Thursday, June 11, 2015

Jurassic World - Movie Review

20 years has flown by since the first Jurassic Park was released - and I have to admit that was the only Jurassic movie I caught.  So for that reason, I invited my good friend and favorite Vintner, Kraig Keesaman, to join me at the screening.  He is a Jurassic Freak.  I mean Freak. I knew he could fill any gaps needed as I watched Jurassic World.

PG -13 - 124 minutes

According to Kraig, Jurassic World picked up where the first film left off and pretty much acted like The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 never happened.

Jurassic World had the typical sub-plots of greed, family drama, and sexually frustrated park employees.  There were plenty of "jump scares" for me - although the boys didn't seem nearly as affected.

Chris Pratt is the perfect guy to play the "Raptor Whisperer" and Bryce Dallas Howard is a beautiful damsel in distress.

Soap Box Moment:  Not one woman in ANY WORLD would take the time to rip her shirt open and tie it up in cute little knot while preparing to fight a rogue dinosaur.  And she would also lose the stilettos.  Why must movies keep doing this to women?  It is very frustrating.

Parents will appreciate that, while there were plenty of casualties in Jurassic World, there was no blood and gore.  (At least I like when they make these things a bit more kid friendly)

Overall, Kraig and I had a good time - I give this movie a 3 out of 5 stars - while Kraig gives it 5 of out 5!!

(Shameless Plug for Kraig - he and his beautiful wife Becky own Windy Wine Company in Osborn, MO - you must check it out!  It is one of my Happy Places)

Monday, June 8, 2015

I Believe In Unicorns - Movie Review

A couple of weeks ago I saw an #indieWIRE post calling this film "One of the Most Authentic Female Coming-of-Age Films in Recent Memory."  I was all in - couldn't wait to see it.  (Here is the article:  )

The movie tells the story of Davina (played by the lovely Natalia Dyer) a teenage girl diving into her first "adult relationship".  The object of her affection is a bad boy named Sterling (played by Peter Vack).  Both actors are receiving accolades on the festival circuit for their work in this film.  Understandably so.

This is not your typical movie about young lovers. This film isn't for teenage girls.  This film is for all of us women who have survived first love  - it is a bittersweet trip down memory lane - a look in the mirror for us all.

Davina & Sterling's whirlwind romance takes them on a short roadtrip - an escape from the reality of their difficult lives - but it isn't the miles they cover, or even the intensity of their physical attraction that makes this film interesting.  It is the beautiful mind of writer/director Leah Meyerhoff  and her ability to balance reality with fantasy.  We - as young girls falling in love for the first time - we can not tell fantasy from reality and that is quite honestly what ruins our lives.  We are lucky to get out unscathed, unwed, unpregnant.  Some of us do - and some of us don't.  Meyerhoff reminds us of these emotions - taking us between fantasty and reality, between past and present, at a dizzying pace. And isn't that how it really felt?  So intense, so surreal, we didn't know if any of it was real?

I fell in love as a young girl once, far too young to understand the consequences of my actions.  Far too young to control my emotions and my hormones.  I understand the delicate dance between childhood and womanhood and I was overwhelmed at times at the films ability to really make us see that we were children.    If only the young women in our lives would listen to us now - trust us when we say "I've been there!! Let me be your lesson so you don't have to find out the hard way!" But they won't.  And we didn't.  And we all have our stories and our war wounds and we survive.

Beautifully shot and great story telling - a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Entourage - The Boys Answer to Sex In The City

Whether or not you were a fan of the HBO Series Entourage, you won’t be disappointed by this big screen adaptation.  Lavish living, over-sexed beautiful people and life-long bromances make for a hilarious –and very raunchy – movie.

All the actors from the series are back – but it is Jeremy Piven (stressed out Ari Gold) who shines on the big screen.  He was absolutely fantastic. 

 Kevin Dillon’s Johnny Drama also has a very charming moment in the movie.  This was a Hail Mary because he annoyed the hell out of me for 99% of the movie.

Let’s talk a minute about Adrian Grenier (the kind hearted heartthrob Vince).  What a gorgeous man!  I think I may have to move my Eddie Redmayne poster and make some room.  I could watch him all day.  Don’t you agree?

There are far too many cameos in Entourage to list here, but Kelsey Grammer storming out of a marriage counseling session was one of my favorites. 

Haley Joel Osment – the little kid from Sixth Sense – does a believable job as a spoiled rich manchild trying to sabotage Ari and Vince’s multi-million dollar movie project. 

The one mis-step in  Entourage was the acting job of Billy Bob Thornton.  Because Slingblade is one of my Top Five movies of all time, I hold Billy Bob to pretty high standards.  I was very, very disappointed in his acting job this time. What a bummer.  

