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Flowchart: To Pee or Not to Pee? A Movie Theater Guide

Flowchart: To Pee or Not to Pee? A Movie Theater Guide | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it
To pee, or not to pee? That is the question. Everyone who has ever gone to a movie knows this predicament- whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of painfully watching a movie when you...
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Finally -- Someone who knows what's really important!

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THE LAST STAND (2013) - BEST MOVIE EVER STARRING A FORMER GOVERNOR

THE LAST STAND (2013) - BEST MOVIE EVER STARRING A FORMER GOVERNOR | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Rodrigo Santoro. Jaimie Alexander and lots of other people, this is absolutely the bestmovie ever made by a former governor of California. Or any former governor.

I’m not a very intellectual movie reviewer. That’s just as well, since there is nothing intellectual about this movie.

It’s pretty good. Lots of shooting. Blood spurting. Vicious bad guys. It has the grace to not take itself too seriously, with enough humorous moments and entirely predictable but nonetheless funny lines to make it easy to watch.

“I’m The Sheriff!” growls Arnold and by golly, he is, though Garry and I simultaneously pointed out that he used to be The  Governor.

There are a lot of car chases … or maybe not really chases. More accurately, it is exceptionally good stunt driving. They actually did some stunts I’ve never seen before and I really thought I’d seen them all.

Plot? Oh, right. Plot. Okay. Think “High Noon” with a strong whiff of “Terminator.” Or any western movie where the sheriff stands up to some incredibly evil guys and whups their collective asses with the help of his faithful deputies and one old lady with a shot-gun. You’ll be glad to know that Arnold Schwarzenegger, senior citizen, ex-governor gets shot, stabbed and beat up, but walks away proudly in the end. Not into the sunset, but into the local diner. Irv’s Diner. Killing people and catching malevolent drug lords gives him an appetite. I’m just sorry I forgot to buy popcorn. It’s a beautiful, deeply touching, moment.

If you need a violence fix, this is a pretty good choice. It’s well made. Moves right along. Some great artillery and the aforementioned stunt driving.

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'NCIS' shocker: Cote de Pablo's Ziva to exit

'NCIS' shocker: Cote de Pablo's Ziva to exit | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

CBS on Thursday confirmed that "NCIS" star Cote de Pablo will leave television's most popular drama series during the upcoming season

 

De Pablo, who plays agent Ziva David, said in a statement: "I've had eight great years with NCIS and Ziva David. I have huge respect and affection for Mark (Harmon), Gary (Glasberg), Michael (Weatherly), David (McCallum), Rocky (Carroll), Pauley (Perrette), Brian (Dietzen), Sean (Murray), all of the team and CBS. I look forward to finishing Ziva's story.

 

The news comes just ahead of the start of production on the show's upcoming 11th season.

 

A CBS spokesperson said: "We respect Cote's decision, thank her for being an important part of the NCIS team, and for eight terrific years playing Ziva David. Cote and CBS share a great respect for the NCIS audience, and we look forward to working with her and the producers on appropriate closure in this chapter of Ziva's story."

 

The actress joined NCIS in season 3, following the departure of Sasha Alexander. The show's writers quickly established a friendship between her character and Weatherly's Anthony DiNozzo. In recent seasons, the sexual tension increased and brought hints of a possible romance.

 

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Talk about missing a character, we will surely miss Ziva!

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Renewed or Canceled? Your TV Cheat Sheet on the Fate of Your Favorite Shows!

Renewed or Canceled? Your TV Cheat Sheet on the Fate of Your Favorite Shows! | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

TV, you fickle, fickle mistress.

There's been a whole lot of small-screen news going down this week (And a lot of Diet Coke going down our throats as a direct result—but we digress!), with networks renewing and canceling shows left and right before touting their new series and lineups at their upfront presentations in New York City.

To help you celebrate or mourn the loss of a beloved show, we've compiled a list of which series the five big networks renewed and canceled from the 2012-13 TV season! 

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Not movies. Television. But is there really that much of a difference?

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'The Great Gatsby' tackles the weight of literary hopes with decent results

'The Great Gatsby' tackles the weight of literary hopes with decent results | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Long Island-set novel, where Midwesterner Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is lured into the lavish world of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). Soon enough, however, Carraway will see through the cracks of Gatsby's nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.

