Annie (2014) – Why the Bad Rating?

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Category: Family/Comedy
Actors: Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, David Zayas, Cameron Diaz, Zoe Margaret Colletti, Nicolette Pierini, Eden Duncan-Smith, Amanda Troya, Dorian Missick, Tracie Thoms, Mike Birbiglia, Stephanie Kurtzuba

Duration: 118 min
Rated: PG

You might Like this Movie if you enjoyed:
It Take Two (1995), Matilda (1996)

Long Story Short:
Annie is a foster kid dreaming of finding her true parents. When she crosses paths with the rich and eccentric Will Stacks, who is running for mayor her life changes drastically, because his advisor is suggesting to take her in to better Stack’s public image.

Review:
Annie is another remake of the beloved musical which has been brought to life for the third time in the past three decades: the first one was released in 1982 and the Walt Disney version came out in 1999. The twist in this one – I am sure you have noticed – the main characters are black.
Is that a bad thing? Not at all. It might actually be a welcome change to not see black characters in a tragic movie about slavery or drugs, which are usually the ones that get attention.

Does it mock the original movie version of Annie? According to some very hateful tweets it does, but I don’t think it does, if even, I believe it opens a door for all the other kids in the world who can identify themselves with the new Annie. Annie doesn’t have a color; Annie is a kid with hopes and dreams, and even though these dreams don’t seem to come true, she never gives up, and keeps a positive attitude about life. But patience, perseverance, and her kind heart eventually open the door of happiness for her.

Even if we don’t know the story, it is very easy to guess how this movie ends. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it a lot. It made me smile, laugh, and if I wasn’t a robot (most of the time) I even would have cried a little. I actually went to see it twice to show extra support, since I believe the bad reviews it received were absolutely unfair and made people stay away; some may have not given it a chance, because they felt like they disrespect the 1982- version if they go and see this one. Pure stupidity. It is a whole different take, set at present times and targeted to the newer generation.

Cameron Diaz – often mentioned as miscast – did a great job, especially towards the end. I have to admit, the evil foster mother doesn’t fit her very well, but her character had a soft side which made it perfect for her.
Fun Fact: Originally, Sandra Bullock was offered the role, but she turned it down since she dislikes musicals.

Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis are terrific and so much fun to watch. Quvenzhané is a superstar, and with only 11 years old I can see her competing with the big names, which is why she is nominated for a Golden Globe. One thing I have to criticize about her acting is that a few times I wished her facial expressions were a little stronger. In those few scenes it seemed like she got her role confused with the one of the girl in Beasts of the Southern Wild – another great movie, but a total different character. The blank faces worked there, but not for Annie.

Another character I enjoyed was Grace, played by Rose Byrne. Byrne played her part well, and is an amazing actress.

The songs are great, and even though the movie is almost two hours long it never gets boring.

Why did it get such a bad rating? I am guessing because everyone refers to it as “the new Annie”, not just Annie. It is normal that the new always gets compared to the old. While the old one was cute, the new one is more hip. And I am sure had they stuck more to the original, people would have wondered why it was even made. I think the skin color of the “new” Annie plays a significant part as well. It’s a shame that color still matters. We are all the same, no matter how we look.

Annie is a sweet, wonderful movie, and a great way to start the new year. It is also the perfect movie for the holidays. The last time I went to the movies on Christmas I watched Django Unchained and Les Miserables, so much for getting into the holiday spirit.

Stop comparing and enjoy this movie for what it is: A wonderful experience.

Rating: 7/10

Calling all Horror Film Lovers – An exclusive interview with acclaimed writer/ director Lauand Omar

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2014 was a bad year for horror movie fans; the hand-held-camera or documentary-style genre was probably at its peak and has hopefully reached its end. So how much longer do we have to wait to see a decent horror movie? What if I told you there is a chance that we will get see a horror movie with motivated and talented cast and crew, an original and very creepy storyline that is not just a cheap copy from other movies, and a breathtaking setting? I know you just heavily nodded full of excitement and asked “Who? What? When? Where?”

10369029_10154226642655322_5009651494962030355_oAcclaimed writer and director Lauand Omar already made a name for himself in the Middle East and North Africa and is about to take over Europe – France to be precise – with a new TV series.
One of his latest movies, Curse of Mesopotamia, will be released in the United States in Spring/Summer 2015. It is a horror movie based on a terrifying legend from Kurdistan.
The movie is about half way done. The crew started shooting the movie in Iraq when all of a sudden it came to an abrupt ending. Due to a crisis that involved Isys they had to leave the country, and are now in need of funds to finish the movie and spread the Curse of Mesopotamia.

