Thanks Keith and The Movies for the Liebster Award 2012!

Thanks to Keith & The Movies for giving me a shout out!  So cool. I always enjoy visiting his site and find his 5 Phenomenal… series so much fun–they’re always creative and original.  I appreciate that he liked me enough to pass The Liebster Award to me.  Hope I can do it justice.  Here are the rules this time around:

  1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the person giving the award has set for you.
  3. Create 11 questions for the people you will be giving the award to
  4. Choose 11 people to award and send them a link to your post.
  5. Go to their page and tell them
  6. No tag backs.

So, 11 things about me–Oh my!  Here we go…

1.  I am a film geek.  Duh!  Films make me happy.  If I am stressed, sad or sick, watching a movie makes me feel better.  Actually, anytime movie-watching makes me feel better.  I also listen to film scores (soundtracks) all the time–love them!

2.  I have an ongoing love affair with Kermit the Frog (he’s my iphone cover) and all things Muppets.

3.  Gary Oldman is my ultimate crush.  He is amazing! **deep, dreamy sigh**

4.  My lovely daughter turns 21 in September.  Time is on warp speed and I am old.

5.  Cats are awesome!  I like all critters, but cats are my favorite.  I have 3 at the moment and I will probably end up as a crazy cat lady someday. 😀

6.  I love nature and the ocean.  My full name, Nereida, is greek for sea nymphs and I believe it must be telling because the ocean is my affinity.

7.  I did not believe in fairy tale love, until I was proven wrong six years ago.  Now, I am in my own happily ever after. It does exist–who knew?

8.  I am a Law Enforcement Operator for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Never a dull moment…

9.  I am foodie. I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE food.  Dinner and a movie? Yes, please.  It is truly my favorite way to spend an evening.

10.  I have a fascination with vampires, but REAL vampires, that burn, disintegrate or explode in sunlight! (fyi..vampires DO NOT sparkle.) -_-

11.   BORIQUA!  I am Puerto Rican.  (Represent!)

And now, Keith’s questions….

1. What’s your biggest movie guilty pleasure (a movie you love so much even though you know it’s bad)?   Starship Troopers?  Reign of Fire?  Strange Days?  Oh, wait…those are AWESOME! 😀

2. What actor or actress do you vehemently dislike and why? Katherine Heigl–do I need to explain??

3. What are your thoughts on the current 3-D craze?  I do not mind if it enhances the films presentation.  Sometimes it works–UP! and Avatar–and sometimes it doesn’t–Immortals–but most of the time I will watch movies in 2-D because I do not need the extra dimension. 🙂

4. What do you think was the best decade for movies and why?  I will have to say the 1980s with the 1990s a close second.  I am a child of the 80s and the movies of that decade created the film geek I am.  Blade Runner.  Predator.  Star Wars.  E.T.  Indiana Jones.  The Thing.  Ghostbusters.  Yeah, I can on and on.  It was a decade of original, creative filmmaking that is still being copied to this day.  Yet, the 90s had stellar films as well–but based on influence I will stick with the 1980s.

5.  What the scariest movie you have ever seen?  I do not scare easily–but the Sixth Sense stayed with me.  I would get chilly and then freak myself out, when I was alone.   I think because we all feel that sometimes, the film tapped into the fear. 

6.  Have you ever walked out on a bad movie at the theater? Which one and why?  I have to finish it.  If I paid money I will stick it out.  Plus, if it sucks…I want to say I saw ALL of it and can testify to it’s suckiness.  But, I seriously considered walking out of The Ugly Truth and When in Rome. Why? I have trouble with stupidity.

7. What are your aspirations for your movie blog?   I hope that people will seek out my opinion and that it will help them to make decisions about what they should watch or read.  Storytelling is my passion and it is awesome to write about it.  Honestly, I started my blog as an outlet and the sole purpose was to have fun with it.  So far, it has been a blast.  The fact that it has grown a little is a bonus.  

