Thursday, December 26, 2013

All I Want for Christmas is a Playoff Spot

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 17

This past Sunday was a lot more fun than the last, making the holiday season a little bit brighter. Well, aside from fans of teams that lost I suppose. This may be especially true for fans of the Kansas City Chiefs, whose embarrassing loss to the Indianapolis Colts dropped them out of my Top 10, despite placing at #6 last week. Frankly, I'm just fed up with them and, although I'm still a bit fan of their underdog season, have lost faith that they can truly compete with the NFL's elite teams. Creeping up on the list are the underestimated San Diego Chargers and, with the return of Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy, the Green Bay Packers. But where do the teams who made the Top 10 rank? Let's get to it; hike!

Nipping at #10's heels: The Chiefs & Chargers

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Anyone Else Have a Bad Week?

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 16

Honestly, last week in football wasn't great for me. My 'Skins lost. My Patriots lost. After being the only one in my picks competition (and maybe in the world) to have the balls to correctly pick the Chargers to beat the Broncos, I was let down by a lot of other teams I picked - seriously Cowboys, you lose a 23 point lead?!? - seriously Lions, you lose to a team that didn't score a single touchdown?!? Anyways, many of the Top 10 teams also experienced let-downs, but since there were enough disappoints to go around, there weren't many changes up and down the board, but there were a couple big ones! So let's get to it; hike!

Nipping at #10's heels: The Ravens & Colts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's the Final Countdown

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 15

Da da, da-da da da. Da da, da-da da da... You get it. It's the final countdown towards the end of the season and games are never more important. Never more important is the health of players for that matter, something to discuss when talking about the Patriots below. The Colts are out of the Top 10 following their embarrassing loss on Sunday. Not sure if we'll see them back in the Power Rankings this year. A team we might see are da Bears, coming off an impressive win against the Cowboys. If the Cardinals struggle, Chicago might make a return to the list. But what about the teams in the Top 10: the Cardinals, Broncos, Bengals, Seahawks, Chiefs, 49ers, Eagles, Saints, Patriots, and Panthers; how did they rank? Let's get to it; hike!

Nipping at #10's heels: The Colts and Bears

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Month that Matters

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 14

December. The month that matters. Every game counts. Playoff hopes hang in the balance. This is why we watch football.

Short sentences aside, this truly is an exciting time of the year in the NFL. There are an astounding number of teams still in the race for Wild Card spots, and even division titles. I even consider the #10 spot in my rankings to be a bit of a three-way tie, with the edge going to the Colts for having been in the Top 10 before (unlike the Cowboys) - and getting as far as #1 for a week - and having won this past week (unlike the Cardinals). The Bengals continue to win games, due in large part to their running game and despite the shaky play of their quarterback. The Eagles, despite losing the tie-breaker to the Cowboys for first place in the NFC East, have started to look like one of the most well-rounded teams in football (get excited for their rematch against the 'Boys in the very last week of the regular season).

The sliding Chiefs have a chance to reverse their momentum with upcoming games against Washington and the Raiders. And then there is the enigma that is the Saints. They're a better team than we saw in Monday's ugly loss to the Seahawks, but twice in the next three weeks they will play a Panthers team that often looks a lot like the 'Hawks: "a physical, stifling defense, a power run game and a mobile dual-threat quarterback" (Mike Triplett). So where do all these teams, along with the 49ers, Seahawks, Panthers, Broncos, and Patriots, rank? Let's get to it; hike!

Nipping at #10's heels: The Cardinals and Cowboys

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Birds of a Feather

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 13

Birds of a feather flock together. It's an old adage that certainly seems to be the case in this week's Power Rankings with 3 different teams with avian mascots occupying Top 10 spots (here's a hint, they're not the Falcons or the Ravens). That's what makes the match this week between the Eagles and Cardinals so interesting. Philadelphia has been pleasantly surprised with the quarterback play of Nick Foles, but they have yet to beat a team with a winning record; if they can win at home versus Arizona, then they're contenders beyond their division. Likewise, after coasting through 4 straight wins to a 7-4 record, we are all quick to more highly regard the Cardinals, but their only victories against winning teams have come against a meandering Week 5 Panthers who hadn't found their mojo yet and last week against a Colts team that is seemingly falling apart.

