Tuesday, April 26, 2016

You Must Accept "The Invitation"

Unfolding over one dark evening in the Hollywood Hills, The Invitation blurs the lines of  paranoia, mystery, and horror until neither the characters or the audience know what threats are real or imagined. 

From the moment he arrives at his ex-wife’s dinner party, Will struggles with memories of living in this beautiful home,  where their young son died in a tragic accident.  The film does a clever dance between paranoia on Will’s part (are Eden’s new friends part of an evil cult?) & friends gathering – both new and old – to try and bury the past enjoying wine, prescription drugs and perhaps some mutual affection…

While watching The Invitation, the audience is never really sure if Will has a true grip on reality.   Director Karyn Kusama, takes us on a terrifying rollercoaster of emotion. Though  there is plenty of gore and violence for fans of such films as “The Purge”, it’s the slow and steady climb that really makes The Invitation a  "Must Watch."

The Invitation is Rated R.

Follow BFCA Movie Critic Lisa Erdman on all social media @take2review for more movie reviews and news.  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Everybody Wants Richard Linklater - Movie Review: Everybody Wants Some

Every college kid from the 80s is sure to love “Everybody Wants Some”, Richard Linklater’s latest film.   Just as “Dazed & Confused” was a nod to the director’s high school experience, “Everybody Wants Some” is a summation of his college years.

The opening scene takes us to a fictional Texas campus as seen through the eyes of the film’s main star, Jake – a freshman baseball player.   Within minutes we have met the rest of the team, and it’s a cast of characters we won’t soon forget.  It wouldn’t be easy to handle such an ensemble cast, but Linklater is the man for the job.

The soundtrack alone is enough to send everyone on a trip back in time.  The cars, the clothes, the hair – everything is styled to perfection. 

Everybody Wants Some in hilarious – and quite nostalgic.  It’s also one of the best movies I have seen so far this year. 

 I had the chance to meet three of the actors from the movie a couple of weeks ago at the Kansas City premier.  Super nice guys.

L-R Glen Powell, Myself, J. Quinton Johnson & Wyatt Russell

Everybody Wants Some is Rated R.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Be Inspired this weekend with Miracles From Heaven - the true story of the Beam family's miracle.

With Easter just around the corner, we see quite a few inspirational movies hitting the theaters.  This year, Jennifer Garner stars in MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN, a film based on the incredible true story of the Beam family.  

Their world is turned completely upside down when 10 year old Anna Beam is diagnosed with a rare, incurable disease.  Just like any family would, the Beams fight for research & answers for Anna.  After exhausting all their resources and accepting her illness as incurable, Anna has a freak accident & something unbelievable happens leaving her doctors in shock & the entire country inspired. 

The first few minutes of Miracles from Heaven had me rolling my eyes and feeling disappointed in the movie. A little too much cheesiness for my taste.  Luckily the cheesiness didn’t last long and I settled into a very solid, very emotional movie. 
If you need a little inspiration in your life, a break from all the negativity (& politics) being served to us on a daily basis – I suggest you check this one out.

Miracles from Heaven is rated PG. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Irrational Man: A Movie Review

IRRATIONAL MAN is about a tormented philosophy professor who finds a will to live when he commits an existential act. Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) is at rock bottom emotionally, unable to find any meaning or joy in life.  Soon after arriving at his new job, Abe gets involved with two women: Rita Richards (Parker Posey), a lonely professor who wants him to rescue her from her unhappy marriage; and Jill Pollard (Emma Stone), his best student, who becomes his closest friend. While Jill loves her boyfriend Roy (Jamie Blackley), she finds Abe's tortured, artistic personality and exotic past irresistible. Even as Abe displays signs of mental imbalance, Jill's fascination with him only grows. Still, when she tries to make their relationship a romantic one, he rebuffs her.Pure chance changes everything when Abe and Jill overhear a stranger's conversation and become drawn in."  www.sonyclassics.com/irrationalman

I love movie trailers as much as the next guy, but sometimes they show the best parts of the movie, or at least predict the outcome.  Trust me on this, Irrational Man is not the movie you think it will be.  

The chemistry between Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix is fantastic - and if you are a fellow Phoenix fan like me, you will not be disappointed.  He portrays vulnerability like no other actor in his time, & somehow makes every woman want him.  

