DVD Review: The Campaign

Will Ferrell + Adam McKay doesn't always = comedy gold.

When Cam Brady, (Will Ferrell) a four term congressman from North Carolina starts to falter, two Big Wigs decide to push a naive candidate to rival him. That man is Marty Higgins. (Zach Galifianakis)

I could explain the film a little bit more, but really, it's not worth the time. I personally never tire of Will Ferrell. I think the guy is hilarious and I always watch whatever he's in. Especially when he works with Adam McKay. Anchorman, Talledega Nights, Step Brothers, I loved all of those. But The Campaign just falls short. Though Farrell and Galifianakis have some great lines, and Jason Sudeikis steals scenes as Brady's campaign manager, Mitch, it just feels long and inconsistent. The character of Marty felt A LOT like Jack Black's character in Bernie. The voice, the peppy personality, even though the films were likely shot around the same time and had no influence on each other, I just kept thinking about how much more I liked Bernie.

Ferrell's comedies aren't always perfect. Despite it's potential,  The Campaign will fall within the likes of Semi Pro and Kicking and Screaming. It's just not that great.

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "Strong...real strong." - Mitch (Jason Sudeikis)

2013 Academy Award Winners + my thoughts

Well, this is it. The end of the road for awards season. As for the show itself, I enjoyed it for the most part, but it was a little hit and miss. Seth MacFarlene was a good host in my opinion. I know Twitter seemed to be pretty split on him, but I thought he was hilarious. Sure, he had a few jokes that failed, everyone does. But he had plenty that were gold. If Flight had actually been done with sock puppets, maybe I would've gone to see it.  The tributes to musicals were good, even if Catherine Zeta Jones sounded terrible in the Chicago performance. Adele killed it, obviously, but she didn't get the standing O that Jennifer Hudson did. Probably because she yelled more. Anywho, here's a list of the winners. My thoughts if needed will follow in green.


Best PictureAmour
Argo–WINNER
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings PlaybookZero Dark Thirty
 There were plenty of "Ben Affleck got snubbed" jokes this evening, but I'm glad that they won the big prize. Affleck's speech was adorable and Argo is the first film in a few years that I actually agree with winning Best Picture. (Sorry The Artist, King's Speech, and Hurt Locker)


Best Actor
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln–WINNER
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

This was such a no brainer Meryl Streep didn't even bother opening the envelope to look at the winner. (Seriously, did she even look?)



Best Actress
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark ThirtyJennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook–WINNER
Emmanuelle Riva, AmourQuvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern WildNaomi Watts, The Impossible
Lawrence was who I wanted to win, but after the BAFTAs I thought Riva could take it. Either way, I'm happy with the out come. Apparently Jen tripped going up the stairs, her dress was so big that I didn't even notice. At least she joked about it in her speech.


Best DirectorMichael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi–WINNER
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

This was one that I literally had no idea who could take it. Throughout the night as Life of Pi started winning more things, I figured it would be Ang Lee.


Best Original Screenplay
Amour, Michael Hankie
Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino–WINNER
Flight, John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal

Happy for Tarantino here, although I think he may have been a little high.



Best Adapted Screenplay
Argo, Chris Terrio–WINNER
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, 
Life of Pi, David Magee
Lincoln, Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell

I guessed this wrong, I thought SLP would've gotten it.


Best Original Song
“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice, music and lyric by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted, music by Walter Murphy; lyric by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi, music by Mychael Danna; lyric by Bombay Jayashri
“Skyfall” from Skyfall, music and lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth–WINNER
“Suddenly” from Les Misérables, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Another no brainer, Adele was adorable, she could barely talk.


Best Original Score
Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
Argo, Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi, Mychael Danna–WINNER
Lincoln, John Williams
Skyfall, Thomas Newman



Best Production Design
Anna Karenina, Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
Les Misérables, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
Life of Pi, Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Lincoln, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson–WINNER

I wasn't expecting Lincoln to win anything but Best Actor, so good for them.