The Bengals have been winning despite their QB, but Dalton is going to have to improve in upcoming games with the equally enigmatic Chargers, Colts, Steelers, and Ravens. In Kansas City, the Chiefs need to be scrambling to fix their defense. While their turnover differential was never going to hold, it wasn't supposed to fall apart this much. Finally, with two matches with the Saints on the horizon, the Panthers need to be sure not to overlook the Buccaneers this week as they work to develop consistency on offense. So how are all these teams ranking, along with the 49ers, Seahawks, Saints, Patriots, and Broncos? Let's get to it; hike!

Nipping at #10's heels: The Colts & Cowboys

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fly Like an Eagle

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 12

Nipping at #10's heels: The Lions & Bears

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feels Like Carolina

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 11

Nipping at #10's heels: The Bears & Eagles

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Every Rose Has It's Thor

Review: Thor: The Dark World

I can't help but wonder here at the start how many critics have titled their review "A Thunderous Good Time" or "Thor Hammers Out a Hit". I love a good pun, but that's often the hardest part about writing a review - coming up with a good, unused title!

Making a sequel to a hit film (like Thor or The Avengers) is, I imagine, much harder than simply watching that film and then telling other people your opinion; the most difficult bit obviously being able to create a movie which exceeds - or at least matches - the first film. Examples of sequels falling short of their predecessors come out almost every other weekend. I'm sure you can think of a couple right now, off the top of your head. Go ahead; name a few...

Uh huh... Yep.. Oh, I hadn't thought of that one...

See? We all know this is the case, which is why it can be such a pleasant revelation when a sequel is actually engaging and entertaining. Is Thor: The Dark World such a surprise? My answer is: well, pretty much. Allow me to explain.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

2013 Fall Movie Reviews - September

Slowly, but surely, I am catching up on writing these reviews! Below is the review of Prisoners, soon to be followed by a review of Don Jon. And look for reviews of Gravity and Captain Phillips coming soon as well!


Brutal & Beautiful

Review: 12 Years a Slave
Guest Reviewer: Kyle Kuzemchak

I wanted to give a short review to a movie that isn't getting the internet hype that Gravity and others received:

When the trailer for 12 Years a Slave premiered, I instantly predicted that it would win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Now that I've seen it, I agree with my past self, as this movie will be hard to beat. Three of the main actors will definitely get nominations, and all have a chance of winning.

In 12 Years a Slave, a free black man who was born, raised, and educated in the northern United States during the 1800s is captured and sold into slavery.

The acting was the best part, led by Chiwetel Ejofor (will get a Best Actor nomination), but also starring an amazing debut from Lupita Nyong'o (will get a Best Supporting Actress nomination), and appearances by acting powerhouses like Paul Giamatti, Michael Kenneth Williams, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt, and Michael Fassbender (who is a major contender for Best Supporting Actor).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Foals in First

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 9

Nipping at #10's heels: The Cowboys & Chargers


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Kansas City Shuffle

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 8

A more interesting week than last week has shifted the Power Rankings up a bit more. The Chargers and the Lions are seriously so close to being #10, but I'm a sucker for rooting against mainstream opinion. In this case that's how everyone hates on Tony Romo, so I'm giving #10 to the Cowboys, who you could argue have earned it with some really competitive play the past few weeks. I'm still not a believer in the Bengals, but they're winning, so they've been bumped up, while the Patriots, who I still think can get it together in time to compete for the Superbowl, have fallen after an unnecessary loss to the Jets. So how have all the Top Ten teams landed? Let's get to it; hike!


