Category Archives: Movie

the tvdm team’s imax experience

Although we tend to focus more on the ‘TV’ part of our ‘TV Dinner and a Movie’ moniker, the TVDM team is still very much into movies. Whether it’s enjoying them on a couch or trekking to the theater for a midnight release, we’re avid fans of the overall movie experience. Suffice it to say that when given the opportunity by Everywhere to see a movie at an IMAX theater, we jumped at the chance. If you’re anything like us, you’re probably wondering if an IMAX ticket is really worth the cost. But rather than demand you spend your hard-earned dollars the way we tell you, we’ll instead fill you in on the general awesomeness of our own experience.

Before we begin, it’s important that you understand the good people at Regal Hacienda Crossings Stadium 20 & IMAX in Dublin, CA, and Cinemark @ Seven Bridges & IMAX in Woodridge, IL, run very solid operations. We’re talking clean theaters and movies without delay. The perfect start to any movie-going experience. We ventured to Cloud Atlas at two different times, in two very different cities, but still found ourselves walking away from the movie with a similar sentiment: Definitely worth seeing it in IMAX!

“I have seen IMAX movies before, but only documentaries. As such, I was excited for the entire experience: the action, the plot, the HD, the much-louder sound effects, and so on.

While IMAX movies are more expensive than seeing regular movies, if you have the chance to see a movie in IMAX, it’s going to be an experience you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I’d definitely go for a movie with a little action or special effects in it—there’s nothing better than seeing an HD movie with great sound effects at the movie theater. Now just imagine that times two or three. It’s as if you’re actually in the moment; the screen almost entirely surrounds you. The quality of the movie is definitely much better than seeing a regular movie, and while the screen is much larger, using your peripherals was not necessary. You can take in the entire movie without it being too overpowering.

I would definitely see another IMAX movie, especially if that movie’s got lots a great soundtrack and lots of action.” – Emily (emilymorita)


“I’m one of those people who will become easily annoyed if there are ANY distractions on the screen. I don’t mean with the plot, but things like those annoying little rips in the screen or when the picture is at a little tilt because the projectionist can’t be bothered to set it straight. Fortunately, those occurrences are rare. Even better? Seeing Cloud Atlas in all its IMAX glory was nothing like that.

This movie was visually stunning and I doubt a smaller screen would have even done it justice. The score, which I highly recommend checking out, sounded mesmerizing. Yes, the sound was worthy of such adjectives as ‘mesmerizing’. It was necessary to move along the brilliance of the plot and had the sound not been so great, I doubt I would have recalled it so vividly hours after I left the theater.

If you’re going to truly invest yourself in a solid movie experience, why not go with the best? It’s essentially the difference between watching a championship game in HD versus the normal (and slightly more boring) way; sure, you can see everything the same, but the difference in quality is undeniable!” – Nicole (nicolewritenow)


Disclaimer: Although compensated for this post, all opinions expressed here are TVDMs and TVDMs alone.

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hbo’s game change: not the worst made-for-tv movie ever

I’m sure there are people that watched Game Change for political reasons; however, I am not one of them. The opportunity to view Julianne Moore (who did a completely spot-on impersonation) as Sarah Palin was the big draw and for that simple reason, this movie was well worth spending two hours in front of the television.

Was it accurate? I’ll leave that argument to the historians, government officials and journalists. Did it entertain? Completely. I was surprised that the movie was so well-paced and only lulled during the first 15 minutes. Think W, the President Bush biopic, but over a shorter span of time. Speaking of Bush, how amazing would it have been if these two were the ones who ran together? The interviews and made up words would have been priceless.

Here are my favorite parts (and trivia) from a movie that probably made McCain and a slew of other people that were involved with the campaign wish ANY other prospective VP had made the cut:

  • Sarah Palin doesn’t curse.
  • Ron Livingston as Mark Wallace. His role wasn’t a major part of the movie, but I haven’t really seen him in anything for a year or two, so I appreciated the appearance. I’m betting someone over at HBO felt they owed him after making Berger such a huge douche.
  • Levi  Johnston once had a mullet.
  • Palin came up with the hockey mom/pit bull/lipstick quote all by herself. Pretty impressive considering that the teleprompter broke in the middle of her speech.
  • Palin’s “flippin’ awesome” in response to one of her history lessons. The same history lessons that were probably better suited for a contestant of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? than the country’s next vice president.
  • Sarah Paulson’s (most recently known as Billie Dean from American Horror Story) amazing portrayal of Nicole Wallace. I can only appreciate this because I remember watching Wallace do interviews during the campaign and thinking how perpetually annoyed she always seemed. Now it makes sense.
  • The scene where Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson) coaches Palin on not saying “Senator O. Biden”. The whole bit was funny and unlike the rest of the movie, it was genuinely “ha-ha” funny and not “wow, this is pretty pitiful, how embarrassing for Sarah Palin” funny.
  • “Holy geez, that’s cool.” This is when I believed the earlier assertion that Palin doesn’t curse.
  • The end of the movie when Palin decided she would also make a concession speech, something that had never been done by any VP candidate…ever. This may have marked the end of the election but it was very clear she had no plans to head back to Alaska. Whether or not this happened, it demonstrated how arrogant the “character” became as the little taste of power went to her head. My dad, providing running commentary during our viewing experience, summed this up by saying, “I’ve never seen someone with such a dumb head end up getting such a big head.”
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act of valor review

This is a movie that’s worth seeing. Maybe you don’t want to because you don’t like action movies, blood and gore gross you out, or you have no interest in the military. Regardless, you should see it anyway.

This isn’t just a movie; it’s a chance to see the protection and operations performed by some of the best trained men in the world. There is of course a story. And it is fictional. But the things that happen, happened in real life. The technology they use is used in real life. The missions they planned have been planned in real life. And the Navy Seals themselves are Active Duty Navy Seals in real life.

This is a no bullshit film: no actors, no CGI, use of live fire (for authenticity), and real life stories molded to fit the fictional arch created for the movie. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to really understanding what it’s like. Your appreciation for the men and women who do this every day will grow tenfold. I’m telling you, GO SEE IT!

I’m only going to tell you the basics of the plot, because honestly, though the story is good, it’s not the best part of the movie. A platoon of Navy Seals, recently called back from leave, is going on a mission to retrieve a kidnapped CIA agent. Their mission reveals to them a much bigger plot to terrorize the United States with suicide bombs sneaky enough to go undetected but lethal enough to kill almost an entire stadium of people. Scary shit. These Navy Seals uncover the plot and move into action from one mission to the next in an attempt to stop the culprits.

This isn’t your typical action movie, for many many reasons. But the biggest is that our action heroes are actually heroes. They are bending the laws of physics in an unreal manner. They are doing what they’ve been trained to do and what they happen to be awesome at. There was no point in this movie where I felt like that couldn’t happen in real life. It’s not Tom Cruise taking on 25 guys by himself and walking out with barely a scratch. It’s an accurate depiction of true action heroes.

For me, the men in this movie are the best part. And no, it’s not because we see them shirtless, because we don’t (I was mildly disappointed but also understood these men aren’t paid to exploit their assets the way the men of Hollywood are). These men are the best part because they are the story. Their families, their actions, their lives, their skills, their stories made this movie. Without the men who participated we would’ve received a much less authentic movie. How could an actor understand what it’s like, to be these men? To live like these men? To make the sacrifices that these men make? They couldn’t.

They could try their hardest to create an accurate depiction, but even the best actor couldn’t even come close. I’m telling you to go see this movie. You will laugh, cry, be appalled, be delighted, grow attached, and feel blessed that these are the kind of men who protect us every day without even thinking twice.

Kristen is a confused young adult who sometimes thinks TV shows are actually her life. Wouldn’t that be cool? Unless she was a victim on Dexter, or a deranged privileged teenager on gossip girl, or a wolf on teen wolf, or Liz Lemon! Never mind. It wouldn’t be cool. Kristen is a young adult. Follow her @kris10_Alyse or read

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tvdm’s picks for best/worst of 2011

The year that brought us Homeland (yay!), as well as Jack and Jill (yuck!) is drawing to a close. Here at TVDM, we spend most of our time discussing our favorite TV shows (and sometimes movies, we’ll work on that in 2012), but what better way to bring in the new year than by taking a look back at some of (y)our least/favorite things to watch.

Kat (eyeofkatt)

TV show I loved:  HELL ON WHEELS – I like westerns and this one is beautifully cast and acted. Anson Mount is magnetic, but love that Ted Levine and Ian Tracey showed up. I like the show enough to overlook some things that don’t quite work (like the Native Americans who couldn’t track down our plucky heroine when they were five feet away).

TV show I hated:  PRIME SUSPECT – Loved the Helen Mirren original and I like Maria Bello, so I had high hopes. But the minute I saw Bello bogarting that fedora—I knew it was not going to work.  Way, way too heavy-handed on the sexism and I got tired of the quitting smoking runner.  Just let her light up, for God’s sake.

Movie I loved, loved, lovedHUGO (aka HUGO CABRET) – This was a movie made for movie lovers and it is magical. I love the imagined and stylized Paris. I loved Asa Butterfield as Hugo (and can’t wait to see him as Ender in ENDER’S GAME).

Movie I didn’t loveCAPTAIN AMERICA –  First of all, the 3-D looked lame. It felt long. Chris Evans lacked charisma for me, and so did just about everyone else except the always reliable Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving as the red-skulled guy. (Creatively named Red Skull.)  Nothing about the movie made me eager to see the AVENGERS movie.