Best Film Editing
Argo, William Goldenberg–WINNER
Life of Pi, Tim Squyres
Lincoln, Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg



Best Supporting ActressAmy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables–WINNER
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

I still can't believe Anne Hathaway chose the dress she wore. She knew she was winning! Choose a dress that doesn't let everyone know you are nipping out. Ugh.


Best Sound Editing
Argo, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers–WINNER
Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson–WINNER

Now this was cool, I've never seen a tie before. I guess the last time it happened was in 1968? I could be wrong with the year there, but either way. It was cool to see.



Best Sound Mixing
Argo, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes–WINNER
Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Skyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson



Best Foreign Language Film
Amour, Austria–WINNER
Kon-Tiki, Norway
No, Chile
A Royal Affair, Denmark
War Witch, Canada



Best Documentary Feature
5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man–WINNER



Best Documentary Short
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
Redemption
Inocente
–WINNER



Best Live Action Short
Asad
Buzkashi Boys
Curfew–WINNER
Death of a Shadow 
Henry



Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained––WINNER

I'm totally pumped for Christoph here. He looked so surprised when his name was called. It would be cool if he went on a Tarantino winning streak and wins for the next movie he does with the man.


Best Animated Short
Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”
Paperman–WINNER



Best Animated FeatureBrave–WINNER
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph



Best Cinematography
Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained, Robert Richardson
Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda–WINNER
Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall, Roger Deakins

You know, I'm not really on board with special effects driven films winning in this category. If most of Life of Pi was digital, can we really say it looked the best when other movies filmed real places? I may be in the minority on this, but that's just how I feel.


Best Visual Effects
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott–WINNER
The Avengers, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
Prometheus, Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

I cannot believe they played these guys off with the Jaws theme. That started out funny, but turned out to be insanely rude. That sucks.

Best Costume Design
Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran–WINNER
Les Misérables, Paco Delgado
Lincoln, Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood



Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell–WINNER

Final Oscar predictions: Who will win, who should win.

These are my final picks for the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony!

Best Picture:
AMOUR
ARGO
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
DJANGO UNCHAINED
LES MISERABLES
LINCOLN
LIFE OF PI
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
ZERO DARK THIRTY

Who will and should win: Argo


Best Director:
Michael Haneke, AMOUR
Benh Zeitlin, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
Ang Lee, LIFE OF PI
Steven Spielberg, LINCOLN
David O. Russell, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Who will and should win: David O. Russell.
This is actually really hard to predict. Since they didn't nominate Ben Affleck, I see SLP as the best film in this category. But, I have a feeling Michael Haneke could be a hit with the Academy, or Steven Spielberg. Either way, this is pretty open



Best Actress:
Emmanuelle Riva, AMOUR
Quvenzhané Wallis, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
Naomi Watts, THE IMPOSSIBLE
Jennifer Lawrence, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Jessica Chastain, ZERO DARK THIRTY

Who will and should win: Jennifer Lawrence.
After Emmanuelle Riva won the BAFTA, I can no longer say that Lawrence has this in the bag. Or that it is only between her and Chastain. Things just got interesting in this one.


Best Actor:
Denzel Washington, FLIGHT
Hugh Jackman, LES MISERABLES
Daniel Day-Lewis, LINCOLN
Joaquin Phoenix, THE MASTER
Bradley Cooper, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Who will and should win:Daniel Day-Lewis
Shoe in, next.


Best Supporting Actress:
Anne Hathaway, LES MISERABLES
Sally Field, LINCOLN
Amy Adams, THE MASTER
Helen Hunt, THE SESSIONS
Jacki Weaver, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Who will and should win: Anne Hathaway
Shoe in #2, next


Best Supporting Actor:
Alan Arkin, ARGO
Christoph Waltz, DJANGO UNCHAINED
Tommy Lee Jones, LINCOLN
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, THE MASTER
Robert DeNiro, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Who will and should win: Christoph Waltz
I won't say this is a total lock yet, but I'd like to see him win. I wouldn't complain if Hoffman won either


Best Original Screenplay:
AMOUR
DJANGO UNCHAINED
FLIGHT
MOONRISE KINGDOM
ZERO DARK THIRTY

Who will and should win: Django Unchained


Best Adapted Screenplay:
ARGO

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
LIFE OF PI
LINCOLN
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Who will win: Argo
Who should win: Silver Linings Playbook
It's not that Argo doesn't deserve to win, I just like SLP a little, tiny bit more. Which is weird because I still want Argo win Best Picture over all. I'm fickle with these two.

