Wednesday, May 30, 2012


John Forte took time out of his busy schedule abroad to answer questions on WKAN's THE REALLY BIG SHOW.   Click on the link below to hear what John had to say about his previous life, his experience in prison, what he learned and hopes to give back.  He'll also tell us about his Feature Documentary THE RUSSIAN WINTER which was released at Tribeca and will be showcased later this month at the Moscow Film Festival!  He also just released a new single called YOUR TRAVELING LIGHT.  Click on the youtube link below to hear it!

To hear "Your Traveling Light"

To listen to John's interview

Monday, May 28, 2012

TAKE THIS WALTZ by Pamela Powell

TAKE THIS WALTZ, starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, and Sarah Silverman is currently available on VOD.  After flagging this movie to see at the Tribeca Film Festival this year and then not being able to see it there, I was thrilled when I saw it was available on demand.  TAKE THIS WALTZ follows the lead character, Margot (Williams), along a dangerous path when she meets and falls in love with a neighbor.  Margot's marriage to Lou (Rogen) has become comfortable and predictable.  As she sees this new possible relationship, she struggles with different types of love and how they affect not only herself, but those around her.

Serendipity comes to mind (not the Cusack movie) when I watched this movie.  What are the odds of meeting someone in a foreign country who then turned out to be your across-the-street neighbor?  They are pretty slim,  but I suppose it could happen.  Once you let go of that chance circumstance and the fact that for being a young married couple, Margot and Lou had a lot of leisure time, you can then enjoy this movie.   (I remember working 3 jobs at their age, but maybe Montreal is less expensive than Chicago.)

TAKE THIS WALTZ has a wonderful common theme:  What was once new eventually becomes old.  The movie showed other characters dealing with the same struggle of wanting newness, but the way they handled it was very different.  Margot's interaction with her sister-in-law and friends supported everyone's struggle with the need for newness and unpredictability, but not always in a positive way.

Michelle Williams was wonderful in her ability to convey her struggle and needs on screen.  Her sometimes flighty character would flip and become very introspective and serious which, to me, made her a believable character.  We are all multidimensional and she conveyed that.  Rogen's character was not his typical crass and vulgar type as seen in ZACK AND MIRI and KNOCKED UP.  His seriousness and pain enabled the viewer to have total empathy for him.  What a wonderful match with Michelle Williams' talents.  Sarah Silverman still had acidity and bite to her character, but funny wasn't a word I would use to describe her.  Her performance as an alcoholic wife and mother hammered home how we all struggle in different ways.

This is a beautifully shot movie.  The location was one that I was not familiar with and the overall cinematography took complete advantage of the aesthetics of the location.  This well-written and well-directed movie took a common theme in everyone's life and showed you that everyone deals with this in a different way.

I might warn you that I think women will enjoy this movie more than men.  Take a look at it on VOD to see Williams in yet another thought provoking and challenging role and Rogen in a role I would love to continue to see him do.

7.5 REELS/10

THE DICTATOR by Pamela Powell

THE DICTATOR starring Sacha Baron Cohen came out this last Friday.  In all honesty, and this is REEL HONEST REVIEWS, I had no intention of seeing it.  I didn't like Cohen's antics with Eminem or his latest prank with Ryan Seacrest at the Golden Globes this year.  I really don't like to support movies that condone behavior such as this.  But alas, I figured that maybe my review would help others decide whether or not to see it.  So I saw it...

I never made it all the way through Borat (I think I fell asleep) and I'm guessing I also fell asleep during Bruno as I really don't have ANY recollection of it!  I did, however, think Sacha Baron Cohen was a stitch in Telladega Nights:  The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.  I didn't hold out much hope though,  for Cohen's newest spoof THE DICTATOR.  I must say, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  Let me stop you right here.  That is not a nod of approval...a YES! go see it recommendation.  It is just what I said.  It wasn't as bad as I had anticipated.

