Click the reviews below to see the poster and read a more in-depth analysis about the movies:
Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Once again, Quentin Tarantino delivers a great movie. Django Unchained is a western set in the South before the Civil War. Django (Foxx) is a freed slave, and he teams up with a bounty hunter named Schultz (Waltz) to find and rescue his enslaved wife, Broomhilda (Washington).
This is definitely one of my favorite movies of the year! It almost has a ‘buddy’ atmosphere towards the beginning of the movie, because we see Django become a free man and then team up with Schultz to hunt down criminals, kill them, and then collect the bounty. These two are inseparable, and in one touching scene, Schultz tells Django about the origin of the name ‘Broomhilda’.
As the duo collects more bounties they also acquire more information about Broomhilda’s whereabouts, which leads them to Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), the evil owner of the Candyland plantation. From here the storyline and the violence really starts to pick up.
I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the movie. People are upset by the (very) generous use of the word ‘nigger’, and the violence towards the slaves has also been mentioned. Throw in the mandingo fight (two strong, male slaves fight to the death) and you have one intense movie that is admittedly hard to watch at times. However, when you go to a theater to see a movie with slavery as its backdrop, and especially once you find out Quentin Tarantino directed it, you should expect it to be bloody and controversial.
I loved DiCaprio in this movie. He’s flamboyant, charismatic, and down-right sneaky, which is everything you’d expect from a villain. He has a commanding presence and continues to show why he’s a great actor.
Naturally, I also loved Waltz. As the character Shultz, he gave this movie a heart and a conscience. Even though he kills criminals, he becomes overwhelmed with the horrors that he finds at the Candyland plantation and his discomfort only adds to the tension that steadily builds towards the movie’s climax.
I’m thinking Christoph Waltz will earn yet another Best Supporting Actor nomination, but I don’t think Jamie Foxx will earn another nomination for Best Actor. All of his thoughts and movements as Django were very predictable, and although Foxx did a great job I don’t think he did enough to really resonate with the audience.
Overall I loved this movie and I plan to re-watch it many times. It does have a ‘been there, done that’ feel to it though, because in Kill Bill we saw the Bride hunt down those who wronged her and attempt to kill them. She was also looking for her daughter. Now we have Django hunting people down to kill them, and he’s looking for his wife.
That’s just a minor complaint though. This movie is rock solid.
Running time: 2 hour, 2 minutes
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker
Director: David O. Russell
I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to watch this movie. I saw a couple trailers but I still couldn’t figure it out. Here’s my message: Just sit down and go with the ride. Then you’ll see why this movie has strong Oscar buzz for Best Film, Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. This movie is great!
Silver Linings Playbook is a funny and heartwarming movie about Pat (Cooper), who has bipolar disorder, and Tiffany (Lawrence), who suffers from clinical depression.
At the beginning of the movie Pat is released from a mental healthcare facility, but he doesn’t believe that he needs therapy and medication. He explains the horrible incident that landed him in the treatment facility, but he believes it was a one-time thing and he doesn’t have any anger issues.
Pat meets with his friends Ronnie and Veronica (John Ortiz and Julia Stiles) and in a hilarious dinner scene we are introduced to Tiffany. These two strike up an odd friendship, but they both have ulterior motives. Pat wants to re-unite with his estranged wife but he has a pesky restraining order that prohibits him from approaching her. He learns that Tiffany knows his wife and can contact her, but Tiffany only agrees to help Pat if he helps her first. I’ll let you watch the movie to find out what the deal is, but it’s pretty funny.
I’ve said it twice now, that this movie is funny. And it’s true! The mental health issues are tackled lightly but it still leaves a twinge in your heart because Pat and Tiffany want to be better people but they need help getting there.
Jacki Weaver and Robert DeNiro star as Pat’s parents, Dolores and Pat Sr. DeNiro is wonderful here. I know there’s been complaints about him phoning in some of his more recent roles, but in this movie DeNiro does a great job as a parent who is trying to understand his son, and also a man who is out of a job and trying to find a way to provide for his family.
