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Movie Review: New Year’s Eve

Mike Finkelstein was getting ready for the New Year and needed some inspiration. Suddenly, he saw previews for a new holiday film that was directed by Garry Marshall and filled to the brim with celebrities. He decided that that would be his inspiration for the amazing night. Here is his review of New Year’s Eve.



Mike Finkelstein was getting ready for the New Year and needed some inspiration.  Suddenly, he saw previews for a new holiday film that was directed by Garry Marshall and filled to the brim with celebrities.  He decided that that would be his inspiration for the amazing night.  Here is his review of “New Year’s Eve”.

PLOT: The intertwining love and life stories of many, many people on New Year’s Eve, 2011.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  Okay.  I get it.  There is something about the holidays that gives us a certain warm feeling inside.  And on those holidays, there are hundreds of stories about love and life and happiness to tell.  But damn it, when you try to cram in every one of those stories into a single movie, it just doesn’t work.

NEW YEAR’S EVE is Garry Marshall’s unofficial sequel for VALENTINE’S DAY…a film seemingly created when studio execs ate the ensemble concept of PARIS, JE T’AIME, digested it twice over, and crapped out a movie.  Yes, Marshall probably had his heart in the right place: tell a bunch of love stories to get across the real feelings behind the holiday, but it was too overwhelming for its own good.  And despite all the criticism and bad reviews, someone up there decided that NEW YEAR’S EVE would be a good idea.

Let’s count the issues, shall we?

First, NEW YEAR’S EVE attempts to tell no less than a dozen stories in a two-hour block, and with that, tells absolutely no story at all.  It’s ridiculous to think that these characters could possibly learn a lesson or end up for the better when they’re on screen for barely fifteen minutes each.  Oh, and when you’re on screen for that little amount of time, you could count on an absurd amount of clichéd lines and exposition as the writers desperately try to flesh out characters.

To add to that, all those underdeveloped characters I mentioned are played by the who’s who list of Hollywood celebrity.  Robert DeNiro Jon Bon Jovi, Ludacris, Hilary Swank, Lea Michelle, Zac Efron, Michelle Pfeiffer (wtf?), Halle Berry, Sarah Jessica Parker, and many many more are all roped into the film.  (I couldn’t stop smiling at the irony of seeing Cary Elwes as DeNiro’s doctor…kept thinking he was going to yell out “Game Over!”)  I don’t know if they signed deals with the devil, or just couldn’t resist a paycheck, but seriously…what the hell are they all doing in here?  The script sucks, the parts are barely there, and when every single actor is a highly paid celebrity, it’s kind of hard to think of them as real people and not just a bunch of rich friends going “Look!  We could make a movie together, get paid, and people will see it!  Tee hee!”

Next up: all the lessons.  A holiday movie usually gives us one or two big lessons to take home with us.  Not here.  Every five seconds, we have a new speech or confession or moment of clarity to learn from.  Maybe the first or the second one was decently inspirational, but after a while, it just became monotonous.  Two in particular (one with Hilary Swank and the other dealing with Bobby DeNiro) had my theater laughing out loud.

If you can’t already tell, the film suffers from a major case of overload in every way.  Besides a few treasured moments with Hector Elizondo, Jack McGee, and Sofia Vergara (all of whom have nothing more than extended cameos), there really isn’t anything very funny or emotional.  We have nice musical moments, but they’re all hysterical to watch because they’re so badly lip synced.  We have beautiful shots of Times Square, but wait…they are destroyed by Warner Bros advertising in-film with huge billboards for SHERLOCK HOLMES 2 (absolutely stupid and self indulgent…stop trying so hard for cheap advertising…it just makes the audience hate the movie even more).  We basically sit, stare at our watches, and wait to walk out of the theater.