There is much to be said for just "getting by" in life  - losing the desire to go beyond our comfort levels.  I see it all the time when I talk with people about being a dream chaser.  They look at me a bit lost, I can see them thinking "what is she talking about?"  While few people would go to the lengths Abe Lucas goes, most people do daydream about changing their path.  This movie does a brilliant job of showing us just how far some will go, the risks we are willing to take, and what we are capable of doing to keep our secrets safe and sound.

While "Irrational Man" may not have been a hit with the box office, it was a hit with me. 

Irrational man is rated R & is now streaming online, or available on DVD or Blu-Ray.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Will it be Spotlight or The Revenant? It's Oscar Sunday and I am ready to make my predictions!

Yes, I have been stalling on posting my predictions because I can't commit!  Now the day is upon us, so I am out of time.  Without further ado....

Best Picture:  Spotlight

The race for Best Picture is the closest in recent history, and I can see why.  While some people say it comes down to three movies - Spotlight, The Big Short or The Revenant - for me it's only two.  If The Big Short wins, I will be disappointed.  Give the Oscar to The Revenant or Spotlight, and I will be a happy girl.  Since I can only pick one movie, I am going to choose Spotlight because it has a great cast, screenplay and a very important story. Tom McCarthy completely won my adoration with the care he took with Spotlight.

Best Actor:  Leonardo DiCaprio

Everyone knows it's Leo's year.  He proved his acting chops long ago, but in The Revenant he took it to a whole new level. His work in this movie will be talked about for years to come.  I can't wait to hear his name called tonight.

Best Actress:  Brie Larson

The nominees in this category are all amazing and gave such wonderful performances, I can't imagine how it will feel to be Brie Larson this evening.  

Best Supporting Actor:  Sylvester Stallone

This is the one category I am most nervous about. This award could go to any one of the actors and I wouldn't have much of an argument.  So this "prediction" is really more about who I WANT to win.  Let's hand the gold to Rocky.

Best Supporting Actress:  Kate Winslet

This is the most confusing prediction I had to make.   While I agree Kate Winslet was brilliant in Steve Jobs, I wasn't a fan of the movie in general.  Close on her heels is Alicia Vikander for her beautiful role in The Danish Girl. I would much prefer to predict her as the winner.  If there were to be a major upset in the winners tonight, seeing Jennifer Jason Leigh winning Best Supporting Actress would be fantastic - and well deserved.

Best Director:  Alejandro Inarritu

I also think George Miller is quite deserving, having received his first ever nomination for the incredible Mad Max Fury Road.  But I just don't see that happening.  The Revenant was spectacularly beautiful while being horrifically violent and that is not an easy schtick to sell. I was completely blown away.  

Animated Feature Film: Inside Out

While Anomalisa is a masterpiece, I don't think it can beat Pixar's sweet movie Inside Out.  

Cinematography:  The Revenant

Tonight, Emmanuel Lubezki could make history in this category, winning for a third time in a row.  He won two years ago for Gravity, and last year for Birdman.  That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if Mad Max Fury Road wins this one.  It's a close, close race.

Costume Design:  Mad Max Fury Road (Jenny Beavan)

Sandy Powell received two nominations this year, for her work on Cinderella and Carol. You would think this would make her a sure win, wouldn't you?  Not so fast.  With tough competition, I think her two nominations will split her votes, and Mad Max will sneak in for the win.

Documentary Feature:  Amy

Cartel Land or The Look of Silence are serious competition, but I think Amy will win.

Film Editing:  Mad Max Fury Road

Brilliant, freaky and incredible.  For the win.

Foreign Language Film:  Mustang

This is the another category where I am following my heart.  Mustang was a beautiful film and I want to see it win.  (But it very well could be Son of Saul)

Makeup and Hairstyling:  Mad Max Fury Road

Those War Boys though...

Original Score:  The Hateful Eight

Original Song:  Til It Happens to You 

We love you Lady Gaga!

Production Design: Mad Max Fury Road

Sound Editing & Sound Mixing:  The Revenant

I will never forget how moved I was by the sound effects while watching The Revenant. It is the experience of a lifetime.

Visual Effects:  The Revenant

I am going with The Revenant, although everyone seems to think Star Wars:  The Force Awakens will win.  It's all about the bear scene for me.

