MOVIE REVIEW: LINCOLN (2012)

Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Director: Steven Spielberg

Before you settle down for 2+ hours of Lincoln, be aware that this is not a biopic of the President’s entire life. This movie covers the last 4 months of Lincoln’s life and focuses specifically on his efforts to end the Civil War and also pass the 13th Amendment.

Any history buff will love this movie because it is very detailed and it shows the ‘behind closed doors’ conversations between Lincoln, his staff, and his political opponents. This isn’t a heavy-handed history lesson, though, and Lincoln proves to be entertaining and informative at the same time.

The Civil War serves as a backdrop for the movie, and if you were expecting huge battle scenes you won’t get them here. The action mostly takes place in the White House, which is shown far differently than most TV shows and movies will depict it. Lincoln’s White House isn’t a glistening white castle with sunlight poring in from every window. Instead it’s dimly lit, modestly furnished, and is purely more functional as a meeting place than a historical landmark.

Of course, Daniel Day-Lewis gives the movie’s best performance, and he is endearing as President Lincoln. I think it helps that Day-Lewis isn’t an overexposed celebrity like your Brad Pitts, Tom Cruises, etc. Sometimes you’ll see a big star play a character but it’s hard for the actor to ‘disappear’ into the role because you see their face plastered all over magazines and internet ads. It’s different with Day-Lewis because he is so reclusive and private. When I watched him on the screen all I could see was Lincoln- his beard, his lanky body, his gentle eyes.

If I had to find a fault with the movie, I’d offer Sally Fields’ performance. I felt she was too hardened and a little over the top with her performance, and it stuck out like a sore thumb when compared to the other actors who put a lid on the theatrics. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was also approaching the overacting territory as he played Lincoln’s son Robert Todd, but his character wasn’t central to the plot of the movie so I mostly ignored it.

This movie is worth the time and the price to see it in theaters, even if you only want to see Day-Lewis’ performance for which I’m sure he’ll win an Oscar.


TV MOVIE REVIEW: CYBERBULLY (2011)

Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Cast: Emily Osment, Kay Panabaker, Kelly Rowan, Meaghan Rath
Director: Charles Biname

I’m a sucker for teen movies. I still remember when I was a teenager and I said stupid things and did even more stupid things but at the time I thought I made smart, adult decisions. So when I watch a teen do something dumb in a movie I tend to be very sympathetic.

I do have a point to make- the teens in this movie keep making one dumb decision after another, but it’s important to remember when someone is 16, 17, and 18 years old you can’t expect them to always make the right choice. That’s why they need parents to guide them.

Cyberbu//y premiered on ABC Family back in 2011, but in October 2012 I found it on Netflix and watched it. This movie is pretty decent, and I do recommend it. It’s about a 17-year old named Taylor (Osment) who finally gets to have her own laptop and unsupervised time on the internet. Of course the first thing she does is create a profile on a Facebook-esque social network that’s already popular among the students at her high school.

We learn that Taylor, her best friend Samantha, and a third friend Cheyenne are not part of the ‘cool’ clique at school. They are tormented by some Clueless/Mean Girls wannabes who have perfectly styled hair and wear trendy, cutesy skirts and dresses. For the most part, this movie is very predictable. The leader of the Mean Girls wannabes torments Taylor online, and someone at the school creates a fake account and poses as a guy who attends a different school. Taylor makes the mistake of telling this “guy” some personal information and the imposter uses it to create lies abou Taylor. Who is this imposter? My dear, it’s called a twist. You’ll need to watch to find out who it is.

Throughout most of the movie Taylor cries her eyes out to her mom, who orders her to shut down the profile page. To the mom, this makes perfect sense- if you read something online that you don’t like, remove yourself from the situation and move forward. But for a teenager that is not an option, so Taylor continues to obsessively visit her page and read every single nasty comment that someone posts about her. That’s when Mom steps in, finds out the names of the people who started cyberbulling her daughter, and pushes to have state legislation passed that will punish online bullies.

Surprisingly, I found the acting to be pretty solid and very realistic of teenage behavior. If you have a younger teenager this movie may have more of an impact on them compared to teens at the ages of 17 or 18- they’ll probably ignore you instead. I don’t want to be preachy here, but if more parents would teach their children that real life takes place offline then I think more teens wouldn’t put so much importance in social networks where people often become meaner than they would be in person, face-to-face.

Have you seen Cyberbully? What did you think about it?


