Shows 'N Tunes: Movie, Music, and Game Reviews

Public Enemies

Public Enemies (2009) RPublic Enemies with Johnny Depp is an entertaining historical account of John Dillinger's robberies in the 1930s. You'll recognize all the places in Indiana and Illinois (see the filming locations).

Great photography, acting, and storytelling. It is amazing to see the banks that were robbed and the number of robberies in a short period of time. Depp's human portrayal of Dillinger's personal life surprised me. I recommend this movie if you are used to gangster shootings in movies because it has violent/realistic action!

For more on Dillinger, visit the FBI's famous cases site; request the PBS documentary Public Enemy #1 and visit the companion website; or check out the WGN TV website for articles, videos, and more.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) PG
Another Ben Stiller winner. Everyone will enjoy watching the authentic Smithsonian Museums' artifacts come alive! The story tells interesting historical facts about Amelia Earhart and General Custer.

I went to Washington, D.C., two years ago; therefore, the movie impressed me in that it was based on facts like the largest sea monster caught being at the Smithsonian and the use of the Air and Space Museum for action. Of course, you'll love seeing Abe Lincoln come to life walking and talking...and having recently climbed all those stairs up the Lincoln Memorial, I was impressed that the movie used Abe to great advantage.

See this on DVD for lots of laughs. And don't forget to check out the original Night at the Museum.

Outsourced

Outsourced (2006) PG-13
Funny, right on target, and certainly a "hidden gem"!  See India through the eyes of a middle management American fellow who's job and department has been outsourced to India and travels there to train his replacement. Culture shock is everywhere and his life is forever changed, but not in the ways he expected. A delightful, endearing comedy.  I liked it better than Slumdog Millionaire.
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Whip It

Whip It (2009) PG-13
Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut is a movie with an ‘80s-style feel (maybe it’s because of the roller skates and the fashion style of the coach).

Bliss Cavendar (Juno star Ellen Page) doesn’t quite fit in with the debutante set in Bodeen, Texas. When she discovers roller derby, she finds something that’s her own (and against her parents’ wishes). The ladies might be rough-looking and it isn’t quite “normal,” but she had a passion for skating. Bliss (aka Babe Ruthless) has teammates like Smashley Simpson (Barrymore) and Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig). Her rival is Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis).

Also co-starring Jimmy Fallon (as announcer ‘Hot Tub’ Johnny Rocket), Marcia Gay Harden, and Daniel Stern. Based on the novel Derby Girl by Shauna Cross.

Children of Men

Children of Men (2007) R
Takes place at a future time when the only young child has just died.  Pregnancy is currently unheard of, making childbirth a distant memory.  It is a gripping tale of an idealistic woman who at that time and place can trust only one man to follow through with a plan and he must trust no one.  Is there any hope?  Both my husband and I thought it was great!

Starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine. Based on the 1993 novel by P. D. James. Check out reviews from Roger Ebert, Rolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly.
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(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer (2009) PG-13
In this hip dramedy (an official pick of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival), a young greeting card writer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls head over heels for his new coworker, Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). She just may be "The One." Through the 500 days of their relationship, the viewer watches these two characters grow with each other as they learn about life, love and hope. In a series of flashbacks the story unfolds hopping from sweet, romantic and funny moments to devastatingly, desperate and sad ones – all leading to the ultimate lesson that finding one's soul mate is no easy task. An entertaining musical scene is sure to leave you smiling.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) PG
Adapted from the book by the acclaimed author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox is by no means a movie only for children. In this Wes Anderson work, the art of stop-motion animation is at its finest. Fantastic Mr. Fox, voiced by George Clooney, and his wife (Meryl Streep) romp through the adventures of his reckless thieving ways. With intentional adult humor masked for those of the younger set, both young and old alike will enjoy the sly Mr. Fox and his court of characters.
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Jennifer’s Body

Jennifer’s Body (2009) R
After winning an Oscar for writing Juno, Diablo Cody enters the horror genre with her take on high school for those old enough to watch this R-rated comedic bloodfest. The ending doesn’t disappoint. Jennifer is “the body” that also wowed you in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Megan Fox). Also starring Amanda Seyfried and Adam Brody.

Check out reviews by Roger Ebert, in The Washington Post, and in TIME Magazine.

After Robots by BLK JKS

After Robots by BLK JKS (2009)
A South African band influenced by western rock/pop music, BLK JKS (pronounced Black Jacks) has tribal and modern influences and sings in four different languages (including English). The group has been compared to everyone from The Cure to Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Check out reviews in The Guardian, Pop Matters, and Billboard.com.
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The Blind Side

The Blind Side (2009) PG-13
This was such a touching story (with a lot of laughs) for all ages.

In her Academy Award winning role, Sandra Bullock plays the indefatigable Leigh Ann Tuohy. Tim McGraw plays her husband, while Kathy Bates has a supporting role as Miss Sue. The trio are united in their desire to help Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron).

Wondering about the true story behind the movie? Check out Jennifer's review on our Current Picks blog.

The Runaways

The Runaways (2010) R
In the 1970s, a groundbreaking all-girl band evolved into hugely successful rock ‘n rollers. Kristin Stewart (in a departure from Twilight) and Dakota Fanning (in a good transition from child actress to adult role) star as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. Both turn out great performances (and they did their own singing).

This biopic features funny parts, great rock and roll music, and the classic “Cherry Bomb.” The film is based on the book Neon Angel by Cherie Currie.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008) PG-13
A very moving story about the relationship between two young boys – one Jewish and one German – during World War II.

Based on the book by John Boyne. Check out reviews from Roger Ebert, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Times (London).
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Easy A

Easy A (2010) PG-13
Don’t miss this Golden Globe-nominated performance by Emma Stone as Olive, a high school student who uses rumors to enhance her popularity, to help a friend, and to make a little money on the side. Olive’s life begins to resemble the story she is studying in class, The Scarlet Letter, and she even sews a scarlet “A” to her school outfits. This teen comedy/romance includes Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as Olive’s impossibly wonderful parents and Lisa Kudrow as a guidance counselor who has a lot to learn from Olive about how to do the right thing.

Check out reviews in TIME Magazine and Salon.com.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) PG-13
Pilgrim (Michael Cera from Juno and Superbad) plays bass guitar in a Toronto garage band. He’s dating a high school girl, but meets his dream girl, Ramona Flowers, a punky American girl closer to his own age. The story is told as an allegory of life as a video game, complete with extra lives and the need to out-fight one’s enemies. Scott soon finds out he must defeat Ramona’s 7 evil exes before they can date. Not just another teen movie, the movie appeals to a much wider range of fans. Watch for an uncredited appearance by Thomas Jane (The Punisher) as one of the Vegan Police.

One of the writers of this film (Edgar Wright) also co-wrote the clever zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead (2004). Bryan Lee O'Malley wrote the graphic novels the movie was based on.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park (1993) PG-13Jurassic Park is a classic that gives you a look at what a dinosaur would look like, how it would move, and how it would sound. Some scientists are invited to a remote island theme park with living, breathing dinosaurs. The theme park erupts into chaos and turns deadly.

The dinosaurs are loose because the power goes out and it’s up to these scientists to survive the battle. Adventure awaits in every corner.

The movie is based on the book by Michael Crichton. Two thumbs up!

If you enjoyed this film, you may also like E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Jaws.