Rachel Kolb

Staff Writer

I love movies, writing, and breaking into song in public. You can follow me on Twitter @rachelekolb or check out more of my work at http://rachelekolb.wordpress.com.

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One for the Money Review

Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl) is at the end of her rope. She lost her job as a lingerie manager at Macy's, her bills are piling up, and her car was just repossessed. Out of desperation, she takes a job as a bounty hunter to make some quick cash and decides to go after a $50,000 target Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara). As it happens, Stephanie and Joe have a history together involving cannolis and Stephanie losing her virginity, so the question is, does Stephanie want the reward or revenge?

May
20
2012
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Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show Review

Alessio (Giuseppe Soleri) is a struggling filmmaker trying to get a film greenlit, but his producer wants a more experienced writer involved in developing the script. Since Alessio wants to make a horror film, his producer sends him to stay with best-selling horror writer Ubaldo Terzani (Paolo Sassanelli) for a couple of weeks to co-write the script together. Ubaldo Terzani's claim to fame is that the murders in his books are so gritty and realistic that they haunt his readers, so of course, the question is whether he is a talented writer or a killer who writes about his exploits? (Hint: He's a killer. You can tell from the moment he walks on screen.)

Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show is a highly misleading title for this movie. Horrors, aside from the terrible acting and worse writing, are in short supply. Blood and guts are gross and will get an easy rise out of an audience, but they are not scary. I would be scared if Ubaldo Terzani was a clever killer and not projecting his psychopathic tendencies in every move he makes and every line he speaks. I would have liked a smarter hero and a subtler villain. I mean, Ubaldo has a room that he locks every time he leaves. Clearly, he is hiding a lot of bodies.

Apr
30
2012
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Masterpiece Classic: Great Expectations Review

Masterpiece Classic brings one of Charles Dickens' most beloved tales to life in a three-part miniseries. Pip (Douglas Booth) is a child of low birth who is given the chance to rise above and become a gentleman. He has a mysterious benefactor paying for his ascent into high society, and he believes Miss Havisham (Gillian Anderson), a mentally unstable and extremely wealthy spinster, is grooming him to wed her adopted daughter Estella (Vanessa Kirby). There are other forces at work that Pip doesn't see, though, and as he spends more time drinking with his pals in tailored suits, he might be losing the qualities that made people have high expectations for him in the first place.

Apr
28
2012
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Kate & Leopold Review

Kate (Meg Ryan) is a career-driven market researcher in Manhattan who has given up on love. Her last boyfriend Stuart (Liev Schreiber) was a physicist who found the secret to time travel and traveled back to 1876. Unfortunately, he accidentally brought back Leopold (Hugh Jackman), the Duke of Albany and inventor of the elevator, with him, and now Leopold is falling in love with Kate. In almost every way, Kate and Leopold shouldn't be right for each other. Leopold is a man out of time, and Kate is an independent New York woman. Even if anything happened, Leopold would have to go back to 1876 at some point. Are they forced to go their separate ways forever parted by time, or do they find a way to be together?

Apr
27
2012
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Angels Crest Review

In a small mountain town, 3-year-old Nate goes missing after his father Ethan (Thomas Dekker) leaves him unattended, strapped into the car seat in Ethan's truck. Nate slips out of his car seat, climbs out of the car, and freezes to death in the woods. Before his body is even found, the town is already taking sides. Is Ethan a good father that just made a mistake, or did his negligence cause Nate's death?

Angels Crest is a competent movie up until the last few minutes of the last scene of the movie. The film wanted to explore how parents grieve when they lose a child and how they will blame themselves, even if there was nothing they could have done. Rabbit Hole did a much better job and had the guts to go for a difficult ending.

Apr
25
2012
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My Week with Marilyn Review

Colin (Eddie Redmayne) loves the movies and desperately wants to work in the movies in any way he can. In a giant leap of faith, he goes to London and visits a movie studio's office every day until they give him a job on a new film starring Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). After proving himself reliable and hardworking, Colin is promoted to looking after Marilyn since she seems to trust him. Unfortunately, Colin gets a bit too starstruck for his own good and falls head-over-heels for Marilyn. My Week with Marilyn follows Colin's week and near-romance with Marilyn Monroe.

Apr
17
2012
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A Cookbook for Insatiable "Hunger Games" Fans

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After its fourth weekend topping the box office, it is safe to say that The Hunger Games is a hit. The film had its struggles on the way to the top including unfair Battle Royale comparisons, outrageously racist criticisms of the actress playing Rue, and critics who couldn't get over a female protagonist in an action movie. Despite it all, however, The Hunger Games emerged as a massively successful film, so like other franchises that came before it (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter), The Hunger Games is becoming a brand.