Adapted Screenplay:  The Big Short

Original Screenplay: Spotlight

I have said it a million times, but I am saying it one more time.  The way this story was told was so so important.  The faith was protected, the victims were not sensationalized.  I am so impressed by this film.  I loved it.  

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Choice - A conversation with Nicholas Sparks

Fans of novelist Nicholas Sparks are lining up for this weekend’s release of “The Choice”, a movie based on Sparks 2007 novel of the same name.  The Choice tells the story of Travis and Gabby, neighbors in a small North Carolina coastal town in a relationship that is tested by life's most defining events.  

I sat down with Nicholas to ask him about this movie, how he feels when his movies are changed from the original story, how involved he is in casting his films, and if he would share HIS favorite Nicholas Sparks movie with me. Here is what he had to say:

The choice is a sweet movie, landing just in time for Valentines Day.  It is the perfect movie for a first date, or great for couples just looking to bring back a little romance into their life.  

I enjoyed it!

The Choice is Rated PG13.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Critics Choice Awards 2016

It's hard to believe our trip to California was already two weeks ago.  Time is going by way too quickly.   If you remember last year, I took my oldest daughter, Jessica, as my "plus one".  This year, I took my middle daughter, Jennifer.  We stayed at Hotel Erwin on Venice Beach and had the time of our lives.

Sunday we ordered a fantastic breakfast from room service,  relaxed & got glam for the Critics Choice Awards.  We weren't very happy with the salon we booked, but looking back I think they did a pretty good job.  Isn't Jennifer stunning?!?!

The 2016 Critics Choice Awards were held at the Barker Hangar - a beautiful venue in Santa Monica. The evening started off a little scary when our Lyft driver was directed into a line with several black Escalades, etc.  (We were in a red Jetta).  Before we knew what was happening, doors were being opened and we were directed into a line right along with Mayim Bailik.  We knew we were in the wrong line, but there was nothing we could do!  Thankfully I made eye contact with a handler who could see we were in distress just in time to get us OFF the red carpet.  Jennifer wanted to die.

Once we were safely tucked into the cocktail reception with a glass of wine, we took a few selfies and started to relax.

This was the first year the Critics Choice Awards combined the TV and film ceremonies, so there were hundreds more people than in years past.  There were pros and cons to having that many people, but once we ran into some of our favorite TV actors, we quickly decided we were happy with the decision.

This is my favorite picture of the night for several reasons.  I am a big fan of all three of these amazing actresses.  (Sarah Paulson - American Horror Story, Margo Martindale - Critics Choice Award winner for her Guest Role on The Good Wife, & Holland Taylor - Two & A Half Men)  But the really exciting part of meeting this group and getting Sarah to take our selfie was that it was Sarah & Hollands first red carpet event as a couple.  They are the cutest - just look at the way Holland is looking at Sarah in this picture.  I felt super blessed to spend a few minutes in their bubble.

Another highlight was bumping into Saoirse Ronan (Best Actress nominee - Brooklyn) & Finola Dwyer (Producer - Brooklyn)  They were both lovely.

The awards ceremony was wonderful, & most of my favorites won.  For a full list of winners, click here:  http://bit.ly/1SkCUBs

We met so many wonderful people at the Afterparty I don't even know where to start.  The highlight of the night for Jennifer was spending time talking with Gina Rodriquez (Critics Choice Nominee - Jane the Virgin)  I was so proud to watch her engage with such talent and see how much they enjoyed her as well. 

We also met Hayden Panettiere who was just adorable.

One of my favorite television shows is Transparent, so I was thrilled to have a few minutes with Jeffrey Tambor, who picked up a Critics Choice Award for Best Actor.  Such a gentleman.  I really, really liked him.

As a movie critic, I adore Grae Drake, the Senior Editor of Rotten Tomatoes.  Any chance I have to talk with her, I take it.  She is AMAZING.

Towards the end of the night, Neil Brown Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) walked by, and Jen "highfived" him, saying what a great job he was doing hosting snapchat that night for EW.  He asked for a selfie and away he went.  The night could not have ended any better when Jennifer checked EW's snapchat and saw this.  #NightMade.


The next day we had a lovely lunch on the patio of Don Cuco in Burbank.  I took this beautiful picture of Jennifer (on the right) because I have a similar picture of Jessica from last year (on the left).  I am super blessed.  

Jennifer and I had VIP tickets to the Ellen Show Monday afternoon - we had a great time!

Until next year....