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!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Movie Trailer - The Wait

Director: M. Blash
Starring: Jena Malone, Chloe Sevigny
Release: January 31st, 2014

What a strange-looking film.

Movie Review - Her

Director: Spike Jonze
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams
Year: 2013

This film was one of the last Oscar contenders that I needed to see; I was more excited to see it than many others, it just worked out that I was seeing it late.  So I heard all the good press, the rave reviews, and knew that it was up for Best Picture.  But that didn't mean too much to me.  Everyone and their brother thinks that Gravity is the best thing since french toast; I barely even liked it.  The Academy thinks that Inside Llewyn Davis isn't even worthy of a nomination; I think it's the best film of 2013.  So I was as much in the dark about Her as I would have been had I not heard a thing; would it live up to the great things I'd heard or would I be left alone disliking another nominee that everyone else thought was the second coming of Citizen Kane?  As it turns out, I somehow disagree with everyone, but not in the way I thought I might.  It's not a great film after all; it's phenomenal.  And it doesn't deserve one major nomination; it deserves three.  Her is one of the best films of the past year, pushing Llewyn, in my book, for the very top spot.

The main character of the film and the hub of all action & emotion is Theodore Twombly.  He lives in L.A. in the near future, works for a company that writes hand-written letters of love for paying customers, enjoys video games & internet porn, and is incredibly lonely.  His volatile wife Catherine has filed for divorce and a marriage that Theodore had devoted his entire self to is suddenly dissolved.  He's depressed, alone, unsure; until he meets Samantha.  She's the girl of his dreams, the perfect companion, gets all his jokes, talks with him late into the night, turns him on like no one has before.  But she can't be beside him, can't curl in bed with him at night, because she's not human.  Samantha is an operating system, a computer capable of artificial intelligence, learning human emotion and every fact in the world at an unimaginable speed.  Her relationship with Theodore starts out as any other does; hesitantly, thrillingly, all-encompassing.  But soon the pair realize that their love will never be "normal", that they will never be truly together, and that her destiny might be too great to be held in the hand of one man.

There is so much to discuss about this film, so many aspects that make it amazing and one that I could watch again right away.  The sci-fi element of the story was brilliantly done.  The future wasn't unbelievable, it was meticulously crafted to seem plausible and right-around-the-corner; touch screens, automatic lights, earpieces, voice recognition, mass transit, urban centers.  Everything imagined is partly in existence now and no technology took a leap of faith to accept.  Even the AI of Samantha and the other OSes was acceptable, fascinating, perfectly constructed but never explained in detail.  And so the world in which Theodore lived was fantastic enough to allow us to believe in the possibility of a computer that could feel, but not so out-there that we felt disconnected from the story.  Because, in the end, the story was what mattered.  It was a love story, a tale of star-crossed lovers in a way, a film about immature emotion that can be so exciting and so confusing all at once.  The innocence of Samantha and the desperation of Theodore were both so compelling and so real that I found myself emotionally involved in the plot and sharing their passion for each other.  There were pieces of their love that we can all relate to, mistakes that they made that we've all made before.  And the story that evolved became so real, so wonderful, that it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that it blew me away.

Despite all the praise for the film and its shot at Best Picture, Spike Jonze does not have a chance to claim Best Director.  I think the Academy got that one wrong; he deserves it much more than Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave or even Alexander Payne for Nebraska.  This film was beautifully shot, well thought out, and I felt his presence here in a very positive way.  And an even greater snub would be not nominating Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor.  He was at his best, delivering a character that was so amazingly deep and also so relatable.  And he was on his own for much of the film, conversing with an earbud and making audiences believe he was truly in love.  Scarlett Johansson, the voice of Samantha, was never seen, was always just a voice.  She and Amy Adams, who was in many ways the straight man, were complimentary actors; the burden of the film was on Phoenix and he has never been better.  My votes were going to be for Oscar Issac and the Coen Brothers until I saw this film; now they would go to Phoenix and Jones.  I still think that Llewyn is the best film of 2013, with Her right behind, regardless of what the Academy thinks.  They were very different films, but both combined heartbreaking stories with honest comedy to produce movies that continued to play in my head as I left the theatre and for days after. 

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Movie Trailer - The Lunchbox

Director: Ritesh Batra
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur
Release: February 28th, 2014

This movie can't be any worse than so many sappy American love stories, and maybe it'll be much better.  At least it seems to have heart and honesty, which are surprisingly lacking from so many films that claim to be completely about emotion.

Sports - 2013 NFL Postseason, Super Bowl

Here is my NFL Super Bowl Pick
(169-86-1 for the season, 9-1 for the playoffs)
Sea @ Den - And it all comes down to this.  It's been a wild season and a very enjoyable one as a Broncos fan.  I got to see Peyton Manning at his best, a record-setting offense, and a team that looked like a Super Bowl contender from the season-opening game.  Regardless of what happens here, it's been fun to watch.  But in a way it will have all been for naught if Denver comes up one game short of a championship.  Peyton is so close to cementing his legacy as perhaps the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, the only QB to win a Super Bowl with two teams, the greatest football mind to ever play.  And the rest of the team is as hungry as he is: Champ Bailey in his first SB in what may be his last season, Wes Welker here again but with a new team, John Fox the head coach that doesn't get much love.  It's all on the line and it should be a great game.  The Seahawks come in as the young team, the exciting and spirited group, the defense that can shut you down.  They've had a great year and won't roll over easy, fighting until the last second.  Their physical defensive backs match up well with Denver's skilled receivers, and so the game might be decided on the ground.  The Broncos can run the ball and stop the run, so even if the weather gets dicey they are still built to score points.  I think the Seahawks will be forced to throw against the Broncos weak secondary and I think they'll have some success.  But no team puts up points like Denver and I don't see Seattle keeping pace.  I'm calling the score at 34-23 with the Broncos taking home the trophy.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Movie Trailer - The Babadook

Director: Jennifer Kent
Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
Release: 2014

My god, what are these people trying to do, ruin my sleep for a week?  Just the trailer is enough to give me nightmares; a boogieman in the shadows, weird kids, repetitive charms.  No thanks.  I'm not saying it looks bad, but no thanks.

