The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey review

The first time I experienced Middle Earth was for “The Fellowship of the Ring” when it was released in theaters.  It was a film that immediately won me over.  "The Fellowship of the Ring" has a wonderfully grand scale, populated by fantastic characters and gave attention to the right details.  The whole experience gave a feeling unmatched by nearly all other films I had seen up to that point, and is a reminder of why I love movies.  I became a fan of Peter Jackson in no time, and have since regarded his film trilogy of “The Lord of the Rings” in the highest way possible.

So, it was with great expectation that I went into “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”  “The Hobbit” is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, and it is part 1 of a 3-part trilogy.  The film is about a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, who, as the films title alludes, sets out on an unexpected journey.  The story concerns the Dwarves whose home has been taken over by the powerful dragon Smaug.  Thanks to the Dwarves former king’s lust for gold, Smaug has taken the Dwarves home for himself because as it turns out, dragons happen to love gold.  This leaves the Dwarves homeless and thus the journey to reclaim home begins.

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"Argo" Film Review

John Goodman may be on a winning streak and be in 2 back to back Academy Award winning Best Picture films.

Yes, “Argo” is that good.  Quite simply, “Argo” solidifies that Ben Affleck is an extremely gifted storyteller and director, a filmmaker I have come to highly regard.  The film has a great script with many quotable lines, an incredibly faithful visual representation of its era, and has a story that will keep you pinned to your seat throughout its run time.

Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) is a CIA Operative who is called upon to “exfiltrate” when necessary.  As the Iranian hostage crisis grows, 6 Americans manage to escape the main building and hide out with a Canadian Ambassador and his wife.  Mendez comes up with the idea of creating a fake Canadian produced film and having each American pose as part of the Canadian film crew.  In taking on these fake identities, the American’s hope to secretly be smuggled out of the country.  In their way is a hostile Iranian population who are ready to publicly hang, torture, or use other means at their disposal to kill those perceived to be a spy or in alignment with the American’s in general.

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"The Master" review

“Punch Drunk Love” is my definitive, absolute favorite film of all time.  “Magnolia” is a masterwork of multiple characters and themes uniting in a beautiful mess of humanity.  “There Will Be Blood” is a brilliant take on men of ambition and the role of a Father.  “Boogie Nights” is a filthy foray into brokenness, told with skill and precision featuring characters you love while aiming to keep a distance from.  And “Hard Eight” was a brilliant debut of great things to come.

Yes, I love P.T. Anderson.

Perhaps moreso than any other working filmmaker (save for Scorsese), I will see his films day 1 with huge anticipation thanks to his vision, style and execution.  He's not let me down yet.  In watching the trailer for “The Master,” I thought Anderson had chosen the perfect story for his unique filmmaking skill set.  So it was with total disappointment that after seeing the film I was completely let down.  I don’t know what to think of “The Master,” and in this case that’s not a good thing.

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Foreign Film Series - 1

It happens to all of us – you’re talking to someone about movies, when someone drops the f bomb: Foreign Films.  You run through your mental check list of foreign films you’ve seen but come up dry.  The person you’re talking to suddenly seems to think they are so much more cultured because they saw a movie in a small “indie” theater with the dialogue spoken in another language.  You feel helpless at their cultural superiority and start to shame yourself for seeing that Will Ferrell comedy last weekend.  Well, have no fear.

Here are a few films to get you started on your journey to fighting the hipsters.  And you know nothing is more hipster than fighting hipsters.

Amelie (2001)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring an utterly adorable Audrey Tautou, “Amelie” tells the story of a woman who seeks to make others lives happy while finding romance on her own.  The film is equal parts charming, whimsical, romantic, and a touch of the erotic.  Scenes frequently cut to Amelie’s view of things which may involve talking animal lamps or other whimsical visions.  But the charm of the story and the film’s accessibility make it an easy step into foreign language film territory.

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"The American Bible Challenge" Review

As Christians, we’re supposed to be in the world but not of the world. But what happens when we get stuck inside our own world? Look no further than Christian music, Christian movies, Christian jewelry, Christian clothing, Christian furniture, and now Christian game shows. The American Bible Challenge is coming to the Game Show Network and it’s every bit what it sounds like.  If you like all things Christian subculture, you’ll love it. If not, then it’s exactly what you expect.

Three teams of three compete against one another by answering Bible trivia for a chance to win $20,000 for their charity of choice. No one walks away empty handed, as all charities get at least some money. The structure is pretty standard game show structure with easy questions that get more difficult as the game goes on, concluding in a final lightning round for all the marbles. Sounds fine so far, right?