A Slight Shuffle

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 7

When most of the teams in the Top 10 beat mediocre teams, it's hard to really justify shifting things around too much. But the Saints' loss to the Patriots has moved them down some and I'm somewhat ignoring the Colts' loss to the Chargers for now, because I think San Diego has a pretty good team and also I'm thinking the Colts just had a bad day and are much better than they looked on Monday night.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

2013 Summer Movie Reviews - August

Hey everyone. It's good to get back to doing some movie reviews, even if they are coming a bit late. You can tell I've been busy; I've only seen 8 new movies since moving up to grad school at the beginning of August. But I'm glad to get back to doing one of the things I like best: Talking about movies! I saw 3 in August, so let's get to it! Here are reviews of We're the Millers, The Butler, and Kick-Ass 2!!!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The More Things Change

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 6

The more they stay the same. Seriously. I was thinking about it and realized that throughout the tumults of this current season, stretching all the way back to before preseason, before the draft, and before free-agency, it still has really been the same few teams in the Top 10. The Patriots, Broncos, Seahawks, and Packers have been in every Top 10 (9/9), The Colts and 49ers have been in 8/9, the Texans and Falcons have been in 6/9, and the Ravens, Bengals, and Saints have been in 5/9. There has been some movement of course, but of those teams I just mentioned, 8 of them are in this week's Top 10. What will be interesting to look at is what the last few Top 10 lists of the season will look like; if its these same teams, or if teams like the Chiefs or Bengals can become more regular cast members. But let's see what we've got this week... Hike!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Now Settle Down

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 5

Last week we all went a little crazy. This week we're cooling down and sobering up, creating what I think is a pretty balanced Top 10. I'm still higher on the Packers than everyone else it seems (and I dropped them 4 spots!), but I think they'll come out of the bye week ready to take the fight to the upstart Lions. I wasn't as high on the Dolphins as everyone else, so they didn't drop far after their loss. The 49ers are back, gone last week more as a result of my purposeful overreaction. I'm thrilled to up the underdog-ish, playoff-bound Chiefs (I called it way back in February, just to be on the record), though I don't think their turnover differential will stay as high as it is, so I doubt a Top 5 push from them. The Bears are falling, but not as much as so many others downgraded them; they only lost one game people, chill. And then there's the Top 5, which you can read about below. So get to it. Hike!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Let's Go Crazy

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 4

You know what, it's fun to overreact. Not too much, but let's do it a little. So welcome to the Top 10 Chiefs, Dolphins, and Colts! So long 49ers, Falcons, and Texans! Is that kinda crazy? Probably. I certainly expect those latter teams to make a strong effort to re-enter the Top 10 (and the Ravens too), but for now, let's have some fun and let these young teams enjoy their moment in the spotlight.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another New Team in the Top 10

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 3

Another week of close games proves that anything can happen in the NFL and that aside from the Top 3 teams and the bottom few, pretty much any team can beat any other team, especially when it's still this early in the season. That's a big reason why I'm glad I just do a Top 10; I can't imagine trying to order 32 teams that can all seem so close sometimes. Honestly, even #8, #9, and #10 were really difficult to evaluate this week. I ended up taking a more conservative approach, but the outlandish side of me was giving serious consideration to not only the Colts, but the Chiefs, Dolphins, and Rams as well. Even so, there was one new team in the Top 10, the Bears, so let's see how everyone ranked. Hike!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Close Games Shift the Rankings

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 2

The first week of football has come and gone. And it was a stressful week! Almost every game - aside from the Kansas City (playoff-bound) Chiefs blowout of the poor Jacksonville Jaguars - was really close. And those close games have shifted things in the rankings. The Ravens, who I had never really believed in but still ranked 8th last week after everyone else still held them in such high regard, have dropped out of the Top 10. Who replaced them? Was is the surprisingly quick Eagles (who reaffirmed my decision to take the Redskins out of the Top 10 the past couple weeks over now-justified concerns of a rusty RG3)? No, not yet, let's not overreact. The Bears? They're close, but not quite. It's the Saints, who beat the #4 ranked Atlanta Falcons. So where did they and everyone else land? Let's get to it. Hike!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Finally Football is Back!