Movie Review - Nebraska

Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb
Year: 2013

I might still be a little angry about Inside Llewyn Davis being snubbed for the Oscars that I think it deserves.  And I'm not sure why, it's not like I made the movie, it shouldn't matter what the Academy thinks about a film I loved.  But it does, it really does, and so I transfer my anger to the films that were nominated in its place: Gravity which I didn't really even like, Philomena which I haven't seen quite yet, and Nebraska which I couldn't imagine even deserved a spot among the great films of the year.  And it gets four major nominations while Llewyn gets none?  Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture; Nebraska is this year's Cinderella story.  So I came in with a tiny grudge against this underdog of a film, but I actually left understanding what all the hype was about and why it's right where it belongs alongside the best of 2013.

Shot in black & white and set among the rollings plains of the Midwest, Nebraska is a film about family.  Woody Grant, an old & often-drunk retiree, has just won a million dollars, or so he thinks.  A letter in the mail says he's a winner, but his wife & two sons tell him that it's just a scam.  But Woody is determined to get from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska on foot if he has to, as he can't drive and no one will take him.  His wife Kate thinks he's crazy, his son Ross thinks it's time to put him in a home, but Woody's youngest David thinks that a road trip might not be an awful thing.  At least it would take David away from his own problems; a breakup, a dead-end job.  And perhaps it will show Woody that he didn't win, that he needs to come back to reality, that he's ignoring the real world and the people around him.  So father & son take a trip, bonding perhaps, definitely learning about each other, and connecting to a family that is steadily breaking apart.

The respect that I feel for this film after having seen it isn't even grudging.  I genuinely enjoyed it and it's obvious why it's been so highly respected.  Nebraska is about family, about fathers & sons, about lost dreams, disappointments, second chances, and the regrets of the past.  It's generally sad, sprinkled with heartbreak & humor, but at all times promoting an honesty that was nice to see.  The family was real, they had real problems, what they felt for each other was true, in both good and bad ways.  And wow was their country hometown accurate.  On the road the family gathers in Hawthorne, Nebraska for a small reunion, and if you've ever lived in a tiny rural village you'll immediately recognize the characters, the mannerisms, the town itself, the gossip, the culture, the despair.  It was eerily similar to parts of my own upbringing and someone got a ton of details correct when creating a picture of an ancient farming community and the people who call it home.

Bruce Dern was great as Woody and deserves a nod for his role.  He was senile but crafty, determined yet sad, and he played the part to perfection.  I doubt he wins Best Actor, but his name belongs next to the others this year.  Will Forte was alright as David and it makes sense that he was not nominated for Best Supporting Actor.  He'll always be the SNL guy to me and I think too many people feel the same way.  It was June Squibb who stole the show as Kate, the angry wife & mother who is as domineering as she is bitchy.  She was hilarious at times, cold as ice at others, helping to keep in perspective a story that could have gone off the rails.  But it didn't, it stayed honest and smart, helped by solid directing & editing as much as by strong acting.  Nebraska is a well-made film that should get a lot of credit but that I don't think will surprise anyone with big wins at the Oscars.  It's really good, not brilliant, and that should be reflected in March.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Movie Trailer - Better Living Through Chemistry

Director: Geoff Moore, David Posamentier
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan, Ray Liota
Release: March 14th, 2014

Uh oh, first time directors, plural.  I like the cast list, but I'm very concerned by the amateur feel of the trailer given that these guys are indeed amateurs.  If I had to put money on it I'd bet that the first 30 minutes are great and that the other 60 suck.

Movie Review - Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Director: Glenn Ficarra
Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore
Year: 2011

The romantic comedy is the butt of most cinematic jokes, and deservedly so.  So many are done so poorly that they've created a genre of flops, a group of films that are predictably awful and unashamedly cheap.  And the stories are always the same; love comes from an unexpected place, it's awkward & hilarious, it doesn't look like it's going to work out, but then of course it does.  You wouldn't think Hollywood could make a millions versions of the same plot, but they have and they will because for some reason people keep eating it.  Maybe it's the pretty people, maybe it's the fantasy of love against all odds, or maybe it's just a simple way to waste some time without having to waste much energy.  But every once in a great while a rom/com slips through the sludge and delivers something a bit more than crap.  Not a lot more, but enough to get excited about, since it's exponentially better than the rest of its genre.  Crazy, Stupid, Love is one of those films, a better-than-average silly love song that may not be amazing, but boy is it better by comparison.

Cal Weaver is a man at a crossroads.  His life is changing before his eyes and he's not sure what to do next.  His wife Emily announces that she's had an affair and wants a divorce, forcing Cal to move out and reconsider what he viewed as a solid life with his high school sweetheart.  Meeting Jacob Palmer should help straighten things out, as Jacob is the town's leading ladies' man, going home with a different beautiful woman every night.  He teaches Cal his tricks, sprucing up his look and helping him to develop some confidence.  But things just get more complicated, not less.  Cal has a one-night-stand with someone who he will unwittingly see again, his kids' babysitter is in love with him, his son is in love with the babysitter, his wife might want him back, and his new wing man might have accidentally fallen head over heels for someone who will turn out to be a very awkward choice.  Love is crazy and no one knows how to control it, at least not in this family.

It's not an incredibly original story; man wants woman, keeps making mistakes, woman wants man, can't express herself, player falls in love with uptight girl, gives up playing, uptight girl is not who he thought she was.  It's convoluted, a little overdone, and I wouldn't stack it up against films that are obviously superior in every way, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't work.  It's just better than most romantic comedies.  It's actually pretty funny for one thing, and for another it's actually a little romantic.  Shocker I know, but this rom/com surprisingly is one.  And it's gotta be the cast.  Julianne Moore and Emma Stone I could do without; neither is a great actress and neither is particularly believable.  But Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling are great bordering on excellent.  They sell the cheap story, hook you when you know you should resist, draw you into characters that, played by different actors, would be absolutely terrible.  Their talent made the movie, eliciting the laughs and the tears, and ultimately delivering not a wonderful film perhaps, but at the very least one that is the cream of its crappy crop.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Monday, January 27, 2014

Movie Trailer - Only Lovers Left Alive

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska
Release: April 11th, 2014

I can't imagine spending eternity with Tilda Swinton.  Especially when she's always drinking people's blood.  As far as the movie goes, there's nothing here that excites me.  I just can't imagine this one being any good and I think I'll steer clear.