Best Animtaed Feature:
BRAVE
FRANKENWEENIE
PARANORMAN
THE PIRATES: BAND OF MISFITS
WRECK-IT RALPH

Who will and should win: Brave
Best Foreign Language Feature:
AMOUR
KON TIKI
NO
REBELLE (WAR WITCH)
A ROYALE AFFAIR

Who will and should win: Amour

Best Cinematography:
ANNA KARENINA
DJANGO UNCHAINED
LIFE OF PI
LINCOLN
SKYFALL

Who will win: Django Unchained
Who should win: Skyfall
Love them both, but Skyfall was so beautiful.
Best Costume Design:
ANNA KARENINA
LES MISERABLES
LINCOLN
MIRROR MIRROR
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

Who will and should win: Anna Karenina


Best Documentary:
5 BROKEN CAMERAS
THE GATEKEEPERS
HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE
THE INVISIBLE WAR
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN

Who will and should win: How To Survive a Plague


Best Editing:
ARGO
LIFE OF PI
LINCOLN
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
ZERO DARK THIRTY

Who will and should win: Argo


Best Original Score:
ARGO
ANNA KARENINA
LIFE OF PI
LINCOLN
SKYFALL

Who will win: Argo
Who should win: Skyfall, just for the hook that plays when he realizes his car has just been blown up. That was fucking hysterical.


Best Original Song:
“Before My Time” – CHASING ICE
“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” – TED
“Pi’s Lullaby” – LIFE OF PI
“Skyfall” – SKYFALL
“Suddenly” – LES MISERABLES

Who will and should win: Skyfall


Best Sound Editing:
ARGO
DJANGO UNCHAINED
LIFE OF PI
SKYFALL
ZERO DARK THIRTY

Who will and should win: Skyfall

Best Sound Mixing:
ARGO
LES MISERABLES
LIFE OF PI
LINCOLN
SKYFALL

Who will and should win: Argo



Best Visual Effects:
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
LIFE OF PI
THE AVENGERS
PROMETHEUS
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
Who will win: Life of Pi
Who should win: The Avengers
If The Dark Knight Rises can't get nominated anywhere, I want the other awesome comic book movie to get some love.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
HITCHCOCK
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
LES MISERABLES

Who will win: Les MiserablesWho should win: The Hobbit



Best Documentary Short:
INOCENTE
KINGS POINT
MONDAYS AT RACINE
OPEN HEART
REDEMPTION

Random Guess:  Inocente

Best Animated Short:
ADAM AND DOG
FRESH GUACAMOLE
HEAD OVER HEELS
MAGGIE SIMPSON IN “THE LONGEST DAYCARE”
PAPERMAN

Random Guess: Maggie Simpson

Best Live Action Short:
ASAD
BUZKASHI BOYS
CURFEW
DEATH OF A SHADOW
HENRY

Random Guess: Henry

Indie Gems: Celeste and Jesse Forever

Best friends forever?
Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are going through a divorce. But you would never know it until one of the characters (scene stealing Ari Graynor) in the film points it out. They are separated, but Jesse is still living in the guest house. They are trying to remain best friends, still sharing plenty of inside jokes, and the occasional tryst. When Jesse starts dating someone else, Celeste isn't as cool with it as she would've hoped.

It seems that Celeste and Jesse have the world's easiest divorce. How many unmarried couples can joke like they do? Probably not many. Jones and Samberg have amazing chemistry, but I felt they struggled a little when the film got more emotional. There's some great supporting players; Ari Graynor as Celeste's BFF, Beth. Elijah Wood as her partner, Scott. Last but not least is Emma Robert's as a spoiled pop star that Scott and Celeste are working with.

