Signs of Life

Before I rewrite this ENTIRE post again from scratch, let me just CURSE the freaking blogger app that doesn't have an autosave feature and randomly decides to delete some of my very time consuming hard work :( I had almost written this After Earth review to its completion saying exactly everything I wanted to touch on while it was still fresh in my mind only to find this morning there was no draft of that name. Almost like I had imagined it. Sigh. Here we go again. If only I lived in the time of After Earth with their technology this probably wouldn't have happened!!! No good technology. What can I say? I'm bitter. Oh well..time for take 2.

Once upon a time there was a director named M. Night Shyamalan who came out of nowhere (other than a couple of obscure films he made before that,) to bring us the smash hit The Sixth Sense. The film was a pop cultural phenomenon and was almost all anyone could talk about in late summer of '99. The fantastic performances, the undeniable suspense and THAT ending. It was a dream of a debut and rightly so because the film still holds up today (maybe not as a pure horror film, but luckily there was always more to the film than that.) The next summer followed and Unbreakable was released. It had more of a modest public reception, but in time people realized its quality and a cult following began. After that came Signs and The Village which I both enjoyed (Signs I loved,) and generally a lot of people did too. But the cracks started to show with The Village as the reviews became a little less favorable and the opinions more varied. I personally think it's a good film, but I can see how it might not be everyone's cup of tea. And then the real ugliness began with Lady in the Water and the two films that succeeded it. In 2010 came The Last Airbender, and almost seemingly with it the last breath of this once great director's career. Oh, how the mighty had fallen.

When the advertising campaign kicked in for his latest film After Earth, his name was nowhere to be seen. Heck, how many of you even knew After Earth WAS a Shyamalan film? Ten years ago his name would have been the first thing you'd have seen on a trailer...but now? Not so. I'd had pretty high expectations of his last few films only to be massively disappointed, so I kept my expectations low with only the faintest hope that somehow this film could be good so that I could see that he wasn't completely dead to me. After attending a screening of After Earth, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief that a glimmer of that talented man is still in there somewhere!

So is Shyamalan back?? Well not entirely. This isn't a perfect film by any means, nor is it on the same level as some of his early work...but it is undoubtedly the best thing he's been involved with in almost a decade, and for me that alone is cause for a little bit of celebration. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of really silly dialogue... but some that also I really liked, such as the full fear speech we saw briefly in the trailer as well as a few other moments. Both the elder and younger Smith put on a bizarre accent that goes in and out that I definitely could have done without; both of their performances are fine enough though not really groundbreaking. And Jaden definitely takes awhile for him to hit his stride; sometimes it's rough having such a young protagonist with the film on his shoulders (the film probably wouldn't work without Will's presence.) All that said though, I really enjoyed it! And surprise, a lot of that had to do with the director's touch.

What After Earth really has going for it is the fact that Shyamalan rediscovers here how to keep the audience in suspense, something he used to be quite proficient at. Once the plot really gets going, there's a definite sense of tension that doesn't let up until the end...and a few sequences, in particular, are very well done. I know there were several moments when I was happily on the edge of my seat! By summer's end, I'm sure it won't be one of the most memorable of all of the blockbusters to debut, but it's a fun film and definitely worth a watch. If nothing else, its a nice way to spend a summers day. EMILY RATING: 7/10


The Moment of Bluth

Well nothing that really interests me comes out this weekend. I have no desire to see the so far poorly reviewed threequel to The Hangover OR the MILLIONTH sequel to Fast and the Furious (seriously...does it blow anyone's mind that this franchise has more movies than Lord of the Rings, the same amount now as Star Wars and just a couple shy of Harry Potter??? How is it still alive???) I already saw Before Midnight months ago at Sundance (original review HERE) and Epic? That looks a little too Thumbelina meets A Bug's Life meets Ferngully meets Honey I Shrunk the Kids for my taste! No, I'm pretty sure I will spend most of my Memorial Day weekend, starting late late Saturday night early Sunday morning in front of the small screen as I watch something SEVEN YEARS in the making. After this weekend...there's no going back.

