Monthly Archives: February 2013

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Thought – DVD Talk

Category : Thought

Well, my quest to become a professional film critic has taken a step forward; I have my first reviewing job!  I will soon be writing DVD reviews (like my Once review) for DVDTalk.com.  I will continue to post here on my blog daily, as usual, but about once a week I will also be posting a DVD review on DVDTalk.  I will link the two sites somehow, so please continue to visit 111 Archer Avenue and also DVDTalk.com.  Thanks, everyone, for your support.  And this weekend look for two movie reviews, one a classic musical and one the winner of You Vote, I Review.

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Sports – NCAA Tournament

Category : Sports

It’s almost tournament time, and I couldn’t be more confused.  There is no legitimate #1 team and no dominant force in college basketball.  I guess you’re free to choose your home team when you fill out your brackets, cause they have as much of a chance as anyone else.  Speaking of brackets, if you’re interested in joining my Yahoo Pick ‘Em league, just let me know and I’ll send across the link and password.
So, last night #1 Indiana falls to Minnesota.  Who’s the new #1 then?  Gonzaga?  They’re not Final Four caliber.  Duke?  They lose too easily in tough road games.  Florida, Miami (Fl), Michigan?  No.  No one is a clear cut #1.  So, again, pick anyone you want in the Tournament.  Pick OSU if you want to, you Buck Nuts, cause who knows.
We’ll have to wait for the conference tournaments to decide who the best team is.  Look for someone to get hot, win their championship, and carry that momentum into the tourney.  UConn did it that way a couple years ago with Kemba Walker.  Duke did it the same way the year before.  Momentum is a tricky thing, and it’ll win this year.
In the playoffs of any sport, momentum is the most important force.  Throw the stats out the window, find the hot team, and you’ve found the winner.  The Baltimore Ravens this year; not the best team, the most emotionally charged team.  The San Francisco Giants last year: they were on fire, not extremely talented.  Momentum is the key.  Listen to Dr. Olie, and pick the hot hand.

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Movie Trailer – Admission

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Paul Weitz
Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd
Release: March 22nd, 2013

I usually like to get a jump on trailers and put something one here that’s not being advertised on TV or that isn’t coming out any time soon.  I’ll make an exception for this one, because I feel it is my duty to warn as many people as possible; this is going to be one of the ten worst movies of all time.  It doesn’t even have the saving grace of knowing that it’s bad and owning it.  Tina Fey might actually believe this movie is funny and that she’s a good actor.  Neither is true, and if you watch this movie you have nobody to blame but yourself.


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Thought – Oscar Recap

Category : Thought

What an enjoyable evening.  The Academy Awards at a wonderful Oscar party with a good friend; can’t beat that.  Next year, I’ve promised to take my wife.  Maybe we’ll dress up as a famous movie couple.  Harry & Sally?  We’ll have to see.  Here’s a recap of the party and the awards.

