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Give thanks for these DVDs

BeFunky_Underdog, Broadway Danny Rose.jpgNo film can really capture the true Thanksgiving experience but these Turkey Day-themed movies, are as close as it’s going to get.

“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987)
With Steve Martin and John Candy at their comic apexes, this one is charming and hilarious any time of year. Martin is a Madison Avenue advertising executive who couldn’t be more different than the traveling shower curtain ring salesmen (Candy) on whom he depends to get back to his family in Chicago for Thanksgiving. One of the best (and most touching) of the buddy/roadtrip genre. Rated R (for language).

“Scent of a Woman” (1992)
Chris O'Donnell is a middle-class student financially over his head, so to get back home for Christmas, he works through his Thanksgiving break looking after a gruff, bitter, and blind retired Army officer (Al Pacino ) who’s bent on going out in style. The two set out on a wild weekend in New York City that transforms them both. Though nominated eight times, it is Pacino’s only OSCAR-winning performance. Hoo- Ah. Rated R.

Home for the Holidays (1995)
Holly Hunter, Charles Durning and Robert Downey Jr. star in this Jodie Foster-directed under-the-radar “dramedy” that features some touching moments, but more laugh-out-loud ones (even mealtime grace is funny). A must-see for those who haven’t. Rated PG-13.

“Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986) and “Broadway Danny Rose” (1984)
Two of comic legend Woody Allen's best. In the first, an ensemble including Michael Caine. Barbara Hershey and the underrated Diane Wiest bring all of their neurotic baggage to a Thanksgiving celebration hosted by eldest sister Mia Farrow. Allen’s own story thread, more of an afterthought than integrated, is the funniest though aged artist Max Von Sydow probably has the best line when he says, “I don't sell my work by the yard!” Rated PG-13.
The story of Danny Rose, a pitiable talent manager who can’t seem to hit the big time, makes this list because of a hysterical helium-fueled scene in the hangar where the Macy’s Parade balloons are stored. Allen is on the run after being mistaken as mob moll Mia Farrow’s paramour. Second only to “Annie Hall.” Rated PG.

“Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)
Today also marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and no film better handles the commercialization of that holiday than this one, which famously unfolds with a narrowly avoided catastrophe at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Corny at times, it’s a treat watching young Natalie Wood go from a hardened cynic to a true believer. Not rated.

Chris Miksanek, The Med City Movie Guy

twitter: @MedCityMovieGuy



Dy-no-mite! Jimmie Walker at Rochester Eagles Club

244821-250Jimmie Walker at Rochester Eagles Club
Comedian Jimmie "JJ" Walker
Saturday  August 3, 2013 8:00PM
Rochester Eagle Club
917 -15th Ave SE
Call: 507.289.9532


James Gandolfini 1961-2013

Chris Miksanek, The Med City Movie Guy

twitter: @MedCityMovieGuy



“Iron Man 3” a worthy heir to the franchise

Chris Miksanek -- The Med City Movie Guy - 'Iron Man 3' reviewHistorically, sequels grow progressively worse than their predecessors. Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece “The Godfather,” for example, was followed by “The Godfather: Part II,” a great movie but a smidge below its antecedent with “The Godfather: Part III” following a full notch below that. (And don’t even get me started on “Revenge of the Nerds IV.”)

In the Marvel Universe, however, there is a cohesion that buoys the entire franchise.

In this go-round, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) flashes back to a missed opportunity to work with a bright scientist named Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) who later goes on to become Iron Man’s nemesis (yea, I know, Buddy Pine and Syndrome in “The Incredibles”).

Killian and botanist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) have created a regenerative virus called Extremis. To hide the technology’s imperfections blame is laid on a terrorist strawman called “The Mandarin” (Ben Kingsley).

Lots of fun and action here with Downey once again doing most of the heavy lifting. (Iron Man, heavy listing, ’cause iron weights a … oh, never mind!)

Pearce makes a great villain but is somewhat upstaged by Kingsley’s nuanced “performance.” There’s additional comic relief from Happy Hogan, Stark’s head of security played by Jon Favreau (who helmed the first two films); and, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts has an expanded role. But you forget all of that with the surprise after-credits bonus which real fans would stay for even without my recommendation.

(Speaking of comic relief, Stan Lee’s clever cameos are epic and I give this one a 10.0 but it’s quick so don’t look down at your tub of popcorn for even a second or you’ll miss it.)

The question remains, with the shrapnel removed is this the final film in the series or will a new chapter be written? “The Avengers 2” is slated for a 2015 release but Downey has not yet inked his participation.

Chris Miksanek -- The Med City Movie Guy - 'Iron Man 3' 4 honks

Chris Miksanek, The Med City Movie Guy

twitter: @MedCityMovieGuy



Roger Ebert 1942 - 2013

Growing up in Chicago I didn’t appreciated Roger Ebert’s influence on the film industry. The critic was a ubiquitous presence in the newspaper I once delivered and on television with his longtime foil, Gene Siskel.

Chris Miksanek -- The Med City Movie Guy -- BeFunky -- Roger Ebert WikiCommons.jpgTruth be told, I always preferred Siskel’s matter-of-fact and often visceral impressions to Ebert’s analytical analysis which, to be honest, sometimes sucked the fun out of guilty pleasures like The Poseidon Adventure. (Yet he liked Brüno so go figure.)

But what Roger Ebert accomplished, and what film fans should be thankful for, is that he elevated film review from entertainment reporting (e.g., Rex Reed and Gene Shalit) to critique that was authoritative and credible. In doing so he also raised the filmmaking bar.

Roger Ebert faded to black on Thursday at the age of 70.

Chris Miksanek, The Med City Movie Guy

twitter: @MedCityMovieGuy



My Oscar picks in Thursday's PB.