 

Often lauded as a novel that cannot be filmed, this latest adaptation from Baz Luhrmann potentially comes the closest to capturing the hedonistic excess that is wrapped in this heartbreaking tale of love and obsession. Fans of Luhrmann's style won't be able to avoid seeing some of the borderline musical and choreographed sequences but that falls away fairly quickly as his ability to stage some sumptuous and lush looking visual set pieces works incredibly well in concert with the overall narrative. The script that he co-wrote with frequent collaborator Craig Pearce moves through the narrative at a brisk pace that never gives away the films nearly 2 and a half hour running time as he successfully allows to get swept up into this world, in spite of some uneven pacing from time to time, we never once get the urge to look at our watches. Luhrmann's style allows us as the viewer to get swept up in his vision of utter excess as the rich get richer and retreat into their decadence while the poor suffer under the boot heel of their perceived betters'. It's a story that shadows the perils of not only success and fame seeking that goes on even to this day, but the destructive nature of obsession and trying to recapture the past. There are admittedly some aspects of the narrative that ring a little hollow, but this might be the first adaptation of the novel where that point finally gets driven home as we are confronted with some fairly unlikable characters. A story like this always depends on the actors playing the roles, and this well cast adaptation works perfectly well thanks to the work from the leads on down.

 

In a change from the previous big screen adaptation in 1974, Leo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby plays him as a nervous and fragile human being so desperate to be accepted into a world that will seemingly always shun him no matter what he does. DiCaprio makes Gatsby a flesh and blood, and most importantly a flawed one something that ultimately makes him a likeable and tragic character. Tobey Maguire as his neighbour and friend Nick Carraway works wonders in the role as he isn't necessarily looking for something from Gatsby, something which Gatsby is sadly used to and is only trying to be a good friend to the man, they have great chemistry together as they both navigate the realms of the rich and powerful with varying degrees of success. Carey Mulligan the lost love Daisy Buchanan is OK but not given as much depth or room to work with in order to establish some legitimate character and Joel Edgerton as the pompous old money millionaire Tom Buchanan is a little more muted from previous versions of the film as some of the racial overtones in the novel are a little more subdued then they were in past version of the film. The ensemble is rounded out with the likes of Isla Fisher who gets a moment or two to shine as Myrtle Wilson while Jason Clarke and Elizabeth Debicki as George Wilson and Jordan Baker respectively get pushed a little more into the background then they should have perhaps been.

 

Ultimately, "The Great Gatsby" is a story that will more than likely never satisfy devotees and fans of the book, but in this latest rendition it manages to at least succeed in capturing the high and lows of the era. The story makes for an entertaining yet tragic love story with some characters that we can actually get behind as it mirrors some social issues that we face even today.

3 out of 5 stars.

"The Great Gatsby" is now playing at theatres all across the country, check with your local listings for show times.

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Worth a look see. They keep trying, but so far, none of the versions has really gotten it. Maybe this time?

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Big Change Coming To The Oscars

Big Change Coming To The Oscars | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

LOS ANGELES — Oscar voters will no longer be required to see certain nominated films in a theater to cast their ballots.

 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Saturday that members will be mailed DVDs of documentaries, shorts and foreign language nominees – categories that don't typically get lengthy stays on multiplex big screens.

 

President Hawk Koch says the move is an effort to expand member participation by giving voters as many opportunities as possible to see all the nominated films.

 

Prior to the final round of voting, the academy will mail members DVDs of films in Foreign Language Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories.

 

The nomination process remains unchanged.

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Change! Wow! I'm impressed!

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'Oblivion' is a beautiful yet flawed exercise in science-fiction filmmaking

'Oblivion' is a beautiful yet flawed exercise in science-fiction filmmaking | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

The arrival of the spring marks the slow roll out of the big budget tent pole movies into multiplexes across the globe. Big budget sci-fi epics are really a dicey proposition even at the best of times as they tend to be populated with some of the pickier fans out there. "Oblivion" takes us to a point in the future, where the planet is ravaged after a cataclysmic war and the human race is doing whatever it can to survive.

 

Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is one of the last drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs. Jack’s mission is nearly complete and he and his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) will get to join the remaining survivors in their new home. However when he rescues a beautiful stranger (Olga Kurylenko) from a downed spacecraft, , he begins to question everything he knows.