8. Siskel or Ebert? Why?  Ebert.  Siskel was always a bit too technical.  Ebert judges most films according to their genre–Siskel tended to be harsher on films in genres he did not like.  Not fair. 

9. Who is the most beautiful woman or most handsome man in movies? (Heavy stuff here!)   I think Mila Kunis is gorgeous!  And as far as male beauty–no one can be as pretty as Johnny Depp.  

10. Do you have any weird movie novelties or collectibles? If so, what are they?  Nope.  We collect film posters and I have a few muppets hanging around my house but, nothing weird.   

11.  Name three other movie blogs that you love to keep up with.  I have a few that I enjoy, but I can only pick 3? Okay.  3guys1movie–Fog’s Movie Reviews–and Keith & The Movies 

Now for my questions…

1.  What movie have you watched over and over?

2.  Who is your ultimate actor/actress crush?

3.  Which film trilogy do you consider to be perfect?

4.  What novel would you love to see made into a film?

5.  What actor/actress do you consider to be overrated?

6.  What famous/classic film have you never seen?

7.  Seinfeld or Friends?  Trust me, it says much about you. 🙂 (I am Seinfeld all the way…)

8.  Name your favorite Super Hero and what super power would you want to have?

9.  Name your favorite muppet.  You have to have one–right?

10.  Vampires?  Yes or No.  If yes, what is your favorite film?

11.  If made into a movie…your life would fit under what genre?  Comedy? Action? Indie? etc…

Well, I think almost all the blogs I know have been given the Liebster Award and I am a bit behind responding–so if you check this out and want to take part–go right on ahead!  I recommend any blog that is following me!  You’re all pretty cool! 😀

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ParaNorman scores high points for originality and craftsmanship…

First of all, I love stop-motion animation and I also love it when kid-centric films do not insult children. Treat them with respect–speak clear and they will understand and hear your message. ParaNorman does that successfully. It is an original take on accepting and loving yourself and they even throw in the affects of bullying. Nicely done.

This is the second feature released by Laika Animation (the first being the 2009 Coraline–which is one of my favorites). And again, they stay in the adventure/horror genre. This time though they turn it on its ear.  Things are not quite what they seem in Norman’s universe and they have fun exploring all the clichés (“Not   all witches have to be ugly? Of course, they are…they’re meant to sell key chains.”).

The film was written and co-directed by Chris Butler (first feature) and the experienced animator director Sam Fell. Together they do an excellent job of building the characters around this unique premise. As a zombie/horror fan, I appreciated all the cool nudges to the classics.  It is at once touching, poignant and funny. The skill and patience that it takes to create this medium is incredible.  The result is nothing short of amazing.

The voice talent is perfect and surprising. I could easily make out John Goodman, but Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Anna Kendrick were unrecognizable–so cool.  Kodi Smith-McPhee (Let Me In) as Norman and Tucker Albrizzi as Neil are both wonderful (and kind of look like their 10 inch figures).

Overall, this is a great story, cleverly done. It may a bit too scary or gory for young kids (depending on their exposure) and although it does not reach Nightmare Before Christmas iconic status and it’s not even as perfectly crafted as Coraline, it is still a cool addition to the genre that I am sure will continue to grow in cult status. I foresee Halloween viewing in my future. 😀

The Expendables 2 is 200% of ridiculous fun!!

This poster says it ALL!!  Big Guns. Big Dudes. Big Explosions. Yes. I am Capitalizing Everything Because IT’S BIG.  😀  The Expendable 2 : Back for War is exactly what you would expect and it’s a blast, if you’re willing to embrace the madness.

Like the first one, this is not meant to be anything but a testosterone joy ride. There is not much to review. Plot? Razor thin–it’s personal this time (that’s the tagline I would apply).  Acting?  Do they have to? C’mon they’re kicking ass and taking names…they don’t have time to act.  Direction? Point. Shoot. Blow shit up!