Chris Miksanek - The Med City Movie Guy - 'Golden Boy'What're yours? Enter the "Red Carpet Contest." See the PB for details.

Chris Miksanek, The Med City Movie Guy

twitter: @MedCityMovieGuy







Top (and bottom) films of 2012?

Our 18th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards nominations have been announced. As I contemplate my vote, I am also assembling a top ten list for my January 3rd column. Which films would be on your best of 2012 list? Your worst of 202 list? Read my picks in Thursday's Post-Bulletin.

-- Chris Miksanek
-- The Med City Movie Guy

Chris Miksanek - The Med City Mocie Guy -- The Best and Worst Films of 2012 -- Lincoln  Chris Miksanek - The Med City Mocie Guy -- The Best and Worst Films of 2012 -- That's My Boy


I'm the Med City Movie Guy and I Approve these films

“I'm the Med City Movie Guy and I approve these films” (Director's Cut)

Chris Miksanek - The Med City Movie Guy - Campaign films, Director's Cut -- 'Citizen Kane'In case you didn't notice, the 20-month campaign is coming to a close. That's bad news for political junkies but good news for the rest of us. Just the same, if you're one of the former, here’re some election-themed movies that get my vote. These will hold you over until the 2014 midterms:

The Campaign (2012) A wild comedy about the lengths two candidates will go to win a seat in congress. Will Ferrell is the slick incumbent and Zach Galifianakis is the delicate challenger who comes swiftly up to speed on dirty campaigning. Lots of predictable political gags and far from biting satire though there are still plenty laughs with no obvious political agenda.

Welcome to Mooseport (2004) Gene Hackman stars as ex-president Monroe "Eagle" Cole who moves to the small town of Mooseport where he locks horns with plumber Ray Romano. Both quickly find themselves in a contentious campaign for mayor of their minuscule Maine town but what they’re really after is Maura Tierney. It was Hackman’s last film before himself retiring. Not a great one but great fun.

Primary Colors (1998) A surprisingly entertaining spoof -- or documentary depending on which insider you speak with -- of Bill Clinton’s 1992 Presidential run. John Travolta is brilliant as Governor Jack Stanton and delivers wonderfully wry lines like, “I'm going to tell you something really outrageous. I'm going to tell you the truth.”

Bulworth (1998) Warren Beatty stars as Senator Jay Billington Bulworth, a veteran Democrat who, when his constituency finds his liberal views outdated, contracts to have himself assassinated then uses the short time he has left to speak his mind without regard for consequences ... until those outbursts make him a media darling and his campaign is reenergized. It’s Beatty’s best work since “Ishtar.” Hmmm, that’s not saying much. It’s his best since “Reds” ... since “Heaven Can Wait” ... Well, let’s just say this is one of Beatty’s best.

Bob Roberts (1992) A provocative mocumentary following fictional conservative senatorial candidate Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins) as he campaigns across Pennsylvania under the mantra, “The times they are a-changin’ back.” Humorous, of course, but also engaging as we watch the crafty pol carefully avoid being exposed for the fraud he so obviously is.

Ides of March (2011) Daggers thrust from all directions in this George Clooney-directed political drama that stars Ryan Gosling as a junior adviser to Clooney’s presidential candidate. Gosling makes a tactical mistake meeting with his opponent’s campaign manager (Paul Giamatti) that gets him fired when his boss (Philip Seymour Hoffman) gets wind of the meeting from an instigating New York Times reporter (Marisa Tomei). Riveting in spite of Clooney’s plethora of presidential platitudes.

The American President (1995) Michael Douglas is a widowed President who romances a lobbyist (Annette Bening) while trying to run a re-election campaign against a conservative family-values Republican challenger (Richard Dreyfuss). Douglas' charm and pragmatism win the day in this -- do I even have to say? -- Rob Reiner-directed romcom/drama. Great chemistry between Douglas and Bening.

The Candidate (1972) If idealism was sugar, Robert Redford’s oratory would send viewers into a diabetic coma with his portrayal of liberal lawyer turned liberal candidate Bill McKay. Though the post-election victory quote, “What do we do now?” is considered iconic, the real question is: how would Jay Gatsby react to McKay’s ‘tax the rich’ policy? Famous last lines: What do we do now?

Man of the Year (2006) In this paean to populist politics, talk show host Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) is recruited to run for President, hardly expecting a victory. But when a software glitch in the new electronic voting machine skews the results and delivers him one, he has to choose between a career as the jester or as the jestee. Will Rogers-type commentary never goes out of style.

Swing Vote (2008) A preposterously unlikely tie and a malformed ballot leave apathetic schlub Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) casting the single “swing vote” that will decide a presidential election. Every vote counts, but apparently Bud’s counts more as each candidate targets their campaign messages specifically to him with hysterical commercials lampooning wedge issues like abortion and illegal immigration that will make you laugh out loud if not squirm in politically incorrect discomfort.

Chris Miksanek, The Med City Movie Guy

twitter: @MedCityMovieGuy



Elvis Week runs through the 18th.

Chris Miksanek - The Med City Movie Guy - 'Elvis Minnesota moments'Rochester: what's your favorite Elvis movie? Read my round-up in Thursday's (it's the 35th anniversary of The King's death) Post-Bulletin.

-- Chris Miksanek
-- The Med City Movie Guy








Who is Rochester’s #1 fanboy? Find out Thursday

I talk to Rochester’s #1 fanboy in Thursday’s Post-Bulletin ahead of the midnight showing of the much-anticipated “The Dark Knight Rises.”

-- Chris Miksanek
-- The Med City Movie Guy

The Med City Movie Guy -- Who is this fanboy