Overall, I loved the movie, laughed out loud at all the inappropriate jokes, and was really glad I went. 

I will give this one three Joes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Focus on Will, but Margot is hard to ignore...

It’s really hard to focus when there are so many beautiful con artists to follow!
Tonight, we review “focus”, the first of what i hope will be many – movies starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie…

In Focus, Nicky Spurgeon (played by Will Smith) an extremely accomplished con man who takes an amateur con artist, Jess (the BEAUTIFUL Margot Robbie), under his wing. Nicky and Jess become romantically involved, and with Nicky's profession of being a liar and a cheater for a living, he realizes that deception and love are things that don't go together. They split, only to see each other three years later... And things get messy.

If you like movies about beautiful, rich people, then you are in luck.  High style, glamour and
lots and lots of money drip from the screen.  

While I won’t say Will Smith is “back” with this movie, he is better than when we have seen him in a while.   Will does drip sex appeal as a lone grifter in Focus, but  it is Margot Robbie who makes us all go weak at the knees.

Here’s a little game for you – see if you recognize the actor who plays Will Smiths father in the movie – I sure didn’t!

While Focus isn’t going to break any box office records, it’s an entertaining movie that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Focus is rated  R for some sexual content and brief violence.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey - Movie Review

"When Anastasia Steele, a literature student, goes to interview the wealthy Christian Grey, as a favor to her roommate Kate Kavanagh, she encounters a beautiful, brilliant and intimidating man. The innocent and naive Ana started to realize she wants him, despite his enigmatic reserve and advice, she finds herself desperate to get close to him. Not able to resist Ana's beauty and independent spirit, Christian Grey admits he wants her too, but in his own terms. Ana hesitates as she discovers the singular tastes of Christian Grey - despite the embellishments of success, his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family - Grey is consumed by the need to control everything" - Written by Mischa LeCroix

Rated R  - barely.  This is not for the under 18 crowd.  

The first few scenes of Fifty Shades of Grey are almost identical to Twilight.  Socially awkward girl drives a clunky car.  Hunky "BFF" catchs up with her in the school parking lot.  Mysterious Hot New Guy comes to her defense when another man gets too aggressive.  Mysterious Hot New Guy shows up in the most random of places.  

Full disclosure. I loved Twilight.  Loved it.  40+ year old grandmother here - I can't explain it.  So when I heard about E.L. James writing "Twilight for Adults" aka Fifty Shades of Grey - I was excited.  The trilogy hits the shelves.  Pure fantasy - damsel in distress - handsome billionaire - girl sits back and enjoys the ride.  No pun intended. I loved them.  LOVED THEM.  Thousands of women everywhere LOVED them.  

Then came the news they were bringing Christian Grey to the big screen.  Never have I anticipated a movie more than this one.  My friends and I put together Pinterest boards of actors who should be tapped to play Christian.  

Fast forward to Valentines Day weekend 2015 and the first movie drops.  I fully expected the movie to be a big fat disappointment.  What made it even worse - it came on the heels of awards season.  All the screenings I have been doing have been BIG movies - award  winning movies.  So I went into this completely expecting it to bomb.  But then it didn't.  I liked it - I really liked it!  And I wasn't the only one.  There was applause at the final scene.  

What is it about this movie? For one thing, I really liked how much the movie followed the book.  No big changes.  The casting for this movie was also SPOT ON.   Dakota Johnson IS Anastasia Steele. While Jamie Dornan never showed up on my Pinterest boards as Christian, when he walked onto the screen it made sense.  He is our man.

But the real attraction for me is simple.  You see,  I am a control freak.  I take care of everything.  I plan every meal - every date - what and where and how we do everything.  Did I say I liked being a control freak?  No, I don't.  It's just who I am and how I have evolved.  So for me - the attraction to this movie was the idea of a billionaire man sweeping into a girls life and taking care of her every want and need - whether  or not she even knows what those wants and needs are.

Please understand a few things.   
If you didn't read the book - this movie is not for you.  
If you dislike nudity and sex in movies - this movie is not for you.  
If you find this movie (even before seeing it) offensive & degrading to women, I completely respect that.  Just because I like Breaking Bad doesn't mean I cook meth.  If you know what I mean.

Do I think this is one of the best movies of all time?  Absolutely not.  But the movie did what it set out to do - it brought a fantasy on the page to life on the big screen, without completely screwing it up.

I know I will catch flack from other critics for liking this one, but that's ok.  I hated Under The Skin and lots of critics LOVED it.  That's what I love about movies.  There's something for all of us.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Most Violent Year ~~ Movie Review ~~

Most of you know, Jessica Chastain is my girl.  I love her!  Was I excited to see A Most Violent Year? You betcha!  Here we go:

"A crime drama set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the city's history, and centered on a the lives of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built."  - Written by Production

First let's talk about the things I liked about this movie  - I love the cast.