A great vehicle for Cruise but it could have used some script work... Photo credit:  skiny.net 

Co-writer and Director Joseph Kosinski certainly has an eye for the genre, as "Oblivion" is a stunning and bold looking film that doesn't shy away from painting a big picture filled with sweeping yet barren landscapes and stunning cinematography, sadly the script could have probably used as much effort put into it as the visuals did. The narrative dragged in several parts with dialogue that ranged from clunky to downright laughable as the filmmakers were manufacturing much more melodrama then was actually necessary. It made it hard to generate a genuine connection with the characters, everything was insanely beautiful but much like the scorched earth that the characters were maintaining and protecting it was also incredibly sterile as Kosinski and company borrowed imagery from at least half a dozen of the more popular sci-films from the past 30 years. Stylish and wonderful, but not exactly ground breaking almost playing like a greatest hits from the genre that tries far too hard. Thankfully there are some still some familiar faces to keep us engaged as an audience.

 

Tom Cruise too often gets a bad rap for being a substandard actor, but to be perfectly honest when is the last time anybody has seen him perform in anything truly terrible? We simply haven't since he works as the solid, brooding everyman kind of hero and holds his own in this character driven humanistic sci-fi drama. Andrea Riseborough is a consistently under rated actress how more than holds her own opposite Cruise and they have excellent on screen chemistry. Olga Kurylenko is a classic beauty in the Hollywood mold who will manage to always look at home in a genre or action movie setting. She is slowly but surely coming into her own as a leading lady and if she keeps her career trajectory moving in the right direction, there will be nothing but good things ahead. Melissa Leo, Morgan Freeman, Zoe Bell and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau round out the ensemble but are all fairly wasted, adding little to nothing to the overall narrative.

 

"Oblivion" isn't a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, but with a weak script that leans on too much manufactured melodrama and a plethora of borrowed imagery it isn't necessarily all that great either. Worth a look if you feel like getting roped into seeing in glorious and expansive IMAX as Joseph Kosinski is certainly a huge visual talent but he just hasn't nailed down the storytelling aspect of filmmaking quite yet.

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

There have been some pretty good sci fi movies recently. I'm grateful. It was a very long drought!

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Bringing the Party To You: The Avengers (2012)

Bringing the Party To You: The Avengers (2012) | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it
If you have been following the long trail of Marvel comic book hero films: Ironman (2008, 2010) , the Hulk (2008), Captain America (2011), and Thor (2011) - The Avengers is what you've been waiting...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

This is pure fun. If you like superheroes, this is super super heroes.

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The Hobbit With BONUS Middle Earth Flowcharts

The Hobbit With BONUS Middle Earth Flowcharts | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

Today I saw The Hobbit. I loved it. I’ve read a lot of complaints about it online and I’m more baffled after seeing it than I was before.

 

I don’t understand what the problem is. Too long? Too much detail? Really?

Do they really want a shorter movie with less detail? I’m willing to bet that if they got what they wanted, the same people would start bitching about how it’s too short and lacks detail.

 

There are too many people who aren’t satisfied unless they are complaining about something.

 

Ignore the whiners for whom nothing will ever be true enough to the book. They should not go to the movies and just reread the book. They don’t get the difference between literature and film as art forms. And don’t even bother to read professional critics. They never like anything really good anyhow. They are on a campaign to remove the fun from film and replace it with pretentious boring stuff that’s closer to torture than entertainment.

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Another good one from Peter Jackson!

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"We Saw Your Boobs" -- A Great Night for Oscar

"We Saw Your Boobs"  -- A Great Night for Oscar | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it
Okay. This is the first Oscar show I've ever seen that was really funny. Seth McFarland was good. "We saw your boobs" must be the funniest song to ever open the ceremonies. Otherwise, it was an int...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Ignore the critics. This was great stuff!

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Sharla Shults's curator insight, February 26, 2013 10:17 PM

I never watch the Oscars. If I ever were to watch a good one, I just missed it! The opener was hilarious. Did you notice some of the reactions from the audience…some of the ‘ladies’ did not seem to care for it at all! Um-m-m? Was he singing about one of them? The Grey Poupon commercial was a hoot! Of course, they always were!