Movie Review - Screwballs

Director: Rafal Zielinski
Starring: Peter Keleghan, Kent Deuters, Linda Speciale
Year: 1983

I should have known that I was in trouble when the characters of this film were named things like Purity Busch, Bootsie Goodhead, Miss Boudoir, and Jerkovski.  That made it sound more like a ridiculous 70s porno than a classic high school sex romp comedy.  I was hoping for something along the line of Meatballs or Porky's, or at least a clever spoof of that genre.  But what I got was 80 minutes of nonsensical story told by the worst actors in history with the occasional shot of a boob.  Any attempt at a clever satire failed miserably, humor was in very short supply, and by the time the movie was over I felt dumber having watched it.

Welcome to Taft & Adams High school, or T&A for short.  The boys there are always horny, the girls are usually willing, and practical jokes abound.  The school is run by the prettiest & smartest girl in school, Purity, who is as virginal as she is uptight.  But she makes enemies with a group of boys, getting them into trouble and into detention.  For revenge, the crew make a vow to deflower Purity, or at least see her breasts.  Their attempts are foiled time after time, despite their best efforts and clever tricks, but they refuse to give up.  Can the boys expose Purity before Homecoming, or will she remain unobtainable forever?

There's enough there in the summary to keep you away from this movie, right?  I feel as if it's my duty to stop anyone else from suffering as I have suffered.  To be fair, I knew it was going to be insane, juvenile, silly, gratuitous, a mockery of movies, and a wild ride.  But I just didn't know it'd be so crappy.  Meatballs had actual heart, Porky's had some good depth; Screwballs is basically a bunch of adults acting like teens and running around in their underwear.  There's nothing to grab onto (no pun intended), no feeling, no acting, no anything.  It's a total waste of time, it's not clever, it's not funny, it's not even a cheap thrill.  It's just a bad, bad movie that no one should be subjected to, so do yourself a favor and never watch it.

My rating:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Movie Trailer - Adult World

Director: Scott Coffey
Starring: Emma Roberts, John Cusack, Evan Peters
Release: February 14th, 2014

Put John Cusack in a movie and I'll see it.  I'm serious; I watched 2012.  And Emma Roberts isn't bad either, I think she might be able to hold her own in this one.  I don't know what it is but I kinda wanna check this one out.  Not super excited, but intrigued.

Movie Review - On the Road

Director: Walter Salles
Starring: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart
Year: 2012

To even attempt to enjoy this film you absolutely must read the novel first.  On the Road was written by Jack Kerouac in 1957 and is an account of his cross-country adventures with his best friend Nick Cassidy.  It's a snapshot of the United States in an era of lost souls, the Beat Generation; young people attempting to find themselves through music, poetry, travel, and gregarious self-expression.  It's a difficult book to read, a lot of random occurrences, jazz clubs, drinking binges, musings on life, strange characters.  But at the heart of it is the relationship between Jack & Nick, or Sal & Dean as they are called in the book & film.  Sal is the narrator, Dean is the catalyst, a figure so wild and free and attractive and young; the spirit of the time.  I describe Dean as Peter Pan, Finny, Gatsby, and Ferris Bueller all rolled into one ball of pure energy.  It's he who makes the book readable and the film watchable, a character we can all relate to and love in some strange way even while the rest of the action surrounding him leaves us feeling rather bored.

Sal Paradise, played by Sam Riley, is the author, journalist, eye witness, and narrator of this epic story, telling a tale of youth, of freedom on the road that breaks all bonds and opens the mind to all possibilities.  It's a romantic story, one brought down often by the details of life; money, love, jealousy, family, authority, time.  But if anyone can rouse up an adventure, putting behind all the mundane details of responsibility, it's Sal's best friend Dean Moriarty, played by Garrett Hedlund.  Dean always has a plan, is constantly in motion, and never has a girl far from his side.  The colossal road trips that he convinces Sal to accompany him on are usually driven by the desire for women: either Marylou, played by Kristen Stewart, or Camille, played by Kirsten Dunst.  But his wild urges to cross the United States to get to these girls never keep him from having a good time on the way there; with drugs, prostitutes, bars, strangers, old friends, hitchhikers, whatever.  And while Dean carouses, Sal falls more and more in love with his hero, his friend on the road, his companion of youth.

I imagine the film would make no sense whatsoever to anyone who hasn't read the novel.  The two are very true to each other, the movie being one of the better representations of a book that I've seen.  The pace, the spirit, the lines; all pulled from the novel and done well.  Coming into this film having not read the novel would make anyone feel lost & confused, as the plot really only exists within the drive of the characters and the experiences of the road.  It's a wild ride in which nothing anyone does really makes any sense at all, their emotions deciding on their next course of action.  And so to love the film you might have to have loved the book, and unfortunately I only liked it.  I liked Kerouac's writing and I related to both Sal & Dean, but by the end of the book I was bored and glad to be done.  I felt the same way about the film; it was well-done and well-acted, but it was also exhausting at times, boring at others.  Hedlund did an excellent job as Dean, the manic protagonist.  And I even thought Kristen Stewart was strong as Marylou.  There were some cool cameos; Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams.  But taken as a whole the film dragged, despite it's solid pieces.  The blame could go to the novel; it dragged as well, and although it's undoubtedly a classic with great characters, it's not the easiest book to read.  I highly recommend that you read Kerouac's work first and than watch the film version, but that might not help; those who hate the book will hate the movie, those who only like the book will only like the movie, and most likely those who worship the book will probably despise the movie.  So perhaps it's a lose/lose situation for On the Road and three stars is about the best it's going to get.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰

Friday, January 24, 2014

Movie Trailer - Run & Jump

Director: Steph Green
Starring: Will Forte, Maxine Peake, Edward McLiam
Release: January 24th, 2014

What's up with Will Forte all of a sudden deciding he's believable as a real actor?  First Nebraska, now this?  What's next, a WWII epic?  To me he's still the SNL guy, nothing more.  I'm not saying he can't act, I'm just saying it's gonna take me some time.

Book Review - World War Z

Author: Max Brooks
Year: 2006

When I first saw the trailer for the film version of this book I was pretty excited.  I love zombie movies and here was one based on a novel, directed by Marc Forster, and starring Brad Pitt.  I figured it would be a visually stunning and very exciting zombie movie done with all the monetary backing of Hollywood.  And it was, to some extent.  It was cool and epic, but it lacked the punch & gore & grit of lower budget zombie films, making World War Z a good but not great movie.  So then my friend lent me the original book and I was excited again, expecting a more detailed storyline, the film fleshed out.  What I got was a good book, again not amazing, but one that had absolutely nothing to do with the movie whatsoever.  I have never read a book that was so distant from its film version, being only related to each other by the title.