Jessica Chastain wears the mob princess tiara perfectly.    She portrays her role as  the calm, cool & collected bookkeeper/wife with ease.  It's when she drops that charade and we see the true character of Anna that she SHINES.  She goes from normal to bat shit crazy without blinking an eye - and I love it.  IMO, without Chastain, this movie would not warrant much mention.

I also like Oscar Isaac in this film. He plays the role of "a good man going bad" very well.  You do love him and want to believe in his niavete.  He seems to be brewing though, so you can never be sure.

David Oyelowo has a supporting role in this film - you know him from Selma of course.  It's a solid performance.  I met him a couple of weeks ago at the Critics Choice Awards.  Very nice guy.

I thought the Cinematography was SPOT ON.  Oscar-nominated Bradford Young (also of Selma fame, among others) gives AMVY a dark and dreary feel, and uses colors and shots that really take you to the early 80's.  (as a teen of the late 80's - I loved this)

There isn't really one thing I didn't like about AMVY, it just seems a bit too safe and slow. The story is good - so much corruption in the field of trash and sanitation?  Who knew!  It does a great job of taking you into the corruption of NYC back in the 80s.  But watching it, I felt like something was coming, like "any minute now, shit is going to get crazy", but it never really does.  

To wrap it up in a nice little package - I am glad I saw the movie, it was entertaining, but I wasn't blown away.  Of all the movies I saw this award season, it doesn't rank in my top ten.   But if you are looking for something to see on a Sunday afternoon - I would recommend you check it out.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My First Critics Choice Awards

I have been back in Missouri for a week already and I still can't begin to put into words the fun I had attending my first Critics Choice Awards.  But I promised I would try, so here we go.

The day we arrived was a whirlwind (see earlier post about our Ellen segment), and it ended at the Critics Choice Pre-Party held at iPic

iPic is a spectacular theater experience - Jessica and I sat cozy by the fires - the food and drinks were over the top.  A great way to start our trip.
This is also where I met Aaron Dicer, who proved to be quite the entertainer.  (This pic is of us on our way to the After-party the next night)

The next day was all about getting glam.  Jessica and I put our trust in the hands of the team at blo Blow-Dry Bar in West Hollywood. 


They were very sweet and made us feel right at home - even letting us keep our bags there overnight , saving us a trip back to our hotel.  
I think they did a great job,  don't you?
The Awards Ceremony was held at the Hollywood Palladium, which was fabulous. 
Aaron took a quick picture of us and then he was off schmoozing with the celebrities.  This was old hat to him.  Next year, I will take everything I learned from him and get better pictures, I promise!
We were seated at Table 68.  See those beautiful books, I lost mine somewhere in the night.  It is my one regret.  Darn I wish I still had it.
We were seated with the folks from Bold Films.  They produced Whiplash and Nightcrawler this year - both films I loved.  Pretty happy with our table!!
John Krasinski and Emily Blunt were adorable to watch. 
Oprah was two tables away from us.  So surreal.  She is a presence, let me tell you.
John De Simio, Executive Vice President of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. 
When Angelina arrived, she walked by our table and said hello to both of us.  She is very beautiful.  During the breaks, Jessica did her best to talk to Angelina, but she was a popular girl.  She did manage to snap this picture of another woman's hand taking a picture of Angelina. 

I managed to speak with Julianne Moore for a few seconds - I hate this cheesy grin, but it does sum up my feelings at the moment.  I could hardly contain my excitement.  Julianne was very kind and gracious.  And tiny.  Everyone is tiny.
I also spoke with Michael Keaton  and David Oyelowo, and exchanged hellos with Reese Witherspoon in the ladies room.  Everyone we met was so friendly and genuinely nice.
After the awards, cars were waiting and whisked us away to the Hollywood Athletic Club for the Afterparty
The food and atmosphere at the Hollywood Athletic Club were over the top.  We had a wonderful time talking with other critics and film folks.  But alas, after a long day, our phones were dead so we didn't get any pictures.
The next morning, I couldn't stop smiling.  This was our lunch stop - we did all things touristy - Chinese Theater, TMZ Tour, Hollywood Sign etc.
We spent the last night of our trip at the Santa Monica pier - the perfect ending to a perfect trip to California.
The morning we left, Tyler Kimball was kind enough to join me for coffee.  He is the sweetest man!  He is in the movie Whiplash, which had been nominated for an Oscar just two days before our coffee date. To be part of an Oscar nominated film...neither one of us really knows what it will ultimately mean for him. But I tell you all this.  Write down his name.  Great things are heading his way.  I can feel it. 
For the complete list of Critics Choice Award winners, click here:
Until next year!!!!