New Year’s Eve is a time of joy in many people’s lives.  When the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, it inspires people to start anew.  I’m sure that on that magical night, there are hundreds of stories to tell that would warm our hearts.  NEW YEAR’S EVE tries to do that and fails miserably.  Besides a few tiny moments that made me chuckle, I felt my mind slowly shutting down.  Again, I know that Garry Marshall was trying to get a feeling across, and I respect him for trying, but please…let’s not get to COLUMBUS DAY, or  CHRISTMAS DAY or PRESIDENT’S DAY…


Mike’s LIKES:

1) HECTOR ELIZONDO: I have to admit that I definitely chuckled at this sweet old man.  He was one of the few great parts in VALENTINE’S DAY, and he delivers here with his subtle foreigner.

2) JACK MCGEE: Oh, the old, horny grandpa…

3) SONGS: Yes, there were moments that the music drew you in, and you were in the spirit of the moment.  And then…(see DISLIKE #4)


1) TOO MANY CELEBRITIES FOR ITS OWN GOOD: When there are 30 celebrities in one film, some of which barely get five lines to enjoy their moment and most of which have horrible exposition in the dialogue, it’s pretty hard to think of this as anything near real.

2) CLICHÉ: How many clichéd moments could fit into a single movie?  I’ll let you find out.

3) INSPIRATION CRAMMED: If you could have an audience leave a movie with one lesson, that’s all you need.  You don’t need to cram 15 lessons down their throats.  They all get jumbled up and lost in each other, and then they get nothing.

4) SONGS: Every song was lip synched horribly.  Every moment that you could enjoy turned out to be so fake instead.  I’ve seen soap operas and Hallmark films with better ADR than that.


1) Halle Berry was originally cast in Katherine Heigl’s role, but had to drop out due to her custody battle with her ex. After the custody was resolved, she was again cast, but now as Nurse Aimee.

2) Reese Witherspoon was offered a role but turned it down, while Penelope Cruz auditioned for a role.


REVIEW: “Sing Street” Will Put a Song in Your Heart… and Your iPod



“I have just seen an instant classic.”

That’s what I said to myself as I left the theater, with the music and adrenaline of “Sing Street” still coursing through my veins.

It’s the kind of movie you want to turn around and see again, immediately. Right after you download the soundtrack. Yes, it’s that good.

Haven’t heard anything about it? I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t have known about this film either, except that my Regal Crown Club card finally paid off in the form of free tickets to an advanced screening. (Never mind the $25 popcorn.) Anyway, let’s watch!

Hooked yet? You will be.

Irish writer/director John Carney (“Once,” “Begin Again”) has conjured a nearly perfect coming-of-age tale set in 1980s Dublin. Think “The Commitments meets “Sixteen Candles meets “Footloose,” but all in one glorious package that manages to be both fresh and nostalgic at the same time. Drawing from his own teenage years at the real Synge Street school, Carney avoids the trap of creating a pure fluff piece by infusing the story with real heart.

A large part of that is due to the breakout talent and hero of Sing Street,” 16-year-old Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. As “Connor Lalor” navigates the tricky currents of a new school, family drama, and first love, Walsh-Peelo is heartbreakingly earnest, predictably awkward, and unexpectedly optimistic. Everything about his performance rings true. No small feat, considering that this is his acting debut.

Thanks to Carney’s non-actor, open casting approach, Walsh-Peelo is also joined by some equally promising new faces. Lucy Boynton is luminous as his love interest, “Raphina,” and Mark McKenna is quietly compelling as Conor’s songwriting partner, “Eamon.”

One of the most satisfying pairings, though, is anchored by the more experienced Jack Reynor (“Transformers:Age of Extinction”).  He shines as Conor’s older brother, “Brendan.”  Dealing with the angst of his own stalled dreams, Brendan tackles his brotherly mentoring role with gusto. Conor soaks up the advice like a ruddy-cheeked sponge, then begins to find his own way as his confidence grows.  Rarely do we see the underlying affection between two brothers played so simply and honestly,  so the relationship between Conor and Brendan is a lovely surprise.