Celeste and Jesse seem perfect for each other, so we as the audience want them to stay together. Whether it's what is best for them is another story. I really enjoyed watching this. I found it so touching, not many rom coms do that for me these days.

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "This song is my BITCH!" - Riley (Emma Roberts)

DVD Review: Nobody Walks

There's something missing.

Martine (Olivia Thirlby) is a young filmmaker who arrives in LA to put the finishing touches on her art film. She stays with Peter (John Krasinski) and his family. Peter is a sound mixer who is helping her finish her film. Meanwhile his shrink wife Julie (Rosemarie DeWitt) has a hard time with a patient that's obviously pursuing her, and with the slight crush she notices Peter has on Martine. Then there is their 16 year old daughter Kolt (India Ennenga) who is fascinated with Peter's assistant, and also ends up unknowingly attracting her Italian tutor.

Nobody Walks felt like it was missing something. There is no climax to this film, nothing gets resolved. That's how life is, but it doesn't make for a very interesting story. Olivia Thirlby does a great job of playing Martine. You never know if she is aware of the sexuality she possess or not. Men fall all over her in this film, and she doesn't turn them away without giving in a little. I thought Krasinski did well too, although as the material got heavier, it seemed like he was having trouble keeping up. I would like to see him in more comedies. The subplots with the wife and daughter were wasted. Ennenga's Kolt is far more annoying than anything, and even though she has some of the best lines in the film (due to a poem she reads) I just couldn't get in to her character.

The strange thing about all of this is, I actually enjoyed watching this film. When it ended, I felt empty. I like something was truly missing. This film could've been great, instead it is just drifts by us. In hindsight, I should've known. When the credits started rolling and I saw this film was written by Lena Dunham, it makes sense why only the "hip New Yorker" is interesting and the rest are flat out boring.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "This is probably the last time you will be hearing from anyone in this family." - Julie (Rosemarie DeWitt)

Review: Side Effects

Jagged little pill.
Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) has had issues with depression before. She thinks it is all behind her. When her husband, Martin (Channing Tatum) is released from a four year prison sentence for insider trading, she hopes for the best. That doesn't happen, and one afternoon she purposely drives her car into a brick wall. A psychiatrist at the hospital, Dr. Banks (Jude Law) takes over her car and prescribes her a new drug called Ablixa. But it has some serious side effects, and Emily ends up taking someone's life while on this drug. Soon, Dr. Banks is in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, but he starts to uncover secrets about this case.

Rooney Mara is a hell of an actress. I know I complained about her being over exposed during The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's run, but she really gives a great performance here. It's easy for actors playing characters with depression to just look like hollow zombies, but when we look at Rooney's Emily, hiding behind her hair in her face, we can tell there's something more. She switches quickly and convincingly between happy, sad, mad, confused. I thought this was a very accurate portrayal of someone with depression. Jude Law continues to impress me as well.

With Soderbergh's last film, Magic Mike, there were mountains of problems and awkward shots. That's not the case here. Side Effects keeps you guessing and ends up in territory you weren't expecting. If this truly is Soderbergh's last film as a director, at least he ended it on a good note.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I loved everything about him." - Emily (Rooney Mara)

The SONSOFBITCHES snubbed James McAvoy and Paul Dano!


Mette over at Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions is hosting her first every blogathon, asking for performances in any category that were snubbed at the Oscars. This is totally up my alley, but Alex over at And So It Begins actually covered a lot of the ones I would chose. So, I'm going to split this between two actors who I thought were snubbed in the supporting actor category. In this case, both of the lead actors in these films went on to win Oscars. While they were both deserving, their awesomeness somewhat over shadowed their co-stars. So here it is. Those SONSOFBITCHES snubbed James McAvoy and Paul Dano