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Week 1

Preseason has come and gone and regular season is about to start! Nothing during the past 4 weeks happened to shake up the Top 10, but out of those, 7 teams are in different positions. Only the Texans, Packers, and Broncos are in the same spots as last time. And it was even even tougher decision to leave off the Redskins yet again, but RG3 still hasn't tested his leg against real opponents yet. If he looks fine, the Colts at #10 may need to expect the boot. But that's for later, let's see what we have now. Hike!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Endure

Dry and cracked
Just can’t go on
Stiff like a statue
Move towards dawn
Make like a vacuum
Suck it up brother
No time to argue
Journey from souther
Focus your will
Can’t be another
Only you can refill
Make yourself new
Start moving uphill
Recall how you flew
You cannot be done
You cannot be through
Together we’ll run
Together intact
A race to be won
We’re back on track
We’re going, gone

Dive

Sitting, sitting, sitting
Waiting, waiting, waiting
Dying, dying, dying
Dreaming, dreaming, dreaming
Floating, floating
Flying, flying
Soaring, soaring
Through the clouds
Dive!

Summer Night Porch

All I want is to have a front porch
Sitting on the porch
In a rocking chair
With a glass of lemonade
No, scratch that
Sweet tea
From a pitcher sitting on a table by the chair
Watching the traffic go by
Reading the newspaper
Or my iPad
Talking to a wife
A couple kids, a couple grandkids
Oh! Make it a wrap around porch
Imagine the peace on a porch
Crickets and lightening bugs
Stars
Music from an indie band I discovered before you
Naps
That’s good enough to say again
Naps
A black dog at my feet
In my rocking chair
On my front porch
Can't ask for more

The Chair Sits

The chair never moves
It sits
Wooden in every way
In the sun
In the rain
Used, unused
Every day it sits on the deck
Never any more or any less than it was meant to be
The chair sits
In blissful peace

Nonsense

Do I have to make sense
Sometimes
But not to create, not to write
What good is sense
What good is logic
Patterns always end the same
No surprises
That’s no good
Crazy, Stupid, Bizarre, Awkward
That’s good enough for me
So that’s what I write
Caterpillar stuck to a grape popsicle

Pointed Ball

A pointed ball
Wooden
It’s like nothing else
It’s a maze, a mystery, a puzzle
Frustrating
But not really
Challenging, Invigorating
That’s more like it
Simple like me
Complex like me
I’m a pointed ball
Wooden
I’m like nothing else
I’m a maze, a mystery, a puzzle
Frustrating
But not really
Challenging, Invigorating
That’s me
Or maybe
It's just that pointed ball

what to do

nothing to do
absolutely nothing to do
what to do
eat no
push ups no
tv no
no no no
what
clean the room no
what then
create
create what
something powerful
something beautiful
something gripping
but what
who knows
no stories to tell
no unique opinions
nothing to say
just the desire
to be heard
but nothing to say
what to do

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's Almost Here!!!

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Preseason

Football is almost here!!! In just a few weeks the regular season will be starting, but preseason can be exciting too! No the games don't count and star players don't get much playing time. But, it is an important step in settling roster competitions and testing how evolving and revamps offenses and defenses are really coming together. You can learn a lot watching the preseason, about individuals (especially all those drafted rookies), rosters, coaches, and the team as a whole. So it will be interesting to see how these preseason rankings will change in my Week 1 Power Rankings in a few weeks. But that's getting too far ahead, let's focus on the present: Hike!

2013 Summer Movie Trailers - August

August 2nd

2 Guns




Wednesday, August 7, 2013

2013 Summer Movie Reviews - July

Hey everyone! Hope your summer is going well. Mine's been pretty crazy this past month. I've worked my last day at the movie theater (so we'll see how that affects how many movies I see!), I've been on vacation, rode in a helicopter, and moved up to grad school! Crazy stuff. But I still managed to see some movies! So here are my reviews of the July 2013 movies: Despicable Me 2, Kevin Hart Let Me Explain, The Lone Ranger, The Way Way Back, Sharknado, Grown Ups 2, Pacific Rim, The Conjuring, Fruitvale Station, The To Do List, & The Wolverine!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

2013 Summer Movie Reviews - June

Hey guys! I hope everyone's cool with continuing the monthly blogposts. Although I've realized while I may have less time to write during the summer (for example, I spent this past weekend attending one wedding and DJing/MCing another!), it's also likely you all are busy with summer activities too and have less time to read. So really, we're all saving time!