Okay yes, I know it sounds a little dramatic speaking of the return of Arrested Development in this way but um...it's kind of a big deal. (Taste the happy!!!) Rarely do television shows come back from the dead...let alone ones that have been off the air for SEVEN years. Or one that contained a huge ensemble cast that are now each pretty successful! For years, I wanted nothing more than to see the continuing adventures of the Bluth Family, a family who was taken from the tv world far before they were ready. Now that it is finally here and ACTUALLY about to happen I have this mixture of uncontrollable excitement and at the same time worry! I've actually had a few dreams here and there in the last few months that the show comes back and is TERRIBLE. Is the prospect of having more Arrested Development enough even if it happens to ruin its untarnished legacy? Well in a few short days we'll know....and when we know, that knowledge can never be forgotten (unless we take a forget-me-now...) We'll never be able to go back to NOT KNOWING. Arrested Development, for good or bad, is about to be unleashed on the world once more. Here are three things we're about to have answered....whether we really want them answered or not.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Looking back on it, the writers gave us as decent of a finale to the show as they could have back in 2006...yet at the same time it set up a whole new world of possibilities for what happened next. It served as a clean and satisfactory enough (as could be had anyway..) ending to a show. But still you can't help but wonder what happened to these characters after the finale's events and throughout the last few years. One of the biggest strengths of Arrested Development, along with its writing, was its wonderful characters. Through watching and re-watching I've come to love them all, and can't help but have curiosity on what they're fictionally up to now! Soon we'll know...but will it live up to expectations? Well, that takes us to question 2.

CAN MAGIC STRIKE TWICE? Will that writing be on par with the episodes that made us fall in love with the show in the first place? Can it be?? What about the actors? Can they slip into these roles so effortlessly again? Or has too much time gone by? I certainly don't have enough evidence to judge so far, but some of it looks hit and miss in both the acting and writing department. It's still way too soon to tell, and the word of mouth despite what the advertising portrays HAS been good. One interviewer told Portia De Rossi and David Cross that he felt the show INSTANTLY felt like its old self. I'm REALLY hoping the guy wasn't just kissing up. And can I just say that Lindsay doesn't even look like the same person??? I'm hoping that's intentional by the makeup department!

For years in our household, we are always trying to determine who was the all-time funniest sitcom champ. The results have always been too close to call. Both had fantastic characters and sharp dialogue. Arrested Development probably provided the bigger laughs altogether but was hurt by the fact that it only had three seasons worth of material to compare to Seinfeld's nine. Seinfeld won in my book, but always by the clause that we didn't have enough Arrested Development to make it a fair competition. If this season tanks, Seinfeld will finally become the undisputed champion (knowing to go out in their prime was truly a brilliant move...Arrested didn't have that option, but if they came back past their prime with mediocre episodes...then it's kinda the same thing.) However, if AD can accomplish the feat of being as awesome as it was before....well then that makes things even more interesting!

Soon we will know and there will be no turning back. I'll have my frozen bananas, chicken fingers with spicy club sauce and a spare bowl of candy beans ready! Oh... and juice.

Happy A.D. weekend to all!!!


The Power of Editing: The Re-cut Trailer

Can we just take a moment and hand it to the trailer editors of Hollywood? Like really. What a fabulous job they have crafting trailers that fool the whole world into thinking a movie is good. Sometimes it makes me wonder why they're not the ones actually editing the movies when they do a lot better job of creating something compelling from the pile of garbage they're given. I firmly believe that editing can be your greatest ally or biggest adversary when making a film. So much power comes from editing and the way a story is told; the editor should have ultimate control in how the audience perceives everything. Really, how incredible is that? I'm not gonna lie, the power to manipulate and shape a story, is what inspired me to be an editor, and even though the road of my career hasn't always been bump free, I still love the role that I play more than anything. Great editing is seamless and helps tell your story with ease. But bad editing can just bring down and ruin an entire film. And TRAILER editing? It can change how you perceive a movie before you even see it....and giving you that thing called expectations.