Nicole (nmnelson)


TV show I loved: GAME OF THRONES – I’m pretty sure someone at HBO has the ability to read minds, because It’s like they made this show just for me: An incredible fantasy saga with scheming, sex, violence, and my love Sean Bean.

TV show I hated: CAMELOT – I thought 2011 was going to be my year, with two new fantasy shows for me to obsess over. Alas, it was not to be. Showtime somehow managed to make the legend of King Arthur utterly boring.

Movie I loved: MIDNIGHT IN PARIS – My inner art history nerd was squealing with joy. Compelling story, sharp dialogue, and Paris. What’s not to love?

Movie I hated: TRANSFORMERS (Dark of the Moon) – I claim both desperate boredom and temporary insanity as my motivating factors for watching this mess of a film. On the bright side, I am now better prepared to survive should a robot apocalypse ever actually befall my hometown.


Kristen (kris10alyse)


TV show I loved: ONCE UPON A TIME – I absolutely fell in love with this show. I love fairy tales and even more than that I love the idea of diving deep into the world of fairy tales and discovering more about the characters we’ve all grown up with. This show works on so many differently levels. The cast is fantastic, the stories are diverse and always changing, and both worlds are equally interesting, so there isn’t a struggle for one side of the story versus the other. I can’t wait to see more of this show in the upcoming year.

TV show I hated: PRIVATE PRACTICE – I don’t watch this show anymore. I did, mostly because I loved Addison Montgomery’s character and Kate Walsh’s acting. In the beginning this show was interesting and I watched it regularly. But then they had one epic season finale at the end of the second season (if you watch the show you know the one I’m talking about) and since then, they’ve never been able to live up to it and I’ve been continuously disappointed. So maybe hate is too strong, maybe it’s just the TV show I’m most disappointed with.

Movie I loved: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HOLLOWS (PT. 2) – I am absolutely addicted to this series, I actually just reread the books because after seeing the last movie (which I did at midnight), I was reminded of how much I love these characters. This movie reminded me of the old friends I had while reading JK Rowling’s epic series. Also, I was a bit skeptical about the choice to split up the last book into two movies and I was even more skeptical after seeing Part 1; however, seeing the conclusion made the decision absolutely clear. Nothing was to be skipped and nothing was to be glossed over. The last epic battle in the Harry Potter series would be shown in all its glory and it was absolutely glorious.

Movie I hated: BREAKING DAWN (PT. 1) – If there was ever a book that shouldn’t have been split into two movies, it was this one. Actually, strike that, if there was ever a book that shouldn’t have been written, it was this one. What’s done is done and though many have lost IQ points and fallen victim to the idea of an apologetically abusive stalker boyfriend who is also a good vampire, there is nothing anyone can do about it, trust me I tried.

All in all five things happen in this movie (implied SPOILER ALERT): They get married and have sex, she gets pregnant and has the baby, and they turn her into a vampire. Five unexciting things that somehow got turned into a 2-hour movie, I don’t know how. Well actually I do know how, they gave Bella twenty minutes to feel her stomach and go through a whole range of emotions about the pregnancy, which actually just looked like a blank stare cause that’s Kristen Stewart’s acting style.

They also spent ten minutes watching blood rise up a straw and into Bella’s mouth. There was a wolf talking/communicating scene that made me question whether or not this was actually the movie or if I was dreaming about the worst possible way this movie could be made. Overall, it was a corny and severely uncomfortable experience.

Nicole (nicolewritenow)


TV show I loved: HAPPY ENDINGS – I didn’t get into this show until I accidentally watched the first season finale. Best mistake ever. Finally, an ensemble comedy with the Friends template and a splash of diversity (Brad, duh.) This show is hilarious and I would easily trade 2-3 of my friends for Max and Penny. I’m glad being a midseason replacement earlier this year wasn’t the kiss of death for a comedy that is providing actual humor when so many other shows just aren’t funny, no matter how much their network would like us to believe they are (yes, I’m talking about Whitney).

TV show I hated: UP ALL NIGHT – Christina Applegate was one of the most relevant blondes of the 90s, as well as the comedic MVP of the Sweetest Thing, Anchorman and Samantha Who? Will Arnett played Gob on Arrested Development (no other filmography or tv-ography needed). Both have more than proven they deserve a NBC comedy, couple this with Maya Rudolph in a supporting role and this should be perfection. It started out pretty good, not hilarious, but it definitely had its moments. I slowly gave up on this show when I realized that it wasn’t going to be as good as it could be. Then again, Applegate, Arnett and Rudolph are amazing, so maybe this show just needs time.

Movie I loved: MELONCHOLIA – If Zooey Deschanel is the go-to girl for the ‘quirky girl friend character’, Kristen Dunst is the quintessential ‘mildly messy, slightly disturbed blonde’. She’s been troubled before (see: Crazy/Beautiful) and this time was no less distressed or beautiful. Alexander Skarsgård is in the movie, just long enough to do an amazing job of playing opposite Dunst, but not so long that his gorgeous presence distracted from the dark loveliness of the movie. I don’t recommend seeing this movie on a sunny summer day; it has the potential to send even the cheeriest optimist into a brief state of depression and deep contemplation.

Movie I hated: SUCKER PUNCH – The fact that this movie had everything a good action movie should (hot girls, zombies, robots, monsters, fighting, explosions, etc.) and still managed to suck so tragically was the biggest disappointment. Add to that the lack of plot and this movie was easily one of the worst things I saw all year.

Will (will33t4food)

TV show I loved: SHAMELESS – I’ll admit I got into this a tad late – as in I JUST watched the first season On Demand about a month ago – but it was definitely love at first sight/view. I was instantly drawn to the, almost unreal, fast-paced action that the Gallagher family finds so comforting. I understand that some of the situations that cast members find themselves in can be a bit far fetched but that is one the main reason I’m drawn back every episode. Every character has their own side story and at any given time they can combine with another character’s dilemma that, ultimately, causes more comedic chaos and no “filler” episodes.

TV show I hated: 30 ROCK – (<–Not a typo) I know the award winning, critically acclaimed prestige that comes with Tina Fey and the A-List cast at 30 Rockefeller Place but – call me vengeful – I still need a scapegoat for the Community travesty. 30 Rock didn’t have an official season all year, and that is mostly due to Tina Fey’s pregnancy, but I still don’t understand why it is taking Community’s time slot come January. Especially with shows like Whitney still on the network’s roster. Ew…

Movie I loved: X-MEN: FIRST CLASSAction films never get the same amount of fanfare that dramas get, but I feel X-Men did a great job of blending the genres. I know I have a special place in my heart for “origin stories” but I know that isn’t the only reason I was drawn to the blockbuster. Even those who aren’t comic book aficionados could follow along with film; which is always a plus. We also got a chance to see some up and coming actors/actresses (Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult) – with Kevin Bacon thrown in for fun.

Movie I hated: IMMORTALS – Horrible. This movie had all the ingredients necessary to be the best action flick since 300 but I’d rather it been kicked into a bottomless pit. I know that storyline is still important with most action films but when you overload the story at such a dull pace the action has to be over-the-top awesome. It had its moments but not nearly enough to compensate. Even a resurgent Mickey Rourke couldn’t stop this train wreck. Even though I got to see Freida Pinto in her skivvies – in the third dimension (aka 3D) – I still couldn’t sit through that film again. I’d rather watch 300…on network television.

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karloff vs. carrey–which “grinch” is best?

Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) wrote How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1957. Nine years later, it was adapted into a half-hour, animated special for television and it’s been running ever since. In 2000, Ron Howard teamed up with Jim Carrey to create a live-action version of the story, a big, colorful, noisy adaptation that ran for 104 minutes and made nearly $350 million worldwide. It was a huge success and yet… I prefer the original.

Here are five reasons why:

  1. Boris Karloff. Not only was he the voice of the animated Grinch, he also provided the narration. It was like having your grandfather read the story to you, a grandfather who was gifted at doing voices and whose own deep and resonant voice belied his age. (Karloff would die three years later at 81.) All due respect to Carrey, but an awful lot of the time, his Grinch sounded like Richard Nixon.
  2. The songs. Dr. Seuss wrote the lyrics for the songs and they were in rhyme, just like the rest of the tale. In the original animated adaptation, nothing was added to Seuss’ words because nothing needed to be added. And who can forget the signature song, “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch?” sung by Thurl Ravenscroft.
  3. Thurl Ravenscroft is not credited on Grinch, a mistake that horrified Seuss and co-producer/director Chuck Jones, who took out an ad in Variety to publicize his performance. Thurl did a lot of work for Disney but he’s probably best known for being the voice of Tony the Tiger in Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes commercials. His voice was as indelibly imprinted on the material as Karloff’s.
  4. The simplicity. Ron Howard created his own version of Seuss’ classic story but it was very much his version and not Seuss’ version. Everything about the original version had to do with the meaning of Christmas and the simplicity of the message that Christmas is in our hearts and not about the presents. Howard’s version has the same message but it’s overblown and overdone and not simple.
  5. The subtlety and sweetness. In the animated version, little Cindy Lou Who is an adorable two-year-old with wide blue eyes. In the Howard version, she’s an annoying sitcom moppet played by Taylor Momsen, who would make a splash as Jenny in Gossip Girl seven years later. It was a whole different vibe.

Animated or live action—no Christmas season is complete without a viewing of one or the other. My choice is the original.

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