I also hope I can keep doing blogposts once I get to grad school next month, but who knows how that will go and how much free time I will have, especially since I'll be a graduate assistant in addition to being a student. But for now I do still have some free time, so here are my reviews of the June 2013 movies: The Purge, The Internship, This is the End, Man of Steel, Monsters University, World War Z, The Heat, and White House Down.

Friday, June 14, 2013

It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's...

Review: Man of Steel

When news first broke of a new Superman film, I have to be honest, I didn't really care all that much. I was excited about the prospect of an eventual Justice League film, but as for the Man of Steel himself, I could not have cared less. He's too overpowered, I thought. Every challenge is no real challenge for him, so there's never any sense of danger or excitement. Unless, of course, someone finds one of those shiny green rocks. It's been done again and again and again. Who cares anymore?

But then Warner Bros. brought on Christopher Nolan, the director of the phenomenal Dark Knight trilogy, as a producer, mentor, and godfather to the project. That was good news indeed. Perhaps he could help to revitalize Superman the way he had for Batman. And then David Goyer, Nolan's creative cohort, was hired to write the screenplay while Zack Snyder was hired as director to bring the same eye for action to the film as he had brought to other comic book adaptations 300 and Watchmen.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

2013 Summer Movie Reviews - May

Hey everyone! Long time no see. Which is weird, cause I figured being out of school would give me more time to blog. But here's what's weird, I discovered this entirely new thing that keeps taking me away from my computer. I'm told it's called "the outside." And boy is it cool! Kayaking, Busch Gardens, yardwork, cookouts, swimming, bonfires. Plus, I am still working and seeing pretty much every movie that comes out. Who knew there was so much to do!

Hopefully you can understand that I'm trying to make the most of my last summer at home before making the harrowing journey to the real world. (Kinda, I'm just going to grad school lol.) But I missed yall too! So here's a look at just about all the movies that came out in May including Iron Man 3, The Iceman, The Great Gatsby, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hangover III, Fast & Furious 6, After Earth, and Now You See Me.

Monday, May 6, 2013

So Early It's Stupid

Unscripted NFL Predictions 2013

Football doesn't start for another 3 months. Free agency is still underway and the draft is barely over. But it's time to pretend I have enough enough information to predict that huge event that occurs in February - the Superbowl. That's right, it's time for so-early-it's-stupid NFL predictions.

* In fact, it's so early, I reserve the right to make more serious picks later if one starts to look utterly ridiculous, but I'm going to try to keep them the same!

** Last year I predicted a Patriots-Packers Superbowl, and while that didn't pan out, I did guess 6 of the 8 Division Champs correctly! I'm going with a few more underdogs this year, so we'll see how it goes...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Words in My Mind

I can’t clear my head. I’m sitting here and I want to write, I want to tell a story, I want to say something worth saying and I know it's there, I know I have it in me but I don’t know how to get to it. How do I make what is inside come out. When I imagine myself writing something truly great and truly powerful and truly impactful, the words come bursting out of my chest like some pulsing geyser, frothing about all over the place, all over the page and the computer screen. A mess at first, but then the words arrange themselves in a way that is so perfect and logical and illogical and fun and oh so beautiful.

Oh so beautiful. It reminded Alec of that line from the musical Sweeney Todd. His thoughts interrupted, he once again began to listen the older couple next to him. The man was going on about his genetically deficient extended family who lived south. Apparently other than himself, the man’s family was filled with people who were either stupid or fat or lazy. Sometimes all three. Alec literally jerked his head back and forth to shake out the distractions. I came here to focus; to write something that I believe to be true, Alec reminded himself. It’s what I promised I would do, what I need to do. Okay, I wish that the words inside would erupt up and outwards, messy at first, but beautiful. Right, onward…

Friday, May 3, 2013

Flying High

Review: Iron Man 3

"You'll never see me coming."

You likely already know from the trailers this line is uttered rather menacingly by the villain of Iron Man 3. What you may not know is how prophetic that line is of not only that character, but the film as a whole. You'll never see it coming.

Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes) is back as Tony Stark/Iron Man, most movie-watchers' favorite Avenger. But this hero just can't seem to get over the impending sense of doom the alien invasion from The Avengers seems to have left him with. He spends all his time in his workshop, relentlessly preparing for any unknown threat and begins to suffer anxiety attacks, perhaps even post-traumatic stress disorder.

The character arc of Stark is Iron Man 3's strongest quality. This is a guy still growing, still grappling with fears, and is brought to life perfectly by RDJ. In many parts of the film there is an exhausting overabundance of weaponized technology, but there's also a great middle section where Tony is left with no suit, only his wits. It's an engaging return to the idea of what a man can accomplish in a cave - or a shed - with a box of scraps.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2013 Summer Movie Trailers - May

May 3rd

Iron Man 3

Get Excited: Is it even really necessary to spell it out? Robert Downey Jr. is back as Tony Stark in a sequel that looks just as good as the first film and has all the momentum from The Avengers. Re-team RDJ with his Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black and we've already forgiven Marvel for Iron Man 2.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Advanced or Stunted?

Review: Liberal Arts

Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) was all over Liberal Arts. He wrote it, he directed it, he starred in it. Thus, its hard to assign fame or blame of the film's final result to anyone else. So, which is it, praise or criticism? Well, as it so often goes, the answer is somewhere in the middle.

Liberal Arts tells the story of Radnor's Jesse, a 30-something graduate who returns to his alma mater for the retirement of his favorite professor. But while there, Jesse meets undergraduate student Zibby, with whom he falls into a complicated relationship.

Radnor is his usual affable self, utilizing his unique talent of forming himself into an everyman into whose shoes most people can easily imagine themselves. Here, as in HIMYM, Radnor is more avatar than character, which is an asset in creating audience empathy, but a detriment to establishing a memorable on-screen persona.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sci-Fi Soup

Review: Oblivion


If Oblivion accomplishes very little at all, it will have at least provided further evidence that Tom Cruise (Minority Report) has discovered the cure for aging. Seriously, the guy looks the same as he did 20 years ago.

Fortunately, the merits of Oblivion go beyond its star's lack of wrinkles. Set in a distopic future still recovering from a repelled alien invasion, Cruise plays a drone repairman who begins to question everything he knows about his mission and himself after the appearance of a mysterious woman.

The film is visually stunning, from the smooth surfaces of advanced technology to the jagged locations on Earth. This should come as no surprise from director Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy), but is still one of the largest achievements of the film. The action occurring within these settings is likewise well-executed and incredibly precise.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Drowning in Emotion

Review: The Deep Blue Sea

Not to be confused with Deep Blue Sea, a movie about genetically enhanced sharks (which I secretly still find to be entertaining despite its ridiculous), THE Deep Blue Sea is about as different of a film as you can imagine.

Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) commands the lead as Hester Collyer, a woman who begins a self-destructive love affair with a man other than her husband. The husband, Sir William Collyer, loves her and treats her well, but Hester discovers an overwhelming physical passion for former RAF pilot Freddie Page.

Yet even Freddie fails to reciprocate the almost obsessive zeal Hester develops for their extramarital relationship. As the relationship continues to fall short of the ideal Hester idolizes, she is driven into depression and in devastation resorts to a suicide attempt.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Homerun

Review: 42


Producing a film based on historic events is always a calculated risk. Audiences are familiar and therefore more comfortable with the material, so your advertising campaign starts off on a much stronger footing than a film with an entirely foreign concept; you are more guaranteed to make money. However, since your story already happened, everyone knows how it ends.

It is the struggle of historical films then to overcome their predictability with strong, engaging content; to enrapture audiences along the journey as you transport them to the expected outcome. A recent failure to accomplish this would be the drab Lincoln, a recent success would be the compelling Zero Dark Thirty. The new Jackie Robinson biopic, 42, can be placed squarely in the category of... (drum-roll, please)... success.

Waitlisted

Review: Admission


Everybody loves Tina Fey. It's a simple fact of life, a preexisting truth, much like the earth is round, like I should be listening in class instead of writing movie reviews, like Michael Bay (Transformers) movies will be filled with explosions. Everybody loves Tina Fey.