James McAvoy - Best Supporting Actor - The Last King of Scotland


Many people will remember The Last King of Scotland as Forest Whitaker's movie. And while he did a fantastic job as the tyrannical Idi Amin, the story was told through Nicholas Garrigan's (McAvoy) eyes. Though McAvoy had some tough competition in the supporting category that year, I think he deserved to be nominated more than Mark Wahlberg in The Departed. McAvoy fucking nailed this movie. He truly was the lead in my opinion, but no one would be pitting him against Whitaker. He was campaigned in the supporting category. He starts this movie off by being totally energetic and adorable. He just wants to do good in the world, so he spins a globe and lands on Uganda as the country he's going to use his medical skills in. He becomes Amin's trusted doctor, and things go down hill. He showed fear, love, compassion, and he had to beg for his life. Tell me that scene of him in the airport was not one of the most terrifying things you've ever watched. The fact that all he got was a BAFTA nomination out of this was criminal. This movie was just as much his as it was Whitaker's. I thought the Academy would make it up to me by nominating him for Atonement a year later, but nope. Snubbed again. Someone get this guy an Oscar nom!

Paul Dano - Best Supporting Actor - There Will Be Blood

Everyone remembers this as Daniel Day-Lewis's movie, and rightfully so. He was terrifying. But Paul Dano was there matching him step by step. Dano's Eli was so manipulative. I thought the scene of him screaming "Get OUT of here Devil" would've been enough. Or the scene where he baptizes Daniel Plainview while berating him. Or the final scene in the bowling alley? That was pure brilliance on both actor's parts. He got beat to death with a fucking bowling pin, people! Point is, Paul Dano is a fantastic actor that is often over looked. While this may have been DDL's show, he deserved to be in the race too. The supporting actor Oscar had a clear winner all along (Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men) but I thought Dano's performance was stronger than nearly all of the other nominees. Funny enough, The BAFTAs recognized him as a nominee. That's one reason why I love the BAFTAs. They seem to just "get" me sometimes.

Honorable mention goes to Michael Fassbender for Lead Actor in Shame. The Academy was just intimidated by the size of his package. Seriously, that has to be it.

Indie Gems: Joshua

Is he Damien reincarnated?

That's kind of the feel you get from Joshua at first. That it will be just another creepy kid movie. While the cheap score certainly tries to push that theory, it is a little more than that.

Brad (Sam Rockwell) and Abby (Vera Farmiga) have just had a new baby. Abby mentions that she's struggled with postpartum depression in the past, but everything seems to be different with this baby. Their 10 year old Joshua (Jacob Kogan) starts to feel left out. Soon, strange things start to happen.

The interesting thing about Joshua is that the film gives us an opportunity to see things from Joshua's perspective, instead of only his parent's. Brad and Abby aren't the most nurturing parents around, and it's obvious they neglect Joshua. Sure, new babies take a lot of the attention, but neither are making an attempt to make sure Joshua's needs are met. So when crazy shit starts to happen, you can't exactly blame Joshua for seemingly acting out. When I first heard of this movie, I expected something supernatural, but there's nothing like that here. I can definitely see why they cast Jacob Kogan as young Spock in the Star Trek reboot. He's quite emotionless here, but he's not completely wooden. He makes Joshua's demeanor work.

One thing that is driving me nuts, what did Joshua whisper to his uncle? Is it important? Maybe not, but I wan't to know.

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "No peeking.." - Joshua (Jacob Kogan)

Motifs in 2012 Cinema: Appreciation of Life

Andrew, over at Encore's World of Film and TV is hosting a blogging project regarding motifs in Cinema. Choosing only films from 2012, he presented a list of themes to pick from, and I chose appreciation of life.

Motifs in Cinema is a discourse across 22 film blogs, assessing the way in which various thematic elements have been used in the 2012 cinematic landscape. How does a common theme vary in use from a comedy to a drama? Are filmmakers working from a similar canvas when they assess the issue of death or the dynamics of revenge? Like most things, a film begins with an idea - Motifs in Cinema assesses how the use of a common theme across various films changes when utilised by different artists. - Andrew, Encore Entertainment


Appreciation of Life:

Finding the silver lining

The first film that comes to mind is Silver Linings Playbook. The entire premise is about finding the silver lining. Pat messed up, he let rage take over, and now he's determined to make it right. He will turn everything negative into a positive. Excelsior is his motto. Both Pat and Tiffany help each other heel after they've been to hell and back. Pat complains after reading a book with a bleak conclusion: "Why can't we just have a happy ending for once?" Well, his and Tiffany's hard work pays off, and it's a happy ending they get. They've found the silver lining, and they appreciate their life together.

