Out on DVD: Sauna (2008)

You don’t hear much about Finnish movies, especially Finnish horror movies, but 2008’s Sauna somehow fits into this unique niche perfectly. Well that’s really not saying much when you consider it is the only movie in it. But when you think of the prevalence and popularity of saunas in Finland, and all of the Scandinavian countries, you realize that this movie was a long time coming.

The setting is post-war Finland in the 1500’s, which is at the time part of Sweden, who just waged war with Russia. The main characters are Knut and Eerik, who are wandering around aimlessly in search of other forms of human life. They stumble across a strange town, which is under the control of an oversized sauna. An oversized sauna whose energy is used to help people atone for their sins.

Now before you start thinking that this is way too farfetched, remember that at one time, the Finnish did regard the sauna as a spiritual home. A place to go and become one with the Nordic Gods. So a futuristic world where the same premise is used is believable if you know Finnish history.

The movie will scare the bejesus out of you, and make you reconsider that trip to the sauna you have planned for next week. Better yet, before renting it, go check out some review sites for a portable infrared sauna that you can set up at home. This should quell any fears of being possessed when you strip down to your undies at the gym.

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There are many components to the movie that are attributing to the fear factor, starting with the main characters. Take Eerik for example and his brooding masculinity. Despite being the protagonist in the movie, he is villainous both in looks and actions. His only redeeming quality is the endless pain he feels for having lost his way from his home and family.

The minor characters, those that inhabit the town, are (for want of a better word) ghostly. Not quite ghost, yet certainly dehumanized by something, these characters will make your hair stand on end. There is absolutely no explanation given for their appearance, asides from the scary sauna, yet somehow you know that going inside is a very bad idea.

Behind all of the scary settings and even scarier characters lies the scariest notion of all. This movie will make you consider what a life would be like if every sin you committed was destined to stay with you forever, haunting your very soul.

Great Ways to Save on Movie Night

There are a lot of great movies out there, and it can be tempting to go out and buy every single one of the. I would know, as I tried to do just that for quite some time and let me tell you, it was rather expensive. I was spending a ton on movies every month, and my finances started to suffer because of it. Finally, I came to my senses and started tracking my finances with this thing called personal capital, I realized just how much I was spending and decided it was time to cut back. Once I decided that it was time to cut back, I tried to figure out how I was still going to watch movies for a reasonable price.

Netflix

The first great service I found was netflix. For just $15 per month, you can get all you can watch dvd’s at one time, and you can stream movies as well. The prices go up depending on how many things you want to watch at once, but I still find it to be a fantastic deal. Netflix has really upended the industry since it came on the scene, and it has done that by getting some of the best content around. There’s plenty to choose from when you’re on netflix DVD library, and while the streaming library isnt always the greatest, there are some awesome movies in there as well. It took a while of getting used to the controls since I was used to having my own dvd’s and watching them on my player. I honestly got used to it pretty quickly, and now I’m kind of enjoying not having a big collection of movies to maintain and keep clean, etc.

Hulu

Even though they are more known for putting network tv online, they do have quite a few movies and have the entire criterion collection on their website available to watch for free. There are some great movies in the collection, and just that alone makes the service awesome. If you want some of the expanded features it costs $8/mo, but I dont need them as I just use my chromecast and put it on my tv that way. Sometimes the playback is a bit slow, but I think that has more to do with my internet provider than it does with hulu.

Others

There are a few other services out there that let you watch movies online for cheap or free, but I really have not had time to dig into their content libraries yet. I have been overwhelmed with netflix and hulu so far, and I just have not had the need to go anywhere else. I’ve heard good things about it though, so I figure once I get tired of netflix and hulu I’ll give it a try. The next-best one (and it’s a long way off from the above 2) is crackle, which is run by sony. There is movies & TV shows on there, but I really havent had a lot of time to go through it yet. Some of the stuff does look pretty good though. There’s also amazon, which will give you membership if you sign up for their all inclusive service – amazon prime – that gets you fast shipping as well as access to a large TV and movie streaming library.

These are the best ways that I’ve found to save some money while still watching a lot of movies. Even though I don’t own them anymore, I can still enjoy watching them and relaxing on a weeknight.

