Money Monster (2016)

Money Monster was very lightly marketed as a thriller, but flying below the radar is typically ok when your stars are George Clooney and Julia Roberts. I have never been a Clooney fan but I LOVE Julia Roberts and I love a good thriller. Clooney stars as a TV personality on a CNN-esque investment advice program, and he becomes the target of a sore loser who lost a lot of money based on the programs recommendations. Julia Roberts, plays a seemingly brilliant director of the show who is trying to work to end the incident, while remaining live on the air. Not a terrible plot idea, in today’s world where crime and media often reflect each other and are equally sensational. The problem is that this movie forms NO characters via background, introspect, relationships, or personalities. The 2 most interesting characters that are built are the criminal, who we don’t get to explore much as the audience, and an insider at the corrupt corporation who is torn between her career, her romantic relationships, and the truth. Her actions are the strongest in the film–yet we have no clue why she makes them because we do not explore her character. The Roberts character has the outer shell of someone they want us to believe is highly motivated, lonely, etc. but provide no proof or details. The Clooney character gets about 5 minutes of montage to let us know that he is a spoiled rich jerk, and the buck stops there. Ultimately a decent idea for a film that it seems like nobody bothered to actually make.

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Finding Dory (2016)

Finally, the long awaited sequel to a movie that largely brought an audience back to Pixar for entertainment for all ages to enjoy. The first film was innovative, hilarious, adorable, and unique. This is not a love story, a childhood life lesson tale, it was truly a film about fun, family, and adventure. The sequel was strongly hyped thanks to the beloved main character of Dory, brought to life by the talented Ellen DeGeneres. The movie also boasted great new additions to the cast, including Ty Burrell from Modern Family. I went into the film hopeful to laugh again with these characters and see what adventurous plot points Pixar would lead us to as we followed Dory around the ocean. I was disappointed to say the least. As far as laughs go…there were maybe 3, Ty Burrell provides humor to the film but he has a minor role, and Dory and the other main characters really have no great bits, jokes, or even well written lines. The other comic relief coming from some minor sea lions and a rather scummish bird. The plot of the movie is a watered down, unexplored, illogical remix of the first film, with absolutely no creativity. The message behind the movie? Who knows! The temperature of society at the release of the film is very separated on ocean life and marine rescue centers/theme parks/zoos and the like, so the interaction between Dory and the Marine Institute in the film seems political but really sends no positive or negative message to be further explored, which leaves the plot even the more dry and message unclear. I think you should avoid this one, it can be chalked up there with Return of Jafar, Little Mermaid 2, and Cinderella 2…. I can’t believe it took them 11 years to mess this up.

Top Foodie Movies

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Ok, I work in food, I hate the word foodie…but who isn’t interested in food?! There are so many ways to look at food, cultural, food production, industry, and pure love of the experiences we attach to food. It stands to reason that Hollywood has caught on to this and made many movies that are meant to encourage our love of food as the center of our society. My opinions are below, but I want to know yours, tell me why you disagree or agree—let’s get loud!

11.) Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: This movie needs to make the list because, literally everyone has seen it. The creativity and love of candies and chocolates is epic in this small community setting and who will take over this industry becomes the fascination of children and parents worldwide. This movie is querky, fun, and classic. A favorite for our sweet tooth.

10.) Fast Food Nation: While a whole list could be made about food documentaries and their own individuals values that are several that have crossed into mainstream film and have and should impact how our society relates to food. By using big names in Hollywood this movie shows us the risks of our large industrial food system, and no matter how you feel, it should get you thinking.

9.) The Lunchbox: I have not seen this movie…but I will just go by word of mouth that this one should be on the list. A small indie hit from 2003 the movie focuses around a unsuspected relationship that begins through the errors in a workplace lunch delivery service. So many positives reviews of this film and a truly charming plot line, lead me to believe we should all see it.

8.) Eat, Pray, Love: Best selling books have the tendency to gain lots of anticipation when being into films but they usually fall to the either love or hate category. I read this book and I am not sure that a film can do it justice. But throw a crowd favorite in, like Julia Roberts, and she can make it work. This woman begins her self discovery journey traveling the wold experiencing life thru a variety of faiths, romances, and the foods! Who wouldn’t want to live this life?

7.) Waiting: I, for one, really despise this film. But it MUST be on the list. Many people who have worked as servers or in restaurants love it because it so accurately depicts the hell and humor that all servers have experienced. I hate it for that reason, the scene is grim and I would rather not be reminded of it, or encourage it. But we all know it, we love it, we quote, and we use it as strength to power thru those double shifts.

6.) Supersize Me: In 2004, ahead of the organic foods trend, Morgan Spurlock decided to study the industry. He took a personal turn by documenting his life, and his health for a month living on only McDonald’s food. What was once seen as a structure of American life, and a necessary one during times of need in our country, became the ultimate enemy. We all saw first hand what this processed and filler food can do to our bodies, and it was a disgusting eye opener. What, again is great about this film, is the controversy. While we all saw undeniable evidence of the results, fast food continues to be the massive controlling industry in our nation behind oil, now surpassing tobacco. How did you feel?

5.) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: This movie may as well peer into my soul and pull our  my deepest desires. Rain that is made up of all sorts of food….a great plot. The best part of this movie is that the voice actors and jokes are hilarious, they are modern, and great for all ages. This movie is literally the best type of animated movie for all to love over and over again.

4.) Julie & Julia: Amy Adams is amazing, as usual in this movie based on a blogger who sets a goal to cook with Julia child, day by day, page by page. Of course the movie speaks to those of us seeking personal growth, but it is also filled with great cooking scenes and top notch performances. I won’t lie, I saw this, I bought a Julia Child cookbook…and I fail at recipes, it’s one that will suck you in.

