Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon (Spoiler Alert)

When I arrived at the theater at 9:30 this morning I did not expect to see – well – anyone else. I was wrong and also pleasantly surprised. While I typically get stuck in the theater with a bunch of chatterboxes, this crowd was delightful. I went into Transformers 3 expecting it to be awful. The first Transformers was so fantastic. Full of the explosive action that occurs when Autobots and Decepticons engage in battle. The second one almost made me walk out of the theater. It was… abhorrent. Transfomers 3: Dark of the Moon starts strong and only gains power and speed as it zips right through the 2.5 hour running time.

In the beginning of the film we are witness to the first moon landing. Buzz Aldrin follows in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong when they are the first men in history to set foot on the moon. The film uses real footage from the event including presidents Kennedy and Nixon and some original news coverage. The moon landing in the film explains why two men were really sent up there. An alien craft had crash landed there and NASA along with government officials wanted to know what was going on way out there in space. The mission is a successful one and the men return to earth safely along with a souvenir.Read More »

Explosive Summer Blockbusters

Now that summer is officially here and heating things up – albeit sporadically (crazy Chicago weather) – the cinema is heating up as well. We should all celebrate the fact that we made it through movie theater death – January through April at the theaters – with a look back at the hottest summer blockbusters of all time.

Let’s start things off with my all time favorite summer flick…

When Jaws hit the big screen the day before the first day of summer in 1975 (June 20th), beachgoers everywhere flocked to their nearest theater to get a of glimpse of this mammoth shark that was terrorizing the town of Amity. Wide-eyed stares are worn throughout most of the trailer as police chief Brody (Scheider) tries to figure out how to keep his beaches safe without looking like a lunatic. Robert Shaw – who reportedly showed up to set completely smashed most of the time – plays Hooper the crazy shark hunter. Richard Dreyfuss rounds out the cast aboard the Orca.

Together the three of them must slay the giant great white shark that has been antagonizing all of Amity’s swimmers. And by antagonizing I mean eating. My father decided it was a good idea to let me watch this movie when I was 8-years-old. I could barely go near the shower drain much less swim in our pool in the backyard without visions of a great white shark stalking my every move. Thanks a lot dad. And Steven Spielberg. Spielberg has a real knack for making films that do well at the box office. He also has other films on this list. My hat’s off to you, Spielberg. Thanks for ruining every trip to the beach I’ll go on from here to eternity.Read More »

Blue Valentine

Anyone who has ever fallen in and out of love can probably relate to Blue Valentine. The longer the movie went on, the more invested in these characters I became and the more upset I was that Ryan Gosling was not nominated for an Academy Award. Ryan Gosling plays Dean. He is a smoking, boozing, sonofagun who falls fast when he sees the sweet, angelic face of Cindy (Michelle Williams) staring at him from a cracked door. Cindy is taking care of her grandmother. Her gramma makes her laugh and doesn’t yell. Everyone else in her family yells. Dean is working as a mover, moving an elderly man into the same home that Cindy’s gramma lives in. Their eyes meet. Kismet. Cindy turns Dean away during his first attempts. She already has a boyfriend. But there is something about Dean, as there always is in these stories. But this is all in the past.

In present day, Cindy and Dean are married with a daughter, Frankie. As I am watching I am experiencing the emotions that someone might when going through the end phase of a relationship. Things are rocky. There is lots of bickering. And one person appears to be finished with the relationship while the other is holding on to it. Dean has accepted Cindy, flaws and all. While she seems like she has it together, her life has not been all milk and honey.Read More »

Beginners

Anna, Oliver, and Arthur

Hello, blog. Hello, Katie. Beginners is a story about – what else – beginnings. The beginning of young love, old love, death, life, and just about everything else. It is a story about one man who is growing and changing and learning to make the best of what he’s got. Isn’t that what life is all about? Making the best of what we have? The fantastic part of life is that it can change in an instant. Something wonderful can happen, like meeting someone at a party you didn’t really want to go to in the first place and spending the rest of the evening smooching and canoodling. Then there are the curve balls that you don’t see coming. For Oliver (McGregor), the curve ball hits him directly between the eyes. His mother has passed and shortly afterwards his father announces that he is gay. Read More »

Super 8 (Spoiler Alert… Sort Of)

Many are saying that Super 8 is the movie of the summer – maybe even the movie of the year. I have to agree. I haven’t been this excited for a movie since Cloverfield came out. It makes sense that J. J. Abrams wrote and directed Super 8. For much of the film I sat wide-eyed awaiting the next explosion. Super 8 goes by pretty quickly but is also easy to keep up with. It reminded me of E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I am a sucker for explosions, as I’m sure I’ve said before, and this movie has plenty of them. This has classic Spielberg written all over it. I am very thankful for that. It’s not that I don’t think J. J. Abrams wouldn’t have been this good without Spielberg – wait – yes I do. Cloverfield was exciting and just what I was looking for when I sat down to watch it, but this film is more than that. As cliché as it is you really will laugh, cry, and experience all kinds of other emotions.

Now to get to the good stuff. Let me just say that I was blown away by the young actors in this film. They were phenomenal. The talent cup overfloweth. It is 1979. Joe, Cary, Preston, Charles, and Martin (played in order by Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Riley Griffiths, and Gabriel Basso) are best buds. The film gets off to a running start. Joe has just lost his mother to a mill accident. His father, police deputy Jackson Lamb – played by the very likable and genuine Kyle Chandler – has a full house of mourners after the service for his wife. A man with long blonde hair pulls up to the house and goes inside only to be dragged out by Jackson and thrown in the back of his squad car. Right away we are compelled to ask questions. Who was that man? Why was Jack so angry at him? When do we get to see some explosions?Read More »

Woody Allen and His Last Two Films: Midnight and Paris & You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

My introduction to Woody Allen came from the 1977 classic Annie Hall. I knew nothing of the bespectacled man before then even though his work has been around for – quite literally – ever. In the four films of his that I have seen there have been some common characteristics. I am almost ashamed to admit that Annie Hall, Vicky Christina Barcelona, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, and Midnight in Paris are the only films of his that I have actually seen. I am struggling to recall the exact details of Annie Hall and Vicky Christina Barcelona, but the other two are fresh in my memory. I watched You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger just last night and I’ve just come in the door from a screening of Midnight in Paris.Read More »

La Doppia Ora (The Double Hour)

I have never been big into foreign films. This is funny because all of the foreign films I have seen, I have enjoyed. They have their own flavor. I say this from the three or four that I have seen. Outside of those, I know nothing of the foreign film genre. That being said, I enjoyed La Doppia OraThe Double Hour. It was strange and frightening and kept me guessing. I had some strong notions of what might happen when the film began, but boy was I wrong. Just when you think you know the film, it changes up on you. If you are looking for a film that will confuse and scare you then The Double Hour is the one for you.

This is the story of a speed-dating pro, Guido (Filippo Timi) – who, in my humble opinion could be Javier Bardem’s twin – and the woman who steals his heart, Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport). In the beginning of the film, poor Sonia has some unfortunate experiences. The audience feels sorry for her almost immediately. That is, until she meets Guido. The two have an undeniable spark. They seem apprehensive of this new attraction, but at the same time neither one wants to give it up.Read More »