So as an editing loving individual (and who knows maybe this played into my career decision too...,) I discovered long ago the joy in a REALLY well-made re-cut trailer. I have not personally dabbled in the making of these...but I have found much joy in watching the efforts of people who have. What is a re-cut trailer you people unfamiliar with youtube ask? Why it's a movie trailer remade to tell a very different story than what the existing film actually is....usually an entirely different genre. I was reminded of my love of re-cut trailers recently when we went to the Tower Theaters's sing-along production of West Side Story (they do these every couple of months and they're fabulously fun....and while I'm on the subject of editing, I gotta say that West Side Story's use of it is perfection.) You see...a long time ago, someone made an outrageously funny re-cut trailer of the 1960's epic love story musical....and they turned it into a flesh-eating-virus-zombie story!  Some of the shots the individual found who made the ahem...darker version of West Side Story were completely brilliant and honestly kind of make me laugh every time I see them now! They took a harmless image that I now can't NOT see as being ridiculously creepy. That there is power in editing. So I thought it'd be fun to celebrate my love of editing by presenting something of a best of re-cut trailer list. We'll start with the aforementioned West Side Story re-dux!

West Side Story. My favorite part? Hands down the girl drawing the creepy "ring" like the circle with the chalk. Also.. "make it not be true!!!"

The Shining. This trailer really picks up around the :45 second mark when Salsbury Hill starts playing. Seriously how inspirational and heartwarming does this movie look? The shot of him...making out with...well...that person, in particular, cracks me up here!

The Wicker Man. Okay...it really couldn't have been THAT hard for the person who edited this to make this film into a comedy! All the trailer really happens to be is a collection of the greatest moments in the film....and that, of course, makes it HILARIOUS.

Psycho. Have you ever wondered what Psycho would be like if it were a 1950's/1960's rom-com? Look no further than the link above to find out how Norman Bates would fare as a leading man. Sarah, this one is for you!

Harry Potter. Take out all the good vs. evil and defeating Voldemort plot lines and what do you get? An outrageous (yet still magical I guess...) teen comedy. Harry Potter Lite!

The Notebook. I have not made it a secret of the fact that I'm not really the biggest fan of The Notebook. Therefore when I found a portrayal of the romance that I felt a little bit more accurately described Noah's stalkerish behavior (even if he does look like Ryan Gosling...,) I was pretty happy about it.

Matilda. Speaking of people finally portraying a movie the way it really should be seen...check out this trailer where it's clear that Matilda fits the "creepy kid" trope all too well!

The Karate Kid. The other all too common type of re-cut trailer is to turn a film with a platonic friendship into a gay drama. But I have a special place in my heart for this one. And if you like that, be sure to check out their other pretty funny trailer...the long awaited prequel to the Mighty Ducks. Check that one out HERE

The Ring. It seems to me that it's a lot easier to make any movie look scary, but it's a bit more challenging to make a scary movie look like an inspiring one. This version of The Ring definitely looks like a weepie! Also, I've never seen the film Cabin Fever, but knowing that it's a horror flick made THIS trailer pretty funny too. "Sometimes dying teaches you to live." What a great tagline! Haha

Mary Poppins. And finally we'll leave you with one of the best! This version of Mary Poppins looks like an absolutely terrifying classic (not unlike the way it was for me when I read the book and saw how evil the character actually was!)
That's all for this edition! Feel free to link any other good re-cut trailers I may have missed in the comments!


Live Long and Prosper

Move over Frodo & Sam and Luke & Han...there's a new (well..revived, rebooted...whatever you wanna call it) bromance in town! The long-awaited sequel to 2009's Star Trek is finally in theaters and what is the relationship front and center in the film? No, not Quinto/Saldana or even Pine/Eve. None other than the Kirk/Spock love fest (platonic of course) takes center stage in this film. And that's a very good thing. Star Trek: Into Darkness as a whole is wonderful entertaining fun...but it definitely wouldn't work half as well without these two and the bond between them. Their back and forth arguments and discussions of logic vs. passion just work! I'm not gonna lie, there was some pretty great dialogue in their spats (took me back to the ol Star Wars days!)

They, along with pretty much everyone from the first film reprise their roles in Into Darkness. It's great seeing all these characters (as well as their admittedly awesome technology) again and you can tell that everyone seems to be having a grand time. The most important edition to the cast is Benedict Cumberbatch who plays...well a really shady "guy." I won't say much else because I don't want to spoil anything...but he is fabulous in this role. The guy can convey so much with just the tone of his voice! And I guess his dead eyes don't hurt too much either! The story is always good, but once he enters the picture it really picks up. 