Fey's TV show, 30 Rock, may have been a bit too weird for some, but it is fun and quirky and most people, if not weekly viewers, at least appreciated it. And we all know she and Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) were great hosting the Golden Globes.

But Fey's experience in films is somewhat sparse and of arguably unreliable quality. Baby Mama, in which she costarred with Poehler, was decent, but a forgettable freshman headlining attempt. Date Night with Steve Carell (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) was also a light, but typical and too-safe experience.

Fey's newest film, Admission, brings us more of the same. In the story of a motherless Princeton admissions officer who spends an unlikely amount of time getting to know the head of an alternative school and the student he wants her to admit, little happens that is unexpected, unpredictable, or really all that interesting.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Tragedy of Love

Review: Amour

There cannot be many stories more heartbreaking than Amour. Not only was Amour nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, and Best Actress, but it won for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards earlier this year. In the film, legendary French actors Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour) and Jean-Louis Trintignant (Z) come out of retirement to play music teachers Anne and Georges. The couple has had a long marriage, but as Anne begins to die, both her and Georges are slowly overcome with despair. Georges, especially, is left to struggle with the sense of helplessness such tragedies bring. Riva, who well-deservedly became the oldest ever nominee for Best Actress with this role, and Trintignant are sensational in their roles, bring to life the unflinchingly grim script so realistically that their performances will lie lurking behind your eyelids and leering up from the crevices of your brain, ready to haunt your thoughts and dreams, for years to come.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Has Free Agency Changed Anything?

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Offseason Pre-Draft

Most of the major changes of the NFL's free agency period have occurred, so I'd say its safe to go ahead and make another set of power rankings before the draft happens in a few weeks.

But has free agency really changed anything? Yes and no. No, in the sense that my Top 10 consists of the same 10 teams it did last time, Pre-Free Agency. Yes, in the sense that there has been some movement up and down the board, perhaps even in the #1 spot... Did I have the courage to dethrone one of my my favorite teams, the Patriots? Hike!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Time to Dishonorably Discharge Joe

Review: G.I. Joe Retaliation

Think really hard; can you really even remember anything about the first G.I. Joe film? Channing Tatum was in it, sure, and maybe you have some vague recollection about the Eiffel Tower collapsing amidst a swirling cloud of green... something... (it was "nanomites"). Fret not, I - and the rest of the world, most likely - are in the same boat.

The studio clearly recognized the first movie's issues of camp, lack of logic and plausibility, and overall vapidness, so they brought in director Jon Chu with the hopes of turning to a serious page in G.I. Joe cinematic legacy. Why they thought the helmer of two Step Up films (a series which I actually do sort of like) and the Justin Bieber documentary would give their film quality street cred is beyond me.

Needless to say, it didn't work.

G.I. Joe Retaliation has the same unstimulating and sporadic troubles of its predecessor. Allow me to share the two funniest (although accurate) quotes from the rating website, RottenTomatoes:

The First Modern Family

Review: The Croods

I had no real interest in seeing The Croods this weekend. But when I let my friend choose which movie we would see, he responded that he had to support his idol Nicolas Cage (I'm relatively sure his fandom is half sarcastic, half sincere).

So there I sat, about to watch a cartoon I thought looked as if it would be about as stereotypical as they come. After all, didn't we essentially know the entire plot from the commercials? - A cavegirl falls for a boy who leads their family to safety from the destruction of shifting continents, but whom her father, a skeptic of all things new, distrusts.

But what a surprise. Although the story in The Croods does indeed unfold as predicted, it does so in an earnest and surprisingly funny sort of way, following up its rather familiar and dull first half with a much more engaging and inventive second half in which we can't help but root for the characters as they face seemingly insurmountable odds.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Get Out of My House!

Review: Olympus has Fallen

"Get out of my house!"

Not once does Gerard Butler (300) as a Secret Service agent or Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) as the President of the United States growl out such a line in Harrison Ford/Air Force One/"Get off my plane" fashion. But nevertheless, Olympus has Fallen, the first of the year's two White House invasion movies, is a riveting action flick which hails back to such classic shoot 'em up films of decades past.