My friend and I went to the Drexel Theater for their Red Carpet Bash.  It was a lot of fun.  First, we got our picture taken on the red carpet by the “paparazzi”.  After finding our seats in the beautiful theater we had appetizers, Graeter’s ice cream, brownies, and whiskey & cokes.  A lot of people were dressed up, from Mary Todd Lincoln to Pat from Silver Linings Playbook.  The most flamboyantly dressed of all was Ms. Sable Coate, a very friendly drag queen who would act as the co-host for the evening.  Trivia was asked during commercials with prizes given away.  The bartender made strong drinks, everyone was relaxed, and it was fun to watch the Oscars with a live audience clapping, laughing, and having a good time.  It almost seemed like we were there.  Almost.  Now, to the Oscars.
First, I thought Seth McFarlane did a great job.  No, he’s no Billy Crystal or Bob Hope.  However, he was funny, relaxed, and made me feel like the Oscars were relaxing a bit.  I thought his opening with Williams Shatner was hilarious, especially the We Saw Your Boobs song.  Oh, Kate Winslett.  And, compared to all the other presenters, who all seemed like the walking dead, Seth was vibrant and the life of the party.  The show itself was good, but not great.  If it hadn’t been for the musical numbers, the show would have fallen flat.  Adele stole the show with her Bond song and the cast of Les Mis was nice.
Now, the awards.  I thought Alan Arkin deserved Best Supporting.  But I think his role was too small compared to that of Christoph Waltz.  Everyone knew Anne Hathaway was going to win Best Supporting, even Seth McFarlane.  And ditto for DDL, he was a shoe in for Best Actor.  Jennifer Lawrence winning Best Actress surprised me, because I saw Silver Linings Playbook, and she wasn’t that great.  When Ang Lee won Best Director, which was not a huge surprise, I think that should have tipped us off to the fact that Lincoln wouldn’t win Best Picture.  And that left the door wide open for Argo, which had been gaining momentum.  I have to say, I saw it and it was good.  Oscar worthy?  Sure.  A winner?  Not so much.  Life of Pi was the big winner in a lot of categories, and Django Unchained was the big loser, getting pretty much snubbed.  All in all, a good Oscars and a fun night.
Now, as far as best/worst dressed is concerned: Anne Hathaway looked awful in her nipple dress.  Reese Witherspoon’s dress was overshadowed by her chin, as always.  Kristin Stewart looked like her mom made her wear that.  Sandra Bullock looked nice.  Jennifer Lawrence looked hot.  Charlize Theron is just too damn tall.  Jennifer Garner is just too damn dumb.  Adele looked like she was going to eat Kristin Chenoweth.  Amy Adams was gorgeous as always.  George Clooney and Stacy Keibler are the most attractive couple in the world.  Helena Bonham Carter scares me.  Melissa McCarthy’s hair was atrocious.  Ben Affleck looked nice; I like the beard.  Channing Tatum is a big dull doof.  Renee Zellweger always looks confused.  DDL is my hero.  JGL & Harry Potter looked pretty awkward.  Chris Pine does it for me.  Jeremy Renner does not.  Dustin Hoffman looks extremely old.  And who is Brandi Glanville and why does she look so much like a hooker?
Wow, what a great time.  See you all next year!

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Movie Review – Jackie Brown

Category : Movie Review

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro
Year: 1997

The winner of You Vote, I Review! by mostly immoral means, Jackie Brown was the chosen film for this weekend.  My wife finally gets to watch a movie she’s been trying to get me to see for a while now, and I get to watch a Tarantino film that I’ve never seen, albeit one of his more mild.  I was interested to see how it would stack up against Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill, great films that are high on my list.  Thankfully, Jackie did not disappoint.
With a plot that’s almost impossible to summarize, it’s easier to explain Jackie Brown through its origins and its characters.  The film is based on the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard.  Known for his twisty crime novels, Leonard is the king of page-turners.  The story is one of relationships; Jackie (Grier) is a flight attendant who runs money from Cabo to LA for Ordell (Jackson), a gun dealer.  Ordell works with a variety of shady characters, including Louis (De Niro), Melanie (Bridgette Fonda), and Beaumont (Chris Tucker).  When Jackie gets nabbed by the cops, she and her bail bondsman work to scheme both sides and to steal a fortune from right under their noses.
Jackie Brown is a wild ride.  First, it’s an ode to the blaxploitation flicks of the 1970s.  Grier was a key figure in this genre with her roles in Coffy and Foxy Brown.  It is a perfect homage to those films, creating an extremely believable 70s vibe set in the 90s.  It is also a crime novel film, establishing a hard-to-follow plot with back stabs and double crossings galore.  But ultimately, it’s a Tarantino film, with his patented quotable lines, gun violence, cool characters, and general greatness.
But although it stays true to Tarantino, it is definitely a milder version of films like Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction.  Perhaps working off of an established novel helped to reign him in, because it never got messy, ultra-violent, or disturbing.  And this restraint allowed for the actors to shine; Grier was hip, Jackson was cruel, De Niro was wonderfully dumb, and Robert Forster as Max Cherry the bail bondsman might have stolen the show with his perfect portrayal of a man who’s life has been turned upside down by puppy love.  All in all, an incredible film with a great story, a cool vibe, and nice acting.  A very entertaining and worthwhile two and a half hours.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰


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Book Review – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Category : Book Review