Not that this film ever drags. I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish and was amazed at how great the pacing in this film is for one whose length is almost 2.5 hours! It just breezes by! A lot of that is probably due to the fact that it has some REALLY well-executed action sequences. Into Darkness always kept me on the edge of my seat and with a smile on my face. I thought this was far superior a summer blockbuster than Iron Man 3 (Gatsby meanwhile isn't really comparable to either and great for what it is,) so if you're looking for some really good popcorn thrills Star Trek is just the ticket. 

And can I just say hooray for JJ Abrams?! Really. I love this guy. He made me, a girl who was previously incredibly biased against Star Trek, now a big fan who hopes for its success. And I cannot WAIT to see what he does with Star Wars. Kathleen Kennedy, you couldn't have picked anyone better. JJ brought a great touch to his first Star Trek film and does the same with its sequel. Even though it may be impossible (and, of course, my loyalty is always gonna be to Star Wars if I have to pick,) somehow I hope maybe he will be able to do a third film because Into Darkness sets things up a sequel really nicely.  In short: go see Star Trek. It's fun. It's good. EMILY RATING: 8.5


Mommy Dearest

Happy belated Mother's Day everyone! How did I spend mine? By watching a double feature picked out by my own dearest, beloved and wonderful mother. The lineup? The Guilt Trip starring Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand followed up by Albert Brooks' Mother; two movies featuring sons having to deal with their very motherly mothers.  It was probably punishment for telling her she reminded me exactly of the mother in 50/50 and she felt it was her duty to show me a couple of worse movie moms. In her defense, she hadn't seen The Guilt Trip...she just roped me into suffering along with her while viewing it. The film was pretty forgettable and I can't say I really recommend it. I definitely preferred Mother of the two, but if neither of those films scratches your mom issues where they itch, you could always check out Brave, Freaky Friday, Steel Magnolias or of course Mommie Dearest to name a few. In the meantime, in honor of all moms everywhere I decided to celebrate a few of the truly memorable moms in film and television by compiling for you a nice list. We'll start with the television mom's!

10 Memorable Moms From TV and Film


Lucille Bluth. They don't get any better than this. This master manipulating matriarch (how's that for some awesome alliteration?) has to be one of my favorite characters on this show (which is saying A LOT.) Lucille is adored by her son Buster, and pretty well hated by the rest of her offspring. Yet when push comes to shove, none of them would ever actually admit to her face that she's been a "horrible mother." And really....she has been a horrible, yet hilarious mother. It's hard to say who she had the worst influence on, but her legacy of being a bad mother has most definitely been passed down to her daughter Lindsay Bluth Funke. Will the buck stop at Maeby? Probably not. 


All that needs to happen to have the coolest mom around is for her to have gotten pregnant at 16, and then moved to the quirkiest town possible to raise you and discover her own independence. Then you will hardly be mother and daughter. You'll be BFF's! Not always the best scenario though. Plus you'll have to learn the talent of speaking a mile a minute and being as quirky as can be....but at least you won't have to put up with Emily Gilmore as your mom (settling for her as a Grandma is enough!)

                                                               MARGE SIMPSON - 

Growing up, I never particularly found Marge to be that funny of a character on The Simpsons. Looking back now on those older episodes now that I'm older too, I really can see the special mom humor that she brings to the show and I love it. Sure she doesn't have the most glamorous life or husband by any means....but she always makes the best of a sticky situation and devotes herself to her family and life as a homemaker. She's as patient a wife and mother as you'll ever find and honestly she really has her moments of hilarity.


Carol Brady just always has the answer to everything doesn't she? She's pretty much the perfect wife and mother (although she gets a lot of help by hiring Alice to do all of her dirty work for her...) But I must say it's unrealistic impressive how easily their families were able to blend and that she could not only be an outstanding mother to her own kids, but act seamlessly as the mother to her husband's three boys. Really though, if you have an answer to a perplexing question it's probably just best to go to her in the first place before you wind up on some crazy Brady adventure.