3.) Sideways: 2004’s award winning small film was Sideways. This movie is a road trip movie at heart, but it is all about wine. Wine is not a food, but we have all had wine for dinner. You don’t have to be, or understand wine snobs to enjoy this film. Wine is life, life is a variety, like wine, and we all have good years and bad years just like our grapes. This movie is hilarious, beautiful, and hell makes you want to enjoy it with the best bottle you can put on your budget from Wal Mart!

Ok, let’s see a vote, who is number 1:

Nominee: Chef: This is a total on trend movie. Food trucks are the rage currently, so I could easily see this movie being written off, until I watched it. A flawed Chef begins traveling across country with friends and family as he forms his perfect food truck. Perfecting his business, his truck, and his perfect recipes for beautiful and authentic Cuban food. It all comes together in the end, tying his business together and his personal life. Watching the perfectly acted passion as these cooks gather ingredients, compile classic and quick food, I literally salivate. Not just because Cuban sandwiches are amazing but because anyone that has a passion for food will relate to this. It is the most tangible form of passion that I have ever seen on screen. 10 stars in my book.

Nominee: Ratatouille: Disney/Pixar has perfected film once again, but perhaps this film is one of their lesser known, and underrated masterpieces. Remy is a passionate chef, and a mouse. He teams up with a struggling cook and they join a prestigious kitchen. The love for ingredients, and culinary arts surrounds both young cooks and they become one phenomenal Chef. Set in a beautiful depiction of France, with worthy side cast, this movie is hysterical, beautiful to watch, and heartfelt. I could listen to these scores, look at these screenshots and laugh with these characters over and over again.

Alright—what is your vote for number 1?!

The Martian (2015)

This years Golden Globes and Oscars are ones filled with surprise, the lack of diversity, Mad Max and Rocky making comebacks, and Matt Damon staring in best comedy…about science fiction? The Martian is an amazing movie, a monumental performance by Matt Damon in which he holds his own as an astronaut stranded on Mars. The screenplay and script is so well done that it would be a good movie regardless of director, actor, or supporting cast. But the fact that all three of these aspects are at the top of their game, really helps. I am not shocked by the Best Picture nominee that this film earned. Unlike most nominees, this movie is sad, yet joyful, it is funny and intense, it is unique and easy to watch, even at 2.5 hours. What did you think of this one?

Dirty Grandpa (2016)

This year was a surprising year for good comedies. Sisters, Spy, Trainwreck, to name a few….it’s been a better year than most. I heard about Dirty Grandpa, because I shamefully follow Zac Efron on social media, because he is smokin hot. That being said, I largely ignore his movies, until I saw that he was billed with De Niro. De Niro really can’t do wrong. I walked into this movie not expecting too much, and I cried with laughter for the entire film. In an ironic comedy, Efron is a lawyer from a snobbish and preppy family and he is tasked to drive his mourning grandfather across the country. De Niro is in mourning though, of his lost youth, and becomes a handful chasing a hilarious and lustful college nymph, Aubrey Plaza. Of course it becomes an epic road trip movie, drugs, alcohol, sex, police, and a lot of shirtless Efron. Live on the lighter side, and continue to love De Niro…give this one a chance.

Legend (2015)

Who hasn’t heard of the infamous Kray brothers? Me!!! I was able to attend this as part of an early premier and…I wish I had heard of the Krays. Needless to say, post movie google searching was needed. This movie is about 2 famous British gangsters who terrorized London and, like all gangsters, gained their fame by becoming both feared and revered. The were corrupt, they were in organized business, and they were insane. Think of Lucky Luciana, Carlo Gambino, or Al Capone….these are popular American wiseguys, and these were the counterparts over the Atlantic. Interesting fact here, is that they were brothers, twin brothers. But they were very different, while one focuses on organized and effective crime, one is infatuated with the glory and money. Together the Kray’s display the characteristics of every big time greedy criminal but split into 2. Based on their true crimes and stories, this movie is different than most gangster films, in that is is bright, and really quite hysterical. It is well written, with just the right amount of over the top acting–while I can’t say its an amazing piece of film, I was surely entertained throughout. Best of all this film stars, Tom Hardy and Tom Hardy. A bit of a stretch for this reserved and strong willed individual, he is dapper, insane, funny, and dark all wrapped into 2 beautiful biographical roles. I hope this one gains some momentum on release because I will be watching it again.

Bridge of Spies (2015)

It is fact, Spielberg is rarely wrong, and in my book Tom Hanks can do no wrong. This movie is right up that ally, and I don’t see how it could disappoint. It is the true story of the small American warrior of the Cold War. Hanks plays an insurance lawyer who is called upon to not only defend a red spy in court, but to then sneak away to Berlin to execute a hostage trade. The world is never the wiser of this, until this movie, and it should be known. The film is complex as it really defends the question of, is patriotism only as good as the patriot? Or shall I word it, if Tom Hanks works to defend and perform secret ops for America, is Mark Rylance, the red spy, wrong for showing patriotism towards his nation in working within our country for their goals. Mark Rylance is a force to be reckoned with on his own, famous mostly for an amazing career on stage, he plays this complex character to the level of almost owning the film. Even supporting cast such as Alan Alda and Amy Ryan can not hold a candle to Rylance’s performance, now thankfully nominated. I dare you to walk out of this one with a clear head, it is provoking and made with pride. Do you think it should be nominated for best picture? (hint…I don’t)