beat.

The dialogue is also worth mentioning. Mark Bomback's script keeps these disasters believable, without all the flare or flash.  It is very reminiscent of another one of his screeplays, Live Free or Die Hard. Believable American heroes, great story, awesome action scenes with out all the green screens. I say, keep 'em comin.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


3 1/2 STARS

Insidious was released on April 1st and was written by Leigh Wannell, who also wrote and starred in Saw 1 (he was the guy chained up with Cary Elwes in the bathroom) and Saw 3. I have to say, a very interesting movie. At first, it starts out as just another damn haunted house movie. The storyline soon makes a turn from just another haunted house movie to something completely new. As it says on the movie poster, "It's not the house that's haunted."

Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy, The A-Team) and Rose Byrne (Damages) play a young married couple with 3 children and they have just moved into a new house. The house is of course, large, ominous and everything creaks. Tragedy suddenly strikes the family when the middle son, Dalton, falls into a coma. That is when the shit hits the fan.

The images in the movie are genuinely creepy. There were even a couple of times, if I weren't looking close enough, I would have missed it which I enjoyed. I like it when the movie people make the creepiness just subtle enough. However, the movie then goes out into this other realm (literally) and the direction it goes in is certainly hit or miss. A co-worker of mine told me he thought most of the movie was great but the last 20 minutes was ridiculous.  I think ridiculous is harsh, they just did something new and for me, it worked.  Some of it towards the end did seem a little too house of horrors at a small town carnival for my taste. But the very end of the movie was done in great horror fashion.  My movie date certainly had the heeby geebies at times, even saying when the haunting beginning credits rolled, "Thats that bullshit."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scream 4

This was the review that started it all but the 420 characters Facebook allows wasn't quite enough for what I wanted to say.

I am trying to come up with some kind of unique rating system, but for now, I am going with the good ol timeless stars. I give this movie 4 STARS.

I honestly didn't know what to think walking into this one.  I absolutely am a fan of the Scream franchise. The first one in 1996 was a tour-de-force in horror movies and completely turned the slasher genre 360 degrees.  It was 111 minutes of jumps, twitches, laughs, and of course screams.  Drew Barrymore in the beginning sequence was a stroke of genius giving a performance that was compared to the great scream queens Jamie Lee Curtis and the original, her mother Janet Leigh.  Many people do not know Drew was originally supposed to be Sydney Prescott, but because of scheduling conflicts, did not have the time to do the entire movie.  The film as a whole was a treasure chest full of "whodunit" mystery.  Then, in true blockbuster movie fashion, 2 more movies followed and I loved them both.  I mean, don't get me wrong, when you have such a great formula the first time around, its really not that easy to replicate it in the same fashion and still keep people guessing but I think Wes Craven has done it brilliantly.

Now, do not go into Scream 4 expecting a "jump in your seat" scary movie.  They are now "whodunit" slasher flicks. Was this movie any good the fourth time around?  Hell yes!  I found Scream 4 most excellent.  The original three (Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette) are back and their chemistry together is better than ever.  The beginning sequence at first is going to be annoying but when all is said and done, it is pretty brilliant.  As I wrote before, you will not be jumping in your seat but there is plenty of suspense to be enjoyed.  Kevin Williamson does another damn good job writing the script.   Even though by the time the 1st hour was over, I had the killer figured out, I still enjoyed the hell out of this movie.  The original cast has matured nicely and I liked where they took the characters and I liked them setting the movie back in Woodsboro.  The new kids on the block all did a great job.  I wasn't sure when I first saw the trailer but after seeing the movie, I give Hayden Panettiere props. She was my fave of the new class.

I think any fan of the franchise will enjoy it.  If you've seen all three of the movies, you are already invested so you might as well watch the 4th.  Sydney still kicks ass, Gale is still a bitch, and Dewey is, well, he's still Dewey.  And speaking on behalf of all the Scream fans, we wouldn't have it any other way. Wes, you are still the man!

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Blog Numero Uno

Well, I always said I would never do it. But, alas I have given in to something that is actually of this century: blogging. And this is my site. As you can see, I am calling it "The Critic of Southeast Texas."

As of recent, this is something I have been thinking heavily about but as most people know, my brain has been on standby mode lately.  Well, not anymore. I have experienced a surge of creatively recently that I have not felt in a long time and I think I feel I should share it with everyone I can.  Anyone who knows anything about me knows I am an entertainment guru.  I love music, books, television, and especially movies!  I love writing about them especially critiquing.  Now, I know there are movie critics coming out of our ears out there.  You can go on any number of sites and look up a review of a movie.  I mean, have an issue of Rolling Stone (gasp!oh yes, I still love an actual magazine) right here next to me and of course, as with every issue, there are critics in the back reviewing CD's and the latest movies.  I for one do sometimes read those but I have always felt like they are just taking most movies too seriously.  I look at movies like the average movie viewer looks at movies and that is how I want to review the movies I watch, the books I read, and the CD's I (gasp! again, yes I still listen to CD's. I support the music and movie industry by actually purchasing the products from stores) listen to.  I am writing this, my first blog, listening to my newly purchased Adele "21" cd which I will of course review in a later post.  I recently reviewed a movie on a Facebook post and people commented on that post and even told me in person that I should be a film critic. Well, that has always been a dream of mine. I want to write reviews that the people who go and see them can actually understand.  Also, depending on the movie I go and see, I know what I am expecting and try not to expect too damn much so when it turns out to be amazing, I can be, well, amazed. 

Simply put, I enjoy movies.  I enjoy the entire entertainment industry and hopefully one day will be a part of it.  As most of the people in my life know, I published my first novel last year, "Moonlight on the Water," and have always dreamed of the day it would become a movie.  So, I hope everyone enjoys this blog.  I figure if you become one of the followers of this blog, then you will care what I think about a certain movie. 

Thank you and see you at the next blog.