                                                           ESTELLE COSTANZA - 

Sure, Jerry's mom is the one who reminds me more of my own mom, but George's mom's insanity is the clincher for her inclusion on the list. Her shrill voice, her demanding attitude and constant berating of Georgie are all just hilarious to watch. She might just be the mother on this list that I'd want the very least! (I'd probably rather turn out like a Bluth than a George Costanza!) Well actually scratch that...we've still gotta get to Psycho. But back to Estelle. Her existence is a huge piece of the puzzle into the character of George, and her scenes are always just a joy to watch.


We have Mrs. Gump to thank for one of the most quoted film lines in the last twenty years. I'm not really sure why, but somehow Sally Field became the quintessential mama. Steel Magnolias was just the beginning, but it was this 1994 best picture winner (really?) that clinched this persona for her. Loving and full of wisdom, Mama Gump was a good one...even if I admittedly don't care much for this film.

                                                                 NORMA BATES - 

The mother of all mom issues can be found right here in the 1960 film Psycho. After all, "a boy's best friend is his mother." There's not much I really wanna say here without being too spoilerific (that's a combination of using spoilers and being specific just so you know...), but if you've got mom issues...Psycho will make you feel a lot better about yourself. Maybe that's the reason why it's one of my favorite movies. Haha! I kid I kid!


Okay so this mom would kind of give you mom issues too....but only her teenage counterpart that has the undeniable urge to hit on you. Whenever the time period or alternate universe we drop in on the character, her motherly instincts are always there, and there's no denying she cares for her son....even if it's accidentally in the wrong way! ha!


When Edwina finds out she will never be a mother due to infertility and the fact that being married to an ex-con means she'll never be able to adopt, she and her husband take it upon themselves to find another way to become parents: by kidnapping a baby from a couple that has far too many to care for. This "mom" show love to her captive  baby by singing him some...interesting lullabies and insisting (unsuccessfully) that he not be around fugitive ex-cons OR that his diapers be stolen. That's love right there.


Holly Hunter makes a second appearance on this list, this time as an animated crime fighting superhero mom. There isn't much this mama wouldn't do to protect her very um gifted children. Then again, it doesn't hurt that she herself has some pretty handy powers to assist her. While being a tough fighter, her first and foremost duty is now her role as a wife and mother...and you can really see how important that is to her. "Mom to the rescue" takes on a new meaning after The Incredibles!

Honorable mentions: June Cleaver, Mom from A Christmas story
(what? She really doesn't have a name!) Kate McCallister (Home Alone), Donna (Mamma Mia)

Well that's all folks. But really, let's give a hand to moms! I know I am truly grateful for mine :) 


THAT Gatsby!

Okay I know I should probably wait to post this on Friday, but seeing as there have been so many negative reviews popping up left and right, I just really felt like something positive needed to be said, and fast! It's still really early and hopefully the general critical consensus could very well change because as it stands right now this film is certainly not deserving of the amount of negative criticism that it's getting. That's not to say it's a perfect film (or even a truly accessible one); in fact there were quite a few things that I wished were done differently...but that kinda had a lot to do with my own expectations of the film which we'll get into shortly. But the most important thing you need to know from someone who has read the book as recently as a few weeks ago, I can tell you that this film is a completely faithful adaptation that captures the spirit of the book....and as far as film adaptations go what more do you really want?

Well, it turned out there were still some things I wanted from it, but that had more to do with my expectations than the film's actual quality. I'll get to that, but first and foremost I want my readers to know what Gatsby does have going for it because honestly it does have a lot. This film's greatest merit is that it boasts a stellar cast that makes all these characters from the novel come to life. There's not a false note among them and honestly I could write a paragraph for each person's performance! (But I'll try and limit myself to a good sentence or so each.) Let's start with the man whose performance this whole film rides on: Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo provides us with a very layered and complex Gatsby, as he should be. Jay Gatsby is a very morally ambiguous character and Leo really makes it up to the audience whether or not they want to side with Nick in being able to say that when it came down to it, he has enough goodness to be considered generally a good  man at heart. I thought he nailed the part, and can I just say the man has never looked better? Director Baz Luhrmann sure knew how to make him look like a bona fide movie star in this film! His introduction was without a doubt one of my favorite moments in the film.

