Monday, January 30, 2012

Short Review: Red Tails

Grade: A-

Based on the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen, an all African-American crew of WWII fighter pilots.

Great movie. Fantastic action scenes. Great story. Writing is shaky at points. Top notch cast.

Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Nate Parker, Tristan Wilds, David Oyelowo, Ne-Yo and more.

Attention span must last 2 hours 5 minutes to enjoy.

Short Review: The Grey

Grade: B

A group of oil rig workers crash in the middle of Alaska and fight for survival.

A fun survival thriller. Interesting story. Ending might upset some people.

Liam Neeson, Durmot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts and more.

Attention span must last 1 hour 57 minutes to enjoy.

Podcast: Episode 39

Head over to to hear the latest episode of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting, the official podcast of Cucu for Movies.

In this episode they discuss the movies The Grey (in theaters now) and Red Tails (in theaters now), there was no Netflix movie this week, sorry. They also discuss Man on a Ledge, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, We Bought A Zoo, Death Race 2, Snatch, Crank, Real Genius, Oscar nominations, Val Kilmer, Galaxy Quest is the best Star Trek movie, great actions stars who do shitty rom-coms, Guy Pierce is awesome, Space Prison: The Movie, a possible new Monty Python movie? and so much more!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Short Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Grade: B-

A young boy wanders the streets of New York City by himself trying to find the lock that matches a key left behind by his father who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Good story. Interesting premise. Extremely manipulative. Great cast that does virtually nothing.

Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow, John Goodman, Viola Davis, Jeffery Wright and more.

Attention span must last 2 hours 9 minutes to enjoy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Short Review: Man on a Ledge

Grade: B-

An escaped felon threatens to jump off a building in order to gain an audience so he can prove his innocence.

Better than expected. Good story with some fun twists. Satisfying ending.

Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris, Jamie Bell, Genesis Rodriguez, Anthony Mackie and more.

Attention span must last 1 hour 43 minutes to enjoy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Short Review: Underworld: Awakening

Grade: B

Selene wakes up in a lab after 12 years and now must uncover a conspiracy in a world where humans now hunt lycans and vampires.

Surprisingly good movie. Very entertaining with some really fun action scenes. Plot is a little loose but who cares, this is how werewolves and vampires are supposed to be. No sparkling.

Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James and more.

Attention span must last 1 hour 28 minutes to enjoy.

Short Review: Haywire

Grade: B

A black ops soldier for hire is betrayed by her employer and seeks revenge in order to clear her name.

A fun action thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh. The fight scenes are great. Story is nothing new but still very enjoyable.

Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Angarano, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender and more.

Attention span must last 1 hour 33 minutes to enjoy.

84th Oscar Nominations

Go to to see the complete list of nominations.

I just want to make a few comments about the nominations.

The Good:

First and foremost I would like to say that I am extremely happy that Melissa McCarthy got a best supporting actress nomination for Bridesmaids. Usually the Academy skips movies like Bridesmaids and she was the best part of that movie and it was one of my favorites of the year.

Bridesmaids was also nominated for best writing which is awesome.

Rooney Mara gets a much deserved Best Actress nomination.

Really glad that Jonah Hill was nominated Best Supporting Actor for Moneyball as that was a great performance and unlike anything he has done before.

Rango was by far the best Animated movie of the year, glad to see it's nomination and glad Cars 2 was not nominated.

Directing category looks pretty good this year. Lots of competition and I don't know at this time who I would pick to win this one.

Glad to see "Man or a Muppet" written by Bret McKenzie nominated for best original song. A bit surprised there are only 2 nominations in that category.

If for no other reason than the perfect/eerie sound of teeth scattering across the floor in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo does that movie deserve to win Best Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.

9 movies for best picture this year and they all seem like quality movies.

I'm glad that comedies weren't completely ignored this year with 2 nominations going to Bridesmaids and 4 nominations, including Best Picture, going to Midnight in Paris.