WWZ is subtitled An Oral History of the Zombie War, and that's exactly what it is.  From the beginning an unnamed narrator/journalist begins interviews of the survivors of the global catastrophe known as the Zombie War.  The war is over during the sessions and each part is told as a history lesson from a firsthand account.  The story is broken into sections, each depicting a stage of the great war.  Warnings; the beginning of the zombie outbreak, from infection to the spread of the disease.  Blame; the causes and potential cover ups.  The Great Panic; when humanity was on the brink of annihilation, on the run from an unstoppable force.  Turning the Tide; the beginning of the war against the zombies.  Home Front USA; how the battle was fought in America.  Around the World, and Above; snapshots of the war across the globe.  Total War; how humans defeated the undead tide.  And finally, Good-byes; the final chapter.

The novel was written in a very interesting way, giving away the ending at the very beginning and then filling us in on the details later.  We knew right away that there was a Zombie War and that humanity won.  But by personal interview we meet the characters who had a part in the battle, those who fought the undead and lived.  We learn how it was done, what changed because of the war, and ultimately why life goes on.  It's a cool way to tell a story, especially for a history or war buff.  But the only problem with this style is that there aren't any protagonists, there is no one to root for.  Or in a sense, there are too many people to root for and as a reader you can't fall in love with any one character.  And when you can't connect to the story it becomes less real, more imaginary, and it loses its depth.  I enjoyed reading WWZ, it was fascinating and completely different from the movie.  But in the end it left me with no great impression, no lasting feeling; it was just a fun book.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Movie Trailer - Maidentrip

Director: Jillian Schlesinger
Starring: Laura Dekker
Release: January 17th, 2014

An incredible true story; could you imagine doing anything remotely like this when you were that age?  I didn't even like making telephone calls to strangers.  Very impressive.  Now, that doesn't mean the movie will be any good, but some documentaries speak for themselves.

Sports - 2013 NFL Year in Review

Here is my 2013 NFL Year in Review
(169-86-1 for the season, 9-1 for the playoffs)
It's been a great season, especially for Broncos and Seahawks fans, and I've enjoyed trying to pick each game each week, including the playoffs.  I didn't do too bad, guessing right about 66% of the time, and going almost perfect through the playoffs.  Here's a look back on where I thought each team would end up and what actually happened by the end of the year (2013 record in parentheses).
 AFC East 
  1. Patriots - "Tom Brady's weapons might be changing, but he's still Tom Brady." (1st, 12-4) Pretty accurate, the Pats were still a great team, but in the end Brady's lack of weapons did them in and stopped them one game short of the Super Bowl.
  2. Dolphins - "Their first year as a unit went OK, their second year might be pretty much the same." (3rd, 8-8) I'd say going .500 is the definition of "OK".  They almost made the playoffs, falling just short.
  3. Jets - "I don't think these guys know what they're doing, not at all." (2nd, 8-8) It was an up & down year for Rex Ryan & Geno Smith, and often they really did seem to have no idea what was going on.
  4. Bills - "New everything, and it'll probably take a little time." (4th, 6-10) The Bills showed a little promise and things might have gone better had E.J. Manuel stayed healthy, but they've got some reason to be hopeful for next year.
AFC North
  1. Bengals - "The door is open for Cinci, and Dalton could make strides this year." (1st, 11-5) The division was the Bengals' to lose all year and they held on to take it.  Unfortunately Dalton can't seem to win when the game really matters.
  2. Ravens - "Their old defense is gone, but some say their new one is better.  We'll see." (3rd, 8-8) Their D was not better and their offense sputtered more often than not.  A mediocre and relatively boring team.
  3. Steelers - "Feels like they're stuck in a funk.  A good team, but not scary." (2nd, 8-8) Exactly right, a fine team that isn't really a contender any more.  Not sure what they answer is but they had better change something.
  4. Browns - "Oh Brownies, how pathetic you are.  It's almost sad.  Almost." (4th, 4-12) Predicting that the Browns would be sad is no huge stretch.  They're just an awful franchise that has literally no hope whatsoever.
AFC South
  1. Texans - "A tough team already, and then you add in Ed Reed." (4th, 2-14) Wow, talk about wrong.  My only consolation is that everyone thought just I like did and no one saw them as having the first pick in next years' Draft.
  2. Colts - "Luck could face a sophomore slump, especially with a new OC." (1st, 11-5) I was pretty off the mark with Luck, but he played in a very weak division and never blew my mind.
  3. Titans - "Jake Locker better show what he can do soon before his time runs out." (2nd, 7-9) Well the HC's time ran out and I don't see Locker lasting long under a new regime.
  4. Jaguars - "An entirely new staff and bad QBs.  Not a good combination." (3rd, 4-12) The Jags were as bad as expected.  If they could just find a QB they'd have a glimmer of hope for 2014.  Tebow anyone?
AFC West
  1. Broncos - "Denver will ride Peyton Manning all the way to the Super Bowl." (1st, 13-3) Boom.  Peyton set QB records, the Broncos were the best offense in history, and they're in the Super Bowl.  Great season.
  2. Chiefs - "A new regime has taken over and I see them improving quickly." (2nd, 11-5) They did indeed improve.  Andy Reid, Alex Smith, and a solid D made them a tough team to beat.
  3. Chargers - "I'm so tired of Phillip Rivers.  He's not a winner, and so SD won't be either." (3rd, 9-7) Rivers actually had a good year, snuck into the playoffs, and beat the Bengals.  Not bad.
  4. Raiders - "A complete roster overhaul won't make them contenders." (4th, 4-12) The Raiders were a throw-away team and didn't scare anyone.  They have a bad coach & a bad QB; a killer combination.
NFC East
  1. Cowboys - "The pressure is on and I think Romo and the 'Boys respond." (2nd, 8-8) Romo did just fine, it was the defense that was the problem.  They allowed so many points that the offense couldn't keep up and in the end they were a mediocre team.
  2. Giants - "The G-men are always contenders, and this division is always tight." (3rd, 7-9) Yes they did end up in a tight division, but no they weren't truly contenders.  They lost too many games early and could never rebound.
  3. Redskins - "I doubted RG3 last year and was mostly wrong, but I'm not sure he makes it through the season healthy." (4th, 3-13) RG3 didn't even make it through the season as the starter.  What a horrible year for the 'Skins.  Goodbye Shannahan.
  4. Eagles - "An all new staff must fix all the problems.  Should take more than one offseason." (1st, 10-6) They won the division and their offense was scary at times, but the Eagles were never a great team and got booted right away in the playoffs.
NFC North
  1. Packers - "As long as Rodgers is the QB, the Pack will be a Super Bowl contender." (1st, 8-7-1) Rodgers' injury almost derailed the Pack, but luckily the rest of the division decided they would all play bad football too.
  2. Bears - "Brand new staff should give Cutler a chance to be a true gunslinger." (2nd, 8-8) Cutler stepped up his game this year, when he wasn't hurt.  The Bears had their chances, but their defense was just dreadful.
  3. Lions - "Detroit can't be as bad as they were last year again, can they?" (3rd, 7-9) Well no they weren't, but they also weren't great.  Their HC got fired because of their lack of focus and discipline.  Good move, if you ask me.
  4. Vikings - "AP is a beast, but I have exactly zero faith in Christian Ponder." (4th, 5-10-1) Absolutely no one had faith in Ponder this year, least of all the Vikings.  A QB carousal and and overall bad team eventually led to a new HC.
NFC South
  1. Saints - "Coach Payton is back from his suspension and NO is back as the frontrunner." (2nd, 11-5) The Saints were scary good, especially at home.  But the division went to a team I didn't see coming and NO fizzled in the playoffs.
  2. Falcons - "Hotlanta should be just as fiery on offense and make the playoffs." (3rd, 4-12) I don't feel bad for getting this one wrong, the Falcons were just devastated by injuries and lost all chance very early on.
  3. Buccaneers - "I like their chances this year, but it's a tough division if NO is back to form." (4th, 4-12) The Bucs weren't as awful as their record shows, but they still got a new HC and will have to start from scratch.
  4. Panthers - "I'm just not a big Cam fan.  He's got a new OC, could take a step back." (1st, 12-4) This was my biggest misread.  Cam was great, the Carolina D was fantastic, they were hard to beat at home, and had a great year.
NFC West
  1. Seahawks - "I don't see Russell Wilson taking a big step back, so watch out." (1st, 13-3) Watch out indeed.  Best team in the NFC, best D in the league, and now they're in the Super Bowl.
  2. 49ers - "I think Kaepernick does regress and the Niners suffer from the hangover." (2nd, 12-4) Kaep did have a rough time at the beginning, but his running game and SF's defense came through in a big way, taking them to the NFC title game.
  3. Cardinals - "They made a ton of moves, brand new team really." (3rd, 10-6) Tough division, but actually a really good year for Carson Palmer and the Cards.
  4. Rams - "I've lost faith in Sam Bradford, and you've got to imagine STL will too." (4th, 7-9) They've got to be reconsidering Bradford in St. Louis, he's just not the guy.
Most improved teams: Chiefs, Saints, Cowboys. (Chiefs, Saints, Panthers)
Least successful teams: Browns, Jaguars, Panthers. (Browns, Jaguars, Texans)

Wild Cards: Ravens, Colts, Bears, Falcons. (Chiefs, Chargers, Saints, 49ers)
Super Bowl: Broncos vs Seahawks. (Broncos vs. Seahawks)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Movie Trailer - Someone Marry Barry

Director: Rob Pearlstein
Starring: Tyler Labine, Lucy Punch, Damon Wayans Jr.
Release: February 7th, 2014

This is like American Pie for adults.  But the reason I liked American Pie was because I was fifteen.  Now at thirty I can't imagine watching this movie.  I don't mind a little dumb humor or a few fart jokes, but a whole film based entirely on them?  No thank you.

Movie Review - The Wolf of Wall Street

Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie

Year: 2013

I'm one of those annoying people who think that Inside Llewyn Davis is the best film of 2013.  I love the Coen Brothers' style, they delivered yet again, the film is near perfect, and I left the theatre thinking that I had seen an Oscar winner.  Well, the Academy though differently.  Not only was Llewyn not nominated for Best Actor or Best Director, but it was also left off the list for Best Picture.  Now, I knew that not everyone would love the film the way I did, it's a unique movie done in a unique way, but I was shocked that the Academy didn't consider it to be one of the top ten films of the year.  That's no knock on the other films up for Best Picture, they all had their successes with either critics, audiences, or both.  But I would put Llewyn in front of any of the others that I've seen, including the mighty Wolf of Wall Street.

The Wolf in question is Jordan Belfort, a lowly stock broker turned millionaire who lit the financial world on fire in the 1980s.  This is a true story based on Belfort's own book and follows his career, including all its ups and downs.  Belfort began as a Wall St. broker and quickly began dabbling in penny stocks, worthless companies whose shares can be sold for high profits.  His fledgling company, Stratton Oakmont, became a booming empire almost overnight, and the money started rolling in.  But with the fortune came the problems; drugs, crime, money laundering, coverups.  And while fighting off the FBI, Belfort was also fighting his own addictions; his dependency on Quaaludes and other drugs as well as his penchant for prostitutes.  The high life can't last forever, and as Belfort's enemies began to creep closer his empire began to crumble out from under his feet, leaving him with only his friends and his wits to count on.

I have literally never seen a film like The Wolf of Wall Street.  It was insane.  Three hours worth of hard drugs, naked women, mountains of cash, meltdowns, cocaine highs, Quaalude lows, motivational speeches, tidal waves, hookers, midgets, booze, cops, and the ridiculous fashions of the 80s.  It was an intense and wild ride though bright colors and spending sprees, made all the more incredible by its mostly being true.  What a crazy life to have led, what a tremendous roller coaster to have been on.  It stressed me out; I kept having to remind myself that I wasn't the one doing the drugs, that I wasn't throwing money off the side of a yacht, that these things were real but were happening to someone else.  Seems dramatic, but the story was that in-your-face, that uncontrolled and explosive.  But it was also well done, taken from real life to a book to a screenplay to the theatre without losing any of its energy along the way.

And the credit there goes to Scorsese, who directed another solid film following the rise and fall of power.  It had a major Departed feel, and I'm sure some of that had to do with Leo being in both films.  DiCaprio was excellent; insane and yet human, unpredictable yet a true friend.  I imagine he'll win Best Actor for this role, although Matthew McConaughey might give him a run for his money.  Incidentally, McConaughey had a nice cameo in this film, as did some others: Jean Dujardin, Jon Favreau, Rob Reiner.  And they all were excellent, as were all the side characters, including Jonah Hill, who was far better in this roll than in Moneyball, though I think he'll get beat out for the Oscar by Jared Leto.  The film as a whole was very good, but it wasn't amazing.  The acting was strong, the plot was cool, but man was it long & crazy.  It could have been more concise, slightly less manic, bottled up just a little bit.  The beginning was tremendous, hilarious, excellent.  And then it fizzled bit by bit until by the end I was ready for it to be over.  It wasn't better than Llewyn, not even close.  It wasn't even better than 12 Years or American Hustle.  It was more on par with Captain Phillips or Dallas Buyers Club; a film that was well-made but not mind-blowing.  Did I enjoy it?  Yes.  Love it?  No.  But it's worth seeing and fun to watch and you should probably check it out.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Movie Trailer - Cesar Chavez: An American Hero

Director: Diego Luna
Starring: Michael Pena, John Malkovich, Rosario Dawson
Release: March 28th, 2014

Umm, Michael Pena is a bad actor.  Are we just supposed to ignore that because he's starring in a true story?  I mean, Cesar Chavez is an interesting figure, but I don't think this is going to be a good movie.  Biographies usually suck; bad pace, bad acting, bad editing.  It's as if directors get caught up in the emotion and forget that they're still making a movie, not a tribute film.

Movie Review - Swinging with the Finkels

Director: Jonathan Newman
Starring: Mandy Moore, Martin Freeman, Jonathan Silverman
Year: 2011

Sometimes you watch a movie with the knowledge that it won't be any good.  That might seem close-minded, but come on, sometimes you can just tell.  I felt that way about this film from the get-go, but I kinda wanted to see it anyway.  I mean, who isn't intrigued by the idea of Mandy Moore in a romantic comedy about swingers?  She's just so goody-goody, so bubble gum, that I wanted to see how she would handle a more adult role.  And, honestly, I thought it might be hot.  But still, I knew Swinging with the Finkels would be a bad film and yes of course it was.  The one or two quick scenes of Mandy Moore making sexual reference weren't enough to mask a horrible plot, terrible acting, and an overall bad movie.

The Finkels are a married couple who've gone dry.  They don't have kids, they both have busy careers, and they just don't have a passion for each other anymore.  It looks like things are headed towards a breakup, when Ellie Finkel has a brilliant idea; swinging.  Maybe what the pair need is some spice, a little glimpse over the fence to see if the grass is greener.  At first Alvin Finkel doesn't know what to think about his wife proposing that he sleep with another woman, but he's willing to take one for the team and give it a try.  Of course, it isn't as simple as that, and both Ellie & Alvin find that their happiness isn't that easily saved, that a good marriage takes hard work.

This movie is disappointing.  I mean, I knew it wasn't going to be great, but it didn't even end up being about swinging, or even sex for that matter.  It started out a little humorous, a little adult, but quickly became just another stupid comedy that turned into a lesson on life.  It was never very funny, no one actually made me laugh the entire time I don't think.  And the acting was awful, just awful, from Mandy Moore to Martin Freeman, Jonathan Silverman to Jerry Stiller.  The only memorable part of the whole film was when Moore masturbated with a cucumber.  It was done more silly than sexy, but it was surprising to say the least.  Other than that, the movie was a big dull dud that seemed a cheap knockoff of better films, like When Harry Met Sally.  Now there's a good romantic comedy; go watch that one instead.

My rating: ✰ ✰

Monday, January 20, 2014

Movie Trailer - A Fantastic Fear of Everything

Director: Crispian Mills
Starring: Simon Pegg
Release: February 7th, 2014

What a strange trailer for what, I'm sure, will be a strange film.  I don't even really understand what's going on, it's like a cross between Coraline and Naked Lunch.  And that lovechild is not something I would particularly look forward to seeing.

DVD Review - Sister

Director: Ursula Meier
Starring: Kacey Mottet Klein, Lea Seydoux, Gillian Anderson
Year: 2012

Lea Seydoux is having a nice last couple of years, becoming the star that you've never heard of, the French Jennifer Lawrence if you will.  The 28-year-old actress from Paris is making a splash in American cinema with roles in Inglorious Basterds, Robin Hood, Midnight in Paris, and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.  She's also slated to appear in The Grand Budapest Hotel and Beauty and the Beast with Vincent Cassel.  Of course, right now the buzz surrounding her is her participation in Blue Is the Warmest Color, an explicit and controversial film about a young lesbian relationship.  But lost in all this is a little-known movie she took part in almost two years ago called Sister, a French language film by director Ursala Meier and featuring, oddly enough, Gillian Anderson of The X Files fame.  I had no idea what to expect going into this one, given all the pieces, but I came away having enjoyed a quality film, if one that deserves its spot just under the radar.

The Movie

Originally titled L'enfant d'en haut, this is a story of a relationship between a brother & a sister, how they survive on their own, and the lengths they are willing to go to for each other.  Louise, the elder, is lost, depressed, and basically helpless.  She spends her time going on "vacations", escaping from the real world in the company of some young man with a car, spending all her money, and then coming home to the relative responsible care of her little brother.  Simon is the provider of the family, making a living by working the slopes of the local ski resort.  He's a thief, a bold taker of anything that's not locked up, be it skis, gloves, masks, toys, or sandwiches.  He sells his stolen goods to buy the basic necessities of life and to keep his sister fed, working to support a very small family that needs him just as much as he needs it.

Life is difficult for Simon up on the mountain.  He steals but people don't always buy.  He knows everything there is to know about skis, and yet doesn't know how to ski.  He hobnobs with the rich and then goes home to eat their stolen snacks, surviving any way he can, keeping his sister alive & safe despite her self-destructive tendencies.  The relationships he forms on the mountain are fleeting; a partnership with a Scottish worker, a thieving team with a little boy, a bond with an English woman whose family he longs to be a part of.  And although sometimes he gets away with his crimes and makes some quick cash, other times he is caught, beat up, thrown out, treated like garbage, and made to feel like an insignificant speck upon the broad face of the mountain that he calls home. 

Let's touch on Lea Seydoux first, since she's the most current name is this movie.  Well, apart from Gillian Anderson, but that falls under the category of cameo more than anything else, although she does a fine job with the small part that was given her, and it would be a stretch to call her "current".  Seydoux is the up-and-comer, if she hasn't already arrived, and a lot is asked of her in this film.  It's interesting because Simon is definitely the main character and provides the majority of the action, but his sister Louise is the one who is necessary to create a foundation for the story, a depth behind the why of their family, an unspoken history if you will.  And Seydoux pours a lot into a role that calls for very few words, speaking mainly with her body, her expressions, her presence.  She creates a very strong character with a complicated back story, and yet somehow manages to remain in the background and to supply a lot of emotion to the film.

Simon is the catalyst, the narrator in a way, and Klein plays him very well.  He's only been in two movies before this one, and a lot is asked of him in this film, but he has the talent to pull of the very difficult task.  Simon is a fascinating character, a kid who is thrust into the role of an adult, forced to be responsible and yet still needing the love that all children need.  This idea is represented in a heart-breaking scene where he actually pays his sister for the right to sleep next to her, desiring emotional contact so much that even this simple act is worth so much to him.  Klein does an excellent job of playing the savvy & street smart boy who is just a kid despite his big words, someone who can steal with no transference and then goes home to tuck his older sister into bed after she has passed out and spent all their food money.  A difficult role for a young man, but he pulls it off.

So the acting in the film is spot on and the relationships portrayed are all well crafted.  And yet the film as a whole is not something that will wow you.  By the time the story was over I'd grown tired of seeing Simon ride the gondola up the mountain, bored with all the scenes of him taking things from backpacks, trying to sell them, and then going home to wash some clothes.  There was a small climax and/or twist set into the plot and I enjoyed the movie up until then, but after that I felt like I had understood the point and was ready for the end.  Perhaps the film could have used some better editing, some quicker scenes, or an improvement in music; the soundtrack was horrible, very distracting, and didn't add anything to the emotion of the scenes.  Whatever was missing, I enjoyed the movie, liked the characters, and thought the acting was great.  But I was left wanting something else or perhaps wishing the film had been more polished, something to take it from mediocre drama to memorable movie, and that just didn't happen.


Video - With an aspect ration of 1.85:1, the video is very nice.  The film was shot using an Arri Alexa camera with an Angenieux Optimo lense.  The picture quality is high, with some beautiful mountain shots, nice color, and a good balance.

Audio - The disc was done in Dolby Digital and the audio is just fine, with no problems.  There are no language options on the disc; the film is in French with English subtitles.  The sound was mixed well with no mistakes, but the soundtrack was quite poor.

Extras - No extras appear on the DVD.

Final Thoughts

Rent ItSister is a strong film with solid acting, but not one that will blow you away.  The leads play their parts well, there are some beautiful shots, but the movie as a whole is one that is lacking in something special, a polish or an eye for detail, and that lack keeps it from greatness.  The video quality of the film was good, the sound was fine, but there are no extras on the disc.  A good movie, not an amazing one, but one that has strengths to showcase if you care to search fro them.

✰ ✰ ✰ - Content
✰ ✰ ✰ - Video
✰ ✰ - Audio
- Extras
✰ ✰ - Replay

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Movie Trailer - Summer in February

Director: Christopher Menaul
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Emily Browning, Dan Stevens
Release: January 17th, 2014

Some period pieces are so good that they speak to everyone, regardless of the time they represent or the exact subject matter.  I'm gonna go out on a limb and say this is not one of those.  This one looks too specific, so "period-piecey", to dramatic.  I think you'd have to be a big fan of the genre and the era to really enjoy this film on the level that it wants you to.

DVD Review - Last Love

Director: Sandra Nettelbeck
Starring: Michael Caine, Clemence Poesy, Justin Kirk
Year: 2013

It's not often you see bad work done by Michael Caine.  He's just too naturally gifted an actor, too strong in his roles.  And he's done so many over the years, varied parts that almost always come across the screen and blow audiences away.  In his younger days: Zulu, Alfie, The Man Who Would Be King, A Bridge Too Far.  More recently: Noises Off, The Cider House Rules, Quills, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight.  He just doesn't often make a misstep; choosing his characters with a discerning eye, playing them to perfection, and delivering in top-notch films.  That's why it's so surprising to see a weak Michael Caine in a weak movie, a shock that a character seemingly tailored to fit him comes off as unbelievable, throw-away, and just plain bad.

The Movie

Matthew Morgan is a sad old man.  He's an American living in Paris who doesn't speak the language and has no plans to learn it.  It is both a winter month and the winter of his life.  His children live back in the States, he is retired from his career, he has no passions whatsoever, and his wife has just died.  She was his entire existence, his one reason for living, and without her Matthew floats through each day wondering why he's alive.  He goes to lunch, he takes bus rides, he reads his books, and he wonders why his beloved companion of so many years was taken away from him, why he is still on Earth when the world means nothing to him.

But things begin to look up when Matthew meets Pauline.  It's an accidental meeting on a random bus, and yet it feels to both of them as if they are connected in some way, as if they can help each other out of the dull existence of their current lives.  But the romance of the situation is short lived and reality comes crashing down.  And after a stay in the hospital, Matthew's grown children come to see him, to convince him to move on, to reconcile, something, anything.  His son is dealing with problems of his own, and meeting Pauline might affect his crisis as well, as she just seems to change the mood of the room she's in, to light up your life with such simple and yet beautiful ways.  Life in Paris will never be the same for Matthew, for his son, or for Pauline since meeting each other.

From the very beginning Last Love feels fake.  Nothing about it comes across as genuine or original, realistic or touching.  It's a recycled plot that fails to tug at our hearts the way it's supposed to, making the story seem cheap rather than deep.  The whole meet-a-random-stranger-who-will-change-my-life thing is boring, not to mention unbelievable.  The main character could have worked through his problems in so many other ways, could have reconnected with his son through some organic means.  He didn't need to meet a helpful French girl who was looking to fix some old man.  It made her feel like an outsider in the story, like an angel perhaps, but not a real person.  And had they gone that direction maybe the film would have come off as cheesy but heart-warming.  But they didn't, Pauline was just a woman, and so we're back to feeling disconnected and little skeptical.