Directed by action guru Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter), Olympus refuses to rush audiences along as it assembles its characters and story, which only draws us in all the more compared to lesser films which start with the biggest explosion and an assumption characters are the good guys because they are the primary protagonists.

Olympus instead actually lets us get to know its heroes before they invading forces arrive and, it turns out, these are damaged, relatable characters we actually like.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Does the Best Team Win the Super Bowl?

Unscripted NFL Power Rankings
2013 Offseason Pre-Free Agency

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. And, I will admit, they earned the win in that game against the San Francisco 49ers. But does the best team in the league always win the Super Bowl? I'd say no. The 2007 New England Patriots are the obvious, but perfect example, going all season without a loss until that infamous big game upset. I also bring the Patriots up because I happen to think they once again earned the honor of being the best team last season to not win the Super Bowl and that makes them my #1 ranked team as we enter the 2013 season (or at least, the 2013 offseason). But where does everyone else fall? Hike!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Oz the Surprisingly Good

Review: Oz the Great and Powerful


Good or Great? It's a common theme in the new film from director Sam Raimi (the Spiderman trilogy). As it is, Oz the Great and Powerful - with its wit, visual delights, and interesting origin story, despite some less than stellar plot and directional decisions - is somewhere in between.

Not that I'm complaining. As you may have picked up on in my review of Jack the Giant Slayer, it is tough to make a good update on age-old stories. So just the fact that Oz, even if not great, turned out to be more than good is a delight in and of itself.

Jack the Giant Sigh

Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

Remakes, Reboots, Prequels, Sequels, Spin-Offs, and Rehashes. They're what keep Hollywood up and running, providing an endless supply of material for new films. Which is amazing considering how many thousands of movies are made every year. How many are actually original? Well, if you talk to most literary people, they'll inform you of the widespread belief that there are really only seven stories in existence and therefore everything is really a copy of something else, or a combination of old ideas. Some even go so far as to say all stories share a singular, fundamental structure: the monomyth.

The more you think about it, the more it seems to make sense. And its getting more and more obvious. Within a three-month period this year, audiences will see not one, but two movies about the White House being invaded and the Secret Service fighting to save the President (Olympus Has Fallen, White House Down). Currently The Bible is proving to be a huge hit for The History Channel, while there is an upcoming Noah movie and a rumored Moses film.

Friday, February 22, 2013

2013 Academy Award Picks






So here's how this works: I'll give you a list of the nominees for each of the major categories, then I'll name who I think is the favorite to win, as well as who I would give the award to. Short and sweet.

And while you're at it, check out My Top 10 Movies of 2012!!!

Now onto the business at hand...

Best Picture

Amour
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

The Favorite to Win: Argo or Lincoln
My Pick: Les Miserables

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Top 10 Movies of 2012

The year of 2012 was, for me at least, an odd sort of year at the theater. There were a lot of very good films released, but no one movie truly distinguished itself as “the best” film of 2012. Then how did I make this list? I simply went through the 80+ movies I saw last year and compared them one-by-one, asking “If I could only watch one of these films again, which would I rather keep?”

I must admit, while I usually try to give equal consideration to artistry and entertainment in my Top 10 Movies of the Year lists, I think my process this year led to an increased emphasis of “fun” over art. And if I may add one more disclaimer: I may see quite a few films in a year, but I still don't get the chance to see them all. Therefore, keep reading after the Top 10 to see my lists of Honorable Mentions, as well as a list of films which may have stood a shot at the Top 10, but I didn't get a chance to see.

And for a blast from the past, you can check out the links below for my past lists.

2009 - 2010 - 2011

And now on to the business at hand...

Friday, February 15, 2013

The "Catch-Up List"

It was proving impossible to catch up on everything I've seen over the past few months one at a time, so here's a huge "Catch-Up List." There are many movies on here I would have loved to have spent a considerable amount more time on and some that are getting exactly the amount of attention they deserve. If you don't see a recent movie on here you're looking for, it either got a full review (which you can find here) or I haven't seen it yet. Look for My Top 10 Movies of 2012 and My 2012 Academy Award Picks coming soon! For now, enjoy catching up on 34 movies with me!