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My Favorite Year - 1969

My Favorite Year - 1969 | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it
It was 1969, the year I grew my own wings. The world spun faster on its axis. Everything changed. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July 1969. I watched it unfold. I was a new mommy with a 2 mon...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

It was the quintessential year of my young adulthood.We had so much fun it should have been illegal. Wait, some of it was illegal. Ah, those were the days. Alive forever in memory.

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Les Miserables

Les Miserables | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

I sat down to watch this film with my wife, who loves musicals and has never seen Les Mis. I had seen the earlier version done with Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush and Uma Thurman which I remember enjoying but not being blown away by. Well 30 minutes into the film my wife was annoyed and wanted to be somewhere else. Needless to say she did not enjoy this film at all and was visibly angry that she had wasted precious amounts of sleep, having a newborn will often make you realize how important your time is and how important sleep is but I digress.

 

 

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

With the Oscars coming up thus Sunday, this seemed appropriate and timely.. I have not seen it. I am not a fan of opera and despite having years studying and performing music, I have never been able to wrap my head around opera. Operetta. yes. H.M.S. Pinafore works for me. I know there are many beautiful arias ... but grand operas bore and annoy me. I can't help it. Opera is not for everyone and no one should be made to feel inadequate because they don't like it. So I probably won't see rhis movie, but perhaps you will love it. To each his own.

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Awakenings Official Book Launch

This is America’s story. . . YOUR story in poetic verse for inspiration toward understanding the sacrifices made in establishing and maintaining America’s freedom.

 

Awakenings is a journey through time. Within the pages of this book is a chance for you to uncover how past experiences, as well as your ancestry, connect to the present and ultimately define your future.

 

Embrace the past, empower the present, enrich the future. 

 

You are not an isolated individual but a thread binding together with countless other threads to create a rich and colorful tapestry of life. From the far reaches of America’s past, we can all, in some way or another, connect to someone who set foot upon America’s soil looking for a land of promise. It is through laughter and tears that the yesterdays of centuries past paved the way for today’s future.

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Check it out! You won't regret it.

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Lowest grossing film of 2012 is Christian Slater's 'Playback'

Lowest grossing film of 2012 is Christian Slater's 'Playback' | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

There's a good chance you haven't even heard of the lowest grossing film of the year. The Christian Slater-starring "Playback"cost $7.5 million to make and only grossed $264 in theaters. Yes, only $264.

 

Movieline reports that the film only showed in one cinema, where it made $252 its first week and $12 (likely just one ticket) the following week. After that it was pulled, and it has gone on to live on VOD via Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Of course, $264 is massive intake when compared to the lowest-grossing film of all time. That honor goes to Katherine Heigl's"Zyzzyx Road," which was released in 2007 and made a grand total of $30 in theaters.

 

For some context, the highest grossing movie of the year was "The Avengers," which made $623 million in the United States alone and $1.5 billion worldwide.

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

I had previously though "Flypaper" with a gross of $1068 was the lowest, but no, there ARE worse!!

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THE LAST STAND (2013) - BEST MOVIE EVER STARRING A FORMER GOVERNOR

THE LAST STAND (2013) - BEST MOVIE EVER STARRING A FORMER GOVERNOR | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Rodrigo Santoro. Jaimie Alexander and lots of other people, this is absolutely the bestmovie ever made by a former governor of California. Or any former governor.

I’m not a very intellectual movie reviewer. That’s just as well, since there is nothing intellectual about this movie.

It’s pretty good. Lots of shooting. Blood spurting. Vicious bad guys. It has the grace to not take itself too seriously, with enough humorous moments and entirely predictable but nonetheless funny lines to make it easy to watch.

“I’m The Sheriff!” growls Arnold and by golly, he is, though Garry and I simultaneously pointed out that he used to be The  Governor.

There are a lot of car chases … or maybe not really chases. More accurately, it is exceptionally good stunt driving. They actually did some stunts I’ve never seen before and I really thought I’d seen them all.

Plot? Oh, right. Plot. Okay. Think “High Noon” with a strong whiff of “Terminator.” Or any western movie where the sheriff stands up to some incredibly evil guys and whups their collective asses with the help of his faithful deputies and one old lady with a shot-gun. You’ll be glad to know that Arnold Schwarzenegger, senior citizen, ex-governor gets shot, stabbed and beat up, but walks away proudly in the end. Not into the sunset, but into the local diner. Irv’s Diner. Killing people and catching malevolent drug lords gives him an appetite. I’m just sorry I forgot to buy popcorn. It’s a beautiful, deeply touching, moment.