Some amazing acting could have helped cover up some of the flaws of the plot, but surprisingly Caine wasn't up to the task.  I was shocked that he did such a poor job, that his character seemed so forced, so fake, that I never believed him as Matthew Morgan.  He's usually just so strong, but this time everything was wrong.  His odd, manufactured American accent, his clipped way of speaking, his heartless interactions with those around him; every detail was bad, a shockingly poor performance from an excellent actor.  And neither Poesy or Kirk really stepped up to fill the void; they were fine but not great.  No, this was Michael Caine's movie to make or break, and somehow he broke it, failing to produce a believable or relatable man.

There aren't many positives to cling onto when searching for something nice to say about this film.  At times the relationship between father & son was interesting, or at least made you feel something.  And the high emotion of the movie got you to at least consider your own life, your own love, to wonder how you would fare in a similar situation.  But overall it was a very dreary two hours spent watching Last Love.  There were just so many negatives: the slow pace of the film, Caine's bad accent, music throughout that never really matched the mood of the moment, Poesy's poor dancing when she's supposed to be a dancing instructor.  The actors, the director (who also wrote the adapted screenplay); everyone put forth a weak effort, creating a final product that was hard to sit through, over-heavy, not polished, and not recommendable.


Video - With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 Widescreen, the video of the film was quite nice; crisp, clean, with a good color balance, and enjoyable to view.  The winter drudge of a big city didn't lend itself to a lot of stunning visuals, but the hue of the scenes lent itself to the feel of the movie.  The film was shot using Arricam cameras and Zeiss Ultra Prime and Angenieux Optimo lenses.  The picture quality was high, if not remarkable.

Audio - The DVD was produced in Dolby Digital 5.1 with an option for English SDH subtitles.  The film is done in English with the occasional French subtitle without needing to activate an audio option.  The sound quality of the movie was fine, nothing spectacular.  The music often seemed out of place and didn't aid in the enjoyment of the film.

Extras - There are two extras on the disc: Deleted Scenes and Outtakes.  There are seventeen deleted scenes under that title, numbered as to where they would fall in the film.  And there are nine and a half minutes worth of outtakes, random flubs from the film.

Final Thoughts

Skip ItLast Love is a slow, heavy, difficult film, one that would have been a task to undertake even with the best acting and direction.  But those aspects weren't great, making a film that was both dark and not well-made.  Michael Caine was surprisingly bad; a weak performance and a poor character.  Nothing in the film leaps out as positive and I would be hard pressed to recommend it to anyone.  The video quality of the DVD was nice, the audio fine, and the extras few.  Not a film I would watch again nor one that I can give much praise.

✰ ✰ - Content
✰ ✰ ✰ - Video
✰ ✰ ✰ - Audio
✰ ✰ - Extras
- Replay

Friday, January 17, 2014

Movie Trailer - Life of a King

Director: Jake Goldberger
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Malcolm M. Mays, Dennis Haysbert
Release: January 17th, 2014

We've seen this before, the inspirational movie about students overcoming obstacles.  But usually it's a Disney movie, full of fluff, everything family friendly.  I have a little hope that this will be a little harder, a little more realistic, and thus a little better.  But Cuba can be hit or miss, so we'll see.

Movie Review - Monsters Inc.

Director: Pete Docter
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi
Release: 2001

I'm a big fan of Pixar movies, though I don't think I'm original in that.  They just do such a tremendous job of appealing to both children and adults, creating movies that are fun, heartwarming, amazing visually, and overall top notch.  My favorite is WALL-E, which goes beyond just a great animated movie and becomes a tremendous film all on its own.  Toy Story is excellent as well of course, as are so many more: Finding Nemo, Up.  But Monsters Inc. has always had a special spot in my heart.  The completely original concept, the beautiful artwork, the hilarious interactions between characters; it's a great Pixar classic, one that I'll always hold dear.

Welcome to Monstopolis, the city of Monsters.  It's a peaceful & plentiful place, where monsters live, work, and play.  The city, the cars, everything in the land, is powered by a very unique energy source; the screams of children.  At Monster's Inc. the workers are tasked with traveling through special doors into the human world, scaring children in their beds, and collecting the scream power.  The Top Scarer is Sulley, along with his partner Mike, and the two of them are about to break the all-time scare record.  But something sinister & terrible sneaks through a human door accidentally; a small human child.  The monsters are terrified of what they've always been told is dangerous, but as Sulley & Mike get to know the girl they discover that it's not humans who are evil, and that all is not as it seems at the corporate giant of Monster's Inc.

What a great storyline; original, sensical, funny.  It's a great way to put imaginary creatures into a plot while creating a tie to the real world, making it a surprisingly believable tale.  And the emotion is there to support the story; Sulley's love for the little girl, Mike's unwavering support for his best friend, the team's loyalty to each other.  It's heart-warming really, or as heart-warming as monsters can be.  And funny as well, constantly hilarious.  Billy Crystal steals the show as Mike Wazowski, the bubbling ball of nerves.  His character's physical humor and quick jokes pace the comedy, with Sulley more of the straight man.  It's a great movie for both kids and adults; visually stunning, simple comedy, deeper meanings, great writing.  It's just fun throughout, another excellent Pixar film in a long line of instant classics.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Movie Trailer - Ride Along

Director: Tim Story
Starring: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Tika Sumpter
Release: January 17th, 2014

I could go the rest of my life without seeing the practice proposal scene; how many times has that been done before & badly?  There's nothing in this movie that looks even remotely fresh or originally funny.  Just the same old dumb jokes and cliches.  And Tim Story directed both the Fantastic Four movies.  Enough said.

Sports - 2013 NFL Postseason, Championship

Here are my NFL Championship Picks
(4-0 last week, 7-1 for the playoffs)

NE @ Den - It's hard not to be a homer when your team is the best in the league, and so, either way you look at it, I'm going with the Broncos.  They're at home, their offense is incredible, and the last time these teams played the Patriots had to get very lucky to win.  Not this time, Brady.

SF @ Sea - I know the Niners have been a hot road team, and I picked them vs both the Packers and the Panthers, but I can't go with them for the Championship.  They just don't beat the Seahawks in Seattle, period.  The 'Hawks need to play a little better than they did vs NO, but I think they will.