After Gatsby comes the hardest role in the film to cast: Daisy. Carey Mulligan did a fine job with the role. Her voice was exactly what I pictured and you could sense her complexities. I only wish we could have seen more scenes between her and Gatsby that I hadn't already seen from the trailers. The way their meeting was handled couldn't have been more like the book which made me incredibly happy. Another scene when she's touring Gatsby's house and seeing all his fine apparel also was masterfully done. I didn't think there would be any way for the audience to connect with that scene, but Luhrmann somehow made it work. After Daisy comes Tobey's Nick Carraway. Tobey did a great job but was probably the least like his book counterpart to me. That's not because his acting wasn't fine, it's just because Tobey is so darn dopey! But in a film that was, for the most part, humorless, his rendition of Nick Carraway worked for me. Before I move on from performances I also must mention Joel Edgerton's Tom Buchanan and newcomer Elizabeth Debicki's Jordan Baker. Both were splendid and again exactly how I pictured them. Edgerton was really very good and adds a nice menacing presence in the film; I only wish we'd seen more of Debicki's character!

Aside from the cast, the cinematography as expected is breathtaking. Like I mentioned earlier, they sure know how to film their actors and actresses. Glamor shots galore! I loved the way certain shots were overlayed, and how occasionally words would just appear on the screen as Nick was writing the tale to truly emphasize the novel's words. If it's one thing this film does, it's to truly honor Fitzgerald's words. Rarely was there a line that didn't come directly from the book and really almost all of my favorite lines made its way into the film. Along with the cinematography, the production and costume design is absolutely top notch...they certainly created a beautiful world to look at!  We saw the film in 3D, and I read an interview with Luhrmann saying why that choice was made... (that since Fitzgerald was always into the new and modern, Gatsby should come out in the newest and most modern format,) but I must admit that it didn't really add much. It didn't really bother me, but some of my companions said that it took a lot away from the movie for them. 

To fully explain where I felt let down within the movie, first I must explain where my sky high expectations came from and how they influenced my viewing of The Great Gatsby. Sometime in the last few months, I'm not sure exactly when...but I noticed the more times I saw the trailer for The Great Gatsby. the more I was enthralled with it. At first the modern music really threw me off and I just hated it. But each time I watched it I grew to appreciate that it was an incredibly well-made trailer, and the music suddenly just started working for me. Then when the next trailer after that came out...it sealed the deal that this movie I would be looking forward to more than almost any other. Even though I have loved Baz Luhrmann's previous work, I had been apprehensive about him having the job to adapt this novel....but after those trailers I embraced it and even looked forward to the touches he could bring to the work. After all, I do love Moulin Rouge! as well as his adaptation of Romeo + Juliet. So to keep my excitement alive I went ahead and rewatched the films in his "red curtain trilogy" which includes the two films I mentioned as well as Strictly Ballroom (I left out his other film Australia...because I don't know if I could ever sit through that again!) It was then I grew really comfortable with the idea of Gatsby being as stylized as possible and completely in your face. Then when I listened to the soundtrack and heard so many great songs, I became really excited to see where they'd all fit in.

I basically believed the film would be just like the trailers: full of loud music and fast editing. Then I saw the movie...and the pacing was: exactly. like. the. book. And the music? It was really only prominent in a handful of scenes. After getting to know the soundtrack so well it was kind of a bummer not to have some of the more powerful songs be more prominently displayed. Since I just had read the book, this pacing really held for little to no surprises and consequently made the movie feel pretty long. I guess I kind of wish more liberties had been taken with the source material because they gave us a very safe adaption when I was kind of expecting outrageous. But honestly these are just small gripes. I just need to see the film again to get used to what it actually is versus what I was wanting it to be. I'm still not entirely sure it will be an accessible film to the masses (compared to Iron Man 3 which required zero brain power, it's definitely kind of like sitting in listening to an English class...but in the best possible way.) Another reason I'm not sure the average Joe Schmo will take to it is because really it's kind of a dark story when you think about it....but if you loved the book, go in with your expectations in check and I think you'll enjoy it just fine. MY RATING: 8/10


Better late than never... Top Ten of 2012

Yep. Once again, it's taken me 5 months to be able to compile my Top Ten list for 2012. Truly sorry about that...but hey don't blame me! Blame Silver Linings Playbook for taking its SWEET time to come out on DVD. You've already waited long enough, so let's just get right down to it shall we? We'll start with number 10 and work our way up to my top choice of films for 2012.