The Bad/Snubs:

I cannot believe that 50/50 did not get ONE nomination. That movie was amazing and perfect in every way. Joseph Gordon-Levitt deserves a best actor nomination. It deserves a Best Writing nomination and, in my opinion, a Best Picture nomination.

Michael Parks should have gotten a nomination for Best Actor for his performance in Red State but I knew that movie would be ignored. It was the best and most chilling performance I think I've ever seen and even if you don't like the movie it is hard not to like that performance.

Albert Brooks should have gotten a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Drive.

I know it's a source of controversy but Andy Serkis was amazing as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and should have gotten a nomination. It might not be his face but it is his performance.

Every year I insist on seeing every movie nominated for best picture and most years that is just fine. I have to say, I am really upset that I have to sit through War Horse this year. I was really hoping to avoid that.

Kind of surprised that given all of its other nominations that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo did not get a Best Picture nomination.

I also feel that We Bought a Zoo should have gotten some nominations. Best Writing in the very least.


Young Adult was completely overlooked. Patton Oswalt should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Charlize Theron for Best Actress. As well as possible nominations for Best Writing and Directing.

Lars Von Trier overlooked for Best Director.

Tilda Swinton should have been nominated for Let's Talk About Kevin.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Podcast: Episode 38

Head over to to hear the latest episode of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting, the official podcast of Cucu for Movies.

In this episode Michael and Russell discuss the movies Underworld: Awakening (in theaters now), Haywire (in theaters now) and Kill the Irishman (available on Netflix Streaming). Unfortunately this episode was cut short, only 20 minutes, due to illness.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Short Review: We Bought A Zoo

Grade: A

After his wife's death, a father decides to buy a new home that is also a zoo that needs to be renovated and re-opened.

Great writing. Amazing acting. Very touching story. The little girl is adorable.

Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Hayden Church, Elle Fanning, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones and more.

Attention span must last 2 hours 4 minutes to enjoy.

Short Review: Contraband

Grade: C-

A former smuggler must pull off one last job in order to protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord.

Descent story. Some interesting turns. Pretty disappointing. Proves that Pollock without a frame is just a dirty tarp.

Mark Wahlberg, Kate Winslet, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster and more.

Attention span must last 1 hour 50 minutes to enjoy.

Podcast: Episode 37

Head over to to hear the latest episode of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting, the official podcast of Cucu for Movies.

In this episode Michael and Russell discuss the movies Contraband (in theaters now) and Transylvania 6-5000 (available on Netflix Streaming). They also discuss Monsters Inc., Green Hornet, Dodgeball, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Wes Anderson movies, The trailers for Lock-Out, Casa De Mi Padre, Moonrise Kingdom and Salmon Fishing in Yemon, 2012: The Year of the Re-release and so much more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Short Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Grade: A-

During the days of the cold war an MI6 agent is determined to find the traitor hiding amongst their ranks.

Great story. Great writing. Amazing performances. A bit slow going.

Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Toby Jones and more.

Attention span must last 2 hours 7 minutes to enjoy.

Short Review: The Adventures of Tintin

Grade: B+

A young investigator stumbles upon a secret that leads to a sunken treasure.

Very fun. Great action scenes. Interesting story. Many funny moments. A bit ridiculous at times.

(Voices) Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and more.

Attention span must last 1 hour 47 minutes to enjoy.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Podcast: Episode 36

Head over to to hear the latest episode of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting, the official podcast of Cucu for Movies.

In this episode Michael and Russell discuss Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (in theaters now) and Bunraku (available on Netflix Streaming). They also discuss Toy Story 2, Burke and Hare, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, The trailers for G.I. Joe: Retribution, Jack the Giant Killer, Haywire and Safe, how do some movies get such great casts?, the “trailer” for the Oscars, being entertained at movies, good award show hosts, snooty film watchers and more.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Best of 2011

Well, it’s a new year so I thought I would take this time to look back at all the movies of 2011 and give my opinion of the best movies of the year. I would say that it was a pretty good year for movies, if you looked hard enough. So here they are, the 20 best movies of 2011:

Honorable mentions: Super, The Help, Our Idiot Brother, Thor, Win Win, Attack the Block, Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows, Drive, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Beginners, The Way.