The other undeniable star of “Sing Street” is the music.  While the story could have easily been told with the band only performing covers of ’80s hits,  Carney had a bigger vision for the film.  He collaborated with Scottish songwriter Gary Clark to craft 8 original tunes that not only add layers of light and shade to the storyline, but could be stand-alone chart toppers today.  From the gleefully retro “The Riddle of the Model,” to the Cure-tastic “Beautiful Sea,”  to the EMO ballad “To Find You,”  there’s something for everyone. Welcome to your summer soundtrack, people.

There are few darker notes to the plot, and the ending feels slightly of place, but in general “Sing Street” will leave you feeling as light and fizzy as a packet of Pop Rocks.

The movie poster reads: “Boy Meets Girl. Girl Unimpressed. Boy Starts Band.”  That’s it in a nutshell, of course, but happily, this film is so much more.

SING STREET opens in New York April 15th, and is in theaters nationwide on April 29th.






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Celebrate The Fourth With Our Picks For Great American Movies!

What makes a film distinctly American? Sometimes it recollects the spirit of our patriotism, and other times it is so iconic and popular that it defines an entire generation of our culture. Here are our picks for some great American movies! Why not celebrate your Independence Day holiday by popping up some popcorn and enjoying one?



What makes a film distinctly American? Sometimes it recollects the spirit of our patriotism, and other times it is so iconic and popular that it defines an entire generation of our culture. Here are our picks for some great American movies! Why not celebrate your Independence Day holiday by popping up some popcorn and enjoying one?

It’s impossible to list them all… this is just a handfull! Scroll down and tell us what your favorites are!!!

Let’s start at the beginning!

Do you have what it takes to watch a black and white classic? (Don’t break my heart by replying if the answer is no.) Yankee Doodle Dandy is a 1942 classic starring James Cagney – telling the story of the great entertainer George M Cohan. He’s the man behind the songs “The Yankee Doodle Boy” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”  A true classic with distinctly American music and showmanship. Watch the trailer!

There’s something about the fifties and sixties that still plucks at the nostalgic heartstrings of America. And yet, two of the most iconic movies about that period were actually shot decades later, with a heartfelt look back at those times.

Both American Graffiti and Grease come to mind. While American Graffiti can take bragging rights for bringing us more breakout stars, (and being written and directed by George Lucas), Grease seems to enjoy more clout as a family friendly favorite.

1986 was a  good year for Tom Cruise, and a good year for movies. Top Gun starred Tom Cruise stars as a student at Top Gun Naval Academy. It sparked a sense of patriotism, and the continued ascent of Cruise’s career. (If you’re watching with your kids, you might wanna skip ahead once you start hearing the song “Take My Breath Away.” Love scene ahead! Still, some might argue it’s pretty tame by today’s standards.)

Forrest Gump (1994) proved not only to be an excellent movie, but also an impromptu history lesson.
The story follows an unlikely hero (played by Tom Hanks) as he journeys through life, finding himself witnessing (and sometimes even influencing) a series of historic events, but is largely unaware of their significance. A true classic.

Before the luster of Mel Gibson had worn off, he portrayed Benjamin Martin, a man who becomes embroiled in the Revolutionary War. The late Heath Ledger plays his son, who fights in the Continental Army.

The most recent of patriotic classics is 2012’s Lincoln. Daniel Day Lewis delivers a flawless performance as our 16th President under the directorial brilliance of Steven Spielberg. A new classic for the ages.


For more movies updates, follow @BrianBalthazar on twitter!

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Movie Reviews

MOVIE REVIEW- WORLD WAR Z Is a Messy, Relentless Zombie Horror Flick That Really Works

Check Out Steven’s review for one of the biggest surprises of 2013, the epic zombie flick WORLD WAR Z.



world-war-z-posterWORLD WAR Z

Paramount Pictures

Director- Marc Forster

Starring-Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale. Abigail Hargrove, Sterling Jerins, David Morse, David Andrews.