It is up to you now to help them shoot the remaining scenes and present this interesting movie to the world. Before we continue, have a look at the creepy teasers that are out right now.

Did I promise too much??

I had the pleasure to interview Lauand Omar and find out more about this highly anticipated movie and Lauand himself.

How did you know about the legend of Kawa, and what made you come up with a story about him?
I’m Kurdish from Syria so I grew up celebrating Newroz with my family, every march, the Newroz celebration is like celebrating New Years for Kurds and Iranians and others from the region formerly known as Mesopotamia, parts of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey.
I always loved horror movies and the legend itself is about a Demon that tricked a King in to eating children’s brains, very creepy! Magic, Witches and Demons – I always thought a modern take on it would be fantastic! So I took the legend and played with it. My story plays with re-incarnation; it’s set in both the present time and the past. Also, the legend of Kawa has never been told, like so many other legends and stories from this region, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only film lover that is ready for something fresh and original.

How would you describe your directing style?
I’m a big fan of 70’s cinema. I would say my storytelling style is very character and dialogue driven. I’m not much into the quick cut style that has become more and more popular. I love long takes, where the characters take you on a journey with them, for that strong dialogue and great actors are needed.

Name three movies that inspired you to become a director.
I spent half my childhood in the video store annoying the owners to let me rent horror movies! The Omen was one of the first movies I remember that left a huge impact on me, and is still one of my all-time favorites. Also Rosemary’s Baby, a classic, copied so many times but no one has been able to get close to its magic. Oh, and also The Goonies (smiles)

Are there any directors you look up to?
I love David Lynch! I was hooked to Twin Peaks when it came out and still watch the DVD’s every now and then. Also, Mulholland Drive is one of my all time favorites. David Lynch is amazing, his characters are so interesting, so original. he has such a magical view on the dark side of life.
I also love Gregg Araki’s movies. Again, interesting characters, I love how he explores characters that are not considered mainstream, be it LGBT characters, troubled heroes or just plain out crazy Motherf****s. Nothing predictable with him.

Where did you grow up and who inspired you to be the person who you are today?
Life itself inspires me, my family, my loved ones. We had to leave Syria for political reasons when I was little and I grew up between the Middle East, Tunisia and Germany. Being a Kurd without a country, and moving all over the place kind of stuck to me. After Germany I lived in Mexico for 4 years, then went to film schools in the US and Canada. Then work has taken me to live in UAE and Morocco. I spent the last couple of years between France, North Africa and Kurdistan Iraq.

What’s after the Curse of Mesopotamia?
It’s hard right now to jump in to new projects, there is the fear of losing focus on finishing Curse of Mesopotamia, but it has been 4 month since we had to stop filming and things need time. For now I’m lucky to be able to work on 2 exciting series, one for France and one for Tunisia. I will be writing, Switchers and Aassas, which made a lot of noise and had huge success in Morocco and Algeria last year, Switchers becoming the most watched web series in all Africa and the Middle East, Aassas (Al Khamsa in Algeria) the first supernatural/comedy TV series for an arabic audience, currently in post-production, both directed by my co-creator Aksas Actarus.

Judging by the teasers I want to see a sequel. Do you plan on writing/directing a sequel?
OH YES! The Sequel is in the works. I shouldn’t say much yet, but be prepared to see Kawa fighting alongside one of your ancient hero’s maybe….Each part of the world has some legends that should be told. Finding the way to cross over from the past into the present and taking care of unfinished business is one of the main themes of the sequel I’m writing.

In my opinion 2014 was a horrible year for horror movie fans. As a horror movie lover, can you name or recommend any good scary movies that have been released this year?
You are right. I’m so bored of the same story told over and over again. I have been very busy this year but I tried to watch as many movies as possible. I stayed away from the sequels and remakes, and from what I have read and heard I didn’t miss out on much. The only movies I remember watching this year are The Canal, really really good! Also an indie called The possession of Michael King. It had some really creepy moments.

Tell us one interesting fact about you that no one would guess?
I’m an open book, whatever you guessed is probably true, and worse! (Laughs loudly)

What would it mean to you if the funds for the movie were covered?
Finishing the movie and getting it out there means everything! I have been trying to make this movie for 3 years now. And it will hopefully happen, one way or another. Having a script and trying to get funding is hard enough, having to stop in the midst of production after starting to see amazing footage is the real nightmare! Feels like a curse almost, but when you start a curse, you have to finish it. (smiles)
We are eying a LA or Morocco shoot to finish the remaining 3 weeks, all depending on when and how much of the required budget we can raise. We got what we needed most from Kurdistan Iraq, which are the 600B.C. scenes, most of them filmed in the 6000 year old castle Citadel. Now what is left are mostly the present day scenes, which could be shot anywhere. If all goes well we will be happy to present the world Curse of Mesopotamia early summer 2015.