5 Awesome Sports Movies

I think that most of us can agree, when done right, sports movies can produce some of cinema’s most amazing feats. Of course, in the spirit of competition, we always end up arguing about which sports movies are the best of all time. Well, instead of trying to stir up debate about which movie is better than the rest, let’s just take a look at five great sports movies and celebrate what we love about them.

Unfortunately, these movies are all about traditional sports. Not many non-documentary films have been made about action sports (like air soft, paintball or obstacle racing) -even though many of those have some great stories in them as well.

The Blind Side – This is the true and inspirational story of Michael Oher, who escaped difficult circumstances to become a first round NFL draft pick. Sandra Bullock delivers a wonderful performance as Oher’s adoptive mother and the driving force in his life. It’s a great feel good story and forces an emotional reaction upon the audience. More importantly, the truth and realism in the story makes it a must-watch movie for any football fan.

Remember the Titans – This is another sports movie based on a true story, and one that also brings to light a part of American history and an important social issue. Denzel Washington leads a cast that’s full of recognizable faces to tell the story of how the high school football team in a racially divided community broke down barriers to achieve an undefeated season. Remember the Titans is far more than just a sports movie; it’s just a great move altogether, and one that sports fans and non-sports fans alike should see at least once.

The Express – This is a movie that told a sports story that not enough people knew about, which is the story of Ernie Davis, the first African American to win college football’s Heisman Trophy. The movie follows the story of Davis, as he follows in the footsteps of the great Jim Brown at Syracuse, helps Syracuse win a national championship, and ultimately wins the Heisman, all against the backdrop of the racial prejudice that filled the country in the 1950’s. The Express is a well-done movie that shares the story of one of the great civil rights accomplishments in sports history.

Miracle – This is a movie that any red-blooded American needs to see. Miracle tells the story behind arguably the greatest upset in sports history, as the United States defeated the Soviet Union in ice hockey at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. Kurt Russell delivers a memorable performance, as he portrays the team’s head coach, Herb Brooks. Obviously, everyone knows how this one ends, but that doesn’t make the movie any less enjoyable.

Rocky – You can’t have a discussion about sports movies without mentioning Rocky. This is the ultimate underdog story, and it perfectly encapsulates everything we love about sports. It’s one of the most memorable and inspirational sports movies of all time, right down to the score. Every sports fan will see this movie at some point, and just about every one of them will surely love it.

Movie Review: Blue Planet

KleinCuracao1From the vantage point of outer space the movie Blue Planet presents photographic images of the planet earth. Although only a few people really have the opportunity to study the earth from the vantage point of the heavens, this movie gives us the opportunity to discover the planet without going to the outer space. In this movie you will be inspired by the life teeming in the planet while at the same time be made aware of the effects of ozone depletion and pollution.

This movie is not only about nature, it’s also about technology. The movie uses IMAX technology which uses an image three times larger than standard 70mm film and ten times larger than 35mm film. The jaw-dropping images will definitely amaze both young and old, as the resulting movie can be projected on screens the height of an eight-story building with stunning clarity, giving everyone a view of the earth which was once only available to astronauts. From this vantage point, we can discover clearly the forces that affect our lives here – typhoon, earthquake, volcanoes and perhaps the most powerful of all, we the humankind.

The filmmakers also filmed the ground in order to present a different point of view of the same event. You can see beaches which would typically be featured in your favorite snorkeling vacation guide, cities packed with people and forests teeming with creatures of all kinds. The effects of typhoons are also presented giving a shocking effect. When a hurricane strikes, what used to be beaches with crystal clear waters are now angry and hostile places, you can’t even see a thing even with your best snorkel gear. Overnight, homes that are in the path of hurricane are destroyed living only portions of what was ones a lovely place that housed families.

The movie gives a sobering look at the only habitable planet in the solar system. It is the only thing that we have and the alternatives are not that promising. Some planets are too hot while others are too cold to support life. Realizing this gives the viewer a reminder of our stewardship considering that its natural resources are dwindling faster than the earth is able to replenish. Living responsibly is no longer a second option, it is the only option considering that this is the only home that we’ve got.

With this in mind, it seems that war and pestilence is the enemy that needs to be eradicated from our existence. When you look at the deforested portions of Madagascar where the muddy water slides into the sea, you will stop and ask, ìWhat have we done to our planet?î The high-tech distant eye gives a sobering picture which will awaken the care that lies deep within each and every one of us.

All in all Blue Planet is a good movie. The combination of high technology and nature accomplished its purpose to bring home a message of stewardship. It’s ideal for family viewing and if you haven’t seen IMAX before, prepare to be amazed.

Out on DVD: Begin Again

Screen star cutie Keira Knightley and rock star Adam Levine’s flick “Begin Again” is due to be released on DVD. A good chick flick, the movie centers around Knightly and her aspirations of becoming a singer – song writer.

Knightly, who is best known for playing damsels in period pieces, had no prior musical training before filming began and spent months training for the part. This included studio visits with a professional voice coach and hours of online singing lessons. If not for learning how to sing online before the film, it would have been a big flop.

As the movie begins, Knightley’s character –Greta – has just broken up with rocker boyfriend Dave, who is played by Levine. She has been writing her own music and finally makes it to a stage to give her singing voice a try. She is a hit and begins to pursue her new career just as Dave’s is also taking off.

The rest of the film is fairly predictable in a romantic drama kind of way, but the chemistry between the leading characters cannot be mistaken. When asked about their off screen relationship, Levine explained that they developed a bond, with Knightly coming to him for singing advice and him running to her whenever he felt unsure about his acting skills. This friendship shines through in the movie and actually helps in making the story believable.

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There have been a number of stars who have had to take on a new skill in order to fit the role for a movie. Who can forget the Oscar and Golden Globe performance given by Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”. Although she had studied ballet as a young girl, she spent a year in training before shooting for that movie began. Meryl Streep got an Oscar nomination after she learned how to play the violin for her role in “Music of the Heart”. A part, by the way, that was originally meant for Madonna to portray.

We are quite sure that girls and women around the world are in high anticipation for the “Begin Again” DVD to make it to stores. As Levine’s breakout performance in acting, he definitely held his own against the seasoned Knightly, who was equally impressive with her new found singing talent.

So plan a girls night in the house and get the air popper ready, this chic flick is coming soon to a living room near you.

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What’s on Your Holiday Movie Marathon DVD List?

We could probably write a book about all of the Christmas and holiday themed movies that are available on DVD. This has been a popular movie topic since they first started making movies. There are some great ones of course and then a few good, and of course those that maybe just never should have been made. I am going to share with you my must see list of movies that propel me straight into the holiday spirit.

It’s a Wonderful Life

This is the granddaddy of must watch movies for Christmas. Have it on while opening your gifts or making dinner. You are always going to stop what you’re doing to see the iconic Jimmy Stewart in one of the most often watched DVDs in history.

A Christmas Carol

Taken from a Charles Dicken’s book, the story behind a Christmas Carol has been retold in a hundred different ways. The classic black and white version is good, but if you want to roll over belly laugh this Christmas, check out Bill Murray’s take on the story in Scrooged. This is one of the funniest Christmas movies ever made.

A Miracle on 34th Street

The only people not watching it’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas are New Yorkers, because their busy watching this classic film. There are remakes and adaptations of this story available, but in this case the original is the best.

Home Alone

Another movie great for laughs, about the little kid stuck by himself for Christmas fighting off bad guys. Joe Pesci as the bungling crook is casting genius as he is constantly being one upped by a 6 year old. There are a number of sequels to this movie, but none that match the original.

A Christmas Story

You can never get too much of this movie around the holidays. Just thinking about it makes me want to go outside and stick my tongue on aA Christmas Story lamp post. If you have never seen this movie, you have to. And once you do you are never going to forget it.

Now that you have your list, get set-up for your ultimate movie marathon for the holidays. Turn on the Christmas tree lights and turn off all the others. Light your holiday scented essential oil candles and place them strategically around the room. Essential oils come in all kinds of Christmasy scents, like cinnamon, pumpkin and even pine tree. And oh hey, ever notice that diffusers are an excellent Christmas gift idea?

Now of course pop the popcorn and make the egg nog because you are about to hit play and be thrown right into the Christmas spirit, whether you want to or not.

 

Movie Dentists Who’s Chair You Never Want to Sit In

Dentists are naturally scary, making them a great theme for thrillers. If you are getting ready to have some dental work done, we highly recommend that you stay far away from these movies out on DVD:

Little Shop of Horrors

As if the man eating plant wasn’t enough, this 1986 classic has Steve – ’cause I’m a funny guy- Martin as a black apron wearing dentist from the underworld. He steals this movie right out from under the other stars.

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Finding Nemo

Bet you forgot about Nemo’s first home inside of a dental office. This isn’t really a scary dentist per say, but it does set the stage for a scary story about a little lost fishy.

The Man Who Knew Too Much

After watching this 1934 treat from Alfred Hitchcock you are going to be finding the best electric toothbrush on the market and using it 15 times a day to avoid having to sit in a dentist chair again.

Marathon Man

Laurence Olivier and this movie are the reason why I bought a water flosser from waterflosserhq.com. This is an intense movie, whose overall subject matter revolving the Nazis and the holocaust may not be suitable for young ones.

Ghost Town

While this is technically a comedy, I don’t think I’d want my dentist talking to the ghost of his grandmother while drilling out a cavity. Just sayin’

The Whole Nine Yards

This is one of the funniest movies to come out of the year 2000. Matthew Perry is the dentist, but the scary stuff comes when the mafia hit man (played to perfection by the late Michael Clark Duncan) gets a hold of him, and his tooth extractor.

The Dentist

The first known portrayal of a dentist in film came in 1932. W.C. Fields is the villainous dentist who treats his patients without the benefit of any painkillers. No thanks, I’ll have my root canal with a nice side of novocaine.

In 1996, another The Dentist was released , based on the real life story of dentist turned serial killer Nick Rex. In this true dentist horror movie, a mild mannered dentist –played by Corbin Bernsen- goes on a massive killing spree after catching his wife doing the dirty with the pool man.

While a bit gory, even for a horror movie, this is a good parody of the idea behind a mad dentist. This movie has a large cult following, and has produced a sequel since the initial release.

Taking a theme that we already have a fear of, and working it into a movie is suspense genius. The next time you get a tooth ache, watching one of these movies will make you think twice about having it checked out.

Check out some other professions that make a big impact on the big screen

Out on DVD: The Slammin’ Salmon

The 2009 cult classic “The Slammin’ Salmon” has made it to DVD. If you have ever waited a table, washed a dish, or cooked a meal in a restaurant you have to see this movie.

The late Michael Clarke Duncan (The really big convict in “The Green Mile”) stars as an ex-boxer who decides to open up a seafood restaurant in Maine. To get his staff motivated, he offers a prize of ten grand to the waiter who makes the most tips in one night.

This film is from Broken Lizard, the same group that brought us Beerfest in 2006. Expect the same type of slapstick comedy and smart ass one liners that Broken Lizard has become known for.

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The plot of this movie is a bit silly, but watching the antics that typically take place in a restaurant are hilarious. If you were a fry cook for example, then you can completely appreciate the hemming and hawing of having to clean the fryer every night. Deep fry cooks all around the world applaud the trick of just topping off the deep fryer with fresh oil to make it look clean.

The same banter between cooks and waiters you see in the movie also are going on while you wait for your dinner.  Even the young hostess screaming at the dishwasher for clean silverware is a common occurrence.

Plot aside, the jokes are solid and the cast is great. Duncan is much more believable as a tough guy boxer turned restaurant owner then he was a teary eyed death row inmate. Other actors included Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme and Jay Chandreasekhar.

There are a few surprise cameos in the restaurant crowd, including Morgan Fairchild and Vivica A. Fox. It was fun to see these two normally straight ladies let loose a bit in a silly comedy.  All of the customer-server interactions are hilarious to watch, especially if you have ever waited on tables before.

The movie did not get the best reviews, but that is usually the case with this type of campy comedy. Crude jokes and funny pranks don’t normally make reviewers jump up and applaud. If you work or have worked in a restaurant, it is my suggestion that you call of your work buddies and have a restaurant themed movie night. There is this one of course but there is also the gut wrenchingly funny “Waiting” that you can add to the list. These both take a look at the workings of your typical home town restaurant, which unknown to the customers, managers and owners, is really being run by a bunch of adolescent waiters and cooks.

Go grab the jiffy pop and maybe throw on your old apron. With this addition of restaurant antics out on DVD, people may never want to eat out again. Now click here for more movie reviews!