Apr
17
2012
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Nothing Says "Delicious" Like Hogwarts Hummus

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Almost a year ago, moviegoers were anxiously awaiting the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, the final film in the Harry Potter series. Fan excitement seemed to be at an all-time high, and there was much debate about the lasting power of the film and book series. 10 years from now, would Harry Potter still be a giant in pop culture? One year later, Harry Potter isn't going anywhere. Despite not having any new books or movies, there are plans to expand Universal Studios' Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Florida and build a new Wizarding World park in California. Wands and wizard robes are still selling, and amongst the vast Harry Potter merchandising is The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook:From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory – More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Muggles and Wizards. Does the cookbook capture the magic of the series, or is it nothing more than a cash-in on the popular franchise?

Apr
13
2012
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La Visita (The Visitor) Review

Adolfo (Francois Perier) is a city man looking to settle down. Pina (Sandra Milo) is a country girl looking for some romance. They find each other through a personals ad in the newspaper, and after months of letters, they decide to meet. Adolfo takes the train down to Pina's village for the day, hoping to find romance. As the day goes on, their preconceptions slowly break down, and they start discovering how little you can know about someone you think you could love.

Despite its hokey-sounding premise, The Visitor (La Visita) is a fantastic film that deserves a proper DVD release. What I love about the film is how it seems to be setting up these tired rom-com tropes and then completely defies expectations again and again. Without giving too much away, neither Adolfo nor Pina is being completely honest about who they are. Adolfo is not a bumbling geek, and Pina is not the sugary sweet country girl serving up too much food. They both have secrets, and there is a good reason why they are looking for love in the personals ads.

Apr
05
2012
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The Burning Moon Review

Gore for gore's sake is not interesting to me, and when I first saw the cover of The Burning Moon, I knew I needed to stock up on more beer to get through it. Still, I had that small part of me that hoped it might be entertaining in a so-good-it's-bad way or that I could see why someone else might enjoy it. Unfortunately, that was not the case. For all of its hype and gross cover art, The Burning Moon is actually incredibly boring.

In The Burning Moon, a rebellious teenage boy is left home to babysit his younger sister while his parents go out on a date, and for kicks, he shoots up and tells his sister two horrifying “bedtime stories.” The first story is typical slasher fare with a convict escaping from a mental institution and killing a girl's entire family. The second story is a sadistic priest raping and torturing women.

Mar
23
2012
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Happily Divorced: Season One Review

Fran Drescher makes her return to TV in TV Land's original show Happily Divorced. At the start of season 1, Fran (yes, her character's name is Fran, too) and her husband Peter (John Michael Higgins) have just had sex, and he admits to her that he is gay. Fran is upset for about 5 minutes before she starts discussing divorce. In a necessary sitcom twist, they owe more on their house than it is worth, so they have to live together until the housing market turns around and they can sell the house. How will they deal with dating new people while still living together? What shenanigans will ensue?

Mar
19
2012
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Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show Review

Alessio (Giuseppe Soleri) is a struggling filmmaker trying to get a film greenlit, but his producer wants a more experienced writer involved in developing the script. Since Alessio wants to make a horror film, his producer sends him to stay with best-selling horror writer Ubaldo Terzani (Paolo Sassanelli) for a couple of weeks to co-write the script together. Ubaldo Terzani's claim to fame is that the murders in his books are so gritty and realistic that they haunt his readers, so of course, the question is whether he is a talented writer or a killer who writes about his exploits? (Hint: He's a killer. You can tell from the moment he walks on screen.)

Mar
09
2012
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Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season Review

(Minor spoilers ahead)

HBO's new series Game of Thrones, based on the bestselling series by George R.R. Martin, opens in the fantasy kingdom of Westeros where the hand of the king has just died. The king of Westeros Robert Barratheon (Mark Addy) is feeling the pressure of the throne weighing on him, and he does not expect any of his advisors to be anything more than over-privileged yes-men. He travels north to Winterfell to ask his most trusted friend Ned Stark (Sean Bean) to take over as the new hand of the king. Meanwhile across the sea in Pentos, the last two living heirs of the Targaryen family, the former royalty of Westeros, are coming out of hiding and gathering forces to reclaim the throne. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is married off to the powerful war lord Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) understanding that her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd) is gaining an army. Unbeknownst to all of them, an ancient evil is stirring in the north which cannot be swayed by money or power. It brings with it eternal winter and death to all it encounters.