If you need a violence fix, this is a pretty good choice. It’s well made. Moves right along. Some great artillery and the aforementioned stunt driving.

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Born on the Fourth of July - The Great American Birthday Party

Born on the Fourth of July - The Great American Birthday Party | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

t’s the 4th of July again. We just watched the most spectacular fireworks display I’ve ever seen in my entire life … not to mention what has to be the absolutely best band concert in the world. Where else do they fire real howitzers during the 1812 Overture? Only at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River in Boston.

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

If there is a better celebration of America's birthday than the annual concert and fireworks at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts, I can't imagine what it could be. And if there's a better movie to celebrate the day than Yankee Doodle Dandy ... well ... there isn't It's the best of the best and there will never be a better one!

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MOVIE REVIEW: STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

MOVIE REVIEW: STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

Loved this–and  I am not a Trekker, have never been on a spacecraft, or had an out of body experience (OK maybe once) but I love an exciting cinematic romp through outer space, and after seeing STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS I left the theater feeling like my car was the Starship Enterprise (and if you must know, I am always traveling at warp speed.) The 12th installment of the adventures of that merry band of space explorers led by Captain James T. Kirk (played by Chris Pine and his indestructible eyebrows) and Mr. Spock (played by Zachary Quinto of the equally bodacious brows)– just made me want to go along for the ride.

 

This time they are after a single guy (Who isn’t– A number of my friends are asking…) a super powerful dangerous bad ass (Benedict Cumberbatch) who’s hiding out in a neutral Klingon outpost and I won’t spoil it by telling you who it is. But what I liked about the film– and most Star Trek movies is that they are about the characters and their interaction– and there’s plenty here for the Enterprise crew to chew on.  Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Spock are finding their way through a rather complex relationship. In fact, Spock’s identity is at the heart of the action. As a half Vulcan, Spock acts logically of course, but must navigate a romance with the het up Uhura, and decipher his friendship with Kirk who’s operating from his gut. So Spock must adjust his thinking to take all of this into account; he’s also half human, but has made certain decisions not to feel– to protect himself from feeling what he confesses he actually at one time has felt or known–but must  now control. Or at least try to. Not even Dr. Phil could straighten this out.

 

Then there’s Kirk and his relationship to rules in general, his mentor Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood), and the chain of command–Peter “Robocop” Weller is onboard as Admiral Marcus. Then there’s Scotty (Simon Pegg) who resigns and gets drunk, while Sulu (John Cho) proves himself a man in the big chair, while McCoy (Karl Urban) gets off some choice one liners. Then there’s the gorgeous blonde (Alice Eve) who sneaks aboard.  The character drama holds up somewhat better than the action sequences which are often messy– sometimes not clear what’s happening or who’s doing what to whom. But there’s enough to fill in the blanks. The plot is a bit inconsistent on the details as well– the opening scene has Spock trying to solidify the lava from a volcano so it won’t overflow and wipe out a primitive civilization on the planet Nibiru– but I thought Starfleet wasn’t supposed to interfere with the history of a people? Later Kirk is called to account for doing just that. Lazy writing.

 

So what kept me onboard? The pace, the overall flow, the likeability of this cast, seeing the beginnings of their evolution as characters, and perhaps– I just needed an escape. “Star Trek Into Darkness” while not brilliant, was enough fun to take me out of the doldrums of a late Spring afternoon–just before a hail storm and a black bear invaded my neighborhood (See my Facebook/ Twitter stream). The blockbusters have arrived– and they will live long and prosper this summer if STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is any indication.

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

I want to see this one. Soon!

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The Company You Keep (2012)

The Company You Keep (2012) | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

Surprises are the cherries on top of the cake of life (or something else if you don’t like cherries). They can brighten up your day because they show that the one giving them has taken the time to think about you and therefore are so cherished. They are the little moments you would like to have all the time and as a movie watcher I enjoy it when a movie is able to surprise me. I make sure movies are able to do that to read as little about them as possible and not watching trailers and for this movie, The Company You Keep I knew nothing. I knew Robert Redford and Shia LeBeouf were in it because they were on the cover, but as I was watching I was treated to one nice surprise after the other.