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Hope Springs film review

“Hope Springs” is the real life sequel to every romantic film ever.  That’s because romantic films focus on the meeting of the couple, a conflict that threatens to separate them, followed by a rapturous reunion filled with sweeping music and the end credits.  But what happens to the couple 32 years later?  “Hope Springs” is a movie that everyone who is seriously considering marriage, or is currently married, should see.  It’s great for many reasons, but above all, it’s simply a great movie.

“Hope Springs” is about Kay (Meryl Streep) a woman who is fed up with her lifeless marriage of 32 years with her husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones).  She is confronted with a dilemma – Keep a passionless, yet barely functional marriage, or see if it can change.  That change comes in the form of an intensive couple’s therapy with Dr. Feld (Steve Carrell) in Maine that lasts a week and costs $4000.00.  For Kay, the huge cost of therapy is worth every penny if it means it could breathe life into something that once was great.  Naturally, Arnold is none enthused with the idea and protests all the way.  Yet, it’s Kay’s curiosity and hope of change that drives her to see if maybe it is possible to have a great marriage again.  One gets the sense that she may be happy with just a good marriage.  Enter Dr. Feld and his matter of fact questions about the lack of intimacy their marriage has grown lazily accustomed to.  The question the film leaves us with is simple: Can marriages change?

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New Images From Aranofsky's Noah Film

Wondering about how Russell Crowe is going to look as Noah?  Wonder no further, thanks to our friends at Grace Hill media who provided us with this image from the set!



Also, don't forget to check out this image from the set of the Ark that Hollywood built:



What do you think?  Can Aranofsky pull off a good adaptation of the classic Bible story?  I'm eager to find out!


The Campaign film review

Will Ferrell probably has the easiest time making me laugh of all actors and comedians.  His sense of timing and line delivery usually have me belly laughing, even if the source material is weak.  I even think “Land of the Lost” is hysterical thanks to his performance.  Zach Galifianakis is also incredibly funny.  In spite of his Mitch Hedberg influenced joke structure feeling borrowed, I still laugh at his style of comedy on a consistent basis.  When I first saw “The Campaign” trailer, I was thrilled.  It looked hilarious - I rewatched the trailer dozens of times and laughed just as hard with each viewing.  So it’s with total disappointment that “The Campaign” ends up being one of the worst films I’ve seen in years.

“The Campaign” is sort of like that super inappropriate friend who thinks they’re hilarious, but doesn’t get that everyone else in the room isn’t laughing at their stupid jokes.

The Dark Knight Rises review

The Dark Knight Rises is amazing.  

I’m tempted to leave that as my review...really, I am.  I restrained myself from indulging in trailers, pre-release photos, articles, and all manner of promotion (save for when it was front-page news and I couldn’t avert my eyes in time) because I knew going into it that I wanted to just be surprised.  Nolan had my trust after Batman Begins without hesitation, then The Dark Knight upped that trust even further.  He took his characters seriously, crafted exhilarating action sequences, and made me believe some of this mythical world could be real.  The Dark Knight Rises may not be the clear winner of his trilogy of films, but it ends the 3 film story arc fittingly with only a few minor shortcomings.

The story picks up right after The Dark Knight.  Harvey Dent’s war on crime kept Gotham relatively quiet for 8 long years.  Batman has since been chased out of town.  But a new threat emerges to carry out what Ra’s Al Ghul began 2 long movies ago.  The Batman must decide how to respond amongst a new cast of characters that include famous and infamous characters within the Batman mythos, as well as a few returners.

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Brave Review

Teenagers.  The years of the teen are fraught with difficulty and fear for many a good-hearted parent.  Conflict is inevitable, often to the bewilderment of the parent, and the teen usually feels like no one “gets” them.  Perhaps the worst of the conflict seems to come in the form of the relationship with Mom.  “Brave,” Pixar’s latest film, plays on this dynamic to tell the story of a Princess and her Queen.

Merida is a Princess against type.  She prefers her bow and arrows to the latest in fashion.  She and her Mother Elinor fight constantly.  Elinor is raising her to be the Princess, which has led to the day of her being courted by a future Prince.  This angers Merida, as she sees her life going much differently.  Meanwhile Dad (Fergus) is delicately in the middle of his wife and daughter, while awaiting revenge on a bear that left a permanent mark on his body.  And then there are the triplet siblings who never cease to make us laugh.  After an encounter with a mysterious woman, things change.  People struggle thanks to this encounter, but as a result they learn things about themselves and each other…like any good movie would have them do.

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Christopher is a Marriage and Family Therapist completing his license in Southern California.  He loves to write about films, make music, and spend time with his lovely wife.

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