10. Lincoln. - Previous thoughts on the film HERE and HERE. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln features some of the strongest performances of the year. Daniel Day Lewis' performance alone is enough to merit a spot on the list, but the film has a lot more going for it than just that. The story is both compelling and inspiring, however I'm not quite sure it will have much of a rewatch factor (then again, it's not like I've watched Schindler's List ten times and that doesn't exactly diminish its quality...)

9. Zero Dark Thirty. I couldn't believe this movie was being made so soon after the events that inspired it. In some ways I still kind of think that's questionable, but I can't deny that I'm glad this movie was made...if only to give praise to the unsung heroes that really made the siege happen. Jessica Chastain does a marvelous job, which is a really good thing because the movie almost rests entirely on her shoulders! I wish the film was a bit more tightly edited, but also can see how the filmmakers wanted to stress every detail to make the viewer understand what a long process it really was to find Bin Laden.

8. 21 Jump Street. Any of my honorable mentions could have definitely filled this spot, but you know what? I needed a nice well-rounded list that included a bit of comedy, and 21 Jump Street happened to be my favorite comedy of 2012. This film had me in stitches all throughout the first time I saw it. And who knew Channing Tatum was anything more than a mimbo!? (That's a male bimbo for those who are unfamiliar with Seinfeld.) This is probably the best work he's ever done to be honest! And while we're talking about the cast I have to say I love little Dave Franco in his supporting role. Really though you can tell that everyone is having a ball in this movie!

7. Liberal Arts. Original review HERE. Josh Radnor wrote, directed and starred in this Sundance hit about the "in-between" stages of life...and like his other work, it really resonated with me. It's not a perfect film by any means, but I really identified with far too many of the things it had to say. Plus I really appreciated that I wasn't really able to predict everything that was going to happen (to be honest, I was too engaged in the dialogue to focus on what may or may not happen next.) I don't know...I just thought it was an incredibly refreshing film.

6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Original review HERE. Yeah, I know people have their issues with this film... but honestly I've seen it three times now and I've loved it every time. I love the character of Bilbo Baggins (as well as Martin Freeman who plays him), and I found the first part of his story to be highly enjoyable and entertaining. No, it's not a carbon copy of the Lord of the Rings films, nor does it have to be. The two film series rightfully have completely contrasting tones, and I for one am perfectly fine embracing that. Besides, who doesn't love a little time in middle-earth? Especially with an excellent as ever Gollum this time around!

5. Argo. Previous thoughts on the film HERE. Ben Affleck does a masterful job of building tension in this incredibly true (well...true yet highly dramatized apparently) story. How this scheme to rescue a group of kidnapped Americans in Iran plays out was both incredibly fun and tense to watch! From the characters conceptualizing the idea to carrying it out, each phase is important and interesting. It also doesn't hurt whenever you throw Alan Arkin into the mix!

4. Silver Linings Playbook. Yet another film packed with wonderful performances by a terrific ensemble cast finds its way onto my list. Bradley Cooper, in particular, is absolutely excellent in this story of a bi-polar man trying to get his life back together (even though he pretty much wants to make the same mistakes that got him into the mess he's dealing with in the first place!) There's definitely a lot going on here and honestly it's hard to categorize the film into any one genre, and that's kind of what I love about it.

3. Ruby Sparks. Previous posts on the film HERE and HERE. This is the third relationship film to find its way on my list...(yes I must admit I have a weakness for them,) and this one is definitely my favorite. This film has a bit of magic to it that I adore; it's kind of like Stranger Than Fiction meets The Purple Rose of Cairo in the best possible way. When it comes down to it, it's about loving a person for who they are, not for who we want them to be, or think they should be. The script is funny, smart and incredibly poignant all at once.