Thank you, Lauand for this great interview!! I am sure I’m not the only one who can’t wait for the movie to be released!

TO DONATE AND HELP LAUAND OMAR AND HIS AMAZING TEAM TO FINISH CURSE OF MESOPOTAMIA PLEASE KLICK ON THE LINK BELOW.

http://igg.me/at/mesopotamia

And to finish this whole post, here’s a little sumary from the master himself, Lauand Omar:

Annabelle (2014) – Average horror movie with good Cast

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Category: Mystery/Horror
Actors: Annabelle, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodard, Kerry O’Malley, Brian Howe, Eric Ladin, Ivar Brogger, Geoff Wehner, Gabriel Bateman, Shiloh Nelson, Sasha Sheldon, Camden Singer, Robin Pearson Rose, Keira Daniels

Duration: 99 min
Rated: R

You might Like this Movie if you enjoyed:
Rosemarie’s Baby (1968), Insidious (2010), The Conjuring (2012)

Long Story Short:
After their home has been invaded by members of a satanic cult, a couple experiences supernatural activities that seem to be related to a vintage doll.

Review:
Annabelle starts off strong, with a few jump moments, some mystery and a little gore. After we have been introduced to the major plot, however, there aren’t following any surprises or twists any more.

We see cliché jump scares, people in bad situations not reacting in the brightest way at all, and an ending that was rather predictable than surprising or refreshing.

I have to be honest, I wished James Wan would have gone all out there and basically created a more evil and vicious doll than Chucky, I actually wanted the doll to chase people and kill without remorse, but maybe his budget wouldn’t allow those kind of special or CGI effects.

Don’t get me wrong, Annabelle is not a bad movie, it is probably one of the best horror movies that has been released this year – but 2014 was probably the worst year when it comes to horror movies – it is just nothing new.

I also enjoyed the acting a lot, especially Alfre Woodard did an excellent job, even though I didn’t like her character development as much, because it was just too predictable. But that’s not her fault.

Go rent Annabelle on a cold winter night and cuddle up on the couch with your significant other or a friend, or have a buddy night and order pizza and have some beers. Either way, it is not the worst you can do with your time.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Annabelle is based on the true story just like The Conjuring? But the plot of the movie itself was entirely made up, none of the main characters actually existed. The doll, however, existed and did some scary things to its owners. It is sitting in a wooden box behind a glass door in Monroe, Connecticut.

Here is a picture of the real doll and paranormal researchers Lorraine Warren:
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This and more interesting images and facts about Annabelle can be found on historyvshollywood.com

Rating: 6/10

Horns (2013) – Starts of promising, Ends in a huge Disappointment

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Category: Drama/ Mystery/ Fantasy
Actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Juno Temple, Kelli Garner, James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan, Heather Graham, David Morse, Michael Adamthwaite, Nels Lennarson, Don Thompson, Jay Brazeau, Alex Zahara, Kendra Anderson

Duration: 120 min
Rated: R

You might Like this Movie if you enjoyed:
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Long Story Short:
After being accused for his girlfriend’s gruesome murder, a man grows horns and realizes that they give him the power to find the person responsible for the death of the love of his life.

Review:
I was looking forward to see Horns, mainly because I loved the whole idea of it, and was excited to see Daniel Radcliffe in a movie that actually takes place at present times. Little did I know that this was going to be the biggest disappointment I had in a while.

The movie starts very odd and the script feels very cartoony especially the dialogues, but since the plot was interesting I was willing to overlook that. After 30 minutes I got frustrated with the main character and how he doesn’t use his “powers” in a smart way, but instead, runs around without a clue, transforming from what I thought was going to be the hero of the story, into an annoying cry baby.

This genre is definitely not Alexandre Aja’s strength, he should stick with directing horror movies. While this movie is advertised as a horror mystery it is more of an intense mystery drama with a few comedic elements. The acting seems forced and lifeless. There are no emotions, nor motives given to the characters, which is why they seem constantly confused, and at the end when the final showdown was supposed to happen, I was not even surprised that it fell flat.

The entire time I kept wondering if the book the movie is based on is just as bad. It was written by Stephen King’s son, so I would have expected something different.

