Recently by Amanda Salazar

Chef Blu-ray Combo Pack Review: Not the Easiest to Digest

Many small scenes that work by themselves but when strung together they do not connect even though on paper they should.
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Food trucks are in right now. This craze started a few years ago when these mobile restaurants would tweet their location and followers would appear waiting to try the latest fusion creation. They still are in, but less of an ingenious idea as the movie Chef makes you think. Taking high-end cuisine to the streets, John Favreau’s newest film Chef is a feel-good family drama that fails to leave any lasting taste in your mouth. Coming off of directing big-budget films like the Iron Man franchise and acting in roles in Identity Thief and The Wolf of Wall Street, Favreau’s

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story Movie Review: A Portrait of an Artist as a Yellow Bird

Caroll is Big Bird and Big Bird is Caroll, and that is a rare and beautiful thing to watch on screen.
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I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story is exactly that, a portrait of the man that is inside of the big yellow bird. But like the title suggests, there is no costume change that makes this man different, he is Big Bird and Big Bird is Caroll and that is a rare and beautiful thing to watch on screen. The documentary is very straightforward, taking a look at his life before Sesame Street and then what happened after he was assigned the bird. We find out that he became inspired by puppetry at an early age and by the

Short Term 12 Movie Review: Intimate and Secretive

The indie film you should see this weekend.
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The setting is a small group home for foster kids. They are troubled teens that are only meant to spend a few months there, perhaps a year at most, living under the guidance of floor staff, therapists, and social workers before it is their time to move to their next home. Short Term 12 is the name of the facility and also the title of the film that beautifully captures the delicate nature of what it means to be damaged and how to work together to try and repair. The new feature film Short Term 12, from writer and director

Bachelorette Blu-ray Review: Four Despicable Friends and a Wedding

The film is definitely fun to laugh at but don't get too close.
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Like the countless wedding-themed movies that have been made, something always goes wrong that needs to be fixed and as soon as possible for the big day. The same goes for Bachelorette, when four friends reunite for the first wedding in the group, and while we find out more about the ladies and how close they really are, we sadly find out that these women are pretty despicable, but at least they are funny. The story started as a play and then was made into a feature film by first-time director and playwright Leslye Headland. Although she has never directed

Lola Versus Blu-ray Review: Films About Breaking Up Are Hard to Do

It tries to be an edgy breakup comedy but doesn't quite succeed.
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Lola Versus is a breakup comedy disguised as something edgy and different that doens’t quite cut it. Co-written by director Daryl Wein and the actress that plays Alice (Zoe Lister Jones), this quaint film tries to capture the relationship with oneself. Perhaps it is as simple as two takes on a relationship that make that film feel at odds with itself. Lola Versus tries to be a film with a fresh take on the subject but often fails as it fights against the cliches that work for it so well. Before the title credits begin, Lola Versus starts with the

New Year's Eve (2011) Blu-ray Review: Acquaintance with This Film Should Be Forgot

It disappointed more than it charmed.
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New Year’s Eve comes with mixed emotions; either it is a holiday worth celebrating with plenty of champagne and kisses, or for others it is a nice night on the couch. The new year is a holiday that inherently celebrates oneself and what the new year has in store for you; the resolution that you hope keep and the person you hope to kiss. Garry Marshall’s take on the holiday tries very hard to be iconic but it falls short in every way. Much like his film Valentine’s Day the entire film takes place on one day and all of

Elmo's World: Elmo's Favorite Things DVD Review: Fun, Colorful and Educational

A perfect mixture of live action, animation, and puppets.
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Though he has dabbled in films, starring in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland and having a peripheral role Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, any fan of the three-year-old, bright red puppet knows him best for his work on Sesame Street, where he stars in a segment known as "Elmo's World". New to DVD is Elmo's World: Elmo's Favorite Things! where Elmo takes eight subjects and does what he does best: makes them fun, colorful and educational. The eight episodes are "Birthdays," "Dinosaurs," "Pets," "Fun and Games," "Building Things," "the Beach," "Friends," and "School." Each one is educational on the

Martha Marcy May Marlene DVD Review: A Daring Feature Film Debut

As a true independent film, it is a refreshing look at a challenging subject.
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Martha Marcy May Marlene is a daring feature film debut from director/writer Sean Derkin about the affects of being in a cult. Through flashbacks and careful editing, two stories play off one another, making this a film for the attentive and patient viewer that leaves a lingering uneasiness when it's over. Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) is first seen running away from what seems to be communal living on a farm. After a panicked phone call, Martha is picked up and taken to her sister's home in Connecticut. Here you find out that Martha has been missing for the past two years

So This Guy and a Girl Went to Sundance

Amanda and Max were lucky enough to make it out to the Sundance Film Festival and talk about what it is really like.
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Max Naylor: Hi everybody.  I’d like you to meet Amanda.  She's a programmer from an independent film festival in Southern California, and she was lucky enough to be able to attend the Sundance Film Festival this year. Amanda Salazar: Thanks Max, that is such a kind introduction. Max is also a festival programmer and he has one of those faces that everybody says 'I think I know him' when you bring up his name. So, Max, what are your basic thoughts on Sundance? MN: My main goal at Sundance is to see as many films as possible, and try to

Pirates of the Caribbean At World's End DVD Review: Third Time is Not the Charm

Becomes exhausting on so many levels, but the visual effects are incredible.
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This review originally was written in 2007 with the understanding that the fourth film was still a rumor on a storyboard. Personally, I will be seeing the fourth installment simply to see if any of these loose ends were tied up and to enjoy all of those beautiful special effects on the big screen. Ten years ago when someone said "Pirates of the Caribbean," the classic Disneyland ride came to mind, complete with "yo hos" and "dead men tell no tales." Now with The Pirates of the Caribbean films, pirates have a whole new association, Captain Jack Sparrow has even

Love & Other Drugs DVD Review: A Refreshing Exploration of Commitment

A funny, sexy and fresh take on the romantic comedy...with lots of nudity.
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It is so pleasant to watch too good-looking people fall in love. In their world everyone is beautiful and things just seem to flawlessly work out. While most current romantic comedies would stop here, Love & Other Drugs comes at relationships from a different angle that still makes it easy to watch, with two good-looking people, but tackles difficult subject matter that makes it far more meaningful. As only his second comedic picture, director Edward Zwick has created such a slick and sensible world that takes from real life and translates universally on screen. Based on the non-fiction book Hard

Kings of Pastry DVD Review: A Remarkably Stimulating Documentary

Each time in the kitchen feels like a life or death adventure.
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First, wrap your head around being in a kitchen for three days time, with an extensive list of criteria on what to bake. Then film the comeptition for audiences to get a taste of the inimate trials that France's highest pastry chefs must go through. It may not sound interesting, but it is. The Kings of Pastry is a remarkably stimulating documentary that examines the determination and gravity of what it takes to win top honors in your particular field, without sugarcoating the details. Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker have worked together on documentaries since the seventies. Being in

Conviction (2010) DVD Review: The True Story of a Sister's Love and Sacrifice

People will do extraordinary things when faced with extreme challenges.
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There is not a love that runs deeper or a bond stronger than that shared by family. On the surface, Tony Goldwyn's film Conviction is about bringing a wrongly convicted man to justice but at its core it convincingly challenges the unwavering love between brother and sister and what one would do for family. Conviction is based on the true story of Betty Ann Waters and her 18-year struggle to get her brother, Kenneth Waters, out of prison after he was wrongly accused of murder. Expertly portrayed by Hilary Swank (Betty) and Sam Rockwell (Kenny), the film aggressively captures the

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