Steven’s Quick Review- Yes its production was messy, but WORLD WAR Z might be the biggest surprise of the summer movies in 2013. Thanks to relentless action, a number of good scares, and an on-target performance from Brad Pitt, WORLD WAR Z is an excellent zombie film. Even though it is barely based on its source material, Damon Lindelof’s rewritten third act will keep audiences guessing and add some scares to your summer movie slate.

Steven’s Review- Brad Pitt has become the kind of actor who now only does movies he truly wants to do, and only takes roles that challenge him. So when Pitt and his Plan B studios initially won the rights to Max Brooks bestselling novel WORLD WAR Z the options were endless. Yet from the start of production the movie had issues, between the initial script lacking invention, a director in Marc Forster (QUANTUM OF SOLACE) who was found it difficult to make important decisions and the very public spat between Pitt and Forster that nearly sidelined the film indefinitely.  There were also the on-set issues, besides the arguments between the actor and director, there were problems on set in Hungary when government officials stormed the set and removed live weapons. Also, forced re-shoots that moved WWZ from a winter release to a summer tentpole. It’s easy to assume WORLD WAR Z was doomed from the start. But something happened along the way, something that shocked plenty during our screening of the film in May. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Pitt, Forster, and crew actually made a darn good zombie flick. With help from Damon Lindelof (“Lost”, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) who came to the rescue and reworked an ending  after the studio deemed the initial conclusion was not good enough for release.  Following Lindelof’s changes and a massive marketing campaign Brad Pitt’s newest pet project was ready to show the world.

WORLD WAR Z the book takes place in a post zombie war setting, when a journalist and U.N investigator goes all over the globe talking to survivors and getting their stories.  The film adaptation written by Drew Goddard (CABIN IN THE WOODS), Matthew Michael Carnahan (STATE OF PLAY), J. Michael Straczynski (THOR) and Damon Lindelof  has little to nothing to do with Brooks acclaimed novel. We begin meeting Gerry Lane(Pitt) , a former UN investigator who lives with his family somewhere outside Philadelphia.  Within 5 minutes of the opening credits, we are thrown into a full on zombie invasion, with riots in super markets and speedy zombies chasing people down. WWZ Starts off with a bang. Gerry’s wife Karin(“The Killings” Mireille Enos), and his daughters Constance(Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) desperately leave the city and head towards New York, finding themselves in the streets of  Newark, New Jersey where they pick up supplies and await a helicopter pick-up thanks to Gerry’s old friends at the United Nations.

WORLD WAR Z is in no way a perfect movie; every now and then it finds itself deep into horror cliché, only to drag itself out with one big sequence after another. Pitt carries the film as he finds himself in worse situations every moment, but without being totally indestructible (meaning as an audience you never quite know whether Gerry Lane will make it out alive). Pitt’s performance feels dressed in reality, while he searches the globe for reasons why this zombie apocalypse is happening, worries for his safety and hopes to return to his family.

WORLD WAR Z is a suspenseful zombie flick that contains a few scares, but has the advantage of almost never slowing down.  The filmmakers found a way to protray a lot of violence and still receive a PG-13 rating – they show you enough death and destruction without maimed bodies and severed limbs. I enjoyed the fast paced nature of WWZ and the fact it never drags, it allows characters to develop and story to move forward without forsaking the zombie action fan in all of us.

As far as adaptations go, WORLD WAR Z could be considered one of the worst, it barely contains any connection to Max Brooks brilliant novel, other than a few characters names and one or two plot points. As far as summer surprises, WORLD WAR Z is a welcome break from comedies and super hero flicks that take up most of our time. But the pressure is on: it needs to bring in $500 million dollars to turn a profit for everyone involved. I enjoyed WORLD WAR Z and hope they can find a way to make some cash, so we can get more zombie action just like it.

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