Mar
06
2012
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American Experience: The Amish Review

In the United States, there are very few people who build their entire lives around an unchanging set of religious beliefs because the logistics of doing so are unbelievably difficult. For this reason, the fact that the Amish have survived so long in the United States is a bit of a miracle. The PBS documentary The Amish covers the history of Amish communities in the United States, the struggles they have endured, and the problems within the Amish community.

The Amish attempts two very difficult tasks. First, they are making a documentary about a group of people that do not like to be photographed or filmed, so they can't do on-screen interviews or film everyday life in an Amish home. Second, they have to show an anti-technology isolationist community evenhandedly. They achieved the first task fairly well. The Amish did not stop the filmmakers from filming them or taking photographs from a distance, so the director managed to get away with this footage combined with audio interviews and some on-screen interviews with Amish experts.

Feb
28
2012
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Wordgirl: The Rise of Miss Power Review

The PBS animated series Wordgirl focuses its attention on expanding children's vocabularies and teaching the power of words. The show's protagonist Becky Botsford (Darren Feinglass) is a bright young girl with a Superman-like past. She might look like any other normal girl, but she is actually an alien with superhuman powers from the planet Lexicon. Her super hero alter ego is WordGirl, dedicated to “fighting for truth, justice, and use of the right word,” and she protects her Earth hometown of Fair City from a number of recurring villains including Dr. Two-Brains (Tom Kenny), Toby McCalister III (Patton Oswalt), and Chuck The Evil Sandwich-Making Guy (Fred Stoller).

Feb
27
2012
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The Whistleblower Review

Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) is a Nebraska cop going through a rough patch. She lost custody of her children after her second divorce, and despite all her hard work, she can't seem to get a promotion. When she hears about an opportunity to work as a U.N. Peacekeeper, she decides to take it. It seems like the perfect job. For less than a year of work, she will get the money she needs to buy a house close to her children. Besides that, she will be working for the United Nations in a place where she is really needed. She has no idea what she is walking into.

Feb
23
2012
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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level Review

Every once in awhile, there is a Blu-ray release that is truly spectacular. The extended cuts of Lord of the Rings and Disney's classics like Beauty and the Beast and Bambi are great examples, but after seeing the grueling task of restoring Star Trek: The Next Generation from the original prints for Blu-ray and getting a sneak-peek at the finished product, I am awe-struck. It is a Next Generation fan's dream come true.

The Next Level Blu-ray is actually just a teaser of the upcoming full season releases. They included the pilot episode Encounter at Farpoint and two fan-favorite episodes, plus a look at the upgrade comparing original shots with the HD clean-up. The fan-favorite episodes were Sins of the Father and The Inner Light, and it was clear why they chose them.

Feb
16
2012
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Frida Review

The career of stage and screen director Julie Taymor is a fascinating look at what happens to an artist unchecked by money or good sense. She earned respect with her visually spectacular Titus and Frida as well as the stage adaptation of Disney's The Lion King, and then she spent the next few years squandering that respect with the beautiful but uneven Across the Universe and the widely panned adaptation of The Tempest. Broadway's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was the last straw for many fans and critics, a multimillion-dollar mess that ended in her being replaced as director. Frida was the height of Julie Taymor's career and represents what drew people to her work in the first place. While Taymor's career might have hit some bumps in recent years, Frida is still a great film and a loving look at the life and work of Frida Kahlo.

Feb
13
2012
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Punished Review

The original Chinese poster for 2011's Punished is a man who appears to be standing upon an endless sky. It is lovely and reflective (both literally and figuratively). The front cover of the American DVD release of Punished, in contrast, looks like yet another torture porn with a girl bound and gagged and a man dragging a shovel covered in blood. They even added the horrible tag-line, “First the ransom, then the payback,” guaranteeing that the wrong people will watch it and the right people will skip it. Despite all appearances, Punished is a smartly done thriller that examines who is really punished when people take revenge.

Feb
06
2012
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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame Review

When Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame first hit theaters, all I knew about the movie was the quote that was plastered across every advertisement, movie poster, or trailer I saw for the film. “Sherlock Holmes meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Now, movie nuts like myself cannot resist a description like that, and when I watched the trailer and saw Andy Lau kick a deer in the face, I knew I needed to see this movie. Perhaps it is the result of heightened expectations, but for me, Detective Dee was a let down.

Feb
06
2012
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