I wouldn’t know who to recommend this movie to. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even know what to compare it with. I felt sorry for all actors involved since none of them couldn’t really show what they are capable off. Daniel Radcliffe to me is like Kristen Stewart: While I think he is good actor, it seems hard to find the right character for him to play due to his one dimensional performances. But maybe he hasn’t been given the right script yet.

Rating: 4/10

Sex Tape (2014) – Expect Nothing and You’ll be pleasantly Surprised

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Category: Comedy
Actors: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe, Nat Faxon, Nancy Lenehan, Giselle Eisenberg, Harrison Holzer, Sebastian Hedges, Timothy Brennen, Krisztina Koltai, Randall Park, Joe Stapleton, James Wilcox

Duration: 94 min
Rated: R

You might Like this Movie if you enjoyed:
The Sweetest Thing (2002), Bad Teacher (2011), This is 40 (2012)

Long Story Short:
A married couple wants to spice up their sex life and records a sex tape that is supposed to be just for them, but instead it gets accidentally uploaded to all their friends’ devices.

Review:
Okay, let’s be honest, who actually expected something unexpectedly new and refreshing from this movie? Well, if you did, you were probably deeply disappointed and wanted your money back unless seeing Cameron Diaz’ naked butt, and getting a glimpse at her nipples were enough for you.

Personally, I thought this was going to be just as bad as Bad Teacher, which in my opinion was a disgrace for Cameron Diaz, since I am a big fan of her work, especially the work that showcases her acting skills, and doesn’t seem like a role she just accepted because she had no other offers. But, after having the lowest expectations possible, I was actually pleasantly surprised; sure, it could have had a few more funny moments, and the cursing seemed forced at times. But there were some good jokes, it kind of had a “Dude, Where’s My Car” charm to it, and the two leading actors were charming and committed.

Many times I have read people criticizing the lack of story, but I wonder what they expected from a movie called Sex Tape; a deep love story that will stick with you for days because it was so touching and moving? That’s just like expecting romance in a porn.

Sex Tape is a light weight comedy for a movie night with friends. You can lash out in a conversation and check back in without missing out on anything.

Rating: 5.5/10

31 Days of Halloween

For those who have been following my blog, this was last year’s “31 Days of Halloween List” with one movie for each day of October. Since last year, I haven’t seen any memorable horror movies, so I will just re-recommend the ones from 2013’s list.

I hope you will find one you haven’t seen yet. Let me know if you have any new recommendations for me or want me to watch and review a new movie for you. :)

To get more information about a movie just click on the movie title.

Enjoy.

1. The Descent
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2. The Shining
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3. The Silence of The Lambs
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4. Dead Silence
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5. Trick’ R Treat
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6. Sinister
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7. The Ring
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8. Mirrors
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9. It
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10. The Hills Have Eyes
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11. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
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12. Orphan
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13. A Nightmare on Elm Street
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14. Fallen
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15. The Strangers
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16. Insidious
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17. Drag Me To Hell
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18. The Sixth Sense
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19. Frailty
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20. Saw
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21. Scream
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22. Pet Sematary
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23. Mine Games
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24. Fragile
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25. Friday the 13th
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26. The Craft
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27. Psycho
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28. The Pact
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29. Child’s Play
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30. The Exorcist
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31. Halloween
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The Fault in Our Stars (2014) – Tissues, Please!

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Category: Drama
Actors: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe, Lotte Verbeek, Ana Dela Cruz, Randy Kovitz, Toni Saladna, David Whalen, Milica Govich, Allegra Carpenter, Emily Peachey

Duration: 126 min
Rated: PG-13

You might Like this Movie if you enjoyed:
Untamed Heart (1993), A Walk to Remember (2002), My Sister’s Keeper (2009)

Long Story Short:
Hazel and Gus, two teenagers who shouldn’t have a worry in their life, share the same sharp sense of humor and instantly feel a connection when they meet for the first time. But unfortunately they share something else; they are both trying to survive a fatal illness.

Review:
The Fault in our Stars is a beautiful (but also sad) movie based on a young adult novel of the same name, but it is actually for everyone who can remember falling in love so hard that nothing else mattered.

The two leads Shailene Woodley (The Secfret Life of The American Teenager, 2008- 2013) and Ansel Elgortare (Carrie, 2013) are refreshing and delightful and can compete with any other actor in Hollywood right now. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie since I expected something completely cheesy and immature but it was so much more. This is why people love dramas. It brings you sadness, joy, laughter, hope, tears and butterflies. It is a beautifully tragic rollercoaster and raises the question: If these two can keep smiling and appreciate life, why can’t we?

If you cry easily , get some tissues ready. And if you love dramas, you are in for a real treat.

Rating: 8/10