Dev Patel in "Lion"

MOVIE REVIEW (and FREE MOVIE PASSES): “Lion” is a Beautiful Gut Punch

Lion tells the true story of Saroo, who was only 5-years-old when he was lost and ended up thousands of miles away from his family. He spent the following months wandering the streets of Calcutta, searching for a mother whose name he did not know and a city he couldn’t properly pronounce. It took Saroo 25 years to finally get home, which he with the help of Google Earth and a great deal of luck.

Dev Patel stars in this true story but Sunny Pawar, who plays young Saroo, is the actor who stole my heart. It blows my mind when children, who are this young, are able to act so convincingly, and Pawar is consistently authentic. It makes watching him wander the streets, searching for food and dodging bad grown-ups, almost unbearable.

Saroo is eventually adopted and grows up living a charmed life in Australia. Despite this, he can never shake the ghosts of the mother and brother he lost. The second-half of Lion doesn’t offer the impact of the first (despite an ego-free and near perfect performance by Nicole Kidman), but it’s all barreling towards one phenomenal conclusion. –B

So, now you have to see Lion, right?

Well, you’re in luck because I have passes to see Lion EARLY and FOR FREE! Continue reading →

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Mommy-Movie-Review: “Kubo and the Two Strings” Gets 2 Very Different Reviews

I walked out of Kubo and the Two Strings last night emotionally exhausted and completely overwhelmed. I blew my nose, wiped my eyes, then turned to my 12 and 8-year-old daughters and asked, “So, what did you think?”

“I didn’t get it,” said the oldest with a grunt. Her little sister followed suit with, “Yeah, what was up with his hair???”

See, my kids and I agree on most things involving movies. We feel that screaming babies should be escorted out IMMEDIATELY and that popcorn should always be covered with butter-flavored imminent death. We agree that popcorn should also be thrown at people who use their phones during a movie, but we apparently DISAGREE when it comes to Kubo and the Two Strings. Continue reading →

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FREE MOVIES PASSES: See “Kubo & the Two Strings” ON ME!

The summary for Kubo and the Two Strings reads like an awesome old-school Bruce Lee movie. This is what I copied from IMDB.com: “A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.”

Oh yeah, and he battles demons using a magical instrument, called a shamisen.

See what I mean?

Kubo and the Two Strings is also the latest from Laika Studios, which brought us cool stop-motion projects, like The Boxtrolls and Coraline, AND it’s Matthew McConaughey’s debut performance in an animated feature. Pretty cool, right?

Even better, you can see it EARLY and FOR FREE so click HERE to snag those passes, then watch the trailer below. In fact, watch the trailer first, because how incredible does THAT look???

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The TOP 5 DVDs to Rent This Weekend

Well, it’s time to officially catch up on the REST of the big Oscar-Buzz movies because FOUR of them landed at Redbox this week. It’s perfect because you’ll probably spend Saturday and Sunday recovering from your St. Patrick’s Day hangover, anyhow.

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5. Bryan Cranston received a Best Actor nomination for his role as a blacklisted Hollywood writer, but obviously lost to DiCaprio. It’s funny because, as much as I LOVE Cranston, I found his portrayal of the cigar-chomping, prose-spouting Communist to be a little annoying. Trumbo is an excellent Hollywood history lesson though, and I love seeing Louis CK in anything so I still have to recommend it.

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4. I gave Crimson Peak a C+ when it came out (read my review HERE) and chided it for being predictable. Movies that aren’t worth the inflated ticket price at the theater though, are often much better at home. Crimson Peak is beautifully shot and though it’s a ghost story, it’s also crazy sexy. There’s even a tiny glimpse of Tom Hiddleston’s naked butt. I’d say more but I think that sealed the deal for many of you.

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3. I was honestly shocked that Kate Winslet didn’t win Best Supporting Actress for her role in this film. I was also surprised that Michael Fassbender was nominated for his role as Steve Jobs, but only because I assumed he’d be nominated for Macbeth (also awesome IF you like Shakespeare). The non-traditional layout of the story might be annoying for some but you can’t beat Aaron Sorkin’s tight script. You’ll end up hating Jobs, but loving the film.

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2. Carol tells the story of two women who meet and fall in love in 1950’s New York. Cate Blanchett plays the title character and Rooney Mara is her swooning girlfriend, roles they were BOTH nominated for. I didn’t love Carol as much as every other film critic in the world, but I did appreciate the sex scene. Oh yeah, Blanchett and Mara both nude-up and get busy and for that, the world is grateful. Rent Carol, but don’t try to watch it until the kids are in bed…for like, an hour.