20. The Muppets

I don’t really like Jason Segel but I have to admit that he wrote and helped make an incredible Muppets movie. This movie is hilarious from start to finish and the songs, written by Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie, are great. The Muppets is an extremely enjoyable movie for people of all ages.

19. X-Men: First Class

This sequel/reboot of the X-Men franchise is fascinating. It takes place in 1962 and gives an interesting twist on the Cuban missile crisis. It shows the origins of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr as well as many of the other X-Men. It is really well written and Matthew Vaughn did a great job of directing. One of the better superhero/comic book movies ever made.

18. The Guard

An unorthodox Irish policeman and a by-the-book FBI agent must work together in order to bring down a drug smuggling ring. Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle are great together in this movie. Mark Strong does a great job as the head of the drug smuggling ring. This movie is very funny as well as really well written.

17. Bridesmaids

One of the funniest movies to come out in years and to top it all off it shows that there are many funny women out there who are constantly over looked. The whole cast is great but Kristen Wiig really gets a chance to show off just how funny she can be. However, Melissa McCarthy, of Gilmore Girls fame, manages to steal every scene she is in.

16. Tucker and Dale vs Evil

A great twist on the horror genre. What starts out as a typical movie about a bunch of college students going camping in the Appalachian Mountains quickly turns into a great comedy about miscommunication and misjudgment. Tucker and Dale are two hapless hillbillies just trying to fix up their summer home. One of the college girls knocks herself unconscious while swimming in the lake and they save her but her friends think they are going to kill her. So they try to rescue her but one by one end up killing themselves and Tucker and Dale think they are all part of a suicide cult. A great movie that is written well and Alan Tudyk and Ty Labine do a great job as the titular characters. I cannot recommend this movie enough.

15. Hugo

I love movies that love movies. This movie suffered from really poor advertising. It is an extremely well made movie that looks beautiful. About a young boy who lives in the walls of a train station fixing clocks meets an old filmmaker. This movie shows that magic of movies from the early 1900s. Ben Kingsley is great as the famed George Méliès. This movie tells a great story and is a lot of fun to watch. Just don’t see it in 3D.

14. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

I love the Mission: Impossible movies and while this isn’t quite the best one, it is really close. It is loaded with tons of amazing action scenes and plenty of humor sprinkled throughout. Tom Cruise is back and just as entertaining as always as Ethan Hunt. Simon Pegg gets a more substantial role this go around and handles it really well. Jeremy Renner is really good in it. Brad Bird does a great job with his live action directorial debut. This is easily one of the most entertaining movies of the year.

13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2

The epic final chapter in the Harry Potter franchise gets a spectacular conclusion. It does a great job wrapping everything up. The battle at Hogwarts is a spectacular sight to see. On top of all the great visuals it manages to have a deep and compelling story. Alan Rickman’s part in the movie as Snape is amazing and heart wrenching, it is one of the best performances of the year. Warwick Davis is great as Griphook. It is a very satisfying conclusion to a great series.

12. Paul

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play two sci-fi geeks traveling across America when they encounter a real life alien (voiced by Seth Rogan). This movie is absolutely hilarious from start to finish. It is loaded with references to all of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time. On top of that it is essentially a love note to people like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The supporting cast all add a lot to the movie as well.

11. The Artist

French writer/director Michel Hazanavicius made a bold and daring movie by making a silent film in 2011, but it completely works. Despite its lack of dialogue, The Artist tells a compelling and emotional story. The two leads, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, are wonderful. Jean Dujardin is amazing as a silent film actor who refuses to change with the times and start doing “talkies.” I was completely sucked into this movie from the start and never lost interst. It also features John Goodman, James Cromwell and Missi Pyle.