Creating the perfect life

In Ruby Sparks, Calvin, after suffering from serious writer's block creates the perfect girl for him. When she suddenly appears, it's his dream come true. Whatever he types, Ruby does. He loves her little legs, and the fact that she's an artist, but soon Calvin stops appreciating her for what she is, and takes advantage. Ultimately he lets her go, and takes a good look at himself. All of that power got in his way of appreciating his life. He doesn't need to control every little thing Ruby does, he just needed to get an idea, put it on paper, and hopefully he'll get another chance to meet someone that's perfect for him.


Redemption
If anyone appreciates life, it's Jean Valjean of Les Miserables. He has been given a second chance after prison. After a factory worker under his supervision is fired, falls ill, and dies, Valjean takes it upon himself to find this woman's daughter and raise her well. While he's still being pursued by the law, he has time to raise Cosette into a fine young lady and to let her go to the man she loves. On his death bed, he looks content with how everything ended.  


To rise


To say Bruce Wayne's very life is tested in The Dark Knight Rises is a serious understatement. Bane seeks to destroy everything Batman is about, but he won't go down with a fight. Batman needed to go back to being Bruce Wayne to regain his appreciation of not only his life, but all of Gotham's. He had to test himself mentally and physically to rise above the darkness. He saves the city, passes on his vigilante duties, and starts to enjoy the ride without living secluded. He lives the life that Alfred always hoped he would live.


Helping those in need

Nothing says "appreciation of life" than helping others in need. That's what the Canadian Ambassador did for his American friends in Argo. Instead of only looking out for himself, he extends a helping hand to his southern neighbors, and they are able to escape the unrest in Iran. To fully appreciate your life, you need to appreciate others, and that's exactly what happened here. As an American, I love Canada. Always have. This is just one of the many reasons.

I decided to end this piece with something a little different. With a film that does not follow the motif of "appreciation of life." Instead, it gambles it away, and cheers when things go wrong.

For the sake of entertainment

Without blowing the big ending of The Cabin In The Woods too much, this is a pretty good example of not appreciating life. These 5 twenty somethings are put in an impossible scenario, with an entire business of people watching, making bets on who dies first, what kills them, and how long it will take. Even when we get the big reveal, it's still not enough to sacrifice clueless people. Although, we can't really blame our brood for saying essentially saying "fuck it" in it's darkest hour.

5 Stupid Camping Movies I Loved as a Kid

We all have them. Movies that we loved watching when we were young. When we look at them now we thank God that our taste in cinema has matured, but still hold a fond spot in our hearts for the stupid things that made us laugh. Although I initially didn't mean it, the films on this list have something in common. They all involve camping, boarding school, or being in the wilderness. So here's 5 stupid camping movies I loved as a kid.

1) Major Payne

This is the catalyst that started this list. It was on TV the other day. I loved the Waynes Brothers, they used to do a lot of funny stuff. Lately, it hasn't been the same. But I'll always fondly look back on them for giving me so many laughs. (White Chicks, Scary Movies 1 and 2)


2)Heavy Weights

A bunch of kids that get sent to fat camp. This movie made me a little less annoyed that my parents sent me to Girl Scout camp one year. Plus in retrospect, Ben Stiller's character here could've easily morphed into the character he played in Dodgeball


3) Bushwhacked

Daniel Stern, or as I knew him back then as "The Home Alone guy" was a staple in the comedies I loved back then. I remember being pretty devastated when my copy of this tape accidentally got an infomercial recorded over it.


4) Camp Nowhere

This was a movie that I never owned, but always watched when it came on TV. Christopher Lloyd is another actor that I loved watching as a kid.