MOVIE REVIEW: FLIGHT (2012)

Running time: 2 hours, 19 minutes
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Tamara Tunie, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly
Director: Robert Zemeckis

Quick summary: ‘Whip’ Whitaker is an airline pilot who becomes an instant hero after he crash-lands a plane that malfunctions while in air. An investigation into the crash reveals some troubling information about Whip.

Flight featuring Denzel Washington

Flight is definitely a must-see. It completely caught me off-guard and turned out to be one of the most unsettling and emotional films that I’ve seen all year.

From the opening scene, this movie keeps jabbing at you until you fall against the ropes from exhaustion. We quickly learn that Whip regularly consumes large amounts of alcohol and cocaine, and you’d be justified to assume that Whip spends all of his waking hours under the influence of something. Denzel Washington gives a chilling performance of a man moving at full speed towards death.

Next is the flight sequence, which is freaking amazing and terrifying. I gripped my seat as I watched Whip calmly navigate through turbulence and nose dives, but there was an underlying layer of terror because Whip is completely under the influence of drugs. His calmness could actually be a drunken stupor.

After the plane lands, Whip wakes up in a hospital and learns that he saved 96 out of the 102 people onboard. The celebration is short-lived as an investigation is immediately launched and a toxicology report shows alcohol and drugs were in his system during the flight. We also meet Hugh Lang, played wonderfully by Don Cheadle, as an attorney trying to keep Whitaker out of jail on drug and manslaughter charges.

As the investigation continues, Whip dives deeper into his alcoholism and we see an alarming scene with Whip’s ex-wife and estranged son. Whip even gets a girlfriend named Nicole (Reilly) in this movie, and she’s just as damaged- she suffered a recent heroin overdose. He manages to drive her away as well, especially when he refuses to attend rehab meetings with her and continuously belittles her and passes out drunk.

Washington ends the movie with a subtle yet powerful dialogue about his life and his addiction, and he gives you some food for thought as you leave the theater. Are you living your life to the fullest potential? Are you blocking yourself from finding happiness and success? Sure, these are cliche questions that you normally hear on daytime, self-help TV shows, but Washington gives you a different perspective as you watch him go deeper into hell.

If you saw Flight I would love to know what you thought about it. Do you see any Oscar nominations for this film? Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Washington)?


TV REVIEW: SEASON 2 EPISODE 5 OF AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM

Season 2 Episode 5 of American Horror Story is called ‘I am Anne Frank Pt. 2’ and several things happen- we found out the identity of Bloody Face, Lana escapes, Sister Jude feels defeated by a defiant Dr. Arden, and Anne Frank is confronted by her husband.

I will say this: this episode was a hard one to watch and it involved a lot of violence and suppression towards most of the female characters on the show. I guess for a show set in the 1950s this is an accurate depiction of how women were treated.

Let’s go!

Sister Jude leaves Briarcliff to meet with a Dr. Goodman who can tell her if Dr. Arden is a former Nazi.

Anne forces an injured Dr. Arden into Sister Jude’s office by gunpoint. Sister Mary Eunice was already in there snooping through Sister Jude’s papers. She runs out and leaves. A guard steps in and holds a gun to Anne’s head with an order to let Dr. Arden go.

Anne wakes up in a straight jacket in a bed, with Sister Jude standing in a corner. Sister Jude said Dr. Arden’s surgery room was searched and they didn’t find a disfigured person like Anne claimed. Seems like Dr. Arden (or Sister Mary Eunice) disposed of Shelly before she was discovered by anyone else.

Sister Jude meets with a man in her office who claims that Anne Frank is his wife. Her real name is Charlotte Brown, and when she was 8 months pregnant she went to see an Anne Frank play. After the baby was born she began to withdraw and immerse herself in the history of Anne Frank, Auschwitz, etc.

Dr. Threadson appears and says Anne/Charlotte is suffering from postpartum psychosis. He says it would be dangerous for Anne to go back home, but Sister Jude ignores him and lets her leave with her husband. At first she resists, but when she sees a picture of herself holding a baby she seems confused but agrees to go.

Dr. Threadson tells Sister Jude she made a mistake and he expresses his disapproval of the sterilizations.

Kit and Grace are still held in separate cells but they declare their undying love for each other. Sister Jude interrupts the love fest and tells Kit that he is free from solitary confinement and he will not be sterilized. Grace is still scheduled to have her sterilization the next day.