The biggest kudos goes to Cooper and Lawrence, and their great on-screen chemistry. I was hesitant at first because there’s a big age gap between the two actors. Age isn’t mentioned in the movie though, and it doesn’t matter because this movie sucks you in and keeps you well entertained for 2 hours.
Lawrence is receiving alot of praise because as Tiffany she has a commanding presence on-screen. While Pat is in denial about his actions and behavior, Tiffany is well aware of her shortcomings and she owns up to the bad coping mechanisms that she’s used in the past. She has a defiant ‘This is who I am’ attitude, and I believe Pat respects it because it’s coming from someone who is as damaged as he is. Cooper hams it up on-screen and his portrayal of Pat is both startling and endearing at times.
This is one movie that I can’t wait to buy on DVD, and I see myself watching it many times in the future. I tried to think of one complaint in the storyline or with the characters and I just can’t find one. If you have some downtime during the rest of this holiday season please see this movie. If you have already watched it, let me know what you thought about it!
Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes
Cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade
Director: Akiva Shaffer
I guess this movie is supposed to be a sci-fi comedy. I did see an alien in the movie but I couldn’t find the jokes. The Watch is a total snooze-fest, and that becomes obvious within the first 15 minutes.
We have Ben Stiller taking the lead as Evan Trautwig, a friend-less dweeb who forms a neighborhood watch after his Costco co-worker is murdered at work during the overnight shift. Evan recruits Bob (Vaughn), a fast talking loudmouth who uses The Watch to spy on his daughter; Franklin (Hill), a loser who was rejected from the police force and holds a grudge against the local officers; and Jamarcus (Ayoade), a recent divorcé with an extreme fondness for oral sex. Sigh.
The four guys seem to get along at the beginning, but naturally a rift builds as Evan takes the watch too seriously and the other guys want to hang out and drink. However, once they stumble upon an alien they realize two things- a violent alien is in the neighborhood and there are more aliens that are disguised as humans. If you watched the trailer you’ve already seen most of the alien fun, so yes the fun goes downhill from that point. And I don’t know if this was intentional, but I wasn’t surprised when I learned which people are aliens. This movie is not subtle at all.
I knew what to expect going into this. The cast line-up automatically means this will be a ‘boys’ movie: gore, penis jokes, pee, poop, snot and whatever else grown men and young boys find humorous. It may be gross out humor but the key is to have jokes that are actually funny. I think I laughed out loud a couple of times, and one of those times was forced a little bit. Let’s call this movie ‘Unwatchable’ and move on with our lives. Oh, and don’t get me started on the first few minutes that played out as a Costco commerical. This whole movie just didn’t make sense to me.
Did you like The Watch?
Running time: 1 hour, 56 minutes
Cast: Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston, Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter
Director: Salim Akil
People always get nervous when they hear the word ‘remake’. There were concerns that the Jordin Sparks and Carmen Ejogo wouldn’t live up to the iconic performances of the 1976 original, and after rumors of plot changes and new songs added to the movie there were worries that the remake would not be received well at the box office. Factor in Whitney Houston’s death just months before the theatrical release and it seems Sparkle was doomed to fail.
After watching the remake, I’ll say those worries I mentioned above are justified. This remake wants to be a box office smash but it plays out like a Lifetime TV movie. The only saving graces are Carmen Ejogo and Mike Epps, who deliver great performances as the sultry Sister and menacing Satin, respectively. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Best Supporting Actress nominations for Ejogo during the upcoming awards season.
The remake shows sisters Sparkle (Sparks), Sister (Ejogo) and Dee (Sumpter) pursuing a music career despite the warnings of their mother Emma (Houston), who unsuccessfully tried to launch her own music career in her youth. Sparkle starts dating a young man named Stix who works as the girls’ manager and hustles around Detroit to book club performances for them.
Eventually the sisters become very popular and Sister starts an abusive, drug fueled relationship with a flashy and rich comedian named Satin Struthers. At this point the movie steers away from the plot of the original and develops its own ending for each of the characters. I didn’t mind the plot changes, but I wish it was executed in a better way.