Here are some thoughts. I will have to admit to being happy to see Arnold “back” 😀 –I love him!  Chuck Norris had the funniest joke in the movie. Jean-Claude Van Damme played a nice baddie. Jason Statham is a bad SOB and had some of the coolest fight sequences. Sylvester Stallone still got it.  Dolph Lundgren is whack. Girl Power–Nan Yu is awesome–who seem to replace Jet Li (sadness). And Bruce Willis? Anytime, anyplace. 😀  It did get a bit one-liner happy towards the end, but hey…shit was happening and what else would they say?

Yup.  That’s about it.  If you can handle the mayhem…go for it!  It will be a fun ride.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction–Bernie proves it!

Wow! It is hard to understand at times what people do, say and believe. Bernie is a true story. And although it is told from a black comedy angle, the events and reactions are real. Director Richard Linklater has even interviewed the real citizens of Carthage (east Texas town this takes place in) and woven it into the narrative or should I say dramatization.  Gossip, speculations and craziness ensues.

Adapted from a 1998 article in Texas Monthly, titled “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas.” written by Skip Hollandsworth (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Linklater), this tale reads like pure fiction.  A fiction full of all sorts of drama, deception and murder.  I did not know too much going in except for what I just stated and (as you know by now) I will not spoil it for you–discovering what happens is part of the experience while watching this film.

The cast is small and spot on. I like Jack Black. Yes, I know he can be over the top at times but I love it when he gets it right. And he gets Bernie right. Black’s charisma and exuberance are the perfect fit for this man and yet, it never feels like a caricature. It feels natural and easy.  Matthew McConaughey continues his supporting role awesomeness. He is a pure treat in this film–his expressions alone are worth it.  And last, but not least, the incomparable Shirley MacLaine.  She is amazing.  No one else could have portrayed this character so perfectly.

Linklater purposefully creates a small, intimate movie and in turn, it makes you feel like you’re part of this community. It is incredible how powerful perception can be and how strong personal convictions can taint your reality. A very interesting, thought-provoking tale that is well structured and told. Sometimes, I still can’t believe it’s not made up.

Again, wow.

RIP Tony Scott–Thanks for all the awesome entertainment!

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So sad.  It is truly tragic.  Famed film producer/director, Tony Scott, took his own life yesterday.  My heart goes out to his family and friends.  Why he chose to end his time here on earth, is not for me to speculate.  I will only say that we have lost a great talent.

I am grateful for the films and the legacy he has left.  Two of my all time favorites–True Romance and Man on Fire–will be cherished always.  Unlike his older brother, Ridley Scott, Tony had a hyper, kinetic style that was fun and exuberant, but nonetheless beautifully crafted and executed.

He will be missed.

Found this cool video–Scott in his own words…

The Hunter works on several levels…

Human drama. Evil corporate plans. Environmental debates. Moral complexities. Yes, it seems like a lot, but The Hunter manages to blend all these elements into an interesting, creative narrative.  It is a well-crafted, suspenseful tale of redemption.

Most of the credit has to go to the ever-impressive Willem Dafoe and the thoughtful portrait he has rendered of a cold, isolated mercenary hunter, who finds his humanity. A strong supporting cast helps–Sam Neil and Frances O’Connor, are both great and some young talent seals the deal–Morgana Davies and newcomer Finn Woodlock.

Another major character is the harsh beauty of Tasmania. The wilderness is haunting and adds to the tension and the mystery of what is happening. This is a small-budget Australian film and for most of the crew this is their first time feature. That said, it is impressive what cinematographer Robert Humphreys and director Daniel Nettheim have accomplished.

(The screenplay by Alice Addison is adapted from the novel written by Julia Leigh and now I am curious about it. I will have to add it to my nook for future reading. :))

The Hunter is a quiet, slow burn character study. The different threads all combine and reach a powerful ending. As it ended I was impressed by this movie and pleasantly surprised. I love it when that happens–check out and hopefully you will enjoy the ride, too.