THE DICTATOR was about a ruthless dictator, Admiral General Aladeen (Cohen) in a North African country, Wadiya, who eventually came to America to make sure that his oil rich country never became a democratic society.  As he is hated by those close to him as well as his entire country, many continually tried to kill him which dictated (pun intended) the need for a body double.  An assassination attempt on the real Admiral General Aladeen failed leaving Aladeen to fend for himself on the streets of NYC.  As he tried to regain his rightful place, he met Zoey (Anna Farris) and many scenarios unfolded because of this meeting.

THE DICTATOR was juvenile and sophomoric at best.  It was also completely predictable.  It offended many different ethnicities and political cultures.  That being said, I have to admit that I times.  I guess I'll have to also admit that my humor can stoop to the sophomoric and base level of this movie.  Is that a bad thing?  I like to think that that maybe makes me a little more well-rounded regarding my sense of humor.  In any case, I can confidently say that THE DICTATOR fits right in with what I now call THE MOVIE MEDIOCRITY MONTH OF MAY.  I'm really not even going to comment on the acting, the writing, or the cinematography because it really isn't necessary. OK, maybe I'll comment on the writing.  It was not insightful nor was it meant to be.  It was meant to be one thing...funny.  This movie was meant to make fun of everyone and I don't think they left anyone out.  It did the job of entertaining you in a very mediocre way.  My last comment is that I really think the male population will think it is much funnier than the female population.

I would recommend waiting for the DVD, but if you go, and you go with your date or your spouse, be warned that your wife/girlfriend may not find it as funny as you!

4 REELS/10

NEWLYWEDS by Pamela Powell

NEWLYWEDS, starring Edward Burns, Caitlin Fitzgerald, and Kerry Bishe was finally available on Demand this week!  Again, like the movie TAKE THIS WALTZ that I flagged to see while at the Tribeca Film Festival, but missed, I was thrilled to see it available now through Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes.  NEWLYWEDS, written by Edward Burns, was "hanging with the big boys" with a budget of just 9k, "with no advertising budget," according to his tweet on May 26.  $9,000!  (What I want to do is "slap" Transformers and big budget non-entertaining movies like that in the face with that information!)  This is a quality film that is both entertaining and thought-provoking and did I mention the fact that they did it for $9,000???

NEWLYWEDS obviously focuses on the newly married couple, Buzzy (Burns) and Katie (Caitlin Fitzgerald), but they aren't your typical newlyweds.  This is a second marriage for both of these young New Yorkers and they feel like they now have married life figured out...don't spend too much time with each other by having opposite schedules and complete honesty should be the recipe for the perfect marriage.  They soon learn how outside family members can have an impact on their sweet recipe by adding a bit of vinegar.

Both Buzzy and Katie's sisters play an important role in how they influence marital bliss.  Katie's sister is ever-present and ever-negative regarding her own relationship.  Katie must somehow be supportive without letting her sister's poisonous words infect her own relationship with Buzzy.  Buzzy's little half-sister from LA arrives unannounced to figure out a her own relationship with long lost love residing in NYC.  We watch as all these ancillary characters interact and stir up the recipe of Buzzy and Katie's perfect marriage, adding ingredients unexpectedly.

The writing of this movie feels real.  I can picture the conversations in many of these situations actually occurring (in fact, I think a couple of them really did in my own life).  The cast is great.  OK, I'll admit that I have had a crush on Edward Burns for years, and two of my favorite movies are She's the One and The Brothers McMullen.  Put that aside and I still thoroughly enjoyed watching NEWLYWEDS as it shows how difficult it is to have a successful marriage given all the outside forces that seemingly work against success.  I also love how this movie feels like a reality show in that occasionally the characters would be pulled aside and be interviewed candidly about their thoughts and feelings as well as their plans.  Ingenious.  If only in reality we could actually do that maybe we wouldn't have so many communication problems in many aspects of our lives!

Google the movie and see interviews with Edward Burns to learn a lot more great information about how he made this movie in short order on such a low budget.  Let's get behind quality films like this!  All the wide release, big blockbuster movies in the theater this month (remember, May is MOVIE MEDIOCRITY MONTH!) have been such a disappointment that it is wonderful that through VOD we can see movies with a heart.

7.5 Reels/10

Thursday, May 24, 2012


GE and CINELAN have combined efforts to bring you "Short films, big ideas!"


They're out!  And you  can view them NOW!  Just go to to see what's new.  Four three-minute documentaries will enlighten you as well as inform you as to what's going on in the world in a positive and progressive way.  From medical technology (THE BIONIC EYE) to moral philosophies implemented in the world to radically change people's thought processes and actions for the better of everyone (THE HONOR CODE).

In total, there are 9 films to view.  I have to admit, my favorites are the documentaries having to do with the environment.  Don't miss, MEET MR. TOILET, THE LANDFILL, NEWTOWN CREEK DIGESTER EGG, and SOLAR ROADWAYS.  That's 12 minutes to become enlightened...where else can you do that FOR FREE!

Here are some great highlights from the  SUNDANCE 2012's Focus Forward Films.   All 5 are worth seeing and might make you see aspects of your everyday life that you took for granted, just a little bit differently.  For example,  in the short called MR. TOILET, directed by Jessica Yu, did you know that 40% of the world’s population does not have access to proper sanitation?  And that 90% of India’s surface water is contaminated with feces?  And each year 1.5 million children under 5 die because of this?  Businessman turned sanitation superhero, Jack Sim, is working hard to change this.  He wants to give everyone access to proper sanitation thereby helping the health and well-being of millions of people.  Jessica Yu provided more information in 3 minutes than I usually get out of 3 hour seminars!  This documentary was not just a fact loaded, boring film which conjures memories of 6th grade earth science film strips.  This film was totally entertaining with music, animation, video clips, photos and short interviews with Mr. Sim.  Very crisp, clear, concise AND visually entertaining!  
Then there was HEART STOP BEATING.  Jeremiah Zagar directed this documentary about a man who was going to die in the next 12-24 hours due to the condition of his heart.  His only option was what Drs. Billy Cohn and Bud Frazier, heart surgeons at the Texas Heart Institute, had tested on 50 calves.  They removed his heart and put in a constant flow device.  Amazingly, if I recall my information correctly, the parts were everyday items bought at Home Depot!  The man was sitting up the next morning, talking and working on his computer. It bought him more time.  And technically, he had no heart beat...AMAZING!
The other 3 shorts, THE LANDFILL, NEWTOWN CREEK DIGESTER EGGS: THE ART OF HUMAN WASTE, and HILARY’S STRAWS were all just as mesmerizing, educational, and inspiring.
Take a look at these shorts.  We all spend so much time surfing and wasting time on the computer, put 3 minutes to good use and be inspired!  Their slogan “SHORT FILMS, BIG IDEAS” fits them perfectly!
Now here’s the really cool thing!  Cinelan and GE are looking for the next documentary director.  If you have an idea for a three minute nonfiction film around the theme of invention and innovation which positively impacts humanity and can produce a professional quality film in HD, you could win $100,000 and a trip to Sundance 2013 where you will be awarded your prize.  Other prizes are also available.  This is a chance for ANYONE, and I mean ANYONE, who has the drive and motivation to produce your own film.  Take a look at for more information. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

PATANG (THE KITE) by Pamela Powell

After having made an appearance at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2011, PATANG THE KITE is now finally soaring into major cities’ theaters. In Chicago, it will premiere on June 15, 2012. 
PATANG THE KITE takes place in the city of Ahmedabad, India where the country’s largest kite festival occurs.   What, you might ask, could you have in common with an Indian story that would make you want to view this film?  The answer is Life.  This is a story that easily crosses all cultural boundaries and pulls us all together in the way that we deal with family; both extended and immediate.
PATANG THE KITE tells the story of a successful Delhi businessman who returns to his childhood home with his teenage daughter and experiences how his family members have changed or remained the same and how that impacts who he is as a father, son, and uncle.  His timing of his return coincides with a childhood favorite festival of the largest Kite Festival in India.  
This is a complicated movie, but in the best way.  It is a multi-level look at relationships and people’s emotions and baggage.  Let’s face it, we all see things at a variety of levels and we all have baggage and this affects how we interact with people; especially those who loaded our bags from the beginning.  We are introduced to the main characters of Jayesh and Priya who return to Ahmedabad who obviously have not been home for many years.  We watch as their history  with Chakku, Jayesh’s nephew, Jayesh’s mother and his grandmother unfolds. I loved watching the father-daughter relationship and trying to figure out what happened to the mother. The father’s homecoming is like the return of the Prodigal Son and not everyone likes that.  There is definitely some left-over anger and jealously that has not been resolved and the viewer is left to figure it all out.  Hamid, a street boy who is in charge of delivering specially made kites to the family, captures your heart with his natural sweetness accompanied by a look that is too wise for his age.  Truly natural performances by each and every actor.  Credit must go not only to the actors but the director as well.  I had the feeling that I was a fly on the wall watching this family interact. What an accomplishment.  I certainly didn’t feel that I was watching a typical Hollywood movie filmed on a set.
Interestingly, this movie addresses how the traditions and thoughts of the older generation of Indians and the newer generations have to somehow coincide.  In PATANG, you see how it is difficult for the older generation to accept change and how the son and granddaughter are the change.  Somehow, they must all figure out a way to coexist.  The recognition and unwillingness to see these differences, in some instances, can be yet another stumbling block in maintaining relationships.  All of this you are able to deduce not just from dialogue, but from phenomenal non-verbal acting.
This is a beautiful movie.  The filming technique, the background even when you are viewing a poor area, and the people are all gorgeous.  It feels real.  I continually had to remind myself that this is not a documentary and these are actors.  As it turns out, many of these actors, especially the children, didn’t have lines to memorize, they just acted like, get this, children.  Perfect.  It works.  The situations are real.  The Kite Festival of Ahmedabad reminds me of my hometown’s 4th of July Celebration all based on a history and tradition of many years.  The story unfolds before you, but it doesn’t spell things out for you.  You are captured into each character’s life and try to figure out their thoughts, feelings, and the why’s of those thoughts and feelings while viewing their expressions.  This family is no perfect family, but in my experience, we are all from various degrees of dysfunctional families.  Again, this feels so real.

Each character develops over the 2 day period and the pieces of the puzzle come together in a comforting and beautiful way.  Coming home to deal with things you left behind isn’t always a good thing, but it is a necessary thing as we see in PATANG THE KITE.  This movie is about family; the good and the bad.  Beautifully shot, realistic in every aspect, and touching.  
Take the time to see PATANG THE KITE.  For those of you near me in Chicago, it opens on June 15.  You won’t be disappointed and you will definitely see that we are all the same no matter what our nationality.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

DERBY, BABY by Pamela Powell

DERBY, BABY is hitting screens in a completely different and creative way!  DERBY, BABY can hit YOUR tv screen or your home town theater's screen with a simple donation.  From $25 on up, you can have the DVD to enjoy with your friends in the privacy of your own home!  Pretty cool!  Go to for more information!

Veteran documentary filmmakers Robin Bond and Dave Wruck have teamed up to give us insight about the world's fastest growing women's sport, Flat Track Roller Derby.  I must admit that other than what I saw in the movie WHIP IT, I didn't really know it existed.  Bond and Wruck have seamlessly sown together all the pieces of the Derby fabric to give you a complete picture from the sport's inception, apparent death, and reincarnation.  To round out the film, one of the stars from WHIP IT, Juliette Lewis, narrated the piece.  By the end of the film, I wanted to find out how to see my local Chicago team play!  The movie energized and educated the viewer all at the same time.

Roller Derby has gone through major changes since its first appearance in the 1930's.  Originally, the sport was comprised of both men and women, but is now solely women. The rules are relatively simple, but a tutorial is helpful as there is no "ball" per se, in this sport.  Once you get the gist of it, it's an unbelievably fast-paced and skillful game!  These women are tough.  I compete in triathlons and other races like the Mudathlon and you couldn't pay me to go up against any of these women on the track!  They are athletic, coordinated, and strong.  The level of dedication to participate in this sport is impressive and wonderfully portrayed in DERBY, BABY.

Flat Track Roller Derby is an all volunteer organization.  Most of these women have full-time jobs and responsibilities, but love the sport so much that they not only play but they help to run it.  The film highlights various athletes ranging from a high school biology teacher to soccer moms and anything in between.  The backgrounds, educational levels, and former athletic training runs the gamut.  What is the common thread here is the need to be a part of a group and to compete.  The level of comaraderie is what I think every woman needs and wants in her life.  This film accentuates that with the interviews.

The filmmakers take a look at the negatives that surround the perception of Flat Track Roller Derby as well.  One of the interviewees compares the sport to the entertainment value with the names and costumes to Wrestling and the high paced action to soccer or hockey.  They question whether or not the sport will ever be legitimized with the entertaining names like Ginger Vitis and Heavy Flo and the costumes and makeup to match.  How can the general population take it seriously?  As it is the fastest growing sport, has it reached a point that sponsorship and leadership from major corporations will need to step in to bring it to the next level? And how will it change Flat Track Roller Derby?  The documentary looks at this and we hear the participants and fans reactions to the possible changes in the future.

DERBY, BABY is an exciting and insightful look at the sport of Flat Track Roller Derby.  I was intrigued because it is an all woman's sport and would love to see this in action myself.  The movie is worth the purchase whether you participate in sports or just an observer.  In fact, I thought it would be a lot of fun to host a party at my house to view and then go see the sport in person!  Sounds like fun to me!  Anyone up for a night out?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

DARK SHADOWS, starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Eva Green, directed by Tim Burton, is a movie based on the 1960's daytime soap of the same name.  To give a bit of background, as the 1960's were a bit before my time so I have no reference point...ok, maybe not before my time, but I definitely was too young to watch this...Depp's character, Barnabas Collins has been imprisoned for nearly 200 years after being cursed by a witch to be a vampire and live forever without his one true love, is now released to once again deal with his dysfunctionally cursed family and his nemesis Angelique Bouchard aka The Witch.  WHEW!  There!  You've got the premise.  Now for the review.

May appears to maintain the monicker Mediocre Movie Month!  I've sat through The Raven, The Five-Year Engagement, and The Avengers and now this, Dark Shadows.  Sorry, everyone, I will NOT review The Three Stooges as I am afraid of that being even less than mediocre and my time is more precious than that!  Back to Dark Shadows.  Let it be known that I love Johnny Depp.  I don't know why, but I will go see him in a movie even if the movie looks bad.  I have a feeling that I am in a large boat with like-minded people.  He is a draw.  And he continually looks younger without the freakish aspect to it!  (Note to self:  Figure out how he does this!)  This movie, as all movies do, had promise.  The trailer looked funny.  Apparently, the original series was not.  That's ok. A funny vampire movie sounded great.  Sorry, but it didn't turn out that way.  It tried to be way too dramatic.  As my husband said, "They should have focused on the humor."  He's right.  (I don't say that too often, so pay attention!)  The dramatic aspect dragged on and on.  Please.  We are talking about vampires, witches and surprise guest stars here.  However,  I did get a kick out of watching for detail in the movie.  Look for McDonald's representation early on as well as the movie marquis!  For those of us born prior to 1970, it's pretty entertaining!  The music is great.  I think my daughter and her 17 year-old friend were totally embarrassed when I started singing along with Karen Carpenter's song  Top of the World. (For those of you who know me, you know I don't listen to lyrics so for me to sing along is a HUGE deal!)  And then there was Alice Cooper.  I'm not sure which was funnier, Alice Cooper or the references throughout the entire movie!

Let's take a look at the cast.  It's great.  Michelle Pfeiffer plays the matriarch of the Collins family and does so with such command.  Johnny Depp.  Need I say more?  Eva Green is beautiful and a drop-dead gorgeous witch, pun intended!  Helena Bonham Carter drops her English accent to become an American psychiatrist and does so effortlessly.  The rest of the cast of fine.  I think that the story becomes cumbersome and dreary due to the script and direction more than any other aspect of the movie.  It was relatively entertaining, but I wish I could have screened it at home as I would have taken my dogs for a walk in the middle of it for a reprieve.  The special effects and the make-up were wonderful and I did want to know how it ended.  So for that reason alone, I will give it 5/10 reels. (My mediocrity spectrum appears to be around the 4-5 reel area.)

If you are looking at this last paragraph only, then skip the movie in the theater.  Go buy a couple cups of coffee and discuss whether or not dogs should be allowed at outdoor cafes.  It'll be much more stimulating conversation.  Please, wait for the DVD.  If you're a Johnny Depp or 1970's music fan, you can enjoy him and the era in the comfort of your own home.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

THE AVENGERS by Pamela Powell

THE AVENGERS opened last weekend and blasted the previous opening gross income record holder HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 by $38.2 million dollars for a total of $207.4 milion!  With its all-star cast of Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L Jackson, and Mark Ruffalo and the theme of "super hero," it was bound to be a blockbuster.  Not to say that it was good, but it most certainly was a blockbuster!

In the past 12 months, I've seen The Green Lantern, The Green Hornet (and now another green monster, The Incredible Hulk), X-Men, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and let me not forget, Super!  Ok, I don't know if Super counts or not, but it was definitely the most bizarre and unorthodox Super Hero Movie on my list.  And now we have The Avengers in the theaters playing to sold out crowds.  It took more than one attempt to see it in my small town where, on more than one occasion, I have had the entire theater to myself to view other movies.  I had to wait till Monday night to see the 3-D version.  Needless to say, we have been inundated with Super Hero movies as of late!

3-D gave me the pleasure of paying more to see The Avengers; not something I love doing, but I didn't have a choice.  I really do just enjoy a 2-D movie with more character depth than visual depth!  Reviewing The Avengers is going to be short and sweet, unlike the movie.  (Why do I feel like a deja vu with Transformers?)  How much can I say about the fact that all the Marvel comic book characters came together to fight evil.  Yes, there was a lot of action.  Yes, there were a lot of things blowing up.  Yes, there were a lot of special effects.  And yes, there were a lot of close ups of Scarlett Johansson's lips.  I think I just typed up the recipe for "A Perfect Guy Movie." Sorry, there was no sex.  It was rated PG-13.

Robert Downey, Jr., provided the much needed interestingly delivered and humorous lines so typical of Downey's character in Iron Man.  Then there was Thor aka Chris Hemsworth.  Need I say more?  Those blue eyes get me every time.  I also liked the Shakespearean reference that Tony Stark (Downey) made to Thor which was quite appropriate given that Kenneth Branagh directed Thor!  There was no real love interest in the movie and the little bit between Stark and Miss Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) wasn't enough to interest any female.  Therefore, oh fellow movie goers, it must be stated that the aforementioned film is most palatable by the male gender.  (I know, I know, a poor attempt at Shakespeare vernacular!)

With that, I have a recommendation.  Guys, go see it!  Guys who are fans of Marvel comic characters, go see it!  You will love it!  Ladies, send your guys to go see it!  Then meet up with your girlfriends and have a couple of martinis while they are off watching things fly and blow up.  You will have 124 minutes plus preview time which means 2 1/2 hours of kicking back and relaxing!  I guess that means I have to give this movie a thumbs up for many different reasons!

Oh, boy!  Two more super hero movies to look forward to this summer!  Batman and Spiderman...Martinis beforehand?

5 Reels out of 10

Sunday, May 6, 2012

THE RAVEN by Pamela Powell

I feel like I should say, THE RAVEN, as reviewed by Pamela Powell because as we all know "The Raven" is by Edgar Allan Poe.  The movie, THE RAVEN,  is a spin about Poe and his works during the last few days of his life.  A "fan" is using Poe's stories as a checklist to complete murders and taunting Poe by taking his love hostage.  With each murder, a clue is given as to the whereabouts of his betrothed, Miss Emily Hamilton.  Time is of the essence and Poe must work with the law to find her before it's too late.

It appears that May is a month of movie mediocrity.  (Yes, I love alliteration!)  THE RAVEN had promise.  I loved reading "The Tell-tale Heart" to my kids around Halloween.  I vaguely remembered other stories and poems from my high school literature class and was intrigued to see how they would put this movie together.  I now wish I was a better literature student as the references in the movie would have made more sense.  This will push me to catch up on what I have missed, which is a good thing! 

The Raven stars John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, and Brendan Gleeson.  The story line was interesting and showed potential with the first scene capturing your attention with anticipation of possible horrific outcomes.  Murder abounded for the first 30 minutes which brought you up to a point of climax only to be lulled for most of the remainder of the movie.  There was so much that happened in the beginning that they couldn't keep that pace going for its entirety.  Many gruesome scenes followed by torture and gory deaths were points used to keep the audience watching (or in my case, looking over at my daughter).  The acting seemed stilted, stiff, and lacked emotion which is never a good thing to keep an audience entranced.  I would have imagined Poe to be a very emotional and passionate person and the only passion I saw was when he was drunk.  Most of the movie was flat in the emotional category.  The head detective, played by Luke Evans, seemed to have one level of acting as well and I was thoroughly distracted by his very sharp and long canine teeth.  I almost wondered if it was going to turn into a vampire movie as that seems to be all the rage right now anyway!  Finally, I know that attention to detail is really something that is difficult in a movie and I'm going to mention something that I am sure no one else would catch.  I am quite sure that at the end of the movie, high in the sky, we catch a glimpse of a MAGPIE and not a RAVEN!  But that's just me being a bit picky or maybe I just imagined it.

Overall, this was average at best and I would wait for the DVD if you're a fan of Poe. If you see this, try to read the following which will make the movie a bit more enjoyable:  "The Angel of the Odd," "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Pit and the Pendulum," and my favorite, "The Tell-Tale Heart."  On the very positive side, this movie has reawakened a love of literature and Poe and I want to read the stories and poems I don't recall or don't know at all.  

4 Reels out of 10

Friday, May 4, 2012


A Little Bit of Heaven, completed last year but just released this weekend, stars the effervescent Kate Hudson, Lucy Punch and Gael Garcia Bernal.  Hudson plays a young and rising advertising executive who acts more like the stereotypical male in young relationships than the yearning-for-a-husband and settle-down-to-have-kids 30 year old woman.  Never taking life too seriously, she is bombarded with the devastating news that she has cancer and may die...this told to her by Whoopi Goldberg aka God.

Enter Lucy Punch as her work buddy, Steven Weber as her boss, and Kathy Bates as her mom.  Oh!  And let's not forget Romany Malco (Weeds) who prances around in his underwear (I am NOT complaining!).  It's really a great cast and given the seriousness of the topic, it utilizes humor in just the right places.  The movie takes Marley (Hudson) on a journey of self-discovery and completion of her life while trying to fight to survive.  Although the writer (Gren Wells) does a nice job of combining reality with humor, I would be remiss if I didn't state that this movie is quite predictable.  Yet, it's also cute, sad, funny and throws a lot of reality punches your way.

I did enjoy this movie as I am always entertained by Kate Hudson and her happy-go-lucky attitude and that sparkle she always has in her eyes.  Lucy Punch can carry a movie (Bad Teacher) or be a wonderful supporting actress as she was in this.  We watch Marley and Sarah (Punch) deal with her illness in one way while Marley addresses so many other relationships in a completely different way.  For example, she and her mom have a rather antagonistic relationship, but you can feel empathy for both characters.   I think that's where the reality of this movie comes in to play.  We all have so many different sides to ourselves and our approach with each individual can truly vary.

The ridiculous things occur, such as Whoopi and her granting Marley three wishes, but it's cute and part of the premise of the movie, so you can forgive such an implausible situation.  Peter Dinklage who plays Vinnie is also a bit far fetched, but funny.  So what makes this movie about a rather depressing subject which is very real with bits of humor thrown into it so much better than last week's movie, The 5-Year Engagement?  I think it boils down to the length of the film.  Longer isn't always better!

If you see it in the theater, bring a tissue and be prepared for a few tears.  Waiting for the DVD isn't a bad idea.  I liked it, but I think it's more of a "renter."

5 REELS out of 10