The first half of the movie is fun and exciting. The music is upbeat and there are spirited cameos from soul singers Cee Lo Green and Goapele. Sister clearly steals the scenes though, and watching her seductive moves on stage and then observing her bad girl behavior off stage is fun to watch. Sparks is pleasant enough as Sparkle, and Sumpter’s character Dee gets lost in the shuffle, but those three together work well onscreen.
The second half of the movie starts to drag: the story lines for Emma, Sparkle, Dee, and Stix become unbelievably predictable, and I think the word ‘cliche’ can be used here as well. There’s a twist for Satin and Sister, but it’s done in such an underwhelming way that it doesn’t deliver the sadness and heartbreak that it was aiming for.
Speaking of sadness…it was hard to watch Whitney Houston perform ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’. Before her death in early 2012 Houston’s fans had to accept that she lost her voice. Even though the song was marketed as a highlight of the film, Houston’s voice croaked and cracked and she just didn’t have enough power to soar through the gospel song.
Looking back, I think this remake would’ve been solid if it were 20 minutes shorter and eliminated some unnecessary plot details. Sparkle is out on DVD now, but I can’t imagine rewatching this whole movie. I’d probably stick around long enough to see the energetic first half and then I’d look for something to do.
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law
Director: Peter Ramsey
Rise of the Guardians is a fun adventure movie, and it definitely has more personality than I anticipated. It’s a good movie for all ages, but I think adults and older children may enjoy it more.
The movie centers around the Guardians, who are a team of folklore heroes assigned to protect children across the world. Santa Claus (Baldwin) is the team leader and he works with the Tooth Fairy (Fisher), the Easter bunny (Jackman), and the Sandman (he does not have a voice, and he uses sand to communicate).
Trouble arises when the Bogeyman (Law) threatens to bring fear and darkness to the world’s children. The Guardians request the help of Jack Frost (Pine) but he is reluctant to join. Unlike the other Guardians, Jack is invisible to children because they do not believe in him. Throughout the movie all of the Guardians work together to defeat the Bogeyman, and Jack Frost tries to earn the belief and trust of the children that he’s trying to save.
I enjoyed the movie and the characters. Each character has a distinct personality and it’s fun to see them interact in each other’s worlds. There’s a scene where the characters go underground to help the Easter Bunny gather eggs, and they also help the Tooth Fairy collect teeth. Watching this movie will definitely make you feel like a kid again.
What made this movie feel magical is the special effects for the Sandman and Bogeyman. Sandman had beautiful gold sand that he used to help children sleep and he also used it as a weapon against the Bogeyman. In contrast, the Bogeyman had pitch black horses that he summoned to fight the Guardians. Speaking of weapons, the Easter Bunny has an Australian accent and he’s pretty good with a boomerang.
Guardians is fast-paced and only has a few lulls in it. I believe this is a true family movie, and not just a movie that only small kids will enjoy.
If you saw Rise of the Guardians, please let me know what you thought!
The Dec. 13th episode is titled ‘Blown Away’. Quick note, episode 10 airs on January 10th. At the end of this post you’ll find a promo for that episode! It looks like a doozy.
Here we go!
Hucks tells Harrison that he shot Fitz. Harrison gets panicked and demands that Olivia comes back to the office.
At the office, Huck says Becky called him and she was crying. She asked him to meet her at a hotel room. When he walks in, he sees a remote controlled sniper rifle next to a window. It starts shooting the shots that hit Fitz. Huck dismantled the rifle and brought it to the office. Huck believes someone forced Becky to set him up and now he wants to find her.
President Langston kicked Cyrus out of his office so now he’s working from home. He receives a phone call from James’ mom, and he finds out that James lied when he recently told Cyrus that he was spending a weekend with his parents.
Hollis has a private meeting with President Langston, and he gives her a folder to look at. Hollis is one sneaky, folksy bastard.
Back at the Pope office, the team is trying to get a copy of the security tapes at the hotel. No luck so far. Quinn rolls up on Huck and gets aggressive. She wants to know who is behind her kidnapping and why it happened. He tells her that he didn’t ask questions and he just did what he was told.