 

Colin Farrell is no Arnold and the new Total Recall suffers for it…

Oh, Arnold Schwarzenegger! Little did we know how much we would miss you. Twice they have tried to remake one of your signature roles (let’s not forget the Conan fiasco) and twice they have failed to capture the magic, fun and muscles that made you a mega-star.  Give it up, Hollywood. It is not going to happen and plus, Arnold is coming back (like he promised).

The sad part is that the 1990 Total Recall could have benefited from a modern face lift and the trailer looked promising. The premise is clever enough that writers Kurt Wimmer (who has done some decent stuff that I really like) and Mark Bombach could have created a more realistic, gritty interpretation of the campy, fun original and although they tried–it never quite finds its feet (or mind…or whatever).

The 2012 Total Recall changes a lot of stuff up. There is no Mars, in any way, in this version. The world is darker and gloomier, but not necessarily more interesting. For the first 20 minutes I was hopeful. I liked the new look–the different direction they were taking, but then as it progresses, we are never invested in the dystopian society they have dropped us into. Since the politics of this society play a major motivating factor in the narrative, it feels empty and shallow.  In trying to be serious, they lose all the fun and the small attempts at humor or one-liners falls flat.

Director Len Wiseman, who started the successful, albeit shallow, Underworld series is no stranger to action, but manages somehow to make this bland and a bit boring.  All the sequences have been done and seen before in other sci-films and so…nothing feels fresh or exciting.

That leaves the acting. No one is awful. Actually, these are all capable actors. Well, except Jessica Biel, who is always stiff but not totally horrible.  Colin Farrell is fine, but he does not have much to work with here.  The wasted talent is Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy–they’re brilliant and unfortunately, they’re not even given the chance to shimmer.  The only shout-out I will give is to Kate Beckinsdale, who is the only character with a clear focus and drive and who can kick some serious ass!

Oh well. They tried to recreate a universe that has been memorably etched in most people’s memories, but they failed to capture the fun and even the innovation that the original achieved. Maybe those who have yet to see Paul Verhoeven‘s 22 year-old classic (wow! that’s crazy!) will find it okay.  But I will quickly recommend for them to go watch Arnold at his prime, as he will dishes out one-liners, blows up stuff and punches Sharon Stone in the face! Yeah…they will definitely have a better time with that version!

Finally caught up with The Walking Dead and I am stoked for Season 3!

I love The Walking Dead. The first season was amazing–I was addicted instantly. It was engrossing, intense and strangely poetic, in many ways. A character study with heady themes ranging from survival to death, that just happen to have zombies roaming around.

Based on the world-renowned graphic novels (of the same name) by Robert KirkmanTony Moore, and Charlie Adlard.  Series creator Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption) has stayed true to the source material and has incorporated many visual and style elements of the novels. (It will interesting to see if it stays that way since Darabont has stepped down…)

I just finished the 13 episode second season and was totally impressed. Compared to the short 6 episodes of the first season, S2 seemed too long and dragged out, but as it started to reach the end it became clear that the set up was mandatory and the pay off was awesome. There were moments that I was on the edge of my seat…ahhhh!  I love it!

The cast is pitch perfect.  It is a true ensemble–each actor working off each other and it truly feels like a community.  There are characters you love (Rick, Daryl, Glenn) and the ones that annoy (Lori, Dale, Shane), but they’re all fully realized and rich in complexities.  That is the most brilliant part–that even though you love watching the incredible zombie make-up and gruesome zombie kills–this is fundamentally a story about humanity.  What do we become when you take away all the rules and structure of an organized society? Sometimes the “monsters” are among the living.

If you haven’t started this series and you like intense, gripping drama mixed with gory, cool zombies, you may want to catch up before Season 3 is scheduled to begin on October 14, 2012.  From the people who have read the novels–I am in for an awesome story line–how exciting! 😀

Here are some of the trailers for each season: