Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Movie Trailer - Phantom

Director: Todd Robinson
Starring: Ed Harris, David Duchovny
Release: March 1st, 2013

Hey look, it's Crimson Tide 2!  No wait, it's The Hunt for Red October 2!  Whichever it is, it's a rip-off.  And while I like Ed Harris, nobody likes David Duchovny except fans of The X-Files.  In short, I think I'll pass on this one, and you should too.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thought - Miss Teen South Carolina

I was remembering this little tidbit of pop culture the other day and it still gets me.  This tiny speech has got to be one of the funniest moments in American history.  Totally real and incredibly hilarious.  I would think that everyone has seen it at some point, but do yourself a favor and watch it again.

Sports - NFL Picks, Super Bowl

Here is my NFL Super Bowl pick:
(I was 6-4 in the playoffs)

Bal @ SF - So the end of another NFL season is at hand.  It was very entertaining, a lot of excellent story lines: RG3, Peyton with the Broncos, Kaepernick taking over, the Saints scandal, Wilson & Luck, Sanchez & Tebow, Ray Lewis, record-breaking Megatron, and many others.  And although both my fantasy and real life teams failed in the end, I had a lot of fun.  Bring on the Super Bowl.

The Ravens vs. the 49ers.  Should be a very physical and excellent game.  Ray Lewis has inspired his team to do what should have been impossible and the Ravens are flying high.  Their offense has come to life and Flacco is out to prove that he is indeed a top-knotch QB.  The Niners are a very similar team; a strong defense paired with an exciting offense.  Since Kaepernick took over San Fran has been virtually unstoppable.  He adds an element that is hard to gameplan against.  But if any team can beat him, it's the Ravens.  They have momentum on their side, and that is a powerful thing.  I think Baltimore will find a way to win, as they have against overwhelming odds in their past matchups.  Final: Ravens 31-21

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Movie Review - Quintet

Director: Robert Altman
Starring: Paul Newman, Fernando Rey
Year: 1979

Now, I like 70s movies.  I'd say that's my favorite film era.  They have a certain feel, a certain quality, that you don't find in other decades.  They move slowly, but that just adds an emphasis to a plot that is usually fairly simple compared to today's complex and metaphorical themes.  Films like Deliverance or Jeremiah Johnson.  And for the matter, I like Paul Newman, one of the greatest actors of all time; The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Cool Hand Luke.  But something happened here that I did not expect; Paul Newman did a movie in the 70s that was literally unwatchable.

Quintet is set in a dystopian future in which the Earth has entered a new Ice Age.  The world population is mainly centered in large cities, with only a few nomads roaming the frigid wild, hunting for seals and fighting for survival.  When Essex returns to his home in the city after years in the wilderness, he finds that things have changed; people in the city have given up hope, are slowly dying, and no longer have children.  Their only concern is for the playing of Quintet, a game of five players plus one shadowy sixth.  With playing the game in casinos having become dull, the tournament has now become real, with human pieces competing for their lives.  As Essex becomes drawn into the web of Quintet, his only chance to win is to adapt and fight, even if he doesn't completely understand the rules.

I am hard pressed to think of a movie that was worse than Quintet.  It was utterly awful.  The actors were all bundled up in layers of clothing and were breathing steamy breath.  They were obviously freezing and could barely move; not conditions conducive to good acting.  Newman was the only actor to not be speaking in an Italian accent, a very distracting tidbit.  The plot centered around his character wandering around an icy city trying to figure out why everyone wanted to kill everyone else.  There was little dialogue, little action, little of anything that makes a movie good.  The only positive was the set; a beautifully constructed, frighteningly futuristic, ice world.  But it didn't matter; the set was great, but the story set in it was so terrible that nothing could save it.

My rating:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Movie Trailer - Upside Down

Director: Juan Diego Solanas
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst
Release: March 15th, 2012

You take two over-dramatic actors and put them in an insultingly obvious metaphor and you probably make a lot of money.  Problem is, you probably make a crappy movie too, if you care about that at all.  Sure, the visual is interesting, but take that away and you're left with an overdone love story in which people can flip over.  Makes me a little nauseous.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Movie Review - Silver Linings Playbook

Director: David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Year: 2012

I never intended to see this movie.  When I first saw the trailer I was intrigued; Russell directed The Fighter, which I loved, Lawrence was in Winter's Bone which, again, I loved, and De Niro is, well, De Niro.  But it was Cooper who turned me off.  I knew him only as the d-bag from Wedding Crashers & The Hangover.  So, putting him in a romantic drama/comedy didn't sound like movie magic to me.  Apparently it did to the Academy.

Silver Linings Playbook is nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Director, Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress.  That was enough of a nudge to get me into the theatre.  It is the story of Pat, a man who's marriage is ending and who has just been released from an eight month stay in a psych ward.  As he moves back in with his dysfunctional family and tries to improve himself in order to win back his estranged wife, he meets Tiffany, a woman dealing with issues of her own.  The two form an unlikely friendship, as they attempt to maneuver their way through adulthood.

While no movie could live up to such hyper hype, this film at least comes close.  From the beginning it is extremely real, putting personality disorders in an interesting and often comical light.  The family dynamic of this Philadelphia Eagles obsessed group is very genuine as well, with nothing fake or hidden.  By the end, the story did take a turn for the cheesy, becoming a little too Hollywood to be excellent, but it never lost its audience.  As far as the Oscars go, Cooper definitely earned his nomination, as did De Niro.  Lawrence and Weaver; not so much, though they both were passable.  Silver Linings Playbook might be a contender for Best Picture, and deservedly so, but it would fail to get my vote, by a slim margin.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Friday, January 25, 2013

Movie Trailer - Stoker

Director: Chan-wook Park
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
Release: March 1st, 2013

Creepy, creepy, creepy.  I'm not usually into psychological thrillers (cheesy lines and over-dramatic actors) but this one looks pretty good.  Although, I'm not a fan of Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Albert Nobbs), she's a little too dead inside.  But hey, for this role maybe that's perfect.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Movie Review - Beasts of the Southern Wild

Director: Benh Zeitlin
Starring: Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry
Year: 2012

When a film is nominated for Best Director and Best Picture, I tend to pay attention.  When its 6-year-old lead is nominated for Best Actress, I find a way to watch it.  At the very least, I have to see what makes a child Oscar worthy.  In retrospect, I'm glad that I saw this movie for two reasons: A) I got to see a character, played by a kid, that you don't see every day, and 2) I can now, when the award is about to be handed out, say with confidence that this film does not deserve it.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is part vivid reality and part haunting metaphor.  The main character sums it up best when she says, "This is the story of Hush Puppy, who lives with her Daddy in the Bathtub."  Hush Puppy is a little girl living in poverty with her father in the South, on a bayou island called the Bathtub.  When a hurricane hits, her life is turned upside down, and put very literally underwater.  As she tries to understand the world around her, her imagination weaves into her daily struggle to survive.

This film should never have been made.  Nothing about the movie was good enough to be produced, sold, or nominated.  Yes, Wallis was good, but you could argue that she never did any acting, and I would say none of the other actors did either.  It was the story that was interesting, that should be told, but not necessarily seen.  The blend of reality and fiction was strange at best; it never made a significant point and was unneeded.  At the the end of the film I wasn't satisfied; I was curious, and I would enjoy talking about what the various metaphors represented, but I could have gotten that from reading the script.

My rating: ✰ ✰

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sports - NFL 2012 Top Plays

With no games to pick this week I thought we'd look back on the 2012 NFL Season.  This video put together a few of the top plays of the year, based on either a big play or a big moment.  Check it out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review - On the Road

Author: Jack Kerouac
Year: 1957

Admittedly, it was the movie that prompted me to read the book.  I had, of course, heard of Jack Kerouac and his novels, but when I saw the movie trailer for On the Road I was intrigued and decided to read the book before the film came out.  I'm glad I did, because I doubt the movie will make much sense to anyone who has not read the story first, as Kerouac's exploits a wild, weird, and mostly disjointed account of his very interesting life.

On the Road is a true story, the tale of Kerouac's multiple journeys across the United States with his friend Nick.  Under the names Sal and Dean, these two spiritual brothers experience as much in a week as many people do in a lifetime.  With a host of interesting and real life characters, these two epitomes of the beat generation travel the world together, losing each other many times only to find each other again at the journey's end.

It's difficult to describe this book; makes sense, it was pretty difficult to read.  It is a true story and told event by event, as the characters drive from state to state, hop from bar to bar.  The details became repetitive fairly quickly, and by the end I was ready to be done.  But the saving grace of the novel was Dean.  Sal/Jack Kerouac's best friend Dean/Nick Cassidy is everything a young man could want in a hero; he is brash, driven, exciting, beautiful.  He is Peter Pan, Finny, Gatsby, and Ferris Bueller all rolled into one ball of pure energy.  Reading about him you can tell how much Sal loves him, wants to be him, is envious of him, and needs him.  I was reminded of my own youth, a friend I have, and how perhaps without even knowing it we saw ourselves as Sal and Dean; two free spirits ready to take the world on.  And perhaps that is the beauty of this story.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰

Monday, January 21, 2013

Movie Trailer - John Dies at the End

Director: Don Coscarelli
Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti
Release: January 25th, 2013

Weird, weird, weird.  It's like a cross between Army of Darkness & Naked Lunch, with a sprinkle of Giamatti.  What else would you expect from the director of Phantasm, Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep I'm definitely interested, but with all the other great movies out there I doubt I'll make much of an effort to see this one.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Movie Review - The Bridge on the River Kwai

Director: David Lean
Starring: Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins
Year: 1957

I'm a huge fan of The Great Escape, one of the best WWII movies ever made.  Nothing illustrates the pointlessness of war better than a prison camp, a physical example of contradiction.  I was excited to watch The Bridge of the River Kwai, another true story/World War/prison camp film.  From the beginning I was surprised at the similarity between the two movies.  And I was doubly surprised when I learned that Kwai had been made first, defining a genre and earning a spot in film history.

The story is one of duty, honor, patriotism, and how war makes these fine qualities absurd.  British and American POWs are grouped together in a virtually unguarded Japanese prison camp deep in the jungles of southeast Asia.  Escape is not really an option, as there is nowhere to go, and the soldiers attempt to keep some semblance of order in a chaotic place.  When they are ordered by their captors to build a railway bridge over a nearby river, they are torn between many desires; to follow the Geneva Convention code of conduct, to wreak havoc behind enemy lines in whatever way possible, and to build something that they can be proud of, no matter the outcome of the war.

To say this is a good movie would be an understatement.  The acting is among the best that you will find, even when compared to modern standards; Guinness, who would later become Obi-Wan Kenobi, and his Japanese commander counterpart were near perfect in their dialogues, portraying real humanity in an inhuman situation.  Timely humor and a beautiful locale polished the film off.  But it was the moral, the point, the depth of the story that really hit hard.  In such a complicated and ridiculous situation, the justification for war comes under the microscope, as we realize that each soldier and each officer is no more than a mere human attempting to live with some dignity.  An amazing film with an amazing core, The Bridge on the River Kwai is one that can't be missed.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Movie Trailer - The End of Love

Director: Mark Webber
Starring: Mark Webber, Shannyn Sossamon, Michael Cera
Release: 2013

I'm always a little wary watching a movie that was directed, written by, and starring the same person.  If it's Clint Eastwood, ok sure, but Mark Webber?  The guy is 32 and his only experience is acting in a bunch of mediocre films.  That said, I want this movie to be good; it looks touching and real, which is something rare and worth a shot.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Movie Review - The Last Legion

Director: Doug Lefler
Starring: Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Year: 2007

'Silly' is not a word that you want people to use when describing your movie.  You don't want your film to come off as a bad episode of Hercules or Xena: Warrior Princess.  But then again, when your only previous work was in television, and it was, more specifically, directing Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess, well then I guess we should have seen it coming.

The Last Legion is a story of the fall of Rome.  It's empire has crumbled and it can no longer control the hostile people that make up its realm.  As Rome is taken, the last Emperor, young Romulus Augustus, must rely on a small group of strange companions to keep him safe.  The band pursues an ancient legend of a sword that will protect justice and freedom, and ultimately save the vanishing Empire.  From the plains of Italy to the mountains of Britannia, good battles evil in this epic struggle.

It was hard to keep a straight face while writing that.  I know it sounds interesting, and the history behind the film definitely is, but the movie?  Not so much.  Corny acting, bad plot lines, and silly segues doomed it from the beginning.  Colin Firth has done better, but I doubt he has done worse; he was entirely unbelievable as a famous Roman general.  Ben Kingsley as the mysterious magician was laughable.  And the brave knight who turns out to be a woman and to whom the hero falls for?  Gag.  It was literally too bad for television, let alone the big screen.  The only saving grace of the film was the ending, which tied together the loose ends nicely.  But, then again, by that time any end would have been welcome.

My rating:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thought - Twitter

I have finally given in and joined Twitter.  I will now tweet.  Very strange.  Anyway, follow me (OlieCoen) on Twitter where I will put up daily links to 111 Archer Avenue and post more random thoughts and comments.  Thanks to everyone for your support.


Sports - Manti Te'o

I had another post all lined up for today, but I can't pass this by.  The world of sports radio, websites, and TV is talking about Manti Te'o, and I just can't resist.  Before we continue, read this article:

Ok, so I'm not a huge college football fan, my loyalties are with the NFL.  But even I heard about the heartbreaking story of Manti Te'o; he is the emotional leader of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, he is a Mormon among Catholics, his grandmother passes away, and shortly after his girlfriend also dies.  Very heartbreaking, everyone rallies around him, he's all in the news, quite the story.  And now, the fun begins; he never met his "girlfriend".  She's not a real person.  She didn't die.  Someone made her up and used a Facebook picture of some other woman.  Supposedly Te'o spent hours talking to ...someone ...on the phone every day for months as "she" went through chemotherapy.  It's a very confusing story that no one understands, and probably never will.  But man is it entertaining.

Everyone is weighing in on this topic.  Te'o and Notre Dame say that he was a victim of a hoax.  Ok, maybe.  Supposedly a man made this all up to fool Te'o.  If that's true, who was he talking on the phone with for four hours every night for four months, as he claims?  Some people think that Te'o and another man made up the hoax together to fool the media.  Alright, perhaps, but ...why?  Others think it's a combination of the two somehow, and that is also possible.  One interesting person who is adding his two cents is Nev Schulman.  He and his brother created the movie Catfish, a documentary about Nev's online relationship that turned out to be a hoax.  Now there is an MTV show called Catfish as well, with Nev as host, uncovering other such rouses.  Schulman says that he understands Te'o's plight, that hoaxes can happen to anyone.  The problem is, Catfish itself was a hoax.  It's not a real movie.  Schulman created a film that plays as a documentary, but is totally fiction.  So, a man who created hoaxes is supporting a man who was hoaxed ...don't try to make sense of it.

However the story ends, at least we all had a little fun.  The loser here is the American sports media, who covered Te'o and his tragedies ad naseum, and who now look a little foolish.  Te'o will be drafted into the NFL next season by some team who probably doesn't care whether or not his girlfriend did or did not exist.  But this story will forever follow him, hoax or not.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sports - NFL Picks, Conference

Here are my NFL Conference Picks:
(I was 2-2 last week.  Still not over the Broncos loss)

SF @ Atl - Wow, it's been a great postseason.  And a high-scoring one as well.  Both the Niners and the Falcons put up big points to win their opening playoff games at home.  I don't suspect that either team's defense will suddenly come to life, so look for another high points total.  Kaepernick and the Niners are a huge story, with the kid leading them in a way no one saw coming.  Matty Ice and the Falcons are no slouches, but San Fran is playing so hot right now it will be hard to stop them.  You could argue that the Seahawks should have won that game last week, while the Niners dominated their opponent.  Can the magic continue?  Final: San Francisco 34-31

Bal @ NE - I'm not bitter over the Broncos loss to the Ravens, just sad.  Baltimore played hard and never gave in, even after two return touchdowns seemed to turn the tide in the Broncos favor.  Flacco played well, and Ray Lewis is producing liquid momentum.  But you know, I just don't think it's enough.  For one things, the Ravens will be traveling to New England after what had to be an emotionally draining double overtime game.  For another, the Pats are other-wordly right now.  Their offense can do no wrong, so much so that their D doesn't even matter.  I wish Peyton had had the chance to go up against Brady for the AFC title.  Final: New England 38-23

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Movie Trailer - Wrong

Director: Quentin Dupieux
Starring: Jack Plotnick, William Fichtner, Alexis Dziena
Release: 2013

This may be the weirdest movie ever made.  It was only released in limited fashion and in festivals, perhaps coming to theatres this year.  To get some perspective, Dupieux's last film was about a telepathic tire named Robert.  Yeah.  I'm intrigued but wary.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Movie Trailer - This Is the End

Director: Evan Goldberg
Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill
Release: June 14th, 2013

First off, this is a Red Band Trailer and does include adult language and themes.  With that out of the way, if you liked Superbad you'll probably like this movie.  Some of the raunchiest dudes in comedy playing themselves during the Apocalypse with cameos by every actor we've ever heard of: Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Michael Cera, Aziz Ansari.  Should be entertaining at the very least.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sports - RG3

Everyone is weighing in on the topic of Robert Griffin III, his knees, his coach, and his career.  So, of course I have to put in my two cents, for the reading pleasure of my tiny audience.

The main point, as I see it, is quite simple, and it has little to do with RG3.  Of course he wanted to play.  Of course he said he was fine.  And of course he played when he shouldn't have.  He's a young man, the leader of the team, and a ultra-hyped draft pick.  It's not his job to make calls for the team, it's his coach's.  It is the responsibility of the head coach to A) keep his players safe, and 2) win the game.  It was obvious to anyone watching that RG3 couldn't play at a high level and that, at halftime, had the team come out with Kirk Cousins as their QB, they had a great chance to win the game.  Mike Shannahan should have made that call.  It is his duty to his team to make the tough decisions, like benching the most popular player in football when he is about to injure himself so badly that it might jeopardize his career.  No, you're not his dad.  And yes, he's a grown, albeit young, man.  But it's YOUR team at that moment, coach.  You have to do what's best for your player, his future, your team, and IT'S future.  The right move was benching RG3, and Shannahan missed it.  That's why the Redskins lost and that's why his star QB might not be ready for the beginning of next season.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Movie Trailer - To the Wonder

Director: Terrence Malick
Starring: Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams
Release: April 12th, 2013

Don't see this movie!  Whatever you do, don't get sucked in.  If you are like me, Malick has burned you before: The Thin Red Line, The New World, The Tree of Life.  All of these movies are beyond beautiful, and deep, yes, and stunning, sure.  But they are unwatchable.  Art in a gallery is MEANT to be these things, so that we can look, think, and feel.  A film needs to be something more.  It needs a personal connection, a story, a character, a life of its own that is breathed into it by the director and actors.  Movies are not paintings, they are something completely different, and that is how we can love both.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thought - The Oscars

This year's Academy Award Nominees are out and the Oscar buzz is ...buzzing.  I have put a list of nominees in various categories on The Oscars page of my blog, so check it out.  The biggest surprise to me is Silver Linings Playbook, with nominees in all of the Big Six categories.  I guess I need to turn off my Bradley Cooper bias and see that movie.  I'm not surprised that Ben Affleck did not get an acting nomination for Argo, nor am I surprised that Alan Arkin DID, but I am slightly perplexed as to why Affleck didn't get a nomination for directing; I thought that part of the film was superb.  I'm glad Kathryn Bigelow didn't get a nod for Zero Dark Thirty; I think they're making up for being so wrong about The Hurt Locker.  Anyway, check out The Oscars section to see all the nominees, and let me know what you think about this year's Awards.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sports - NFL Picks, Division

Here are my NFL Division Picks:
(I was 3-1 last week)

Bal @ Den - Three out of the four games this weekend are rematches from this season, this game being one of them.  In Week 15 the Broncos beat the Ravens 34-17 in Baltimore.  In Denver, in January, behind Peyton Manning, riding an 11 game win streak, I don't see the Broncos loosing.  The Ravens' offense has been improving, and their defense is emotionally charged right now, but they don't get to play Andrew Luck and his awful team this week.  Final: Denver 30-13
GB @ SF - Again, rematch time.  But this time you have to go back all the way to Week 1, where the Niners beat the the Pack 30-22.  At that point, Aaron Rodgers was not playing like Aaron Rodgers, the SF D. was nearly unbeatable, and Alex Smith was under center.  Things have changed, and the Packers are not anyone's punching bag.  Rodgers knows how to win when it counts, and Kaepernick just doesn't have that experience.  Sorry, Harbaugh boys, you're both out.  Final: Green Bay 24-14

Sea @ Atl - The only game that isn't a rematch.  Matty Ice and the Falcons could not be hotter, already having gone through a late season slump and ...touchdowned... there way out of it.  They're hot, at home, and hard to beat.  The Seahawks are lucky to even be here.  If RG3 had not been hurt, or possibly if he had been pulled at halftime, I think they would have lost that game and would have flown those long miles home.  I have just one word for you; Julio!  Final: Atlanta 31-20
Hou @ NE - When these two teams last met in Week 14, the Texans were considered the best team in the NFL.  They lost 14-42.  Brady and the Patriots, very simply, know how to win.  They make IT look easy and YOU look stupid.  Last round the Texans almost lost to the Bungles, and this round they will lose to the Patriots.  Look out Denver, here come the Pats!  Final: New England 27-16

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Movie Trailer - The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Director: Don Scardino
Starring: Steve Carell, Jim Carey, Alan Arkin
Release: March 15th, 2013

I wonder if Alan Arkin is trying to do as many movies as he can before he dies;  Argo was good, I'm on board for Stand Up Guys, but I don't know about this one.  It looks like an Anchorman rip off, and I think everyone can agree that the sun has set on those Ferrell/Carell/Vaughn type comedies.  Plus, these writers are responsible for Horrible Bosses.  No thanks.  You can't trick me.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Movie Review - Everything Must Go

Director: Dan Rush
Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Michael Pena
Year: 2010

I like Will Ferrell.  Some people think he and/or his movies are stupid, I think he's funny.  I defend him and point to his successes: Zoolander, Old School, Elf, Wedding Crashers.  But then again, he's had some failures as well: A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar, Bewitched, Semi-Pro.  I was curious and excited to see how he would do in a more serious role, how he would bring his own brand of humor to a deep character.  I really thought he could make it work.  I was wrong.

Everything Must Go is a sob story from the beginning.  Ferrell loses his job and, returning home, finds that his wife has kicked him out, putting everything be owns in the front lawn.  To make matters worse, he is a recovering alcoholic who can't stay sober and all of his relationships are breaking apart.  As he befriends a neighborhood boy and an attractive woman who just moved in across the street, he attempts to sort through his "baggage" and comes to terms with his new life.

Right after watching this movie, I thought "It was alright."  But now that I've had some time to think about it, I was wrong again; it sucked.  Will Ferrell was fine.  I was sympathetic to his character, he was mildly funny, and he was interesting.  Not only can I not say the same for ANY other actor in the movie, but they were all decidedly sub-par; at times I wondered if they were even acting.  The movie wasn't deep enough to really make you think, it was just sad with not enough humor to juxtapose the drama.  Blame Rush, as he is both a first time writer and director.  He failed, his script failed, his actors failed, and although it wasn't terrible I feel like I wasted my time.

My rating: ✰ ✰

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Movie Trailer - The Place Beyond the Pines

Director: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Ray Liotta
Release: March 29th, 2013

I'm all in for this one.  I loved Blue Valentine, which was also written & directed by Cianfrance, and also starred Gosling.  Bradley Cooper I could do without, but he actually looks good in this one; he's got to be cast as a douche bag, since that's what he is.  I won't rush to the theatre, but I will see this film.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Movie Review - Argo

Director: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston
Year: 2012

You can never have too much Ben Affleck.  Directing, acting, or just smiling that smile ...*sigh*.  Alright, obviously Affleck is a Hollywood heartthrob, but honestly he's more than that; he's talented.  From acting in great movies like Good Will Hunting and Chasing Amy,  to his first attempt at directing, Mystic River, a phenomenal film.  He may not strike every note, but more often than not he brings 'it' to his work and produces a hit.  Argo is no exception.