Robert Redford not only stars, but also has directed this movie (which is his 9th one) and has been able to get an amazing list of actors and actresses together to appear in this movie. Scene after scene I was thrilled to see another well-known actor play a role (some smaller than others) and this kept happening all through the movie. Susan Sarandon, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci and Richard Jenkins are just a few examples, but there are many more. It’s a funny thing, but seeing familiar faces can really add to your enjoyment of a movie. Of course it is the reason why some actors get payed so much, because the general audience likes to see them and buys tickets. If you walk into a party and you don’t know anyone you won’t be as comfortable as when people you have seen before are present. As you know I watch all type of movies, also ones not starring well-known actors, but with this movie it was a joy to be surprised by the appearance of those actors/actresses.


You might be wondering though: “That’s all fine Nostra, but what is this movie about?” It is about former members of the Weathermen, a radical left organisation who protested against the Vietnam war and tried to overthrow the government. A couple of them have been on a “wanted” list for years and when one of them is captured over 30 years later the other ones are also in danger of being discovered. Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) is an investigative reporter who looks into the case and wants to question a local lawyer, Jim Grant (played by Robert Redford) who has declined to do the case. Once he starts investigating he finds out that Grant might have a reason to not take part in the case. When he disappears with his daughter he decides to follow the breadcrumbs and track him down. He’s not the only one doing so however.


I thought The Company You Keep was an enjoyable movie, with enough unexpected twists to keep you guessing where it was all going. The appearance of all those actors only added to my enjoyment, but I have to say the journey was more interesting than the final destination, which I thought was extremely disappointing. Although he movie is partly based on some true events, it is obvious this is a work of fiction. Because of its ending I really didn’t take away too much from it, but it was an enjoyable timewaster.



Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Sounds like a good one, or at the very least, good entertainment. 

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Land of The Beavers: A Conversation With Queens Historian Carl Ballenas

Land of The Beavers: A Conversation With Queens Historian Carl Ballenas | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

From the ancient glaciers to slavery, Carl Ballenas knows Queens. Born in Brooklyn, Ballenas moved to Queens as a toddler in 1965 and never left. “Everything in Queens fascinated me,” he says. A history teacher at the Immaculate Conception School in Jamaica Estates, he has written several books on local history, even involving his students in the research and fact-finding.

 

Through Arcadia Publishing’s “Images In America” series, Ballenas has published books on the adjacent Southeast Queens neighborhoods of Richmond Hill, Kew Gardens (and its famed cemetery, Maple Grove), Jamaica and Jamaica Estates. Although these places now look very different—Kew Gardens is mostly co-ops and high rises, while Jamaica Estates is home to large, Victorian mansions—they were originally part of one community, Jamaica. The process of how land was acquired from local Native American tribes and then parceled out to various developers is something Ballenas and his students in the Thomas Aquinas Honor Society explore in their books on Jamaica and Jamaica Estates.

 

I caught up with Ballenas after he visited York College this month for a lecture. I asked him about the Richmond Hill and Jamaica history that hides in plain view–in Queens’ topography, its architecture and the names we use everyday.

 

OC: What was the first historical project you researched?

CB: The first project was about the history of St. Benedict Joseph Church in Richmond Hill. I was told it was the only parish with that name. While researching, I kept coming across “Morris Park.” I was like why? This is Richmond Hill. I found out there were other towns—like Morris Park—that eventually got absorbed by Richmond Hill.

 

OC: Let’s start way back. What do geologists tell us about this area?

CB: The hills that make up the backbone of Long Island, north of Hillside Avenue–hence named–were created 10,000 years ago by a glacier, which moved huge boulders and large amounts of soil. When it eventually stopped, it deposited all those things. So from Hillside Avenue south to Jamaica Bay is level, because those things flattened everything out. In the 1870s, when people started settling in this area, the ocean breezes and cooling temperatures in the flat area were part of the area’s attraction.

 

OC: What is the most interesting architectural find in this area?

CB: We’ve found the Lefferts Farmhouse. The Lefferts family sold their farm to Mr. Albon Platt Man, the founder of Richmond Hill. The farmhouse may date all the way back to the 1830s, and it wasn’t in the same location–that was one of the most amazing things we found–people used to move houses!