The 5 Best Movie Remakes of All Time

There are just some movies that can never be replicated, or never should have (think Psycho). Then there are those that manage to take a beloved movie and make it better. Here are our picks for some re-makes that are worth watching over and over again:

Cape Fear

Put Bobby De Niro in any movie and you have a instant hit. This Martin Scorsese master piece puts Bobby as the bad guy, going after the man who had locked up and his family. Eerily suspense filled, this 1991 film put Juliette Lewis on the star map as Nick Nolte’s daughter and the target of DeNiro’s terror. What makes it even better is the cameo appearances of Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck, who had starred in the original. We love when they do that!

Down and Out in Beverly Hills

Another remake with Nick Nolte in the lead (what happened to him anyway?), this is a remake of Boudu Saved From Drowning. Combing the dry humor of Nolte against the vivacious Bette Midler and understated Richard Dreyfuss was casting genius. This is a hilarious movie that can be watched over and over just for the scenes with Little Richard.

Ocean’s Eleven

It would seem impossible to remake a brat pack packed flick that had all the greats of the ‘60’s pulling off the heist of a lifetime. Yet not only did Steven Soderbergh pull it off, he made a franchise out of the deal, with not one, but two sequels. Both surprisingly as good as the first. The cast is fantastic with too many stars to name and the soundtrack perfect. This is a class act movie that makes you laugh, cling to your seat and end up scratching your head wondering how the hell they just did that.

Scarface

Not many people even realize that this is a remake, it is that good. If you have never seen Al Pacino as Scarface, put the kids to bed early with earplugs and get ready for a very bloody and very exciting ride. This classic movie about the rise and (big) fall of Cuban drug lord Tony Montana in Florida is one of those movies that will never leave you. In fact, I bet you’ll be heard telling the kids in the morning, “Say hello to my little friend”.

say hello to my little friend

say hello to my little friend

Robin Hood

The worlds most famous outlaw has made so many movie appearances that it is hard to keep track. The latest, in 2010, is a standout with Russell Crowe taking the lead. The only key element missing from this version was the infamous archery match where traditionally Robin shows up in disguise, pulls back his bow, and shoots his arrow for a perfect bulls eye. This is where he wins the money and the heart of the maiden Mary. Other than that obvious non-inclusion in the 2010 version (maybe they hadn’t checked out the latest and greatest over at http://www.fastflightarchery.com yet?), the story telling and imagery make this a remake worth making popcorn for.

For some, the first is always the best. Yet there are those times when a strong cast and great videography can make what was already good, even better.

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What qualifies as a good outdoor movie?

outdoors treesThere are so many types of movies out there, but we’re going to focus on just one today – the outdoor movie.

I’m talking specifically about manly outdoor hunting and adventure movies. They’ve all got that sort of clear quality to them that you only get with a film that’s shot mostly outside in the woods.

I’m thinking burly dudes, beards, tons of plaid, backpacking and sleeping under the stars, and maybe some guns.

There are some incredible classics out there, but also some that miss the mark and make you wonder who on earth would have funded the making of the film. The ones that are good tend to have a few things in common…so if you’re a producer reading this, you’re welcome! ;)

1. Imminent Danger

There’s always a threat of danger when you’re in the woods, isn’t there? There are a few good movies featuring large bears that are intent on taking out the main characters, so bears are usually good. Add to that the fact that there are usually men with guns hunting each other, massive rock faces to fall off of, and various ankle-breaking crevices to fall into, and you’re always stressed out while watching the film because they could be hurt or die at literally any second.

2. Good Actors

OK so most movies need this to be great. But outdoor movies can be really cheesy really fast if they don’t have a serious dude who can pull the whole thing back to reality. Because there are fewer effects and ‘staged’ things out doors, it is more raw and you need actors that can keep up with the more honest surroundings.

3. Real Situations

It’s so hard to watch a movie where they get the outdoor stuff wrong when it’s based outdoors. Survival techniques that are ridiculous, basic things that normal outdoorsmen would do being overlooked, that kind of thing – I just hate watching those as even a modest lover of the outdoors. How unrealistic is it that someone can put up a tent easily in just 5 minutes? Get a grip folks, it’s impossible! (I kid, I kid, but seriously)…Get your facts straight, talk to the experts, and don’t try to force it. Make it natural, come on now!

 

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