5) The Amazing Panda Adventure

Of all the movies on this list, this is the only one that I can't just sit back and watch again. Not even for the nostalgia factor. I LOVED this movie despite my dad reminding me that it was "the worst" whenever I made him watch it with me as a kid. Every time I heard a watch beep, I would always joke: "American Gladiators!" Then I saw it when I was a teenager and totally understood why my dad hated it so much. It's really, really, bad.


Honorary TV Mention: Salute Your Shorts

Camp Anawanna, we hold you in our hearts. This show was awesome. How did it only get two seasons? It was way better than Hey Dude.

2013 BAFTA Winners

Here's a list of the 2013 BAFTA Winners! I'm a little short on time today, but I do have a few quick thoughts: I'm really surprised Emmanuelle Riva picked up Best Actress over Chastain and Lawrence. Also Argo is now the clear Best Picture winner in my mind. Glad to see Affleck nab Director too. I'm also really psyched for Juno Temple winning the Rising Star award. She caught my attention in Notes on a Scandal and I've been a fan ever since. Good for her!

Best Film Argo
Best Director Ben Affleck, Argo
Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Actress Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Best Original Screenplay Django Unchained
Best Adapted Screenplay Silver Linings Playbook
Best British Film Skyfall
Best Film Not in the English Language Amour
Best Animated Film Brave
Best Documentary Searching for Sugar Man
Best Editing William Goldenberg, Argo
Best Costume Design Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
Best Cinematography Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi
Best Original Music Thomas Newman, Skyfall
Best Make-Up & Hair Lisa Wescott, Les Misérables
Best Visual Effects Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, Donald R. Elliott, Life of Pi
Best Production Design Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson, Les Misérables
Best Sound Simon Hayes, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Jonathan Allen, Lee Walpole, John Warhurst, Les Misérables
Best British Debut Bart Layton and Dimitri Doganis, The Imposter
Orange Rising Star Award Juno Temple
Best Animated Short The Making of Longbird
Best Live-Action Short 
Swimmer

Indie Gems: God Bless America

Hmmm...who to kill next?

Frank (Joel Murray) has just about had it with society. He fantasizes about killing his obnoxious neighbors and their crying baby. He hates going to work and listening to his co workers talk about ridiculous reality TV shows. After he loses his job and finds out he's terminally ill, he decides he's going to rid the world of it's stupid people that are put on a pedestal. After blowing a spoiled reality teen's brains out, he meets Roxy, (Tara Lynne Barr) a 16 year old school girl who hates life just as much as she does. After constant pestering, she becomes his accomplice.

The beginning of this movie wades in preachy territory, but it eventually subsides and we are left with a pretty amusing montage of Frank and Roxy getting rid of a variety of people. At one point, there's a scene where they off people in a movie theater for talking, then thank the lone person from their attack for being quiet during the movie and not using her cell phone.

With the debate on guns being a hot topic right now, this makes the film even more interesting. There's a point where Frank remarks that there should be less gun control, and Roxy replies "then every lunatic would have a gun." This is of course after she's just shot a man multiple times. Sure, this film has an agenda, but with it's clever dialogue and perfectly cast actors, it makes for a fun ride. Considering all the violence, I'm almost ashamed to admit I liked it as much as I did.

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I live in an apartment with paper-thin walls next to a couple of Neanderthals who, instead of a baby, decided to give birth to some kind of nocturnal civil defense air raid siren that goes off every night like it's fucking Pearl Harbor."

DVD Review: Lawless

They believe they're own legends.

The Bondurant brothers - leader Forrest, (Tom Hardy) Howard, (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf) are in the bootlegging business. There's rumblings all over town that these boys are invisible, something Jack really wants to believe. A new law enforcement officer Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) shows up and threatens to end their operation.

There's a lot of promising performances here, but the film itself just doesn't hold up. Forrest is barely audible, Jack makes plenty of stupid decisions, and a small part by Gary Oldman is squandered. His character's first scene makes him feel important, he shows up one more time and is gone for the best of the film. But the ones who really take the hit are the women. Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska, both very capable actresses are given little do to, and are treated even worse. This film isn't kind to women, though I suppose the bootlegging business wasn't kind to them either. I grew tired of seeing Chastain's character harassed and Mia's not having any words of her own. 