And we also found the Captain Briggs farmhouse. Briggs was a veteran of the War of 1812, who retired to Richmond Hill to become a gentleman farmer. He won many awards for his pear orchards. You find these little remnants of the past poking out at you.

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Everything you never really wanted to know about Queens, New York. I knew about the glaciers, but I just love the gallows by Beaver Pond ... adjacent to Jamaica High School, my alma mater. They sure did pick the el primo location for the school, eh?

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Movie review: 'Oz the Great and Powerful'

Movie review: 'Oz the Great and Powerful' | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

There is no reason artists can’t revisit or even revise the most beloved of iconic works. Both the literary and theatrical versions of “Wicked,” for example, expanded on L. Frank Baum’s original witches of Oz in a creative and clever fashion that has connected with countless devoted fans.

 

And now comes Sam Raimi’s attempt to do the same.

 

If it only had a brain. Or a heart. Or nerve.

 

Come to think of it, Raimi does have some nerve, trampling all over Baum’s ideals of self-reliance and social equality — radical concepts in 1900, and apparently still so today.

 

Though Dorothy remains the most famous, Baum’s extraordinary series gave us many of the greatest heroines in children’s literature. (Disney could learn a thing or two from his powerful Princess Ozma.) In contrast, Raimi and his screenwriters, Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire, undermine every one of their female leads.

 

Baum — and director Victor Fleming, who introduced generations of viewers to Oz with his classic 1939 film — used the Wizard to warn us away from empty idols and foolish hero worship. Raimi enthusiastically embraces both of these notions.


His version is a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” in which a shallow, selfish magician named Oscar (James Franco) travels from Kansas to the Emerald City, where he is stunned to find himself greeted as a savior.

 

Oz is a land largely run by women, but unlike the ones in Baum’s books (or Fleming’s movie), these ladies are wide-eyed weaklings desperately waiting for the Wizard to solve all their problems.

 

The Wicked Witch of the West (Mila Kunis) is a love-crazy airhead defined entirely by her relationship with Oscar. One can only imagine what Margaret Hamilton, who created such an unforgettable villain in the first film, would think of this comedown.

 

Though also a commanding witch, her sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz), is helpless in the face of Oscar’s tricks. Even Glinda (Michelle Williams) spends more time boosting Oscar’s ego than trying to save her own people.

 

As for the cluttered, ultra-expensive 3D visuals, they are designed to recall the 1939 original. And they do. But mostly in the sense that they will make you nostalgic for actual cinematic magic.

 

The timeless cultural touchstones we all recognize — a poppy field, a gingham dress, the Yellow Brick Road — feel trotted out as soulless representations of commerce, a way to exploit our memories. It’s baffling that Raimi, who so deftly revived “Spider-Man,” has flattened his potentially thrilling family film with such a cynical approach.

 

Where Fleming’s version joyfully and imaginatively embraced new technology, this one wastes money (a reported $200 million) on computer-generated effects that feel less delightful than artificial and ostentatious.

 

The most noteworthy scene is a symphony of flowers that must have cost a fortune; Disney’s hand-drawn “Alice in Wonderland” did the same thing in far more charming fashion back in 1951.

 

Under the circumstances, it’s no wonder the cast is unable to lift this lead balloon of a movie. Franco’s slick self-awareness — which is reaching its expiration date — does perfectly represent the film’s superficial tone. (The less said about Zach Braff as a monkey sidekick, the better.) But it’s depressing to watch three excellent actresses diminished so thoroughly.

 

There are innumerable disappointments in Raimi’s return to a land we all love. But the most outrageous is the brazen claim that it’s based on Baum’s open-hearted books.

 

Don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors. There is nothing here that is great, or powerful. Worst of all, there’s nothing here that even feels like Oz.

Magic moment: Oscar is inspired by another wizard — Thomas Edison.

eweitzman@nydailynews.com



Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/movie-review-oz-great-powerful-article-1.1282054#ixzz2NHnqrruq

Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

I hated their version of "Alice In Wonderland" too. I know a lot of people thought it was really cool, but I am willing to put money on none of them ever having read the book. I don't understand Hollywood's passion for revisionist remakes that bear no resemblance to the original movie or the book on which it's based.