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1. I gave The Big Short an A+, even though it made me feel profoundly stupid. Director Adam McKay went to great lengths to explain the collapse of the U.S. housing market in simple terms, but they still weren’t simple enough for me. That didn’t keep me from loving the smart-but-douchy Ryan Gosling and desperately disillusioned Steve Carell. No other film had a stronger, more star-studded cast last year (Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo) and not a moment of their screen time was wasted. Rent The Big Short first but prepare yourself. It will leave you feeling scared and stupid…and also craving Led Zeppelin.

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PODCAST: Hashing Out the 2016 Oscar Nominations on WCSX

I love talking to Trudi & Jim on WCSX in Detroit because they just let me GO. Other radio stations that I review movies for keep me under 10 minutes, then go back and edit me down. Some people have even told me to keep it under 3 minutes, which is next to impossible. My friends in Michigan, however, don’t give me time constraints which is why this little ditty clocks in at a half-hour. IT’S CRAZY, RIGHT? We discussed the highs and lows the the 2016 Oscar Nominations, and I had to pull the soap-box out a couple of times. You can listen to that by clicking HERE and make sure you check out Trudi & Jim any time you’re in Detroit, on 94.7 WCSX.

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PODCAST: Chatting About the BEST of 2015 Movies (including that little “Star Wars” pic) with Krys Boyd on “Think”

I joined Krys Boyd on NPR’s Think yesterday, to discuss Star Wars: The Force Awakens and some of the other best movies of 2015. We were also joined by Chris Vognar from the Dallas Morning News and KERA’s Stephen Becker. They are both film nerds of the highest order so the pressure to perform well was pretty high. I was up for the challenge though, because I relish any chance to talk about movies with those guys. Click HERE to hear the show, and listen carefully for the moment Chris Vognar calls the rest of us children and when I debuted the word “porn-y” on NPR.

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The DFW Film Critics Association Picks The BEST of 2015

Did I tell you that I’m a member of the DFW Film Critics Association? Of course I did, because I brag about it constantly. See, I started covering movies as a side-gig to my regular radio job. I never expected anyone to pay attention to my reviews, much less take them seriously. I was shocked when the DFW Film Critics Association approached me because some of my favorite critics EVER are members. I sit with them at the screenings now, and it feels like I’m sitting at the Cool Kids Table.

Anyhow, the DFW Film Critics Association voted over the weekend and released a list of our BEST of 2015. I’ll post them below, along with MY picks, which didn’t always make the cut. I’d like to add that we are presenting this list in honor of Philip Wuntch, a longtime critic for the Dallas Morning News who passed away this October. Track down The Lady Eve, one of his all-time favorite classics, and watch it with Wuntch in mind.

BEST PICTURE OF 2015- Spotlight
Okay, this one was tough for me because Spotlight was my favorite movie of the year until this past weekend, when I saw The Revenant. It did come in 2nd place and I was happy to see that one of my other favorites, Sicario also made it in the top 5. Continue reading →

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MOMMY-MOVIE-REVIEW: 3rd Graders Review the Movie “Pan”

It seems that film critics unanimously HATE the movie Pan. The last time I checked, it was getting 25% on the movie-review website Rotten Tomatoes, which means that it’s certified BEYOND ROTTEN. Pan isn’t a movie for “Film Critics” though. It’s a movie FOR KIDS, so what do they have to say about it? I was lucky enough to encounter a gaggle of 3rd graders right after they saw it and was able to get the low down from them. This is what THEY had to say about Pan, minus a few shrieks and giggles.

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FREE MOVIE PASSES: See “Pan” Starring Hugh Jackman

Pan is the big-screen origin story of Peter Pan, which promises to explain how he came to Neverland in the first place. If you’re anything like my daughters and I, you’ve been WAITING for this movie for what seems like AGES. It was sometime last year when we first saw the Pan trailer and excitedly whispered “WE HAVE TO SEE THAT,” to each other. The release date was repeatedly pushed back (not usually a good sign) but Pan is finally coming to theaters October 9th. You get to see it before everyone else though and for FREE because you know ME! Just click HERE to grab your passes and then watch the trailer below. Oooo, and who is that foxy, young Captain Hook???

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