10. Captain America: The First Avenger

I have been waiting quite some time for there to be a good live action version of this character to be made. Marvel managed to make an amazing movie out of Cap. It was great that they kept the Cap in WWII fighting Nazis and Hydra. Chris Evans was a great choice to play Captain America and he did it perfectly. Hugo Weaving was great as the evil Red Skull. On top of that Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci and Sebastian Stan all did a great job at helping tell the origins of Captain America. Visually great with a fun and interesting story, this is one of my personal favorite Comic Book movies of all time.

9. Young Adult

Written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman, this is an outstanding movie. It starts out like a pretty typical romantic comedy about a woman who wants to win back her old high school sweetheart. But when she returns to her hometown things quickly take a turn as we find out that she is mentally deranged. Charlize Theron gives the best performance of her career and she managed to do it without altering her appearance a la Monster. She is funny yet disturbed and depressing at times. Patton Owsalt gives an incredible (and dare I say award worthy) performance as someone whom Charlize's character used to go to high school with. I really enjoyed everything about this movie and can’t recommend it enough.

8. The Descendants

The latest movie from Alexander Payne tales a very surreal story about a man whose wife is in a coma and he then discovers that she has been having an affair and on top of that he is trying to get his daughters to understand him and everything that is happening. It is a very powerful movie with some incredibly real moments. I loved every moment of this movie. I will say, though, that the best part of the movie is George Cloony’s spectacular performance. Just when I thought the man couldn’t get any better he managed to pull this one out.

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher’s take on the blockbuster book is a great movie. I was very glad to see that he didn’t hold back at all on the book’s, at times, tough subject matter. Daniel Craig did a great job as the lead character, Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist hired to find a killer. Roony Mara, however, is the reason to see the movie as she plays Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. The movie starts out with one of the best opening title sequences ever and then moves along at a breakneck pace. Its run time is a little over 2 and a half hours but the movie is so good you don’t even realize it. This is one of the rare instances where the movie is better than the book, in my opinion.

6. Midnight in Paris

This is easily my new favorite movie from writer/director Woody Allen. When I first saw the movie I knew nothing about it but was blown away by its premise and everything that happens in it. It is a very charming movie and all of the people in it are just great. I love the characters, I love the beautiful scenery, I love the movie’s sense of humor, I just love this movie.

5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I have been a Planet of the Apes fan my whole life. I enjoy all 5 original Planet movies. So I was pretty excited about this movie and am glad to say that it more than exceeded my expectations. It makes the idea of an Ape uprising seem like a very real thing. It is a very emotional movie and by the end of it you are cheering on the Apes to overcome the evil humans. Andy Serkis gives an amazing performance as Caesar, the lead chimpanzee. James Franco and John Lithgow are great as well and so it the rest of the cast. This movie makes an excellent addition to the franchise.

4. Moneyball

I don’t like baseball… at all, which is why I find it amazing that I loved this movie so much. Part of that is Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian’s spectacular script. The writing in the movie really gets you into the story in a big bad way. Brad Pitt gives one of the best performances of the year as Billy Beane and Jonah Hill pulls a wonderful performance out of nowhere. I could not get enough of this movie and have seen it multiple times already and have been itching to see it again soon.

3. Red State

Writer/director Kevin Smith takes his career in a completely different direction with his latest movie. He makes an awe-inspiring movie the likes I have never seen before. It is loaded with so many twists and turns that every time you get comfortable it feels as though the rug is being pulled out from under you . It is terrifying but not scary, it is humorous but not a comedy. It tells a dark tale of fundamentalism gone wrong in the Midwest. If for no other reason, see this movie for Michael Parks’ performance as Abin Cooper, it is incredible and my favorite performance of the year. It also features great performances from John Goodman, Steven Root, Melissa Leo and more.