Kit is back in Dr. Threadson’s office. Dr. Threadson wants to record Kit’s confession to the murder, so Kit leans forward and says ‘I’m Kit Walker, and I murdered my wife.’

Grace is in her confined room when a bright light appears under the door. She stares at it and then finds herself lying nude on a table. It appears an alien has grabbed her and plans to perform a procedure on her. Alma walks up to the table and she looks like she is pregnant. She tells Grace to relax, and then Grace’s lower abdomen is slashed.

Sister Jude leaves a message for Dr. Goodman saying she gave him the wrong information. Dr. Arden overhears her and demands to know what she is talking about. She tries to brush it off, but Dr. Arden is pissed. He threatens to sue her for negligence and he also says he’ll go to the Monsignor and have her removed.

Dr. Arden goes to his office. Sister Mary Eunice appears and apologizes for flirting with him. He thanks her for dragging Shelly to the woods before the guards and police could find her.

A group of children are at school preparing to get on the school bus when a little girl wanders over to a flight of stairs. She looks down and sees Shelly crawling up the stairs. Sister Mary Eunice dropped Shelly at a school instead of taking her to the woods.

Anne’s husband brings her back to the asylum and she is kept in a confined room. Dr. Arden walks into her room and closes the door. According to the husband, Anne tried to smother the baby when she came back home and he’s afraid to go to work and leave her alone with the baby. Sister Jude sends for Dr. Threadson, but he refuses to help because he’s busy helping Lana escape.

Dr. Arden decides to get his revenge on Anne by performing a lobotomy on her.

Dr. Threadson brings Lana to his apartment, and the asylum has already discovered that she’s escaped. Lana immediately feels uncomfortable being alone with Dr. Threadson, and she excuses herself to go to the restroom. She tries to find a way out but she stumbles into a room with lots of sharp knives and other unflattering objects. Dr. Threadson tells her that he makes lamps, and when she asks what material he uses he says ‘Skin’ and then flips a lever that opens a hole in the floor. Lana falls through.

In the room that Lana falls into, she finds Wendy lying dead on the floor. Dr. Threadson walks in and puts on the Bloody Face mask. He shows Lana that he removed Wendy’s teeth and placed it onto the mask.

Kit is arrested for the murders that he confessed to while in Dr. Threadson’s care. Threadson had been playing mind games with Kit, and now that Kit has confessed he has solidified his identity as Bloody Face, which means Threadson is free to continue his murders.

Sister Jude wakes up in a strange man’s bed. She was out drinking the previous evening with her flirty dress and red lips.

The episode ends with Charlotte at home with her husband. The lobotomy has turned her into an obedient and vacant ’50s housewife, complete with the makeup, hair pinned up into a cute bun, and a sweet housedress.


SCANDAL: SPIES LIKE US (SEASON 2: EPISODE 6)

(warning, spoilers are below. all photos are from Scandal’s official website: http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/scandal)

Episode 6 is titled ‘Spies Like Us’. We learn even more about Huck’s past and the people he used to work with, and with Olivia’s help he fights to keep his identity a secret. Olivia asks Harrison to break Abby and David apart, and Cyrus’ husband James writes an inflammatory newspaper article about Hollis Doyle.

Ready? Let’s go!

The Scandal of the Week surrounds Huck’s past- he used to work as a spy for B6-13, a top secret group funded by the CIA. Crosby, the guy who ran the group, stuck a package addressed to Olivia in a mailbox and then shot himself in the head. Once the package arrives, Olivia opens it and sees a coded sheet of music. Huck cracks the code and realizes he and the other 5 spies are in danger- a hacker named Nigel is threatening to expose them. Olivia knows Nigel doesn’t have the names yet or he would go ahead and release them. She suspects one of the spies is the leak, and she tells Huck to bring all of them into the office.

All of the spies have active, normal lifestyles. They are a teacher, mom, spouse, doctor, etc. but in their core they are still spies, and they quickly determine that there’s a rat in the room. They all pull guns on each other while waiting for someone to confess. Meanwhile, Olivia talks to Nigel’s attorney. He tells her Nigel has transferred money to a Swiss bank account and he’s waiting for the spy to receive the money and send the names.

Huck reveals the bank account number to the spies, and they all remember earlier when the Doctor Spy was on the phone earlier and he gave a ‘prescription number’ which exactly matches the bank account number. Immediately all of the spies turn their guns on the Doctor, and finally the Mom Spy pulls the fatal shot. The spies work together to clean up the crime scene and get rid of the body. Harrison intercepts the package with the spies’ names in it, and once again Olivia and the team have saved the day.