Abby calls David for a favor. He hand delivers the security feed from the hotel!
The team looks at the tapes, checks Becky’s bank accounts and investigates the past three months that she’s spent with Huck. All signs point to Becky acting alone to set up Huck.
Huck doesn’t believe it and he storms out of the office to look for Becky. He breaks into her apartment and finds out she’s been studying him. She has surveillance photos, blueprints of the hotel and other spy like stuff.
Langston’s evil ass visits Verna in the hospital. She tells Verna to step down from the Supreme Court or she will tell the media that Verna lied about having terminal cancer so she could get a seat on the bench. Langston promised she would make the last months of Verna’s life a complete hell.
James and Cyrus are having lunch. Cyrus asks James ‘How is your father doing?’ and James brushes him off and walks to the kitchen. Cyrus grabs James’s phone and notices there are multiple calls to and from the same number. Uh oh!
During a briefing Olivia finds out the security tapes show the back of Huck’s head, but it also shows a woman dropping her cell phone and Huck picking it up for her. Now there’s a hunt for the woman and her cell phone. Olivia secretly calls Abby and gives her the information.
Huck is sitting in his car, across the street from a family that he secretly watches. He enjoys looking at their happy home life. He falls asleep but wakes up and realizes Becky is in the backseat and has a gun pointed at his head. She admits to shooting Fitz and she tells him that she did set him up, but if she really wanted to be a bitch she would’ve left evidence that could be traced back to him. She didn’t do that because she likes him. Then she disappears.
Cyrus visits Olivia at her home with a bottle of wine and a suspicion that James is cheating on him. Cyrus has a private investigator looking into the phone number on James’ phone.
Olivia vista Verna and tells her the only thing she can do is step down from the bench. Verna says she’s seen the hotel picture of the guy in a red hoodie, and she thinks it looks like Huck. Olivia plays dumb and Verna says ‘Karma is a funny thing.’ Verna feels everyone involved in the Cytron scandal is getting their just due, one way or another.
I guess being spied on and set up is a huge turnon, because Huck goes to Becky’s home and has sex with her. He tells Becky that he’ll run away with her, because they are the same.
Cyrus meets with his private investigator. He finds out James has been meeting with David Rosen, and David has been recently dumped by a red-head. Cyrus also finds out that James went to Defiance, Ohio.
The FBI has just picked up the woman who dropped her cell phone in the elevator. Yikes!
Olivia meets Huck. He tells her he’s going away with Becky, and Olivia tries to talk him out of it but she’s unsuccessful. Turns out Huck is setting up Becky. He calls Harrison and says Becky will be leaving within an hour, and Harrison needs to go in and plant the gun once she leaves.
Cyrus organized a romantic dinner for him and James. He also tells James that they’re at the front of the adoption line and in one week they’ll have a little girl. James is too excited, and he agrees to quit his job and be a full time daddy.
Becky is late meeting Huck at their usual spying spot. Huck can’t reach her on her cell, and he walks into the house of the family that he spies on. The entire family was shot and killed throughout the house. Huck realizes that Becky knew what he was planning to do.
Olivia runs into Hollis’s shady ass. He admits that he took down Verna as revenge for Olivia and Verna saving Lindsay Dwyer and giving her a new life as Quinn.
James meets with David at a baby store, and reveals that Cyrus knows James is onto something. That’s why he tried to distract James with a baby. James hands David the memory card that he stole from the voting machine in Defiance.
Once again, desperate Abby has snuck into David’s apartment. She slaps him twice, has sex with him and then quietly leaves. Okay…
Verna is desperate also. She tells Langston to choose between her resignation from the bench OR the name of the man in the red hoodie.
Back at the office Olivia is attempting to console Huck. The FBI swarms in and arrests Huck under the Patriot Act.
I’m speechless and I can’t wait to see how this season wraps up in its final episodes. It seems everyone involved in the Cytron scandal is turning on each other, and if Olivia isn’t careful she could go down too.
Here’s a sneak peek into the Jan. 10th episode: