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D. Mikels "It's always Happy Hour here" RSS Feed (Skunk Holler)

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Imagine Me & You
Imagine Me & You
DVD
Price: $9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Been There, Done That, December 5, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
IMAGINE ME & YOU is a tedious rom-com that's been recycled and rehashed countless times--only this time, it's a she and a she instead of a him and a her. Comfortable couple Rachel and Heck (Piper Perabo and a bored Matthew Goode) finally tie the knot; but Rachel, while actually walking down the aisle, falls instantly in zany love with Luce (Lena Heady), the florist for the wedding. And suddenly, a slam-dunk, sure-thing marriage is thrown into perpetual chaos, as Rachel wrestles with her guilt and orientation, with Luce somehow hoping Rachel will see the light and come play on her team. The stage is set for bland predictability, as there is tension and tenderness and heartbreak (Goode's scene where he attempts to cry had me donkey braying)--then the inevitable, over-the-top, butterflies and kittens ending.

Advertised as a romantic comedy, there is very little actually funny in IMAGINE ME & YOU. Rachel pouts and Heck worries and Luce happens to know the perfect plant for any occasion. Of the supporting cast, Darren Boyd is overwhelmingly unlikable as Heck's best friend Cooper, and I'm still trying to decipher a single word uttered by Rachel's soft-spoken Papa (Anthony Head). Yes, IMAGINE ME & YOU travels down the road of Been There, Done That, but salvages three instead of two stars because Piper and Lena are so wonderfully stunning. Eye candy is always good.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


Dracula
Dracula
by Bram Stoker
Edition: Paperback
Price: $3.50
164 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Sensational!, December 4, 2014
This review is from: Dracula (Paperback)
Yes, there have been a plethora of Dracula films populating the history of cinema, featuring different plots, characters, settings, and times. But it wasn't until I became a huge fan of Francis Ford Coppola's terrific film Bram Stoker's Dracula, that I learned his version was actually based on the Bram Stoker horror novel, first published in 1897--a novel that terrified the literary world. During Coppola's riveting commentary of his film, I learned he is a huge fan of the novel, and that he lifted, word for word, many of the lines of dialogue and narration directly from the book. Accordingly I became intrigued to read Bram Stoker's classic; having finished it, this is one sensational and satisfying horror yarn. Yet the reader must keep in mind the times in which it was written, when emotional melodrama and hand wringing were common in literature. Yes, I was rolling my eyes during some of the "We're doomed, doomed!" and "Oh my dear sweet love!" goofiness, yet I was amply rewarded staying with the story about an ancient vampire looking to leave his native Transylvania and feast on the streets of London--and the hearty group of souls bent on destroying him.

The novel is comprised of three distinct plots. The first finds Jonathan Harker, a young real estate solicitor, traveling to Dracula's castle to complete numerous transactions involving the Count's purchasing of several English estates; very quickly Jonathan discovers something is awry and inhuman about the old Count, and he also discovers he's a literal prisoner in Castle Dracula, where his plight becomes more desperate as he realizes he's going to be left behind as food for Dracula's blood-sucking harem. Only by attempting a daring and dangerous escape--once Dracula has embarked on his journey--does Jonathan not join the ranks of the Undead; he lives to see another day, and marry Mina, his fiancé.

The second plot relays the Count's bloody entrance into England, and the courtship of Lucy, a dear friend of Mina's, by three love-sick suitors, and Lucy's mysterious illness. Lucy continues to suffer from lack of blood, and Dr. John Seward, one of the suitors, sends for his mentor, Professor Abraham Van Helsing, who specializes in strange and rare ailments. Despite John and Van Helsing's best efforts, Lucy continues to grow weaker; Van Helsing begins suspecting something supernatural is victimizing her. Ultimately Lucy dies, yet Van Helsing suspects it is a false death, and that Lucy is transitioning into the unholy Undead. Despite the vigorous protestations of her betrothed, Lord Godalming, and his friend Quincy Morris, the group opens Lucy's tomb to discover the professor is right--and that Lucy must be destroyed in order for her soul to be released.

Finally, the third plot involves the Harkers, the professor, and the other three men entering a pact to find and destroy Dracula--no matter the cost. As they seek out and desecrate the Count's many hiding places, Mina herself begins suffering the same as Lucy. Running out of time, the men finally confront the vampire as he enters one of his abandoned properties; Dracula escapes, but realizes he's met his match, and flees England to return to his castle. The group pursues, aided by Mina's connection to the vampire's mind, as he has forced her to taste his blood. Splitting into three groups, the pursuers ultimately confront Dracula as he has a group of gypsies take his coffin back to his castle. There is a violent struggle--and at last, peace.

Told in the form of letters, diary entries, journals, and clippings by several of the characters, Bram Stoker's DRACULA is a page-turning masterpiece. Again, contemporary horror buffs might find the writing style somewhat tedious, but for those who want to enjoy a suspenseful, frightening, and above all, wonderfully written tale of terror, this classic deliciously satisfies.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


Anatomy of a Love Seen
Anatomy of a Love Seen
DVD
Price: $3.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Foundering in A Sea of Estrogen, November 24, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
So I ventured into the world of lesbian erotica hoping to be captivated by a point of view unknown to me, along with a compelling story. Marina Rice Bader's ANATOMY OF A LOVE SEEN misses the compelling mark by a girl power mile; this is a 2-hour snore fest that never finds a rhythm or pace, populated by petulant prima donnas. The actual premise shows promise: Two now-estranged lover/actresses (Sharon Hinendael and Jill Evyn) are called back by their director (Bader herself) to shoot a pick-up scene from the movie where they originally fell in love. The scene is an intimate bedroom scene, making it a difficult proposition for the actresses and the film crew. Yet this premise quickly erodes as the film meanders into countless temper tantrums and pouting sessions, all augmented by dialogue that's just plain goofy. Halfway into this mess I was tempted to go buy some wine and ice cream and have a good cry. After the movie was over I wanted to graduate to whisky shots.

To be sure, both Hinendael and Evyn have some talent (and Hinendael is stunningly gorgeous), but not talented enough to overcome a tired, sophomoric yawner. And the secondary story featuring Bader and her assistant (Constance Brenneman) trying to figure out the boundaries of their relationship was bizarre as it was unnecessary. We're ultimately left with a sort-of butterflies and kittens ending, followed by the initial love scene that sparked the romance. No doubt this was Bader's payoff to her audience for sticking it out over two hours of contrived banality; unfortunately it's not enough of a reward to overcome all the relentless boredom. I'm not ready to give up on lesbian erotica, but ANATOMY OF A LOVE SEEN guarantees I'm staying away from the genre for a long, long time.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


Winter's Tale (2013) (Blu-ray+DVD)
Winter's Tale (2013) (Blu-ray+DVD)
DVD ~ Colin Farrell
Price: $24.99
23 used & new from $17.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What A Jewel!, November 3, 2014
Critically panned and basically shunned when it made its theatrical run, I caught WINTER'S TALE on cable with exactly zero anticipation. Knock me over with a feather! This whimsical, magical, haunting tale of transcendent love is a definite keeper. WINTER'S TALE is the story of thief Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), a 1916 New York troublemaker who's made a mortal enemy of the demon Pearly (Russell Crowe is terrific). By chance, Peter breaks into the wealthy Penn household to rob it, and meets the beautiful--yet consumptive--Beverly Penn (the stunning Jessica Brown Findlay). Beverly's days are numbered, yet the two instantly fall in deep love, and Peter decides if there's one more thing for him to steal, it is Beverly's death. This yearning for a "miracle" makes Beverly the target for Pearly, who sends a goon to the Penn country estate to poison Beverly. Peter is crushed, and his confrontation with Pearly and his men should have been his demise, yet Peter finds himself crawling out of the East River in the year 2014; it turns out he cannot die, for he is Beverly's miracle. Destiny puts him in the path of terminally ill little Abby (Ripley Sobo), and her mother Virginia (Jennifer Connelly). Peter discovers that saving Abby is his miracle, and after one more confrontation with Pearly (who is incensed Peter is still alive), a miracle does indeed take place. The viewer then learns there is a close correlation between miracles. . .and the stars of the sky.

Again, this is a beautiful, haunting film showing love is timeless and transcends lifetimes. Other noteworthy acting performances include William Hurt as the Penn patriarch, Graham Greene as Peter's mentor and friend, and a cameo by Will Smith as the Judge (i.e., Satan). Screenplay writer and director Akiva Goldsman bases WINTER'S TALE on the Mark Helprin novel of the same name; it's a novel I will definitely be picking up. If one can get past the bad press and approach this film with an open mind, WINTER'S TALE will prove to be a most rewarding experience.
--D. Mikels, Esq.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 17, 2014 7:46 AM PST


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [Blu-ray]
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Ben Stiller
Price: $17.49
18 used & new from $7.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Greenland Is Now On My Bucket List, October 24, 2014
It was high school since I last read James Thurber's THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, so it was fun to revisit literature's best daydreamer via Ben Stiller's offering. My expectations pulling up a chair to watch this film were nada, so I came away most pleasantly surprised. Stiller hasn't been in anything memorable recently, but here he's captivating and charming as Walter Mitty, a soft-spoken darkroom developer for the soon-to-be-defunct 'Life' magazine. Walter goes about his tedious job quietly, harboring a considerable crush for a co-worker (Kristen Wiig) whom he is too shy to approach. . .but does he ever daydream about her. (By far my favorite fantasy involved a spoof on Benjamin Button.) Vagabond global journalist/photographer Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn) has sent Walter some negatives to develop; in particular, Sean instructs Life management to be sure to use Negative 25 for the cover of the magazine's final issue. Trouble is, Walter can't find it anywhere, and as he knows his days of employment are numbered, he embarks on a spontaneous trip looking for the elusive reporter that takes him on adventures beyond his wildest fantasies--from Greenland, to Iceland, to the snowcapped Himalayas. The story then neatly ties up a handful of subplots, with the finding of Negative 25 the ultimate payoff. Again, this is one charming film.

Stiller is stellar here (sorry, couldn't resist); he plays the introverted Walter with "Aw, shucks" aplomb. The years of chain smoking and living on the edge have taken their toll on Penn, yet Shirley MacLaine seems ageless as Walter's somewhat overbearing mother. Walter's nemesis is new boss Ted, played by Adam Scott. Scott's performance? He should stick to making vodka commercials. Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed an actor by the name of Olafur Darri Olafsson, playing a drunken Greenlander helicopter pilot, a pilot who sends Walter directly into the icy waters of the North Atlantic. Yet Stiller is the ultimate prize with this film, as both actor and director, and many of the vistas as Walter goes on his journey are literally stunning and breathtaking. THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is a definite feel good movie, a film daring you not to be charmed. When's the next Air Greenland flight?
--D. Mikels, Esq.


Lone Survivor (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet)
Lone Survivor (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet)
DVD ~ Mark Wahlberg
Price: $17.95
61 used & new from $10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Brutal Intensity, October 20, 2014
Based on a true story, a story about four Navy SEALS on a counter insurgent mission in the remote Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan that goes tragically awry, LONE SURVIVOR is a gripping, intense, and overwhelming story depicting a fierce determination to survive, no matter the costs. The four SEALS, Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch), and Matt Axelson (Ben Foster), are discovered by three goat herders wandering in the upper elevations of the mountains; thus the team has a dilemma: kill the civilians, which violates the Rules of Engagement; tie them up and leave them to be found in the coming days; or let them go and abort their mission. Unfortunately, the team chooses the third option, only to discover their location is too remote to communicate for a rescue chopper. They encounter a huge force of fierce Taliban fighters, and an intense firefight ensues. This violence is graphic and definitely not for the faint of heart. All four of the men sustain severe injuries, and true to the film's title, only Luttrell survives the battle. A local village comes to his aid, with one of the villagers hiding him in his house, and LONE SURVIVOR becomes a race against time to alert the military of Luttrell's location before the Taliban wipes out the entire village.