Based on actual events, the story centers around a group of American embassy staff in Iran who escape a hostage situation, only to become trapped in the country, taking shelter in the Canadian ambassador's home.  Affleck, playing a CIA operative, must concoct a plan that will fool the Iranian police and security staff, while safely bringing the group out of an increasingly dangerous situation.  His plan; to create a fake sci-fi movie with the help of Hollywood and go to Iran himself in order to rescue the captives and bring America back from the brink of war.

The details of this real life mission were kept confidential from the early 80s until the Clinton era, as Canada was given full credit for the rescue to stave off backlash towards the other American hostages.  The historical accuracy of the movie was excellent, and the intensity and fear of the situation was perfectly presented.  The best actor in the movie was definitely not Affleck, it was Alan Arkin, but Ben did a ok job; I would give him more credit for good directing.  Overall, an interesting movie that relied more heavily on the drama of real life than on great film making.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Movie Trailer - Pain & Gain

Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson
Release: April 26th, 2013

This movie confuses me.  First, it's Michael Bay, who I don't much like (Pearl Harbor, Transformers).  Then, it's the Rock, who, let's be honest, is not an actor.  Lastly, it's Marky Mark, who I actually heart.  The movie itself looks odd, funny, somewhat poignant, and a little bad.  But I have to say,  I'm curious.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sports - NFL Picks, Wild Card

Here are my NFL Wild Card Picks:
(I was 11-5 last week, 159-64 since Week 3)

Cin @ Hou - A rematch between an AFC Wild Card matchup last postseason.  The result; the Bengals losing to the Texans dominate D and their 3rd string QB.  The Texans should be able to win at home and healthy.  However, they are slumping, losing three out of four when it mattered,  while the Bengals are hot, winning their last three games when the playoff picture was wide open.  I still have to go with Houston though, as Dalton makes too many mistakes and has too few passing options.  If the Texans can take away A.J. Green they can win easily.  Final: Houston 27-13
Min @ GB - When it mattered to them and was at home, the Pack beat the Vikings 23-14.  When it didn't matter to them and was away, the Vikings beat the Pack 37-34.  In this game, at home, in the cold, when it counts, I have to pick Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to beat Adrian Peterson and the Vikings.  Peterson has had a great year, but his QB is still Christian Ponder, and with GBs defense finally healthy, I look for them to put the hurt on Minnesota.  Final: Green Bay 31-10

Ind @ Bal -The old Baltimore team versus the new.  This is a tricky matchup.  On one hand you have a young QB, making mistakes, winning close games, feeding on the momentum of a fanbase, and on the other you have an again defense, a offense gone stagnant.  The Ravens fired their O-coordinator, had a few rough weeks, but may have fixed their problems.  Luck is error-prone, which could put him in an early hole that is too tough to get out of.  I see a close one.  Final: Baltimore 17-14
Sea @ Was - The Redskins are the 2nd hottest team in the league, behind only the Broncos.  They have won all seven of their games since their bye week.  Obviously, RG3 is learning, improving, and needs to play well for the the Skins to get past an excellent Seahawks D.  The problem for Seattle is that they're playing on the road; they are 8-0 at home, but only 3-5 away.  The 12th man doesn't travel to D.C. and, although I hate to pick all home teams, I think the Hogs win.  Final Washington 27-21

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Movie Trailer - Stand Up Guys

Director: Fisher Stevens
Starring: Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Christopher Walken
Release: February 1st, 2013

This is one of those movies that can get you in the theatre using only big names.  I love all these guys, but the problem is that Fisher Stevens is an actor (Short Circuit, Early Edition), not a director.  He might have some talent, who knows, but I doubt he's great out of the gate.  So, hey, it looks good, I'll check it out, but I'll also temper my expectations.