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Flypaper (2011): A Pleasant Surprise

Flypaper (2011): A Pleasant Surprise | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it
A while ago, Garry and I watched what is I am sure one the lowest grossing movies of all time. I don't say this lightly. In its theatrical run, it grossed exactly (according to both Wikipedia and I...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

It's funny. What else does a comedy need to be?

 

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Sharla Shults's curator insight, February 28, 2013 10:09 AM

I haven't watched this movie but judging from Marilyn's write-up @Serendipity, it is definitely one to see, especially if you like comedy. Sounds to me it just got a bad rap from the critics and possibly is a good movie. I must admit through the years I have seen movies that supposedly are #1 and they were not worth the film used in production! C'est la vie!

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Bringing the Party To You: The Avengers (2012)

Bringing the Party To You: The Avengers (2012) | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it
If you have been following the long trail of Marvel comic book hero films: Ironman (2008, 2010) , the Hulk (2008), Captain America (2011), and Thor (2011) - The Avengers is what you've been waiting...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride!

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Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in new film

Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in new film | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it
Deadline.com is reporting The Weinstein Company is in the final stages of a deal in which the company will acquire the domestic rights to Grace of…
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3 Guys I Movie 2013 Oscar Predictions

3 Guys I Movie 2013 Oscar Predictions | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it
3 Guys 1 Movie 2013 Oscar Predictions         Best Actor:    Griff:    Who I want to win: Bradley Cooper – I thought he was great in SLP and this was easily his best performance to date.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:

And the envelope, please?

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Flowchart: To Pee or Not to Pee? A Movie Theater Guide

Flowchart: To Pee or Not to Pee? A Movie Theater Guide | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it
To pee, or not to pee? That is the question. Everyone who has ever gone to a movie knows this predicament- whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of painfully watching a movie when you...
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Finally -- Someone who knows what's really important!

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‘The Last Stand’: Schwarzenegger brings tons of action and laughs

‘The Last Stand’: Schwarzenegger brings tons of action and laughs | Movies From Mavens | Scoop.it

Does life in a quiet town have excitement,action, or adventure? Well the quiet border town of Summerton Junction, Arizona is about to get the most thrilling event it has ever seen. A drug lord is planning an escape from prison that will bring him through Somerton to cross into Mexico.

 

Summerton is a small town that enjoys its football on Friday nights, enough that the whole town is following its high school team on the road this upcoming weekend. Seems like an easy job for the local Sheriff Ray Owens(Arnold Schwarzenegger – “The Terminator”, and “The Expendables 2”), and his team of three deputies. Will they be ready for the upcoming events that might change this small town forever?

 

While in Las Vegas, the FBI is transferring a prisoner from the court house to the federal prison. All the planned routes and security needed have been set in place and all systems are ready to go. Led by Senior Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker – “Phone Booth”, and “Platoon”), the team transfers their man by an armored van and a team of street cars to the prison facility.

 

What they do not know is a fool proof escape is planned and it will bring Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega – “Blackthorn”, and “Transsiberian”) and his team through Summerton like a huge freight train. Managed by an elite team of warriors, led by Burrell Thomas (Peter Stormare – “Armageddon”, and “Bad Boys II”), they will smash their way into Mexico. They’re heading straight into a team of country police that is holding something that might just stop them.

 

Director Jee-woon Kim brings an action packed film, along with some excellent comedy, that is guaranteed to entertain you. He keeps the action going, while making you laugh along the way. Mike Figuerola (Luis Guzmán – “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”, and “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3”) one of Ray’s most experienced Deputy’s gets you laughing with his one liner’s, while Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville – “Jackass”, and “The Ringer”) owner of the local gun museum and wannabe police officer keeps you rolling with his funny antics. I recommend this film to anyone who loves action and adventure, with a little comedy to keep you rolling along with the ride.

 

Final Grade: I give this a B+ for its fantastic action scenes, spectacular storyline, and its great comedy.

 

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Luis Guzmán, Peter Stormare, Eduardo Noriega, and Johnny Knoxville.

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Writer: Andrew Knauer (screenplay and story), Jeffrey Nachmanoff (rewrite), and George Nolfi (writing supervisor).

Runtime: 107 minutes (1 hour and 47 minutes)

MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, and language.

Genre: Action, Crime, and Thriller

Production Company: Lionsgate Entertainment

Release Date: January 18th, 2013

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