I wanted to like Lawless, they have a wonderful cast, but I just got an overwhelming feeling of "meh" while watching it.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "...I thought I walked." - Forrest (Tom Hardy)

DVD Review: Killer Joe

Well that escalated quickly.

Chris (Emile Hirsch) is in big trouble. After his mother steals his blow, he cannot pay his drug dealer back. He convinces his dimwitted father Ansel (Thomas Hayden Church) to hire a detective that moonlights as a hit man, Joe (Matthew McConaughey) to kill her. You see, she has a large insurance policy and they plan to pay Joe once they cash it in. Joe's not an idiot, he wants a retainer, and he gets one in the form of Chris's precious little sister, Dottie. (Juno Temple)

Killer Joe is easily one of the creepiest movies I've seen in a long time. Every scene with Joe and Dottie felt wrong, even though we are clearly told that Dottie is 20. Juno Temple plays her so innocent, sweet and childlike it's easy to forget her age and just feel bad for her getting taken advantage of. I'm sure many of you have heard of "that scene" towards the end with Joe and Ansel's new wife Sharla. (Gina Gershon) Knowing about it ahead of time doesn't make it any less shocking. It's brutal and McConaughey is so sadistically convincing. I remember a lot of blogger talk about him getting snubbed for Magic Mike. If anything, just that scene alone blows everything he did in Mike out of the water. He's golden here.

I felt dirty after watching this, but not in a bad way. I felt like a kid sneaking into an R rated movie. Like everything I was watching was so wrong, but I couldn't look away because it was that compelling. I hated the ending immediately after watching the film. But after discussing it with others and taking some time to think, it really does work with the nature of the film.
Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "I did know who you were!" - Sharla (Gina Gershon)

Review: Warm Bodies

They're changing.

R (Nicholas Hoult) is unlike any zombie we've seen on film before. He's conflicted and lost. He doesn't like the fact that he eats people, or that he can't speak to others. What we do know is that if zombies eat a human's brains, they get their memories. So when R eats Julie's (Teresa Palmer) boyfriend, and gets his memories with her, R is instantly in love. He protects her and slowly starts to become human again. Then there are the bonies. They are the zombies who just gave up and ripped their skin off. They aren't happy with the zombies changing. Now they have a common enemy with the humans. But can Julie convince everyone that they are curing themselves?

It's hard to make a moving about the zombie apocalypse and stand out, but Warm Bodies does just that. Most of the movie is R's inner dialogue, which is a great addition. It's funny listening to him narrate his life and try to find a way to "not be a creep" around Julie. His interaction with the other zombies is classic too, especially when they start learning to talk again. John Malkovich plays Julie's stereotypical angry father who won't listen to his daughter even when she brings him a living fucking zombie that's not trying to eat him. His character got on my nerves, but  that's really the only bad thing I could say about the film.

Warm Bodies is amusing through out and strangely enough, the cinematography really stands out. There's lots of neat shots in there. Plus R has a killer record collection, (yes, a zombie that collects stuff) so we get some great music as well.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "Nailed it." - R (Nicholas Hoult)

Indie Gems: The Good Doctor

What if..

Dr. Martin Blake (Orlando Bloom) is getting the hang of becoming on doctor. He's a bit insecure, one of his nurses (played by Taraji P. Hensen) gives him a hard time. When Diane (Riley Keough) comes in with a kidney infection, Dr. Blake is suddenly fascinated with her. Once she's well, her family invites him to dinner, but he's not ready to let her go just yet.

I always joke about how I wish Orlando Bloom was a better actor because he's so nice to look at. In this film he actually does a pretty good job. The supporting cast are nice touches, with Hensen, Michael Pena, and even JK Simmons shows up for a short time. I found the film to be very interesting but the generic score and choppy ending hurt it a bit.

It's some of Bloom's best work and technical issues aside, it's a good film that is easy to get in to.

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "There's something I didn't tell you.." Diane (Riley Keough)