2. Life of Pi. Original review found HERE. Ang Lee's Life of Pi was without a doubt the most visually stunning film to grace the screen in 2012 (maybe though had Gatsby not been delayed there would have been more competition!) And although as spectacular as it was, that cinematography wasn't all that Life of Pi was able to boast. in its favor. I was stunned this film was as riveting as it was! Honestly, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time...and once it was over I thought about it for days. It's definitely a film that stays in your mind, not only visually, but intellectually as well.

And now.....my #1 favorite film for 2012 was:

1. The Impossible. Original review found HERE. This film was without a doubt the most powerful film of 2012. Nothing even came close to making me feel the emotions I felt while I was sitting in that theater. The performances of everyone involved were honest...beyond remarkable. Somehow these actors made you truly believe that they were a family; that they had this bond. You can just FEEL their love and concern for one another...and that on its own is powerful. This film deserved so much more recognition than it got and it is truly a shame that more people haven't taken the time to see it. Honestly, I can't even say enough how wonderful a film this is. It is one of the most brutal you could possibly watch, but truly rewarding and wonderful all at the same time.

Honorable Mentions: The Dark Knight Rises, Les Miserables, The Amazing Spider-man, Looper, Bernie.


Third Time's the Charm?

Last night I unexpectedly got to start the summer movie season a day early by attending a screening of its very first blockbuster: Iron Man 3 (thanks Jen!) So was this installment featuring a new director to the series, Shane Black, the best of the bunch in its franchise? Well...it all depends on what type of viewer you are. Let's definitely just say right now that it is a huge improvement over the second film...I think that's a given. You may even think it's better than the first. To be honest, I'm still undecided...and there's a big reason for that. Before we get into the meat of this review let's get one thing straight right now: whether I'm telling you that you should see and will likely enjoy Iron Man 3 (which I am) is not the same thing as me telling you that it is an amazingly great superhero film for the ages (it's not.)

Iron Man 3 is entertaining and fun, there's no denying that. Once again, it's full of enough wisecracks to have an audience slapping their knees in delight throughout the whole run-time. There's a good portion of the film where Tony Stark interacts with your average kid character with hilarious and quotable results. But wisecracks aren't your concern! Action is! Yes there is plenty of action to spare....unfortunately for me this is kind of where most of my problems come in because there is an awful lot of it that is pretty head scratching and kinda made me feel like the filmmakers didn't respect their audience and felt like they could get away with anything. And they do get away. With. Everything. Sure every now and then, we as an audience are required to roll with the punches and take a leap of faith....but there are quite a few outrageous leaps we are expected to take in this movie. Obviously it becomes apparent that this kinda the type of movie to just shut your brain off and enjoy the ride. That works for the most part, yet still....there are just a few moments when it kinda becomes too much and you're just like REALLY??

As for the cast, all the returning regulars are good as usual. I gotta say though, I unexpectedly loved Ben Kingsley in his role. He had so much overexposure in the previews that it was nice to see a big surprise in store with his character that I truly did not see coming and found to be one of the best parts of the film. Rebecca Hall and Guy Pearce had much bigger roles than I was expecting, yet somehow still kind of seemed a bit wasted.I[SPOILER highlight to read] I must say I wish I'd seen more depth in Pearce's character. It kinda felt like the EXACT villain story from The Incredibles...that story worked there because that was a cartoon. And Hall's motivation was way too unclear. [/SPOILER]

The finale is quite grand (albeit full of those previously mentioned WHAT THE moments), but can I just say I much prefer seeing only ONE Iron Man suit in action? You don't get multiple Batmen, Supermen or Spider-men clones in their movies and they always manage to pull off grand finales on their own! When it gets to multiple Iron Men...it kinda starts to feel like I'm watching Transformers. I guess when it comes down to it, Iron Man isn't really a hero or a franchise that I deeply love or that truly resonates with me. It's all fun and games...but kind of shallow. Still, it's blockbuster season and it's just the fun you're looking for! This film is outrageously action packed and perhaps surpasses the original...but there were probably too many leaps in logic for me to prefer it. I guess once The Avengers happened there was a no holds barred in the things that could happen in the Iron Man series. So no I don't love Iron Man 3 and think it's the greatest thing in the world, but yes it is worth seeing and is a good time. My rating: 7.0

Now. Bring on GATSBY!!!