It’s been a long day for Huck, but at least his identity is still protected. Credit: ABC/Vivian Zink.

David and Abby are still going strong at the beginning of the episode and Olivia is still listening to their conversations in David’s apartment. Turns out I was wrong and he really does care for Abby- he offered to clear out a drawer for her to use. Aw!

Harrison confronts Olivia about the weird stuff going on in the office, like Abby dating David Rosen, Quinn’s dual identities and Huck’s spy problem. He says Olivia is trying to tackle too much on her own, and he wants to help. She asks Harrison to break up Abby and David, and she tells him that Abby was physically abused by her ex-husband.

Harrison runs into an ex of David’s, and he pays her to meet with Abby and tell her that David used to abuse her. After the two women meet, Abby finds out that David knows about her past abuse because he did a background check on her. She breaks up with him, and then confesses to Olivia about their relationship.

Harrison is fed up with the weird stuff going on at the office. He tells Olivia that he will help her with whatever she needs. Credit: ABC/Vivian Zink.

James, Cyrus’ husband, writes a mean article about Hollis Doyle, where he basically accuses Doyle of being a liar and a cheat, and everything else except a child of God. Cyrus angrily tells James that he can’t write about a ‘source’ who feeds him information because everyone will think that source is Cyrus.

Hollis Doyle shows up at Cyrus’ office and tells him to silence his ‘wife’. Olivia tells Cyrus that eventually James’ life will be in danger if he keeps snooping around and gathering info on Hollis. Cyrus turns on the fake tears and tells James that the article has put his job in jeopardy. James falls for it, apologizes for almost getting Cyrus fired and promises to stop writing about Doyle. Cyrus breathes a sigh of relief after James leaves the room.

Throughout the episode Senator Davis made repeated attempts to get together with Olivia again. Well, mostly he wants her goodies. Towards the end of the episode he shows up at her apartment and Olivia starts to break down because of her recent actions that required lying, breaking people apart, and spying just to keep secrets intact and to keep people safe. It’s more than she can bear. In a moment of weakness she passionately kisses Davis and he goes into her apartment and closes the door.

THE END.
In my opinion this episode didn’t measure up to the drama of the previous ones. The Huck situation was very entertaining because it’s always great to see into Huck’s past. I also think it’s sweet to see how much Becky means to him. Even though Olivia and Fitz have separated and Abby and David are broken up, I suspect both couples will try to work it out at some point this season. What do you think?


FOR THE LADIES: CHANNING TATUM IS SEXIEST MAN ALIVE!

Channing Tatum is People's 2012 Sexiest Man Alive

Channing Tatum on the cover of People’s Sexiest Man Alive 2012 issue.

Channing Tatum’s star power keeps rising! Just in the past year he’s hosted Saturday Night Live and released a few movies: Haywire, The Vow, 21 Jump Street, and Magic Mike. And now he can add something else to his awesome year: 2012’s Sexiest Man Alive! Click here for the article.

People.com also rounded up some nice photo galleries of Tatum, plus other cuties such as Bradley Cooper, Matt Bomer, Paul Rudd, etc. Check it out here!

Congrats, Channing!


SCANDAL: ALL ROADS LEAD TO FITZ (SEASON 2: EPISODE 5)

(warning, spoilers are below. all photos are from Scandal’s official website: http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/scandal)

Here’s the review for Scandal’s episode 205 titled ‘All Roads Lead to Fitz’ or, as I like to call it, ‘Good luck with that, Abby!’

Let’s knock out the Scandal of the Week involving Governor Samuel Reston and his wife Joan. He came home one night to find a man on top of her while she screamed ‘Rape!’ The Governor shot and killed the mystery man who turned out to be the contractor that the Restons hired to do work in their home. Then he called Olivia and her team to his home to help him handle this murder.

Scandal All Roads Lead to Fitz Season 2 episode 5

Governor Samuel Reston and wife Joan. Reston was giving me Jimmy Stewart tease throughout the whole episode.

Against Olivia’s orders, Reston had a stiff drink and Joan took a shower, which washed away any evidence that a rape kit could pick up. Reston had a drink not only because he killed a man who was hurting his wife, but also because he has history with Olivia. Turns out Reston ran against Fitz for president, and he was leading in the votes.  Olivia worked her magic and was able to swing over 4,000 votes into Fitz’ favor, and he became President.