All four of the actors are superb and incredibly believable, particularly as they sustain ever more severe injuries and realize the hopelessness of their plight. Writer and director Peter Berg deserves similar platitudes for presenting such a riveting and intense story. One star off due to the film's slow motion start, taking much too long to set up the main story; however, once the mission goes awry, LONE SURVIVOR moves at a breathtaking pace. This is a true tale of courage and the indomitable will of the human spirit, a tale enthusiastically recommended.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


Sugar Daddy 48 Pops
Sugar Daddy 48 Pops
Offered by Candy Gift Shop
Price: $10.80
3 used & new from $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars When Sticking to the Roof of Your Mouth is Fun, October 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sugar Daddy 48 Pops (Misc.)
I have been an unabashed fan of SUGAR DADDY suckers since I was a rug rat. The rich caramel taste, along with the long lasting endurance of these pops, have always been a hit. And then the payoff, when your tongue has finally softened the sucker to the point it achieves putty status, you get to bite it off the stick and savor all that gummy goodness. . .usually with the candy resting firmly at the top of your mouth. Ah, pure bliss!

As the years went by, Sugar Daddy and I drifted apart. I never saw the candy on display at any grocery or convenience stores, so I just assumed the candy was no longer made. But then, to my amazement, I recently bought a bag of assorted candies--and discovered a handful of small SUGAR DADDY POPS mixed in! So I raced off to this wonderful website, and saw that not only could I buy SUGAR DADDY candy, I could buy up to 48 of the small suckers! These arrived only days ago, and I have been snacking contentedly ever since. These small pops are the perfect size for a light snack; there's certainly no caramel overkill. You can just pluck this pop in your mouth and enjoy! SUGAR DADDY 48 POPS are enthusiastically recommended for all consumers of hard caramel candy!
--D. Mikels, Esq.


The Oklahoma Panhandle (Images of America)
The Oklahoma Panhandle (Images of America)
by Sara Jane Richter
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.07
24 used & new from $12.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Portrayal of No Man's Land, September 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Oklahoma Panhandle. Many who live in the main body of Oklahoma--or travelers from north Texas or Arkansas--know it as a necessity to drive through while on their way to the Rockies in New Mexico or Colorado. The fact is, it's not usually a destination. So what is the history of this narrow, long strip of semi-arid land whose sparse inhabitants once contemplated forming their own state? How is the terrain, as one travels from east to west in this rugged land? And what kind of hearty souls not only live in the Panhandle, but WANT to live there? The answers are provided in Sara Jane Richter's travelogue THE OKLAHOMA PANHANDLE (IMAGES OF AMERICA).

Richter, an instructor at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, provides a plethora of information and photographs about this isolated land. Most who have driven through this region know that a great deal of it is as flat as your coffee table, but Richter points out there are some contrasting geographical regions, including Black Mesa--Oklahoma's highest point--located in the far northwestern corner of the Panhandle (and the only part of the state on Mountain Time instead of Central Time). We also learn about the hearty people who settled the area, from outlaws hiding from the law, to cattle barons, to ranchers and farmers and merchants and schoolteachers. Page after page is archived by photographs depicting the land, or the people, or special events; by far the most interesting pictures (to this reviewer) show the devastation of the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. The author has a determined affection for No Man's Land, and it shows in the pages of this book. From Beaver to Texas to Cimarron Counties, the population is sparse--yet the vistas are endless. THE OKLAHOMA PANHANDLE (IMAGES OF AMERICA) is an interesting introduction for those wishing to learn more about this rugged and isolated land.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


Death Masks: Book Five of The Dresden Files
Death Masks: Book Five of The Dresden Files
by Jim Butcher
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $8.99
99 used & new from $3.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Showdown On Top of A Moving Train, September 25, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Gotta hand it to wizard Harry Dresden: His supernatural plate is always overflowing. His magical powers interfere with the cameras and monitors while he's doing a live on-air interview; Count Ortega of the Red Court of Vampires challenges him to a duel to end the war between the vampires and wizards; the Vatican hires him to find the stolen Shroud of Turin, but he must compete with crime boss Johnny Marcone, who covets it, too; a pack of very nasty demons also want the Shroud--and Harry's soul; and Harry's half-vampire girlfriend, Susan, steps into his life after a one year hiatus. Put all of these ingredients together, along with Harry's never-ending one-liners and quips, and you've got the feisty novel DEATH MASKS, the fifth installment in author Jim Butcher's fun-filled Dresden Files series.

Vampires. Denarians. The Fallen. These are the villains of DEATH MASKS, and the underworld demons present the most dangerous foes Harry has come across to date. Fortunately, Lt. Karrin Murphy of Chicago's Special Investigations Unit, the three Knights of the Cross, Susan, and Johnny Marcone himself come to Harry's aid. The final battle for the Shroud takes place atop a moving freight train churning from Chicago to St. Louis, and it's a showdown that promises to keep the reader busily turning pages. And this installment introduces us to a new character, Butters, a polka-loving medical examiner, and re-acquaints us with Michael, one of the Knights of the Cross, who we last left behind in Grave Peril. As with all of its predecessors, the action begins right from the start, and never lets up; Butcher has a knack for telling a grand tale while never taking his foot off the gas. DEATH MASKS is a fun, fast read, promising to leave the reader with a burning desire to move on to the next installment in this fast-paced series.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Special Edition) (DVD)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Special Edition) (DVD)
DVD ~ Ian McKellen
Price: $9.99
24 used & new from $9.30

3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Embellishment, September 24, 2014
Got to hand it to Peter Jackson. This guy can definitely create story. A case in point: THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG. This is a 3-hour visual feast of a story basically pulled from Jackson's creative posterior. You won't find much of this second Hobbit installment in the pages of the children's book; you certainly won't find an Elvish woman named Tauriel, and you definitely won't find any hint of a budding romance between Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and the young (and much, much shorter) Dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner). In fact, I give it up to Jackson; once the third installment is released later this year, he will have created nine hours of cinema. . .out of a 275-page book. Improvisation, anyone?

Far darker than its Hobbit predecessor, THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG depicts the dwarves' journey through creepy Mirkwood, to being smuggled into the remnants of Dale by a reluctant Bard (Luke Evans), to the dwarves finding the magic door into Erebor, ultimately to confronting evil Smaug (a glorified cartoon character). The story, in fine Jackson fashion, moves along swiftly; there's lots of action and sword yielding and arrow shooting. And we face two cliff hangers: the unknown fate of Gandalf (Ian McKellen just gets better and better) at the hand (eye?) of Sauron in Dol Guldur; and Smaug flying away from Erebor to wreak an unknown quantity of havoc on Dale. As always, the visuals and effects are stunning--if not creatively ad libbed.

Once again, Martin Freeman is masterful as Bilbo; Richard Armitage kingly as Thorin; and we're even treated to an appearance by Orlando Bloom as Legolas. (And while Bloom looks much older playing the arrow-shooting Elf, we're supposed to keep in mind the Hobbit story occurs some 60 years prior to 'Lord of the Rings'.) It's a fun, fast-moving film, even though Tolkien himself would fail to recognize the embellishment that is THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG.
--D. Mikels, Esq.


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