2. 50/50

This is the most compelling and emotional movie I saw all year not to mention it’s pretty funny. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is amazing as Adam, a 26 year old who finds out that he has cancer. Seth Rogan is great as his friend Kyle. This movie is the most honest representation of someone getting cancer that I have ever seen. There is no “hero” of the story and people act like real people. This is all a result of being written by Will Reiser who wrote the story based on his true story and experiences. This movie is just amazing and loaded with many great performances like Angelica Huston as Adam’s over protective mom.

1. Super 8

This was definitely my favorite movie of the year. J.J. Abrams actually got to work with Steven Spielberg while making is thank you note to the man. Super 8 plays out like an amazing mash up of E.T., Jaws and The Goonies. It is rare for a movie to find one halfway decent child actor but Abrams managed to find five incredible child actors. Everyone in this movie is just so good and so much fun to watch. It is another movie that loves movie as one of the main story lines is following the kids around while they make a zombie movie around a recent train wreck. With this movie I am completely sucked in and involved with the biggest smile on my face from start to finish, cannot get enough of it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Podcast: Episode 35

Head over to to hear the latest episode of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting, the Official podcast of Cucu for Movies.

In this episode Michael and Russell discuss The Adventures of Tintin (in theaters now), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (available on Netflix streaming) and A Bug’s Life. They also discuss Out Cold, Adventures in Babysitting, Beginners, Winter Passing, typical 80′s and 90′s movie plots, Andy Serkis and his many motion capture suits, how much they hate 3D, the cardboard cutout look of post conversion 3D, movies that use the same song too many times, poop jokes: funny or gross? and so much more.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Underrated Movies of 2011

There were a few movies released in 2011 that I feel were unfairly overlooked. This is a list of some of the movies I feel were better than people gave them credit for.

Fright Night

Most people seemed to be against this one simply because it is a remake of a cult classic. Well, I watched the original before going to see the remake and I have to say this remake is definitely better than the original. This one is a lot of fun. Colin Farrell is great as Jerry, the vampire next door. Anton Yelchin does a really good job as Charley, the boy who figures out that his neighbor isn’t who he seems. Not to mention how awesome David Tennant is as Peter Vincent, a Vegas magician and vampire hunter. This remake is much more enjoyable than the cheesy original.

Drive Angry

Most people don’t seem to like Nicholas Cage but I am a fan, especially of over the top roles like this one. This movie is about a man who literally escapes from hell in order to stop a crazy cult from killing is new born granddaughter. This is one of the most over the top ridiculous movies I have ever seen, and that is why I loved it. The action is non-stop and hilarious. Nicholas Cage is at his most outlandish and if for no other reason you should watch this movie for William Fitchtner’s role as “The Accountant.”

Adjustment Bureau

Based on a story by Phillip K. Dick, I thought this movie would be better received. I think Matt Damon was great in this movie as a politician on an honest streak who meets a charming and beautiful dancer, played by Emily Blunt. I really liked the concept that deals with fate and a supernatural government like agency that keeps track of everybody’s “destinies”. I was fascinated by this movie and loved every bit of it. I will admit that the conclusion is lacking a little but I couldn’t come up with a better ending so I guess I just don’t care.

Fast Five

Most people wrote this movie off because of its predecessors. I can understand their hesitation but I have to say that this is easily the best installment in the Fast and Furious franchise and is unlike any of the other movies. The rest of movies in the franchise are just loose stories intertwining between drag races. This fifth installment, while not a great movie by any means, is a fun action movie and plays out like a low rent Ocean’s Eleven, and I mean that in a good way.

Larry Crowne

I feel like nobody cared to see this movie and I don’t know why. It is a very charming, fun and funny movie. Tom Hanks stars as a man who loses his department store job because he never went to college, so he enrolls in a local college where he meets some new friends. Granted, if you are looking for “edgy”, this is not the movie for you. It is a delightful movie that has some very funny moments and some great characters.