Olivia tells Reston’s spokeswoman to give a simple statement and reveal no details about the murder. The smart ass spokeswoman ignores Olivia’s advice and let’s the press know that the Governor saved his wife and killed the bad guy, and now Reston is seen as a hero.

Olivia finds out Reston left some angry calls for the contractor and he bought a gun a week before the murder. Reston says he was angry because it was taking forever for the home fixes to be completed, and he’s a collector of vintage guns.

Harrison and Abby spoke to some of the contractor’s co-workers and they discovered that he enjoyed working on homes and sleeping with the women who lived in those homes. Olivia confronts Joan, and finally Joan comes clean about sleeping with the contractor. Governor Reston didn’t know about the affair, and he asks Olivia to find a paper trail. If a trail exists, then they’ll have to come clean about the affair, but if there is no trail then Reston plans to keep the ‘hero’ angle going.

It’s revealed that emails exist between Joan and the contractor, and now Joan is facing charges (more on this later!!) since her lie about being raped led to a man being murdered. She agrees to take one for the team.

Olivia’s nosy ass looks through some papers on Governor Reston’s desk and she sees photographs of Joan and the contractor making out. So Reston lied when he said he didn’t know about the affair! In a shocking ending, Reston admits that he bought the gun to kill his wife, the contractor, and then himself. When he came home and caught his wife and she yelled ‘rape,’ he knew that she was lying but he instantly realized something- if he spares her life and only kills the contractor, he can get rid of his wife’s lover and then revitalize his career as a hero. And that’s exactly what happened.

THE DAVID SITUATION, AND ABBY IS IN SOME SHIT NOW

Abby in All Roads Lead to Fitz

Abby doesn’t realize it yet, but she’s about to go down. DOWN. All the way down.

At the beginning of the episode we see a meeting between Cyrus, Mellie, Verna, Olivia, and Hollis Doyle. Olivia promises she’ll get David off of their backs.

Later David meets with his boss, and he’s told he can have his job back if he stops looking into Olivia and Quinn.

Abby and David are still messing around. He tells her about a 3:30pm meeting with an ex-CYTRON employee. At the meeting, David is convinced that Hollis Doyle and his company are behind the CYTRON explosion. The ex-employee tells David that Doyle and CYTRON were working together- CYTRON was fixing a massive security breach in Doyle’s firewall and the job was half completed when CYTRON went boom. David looks defeated since he didn’t get the conspiracy info that he was looking for.

So, David decides to take back his ASA job and his first duty is to take down Joan Reston. Of course, Abby secretly handed him the email trail and then he shows up at Olivia’s office to arrest Joan Reston.

Throughout the episode we see Huck preparing for a date with a very aggressive woman who attends his AA meetings. While at the office helping Huck get ready for the date, Abby goes to his computer to look up a phone number and she sees a note about ‘The Griddle, 3:30pm’. That’s the place and time of David’s earlier meeting with the CYTRON ex-employee. So, that guy was a plant!

Abby’s loud mouth immediately runs to David and gives him the news. Then she drops a bomb: CYTRON isn’t just an internet security company. They also develop software that can be used to fix voting machines.

Do you see what Abby just did there? Do you see it?

That’s how Olivia rigged the election to help Fitz become President. Then she (and others) had the CYTRON building bombed to destroy the software and any other evidence. Quinn was chosen to take the fall for the bombing, and that’s why Olivia worked so damn hard to get Quinn off of the hook.

Olivia has a bug in David’s home, so she knows that Abby is a traitor and David will come even harder for her and Quinn.

CYRUS HAS DRAMA WITH THE HUBBY & CYRUS GETS ALL IN MELLIE’S FACE

James, Cyrus’ husband, is all the way pissed off because they aren’t having a child. James decides to work as a White House correspondent, and he spends the whole episode pissing off Cyrus. Blah, blah.

The best part of the episode is when Mellie tells Cyrus that she refuses to attend the secret meetings. She’s a political animal and she won’t go down if the CYTRON dealings are exposed.

Cyrus said ‘Oh hell no.’ Actually, watch the exchange here, where Cyrus gives the best line of the entire series:

“You may be an animal but I am a monster….and I am much more terrifying than you can ever imagine.”

Alright folks, what did you think of this episode? I can’t wait to see how Olivia takes down Abby.