Author: Roald Dahl
Year: 1964

Like most of the English-speaking world, I have seen Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.  And, like everyone else, I loved it.  I have also read my fair share of Roald Dahl books: James and the Giant Peach, Matilda.  But somehow I never read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the book that the movie is loosely based on.  If you want to see a movie that’s worse but more closely related to the book, check out Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp; it’s not great, but it’s entertaining.  But I digress; the book was great.  Let’s talk about that.
Charlie Bucket is a very poor little boy.  His family is so poor, in fact, that he, his parents, and his four grandparents all live in a tiny two-roomed shack.  They never get enough to eat and they never get warm.  But Charlie’s fortunes are about to change.  Willy Wonka, the famous chocolatier, has announced that hidden inside five of his candy bars are five Golden Tickets, and that the children who find these tickets will get to tour his factory and take home a lifetime supply of Chocolate.  Charlie soon discovers that there is much more than meets to eye to both Mr. Wonka and his marvellous world.
With a beloved classic like this, I pretty much knew what to expect, and I was not disappointed.  It was a very entertaining and magical read, filled with interesting characters and vivid imaginings.  But what surprised me about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was just how clever it was.  Underneath the childish story was some very witty humor and subtle messaging.  The songs of the Oompa Loompas were specifically sharp and cutting, slightly gruesome but poignant.  Overall, a pleasant read for a child or an adult, and a book you could visit again and again.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰


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Movie Trailer – It’s a Disaster

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Todd Berger
Starring: David Cross, Julia Stiles, America Ferrera
Release: April 12th, 2013

What’s up with the rash of apocalyptic comedies?  First This Is the End and now It’s a Disaster.  Too be fair, they both look good, though in different styles.  I think I’ll laugh more at the former but care more about the latter.  We’ll see.


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DVD Review – Once

Category : DVD Review

Director: John Carney
Starring: Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova
Year: 2006

Once in a while a film has an effect on you.  It happens.  No one is immune.  Something about a particular film gets to you in a particular way.  Maybe you can’t explain it, maybe you don’t understand it, but you feel it, and that’s enough.  Once in a great while one film has that effect on millions of people all at the same time.  That’s when you know something special has happened; when so many people, critics, audiences, everyone, feel changed by a film.  Once is that movie.  It is that feeling.  And it’s undefinable.  But isn’t that what makes it wonderful?

The Movie

A simple love story, simply told.  Glen Hansard plays an unnamed Irishman trying to make a living in Dublin.  A self proclaimed “broken-hearted Hoover-fixer sucker guy”, he works in a vacuum repair shop with his father part-time while playing guitar on the streets for money.  At night he plays his own music, songs he thinks no one wants to hear.  But he’s wrong; at least one person in Dublin is interested in his talent.  Marketa Irglova plays an unnamed Czech woman, equally poor, equally lonely, and equally in love with music.

The two start a strained relationship, made difficult by his desires (a woman who hurt him but fuels his passion) and her responsibilities (a fatherless child and a meager existence).  Music ties them together and brings them closer each day, as they begin to collaborate and combine their talents into something special.  When the opportunity arises to work on an album together, a mismatched band is formed and the pair begin a new phase in their professional and possibly romantic relationships.

There are so many different parts to this film that are excellent, it’s difficult to know where to begin.  For amateurs, the acting is great.  It helps that Glen and Marketa are basically playing themselves; struggling musicians attempting, as we all are, to survive.  No other characters really jump out, but that’s actually a good thing in a movie such as this, where the two mains carry the entire story.  The dialogue is spot on as well; no forced lines, easy conversation, and a natural chemistry.

All of that is well and good, but the music makes the movie.  Not only are the songs phenomenal, but their passion drives the plot and creates that magical feeling that captured so many viewers.  Written by the actors, songs like ‘Lies’, ‘If You Want Me’, ‘When Your Mind’s Made Up’, and the main track ‘Falling Slowly’ will haunt you and get stuck in your head until you have got to buy the CD.
The production of the film was surprising good.  Scenes were flawlessly tied together with music, they fit together nicely, they never dragged or felt forced.  The movie is only 85 minutes long, short for a modern movie, but it had a nice pace and didn’t need to be any longer.  I can’t think of much that would improve Once, and it seems as if critics and audiences both agree.  It is an excellent film, one that is worth a watch by movie buffs, music lovers, Irishman, it doesn’t matter.  Good movies speak for themselves, and this one speaks loud and clear.

The DVD

Video – At an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the entire film was shot on a single Sony HVR-Z1.  To put that into perspective, Inception was filmed using 8 different cameras and 13 different lens series’.  Video quality was poor, but intentionally so.  It added to the raw feeling of the movie, and brought you closer to the action.

Audio – Using Dolby SR, viewers can hear the film using either English Dolby Surround or Spanish Dolby Surround.  Subtitles can be chosen in English, Spanish, or French.  Sound quality is excellent, as it, not the camera work, quickly becomes the focal point of the film.
 
Extras – There are two types of commentary to compliment the story: a typical commentary with Carney, Hansard, and Irglova, or a musical commentary, in which they discuss each song as it makes its first appearance in the film.  “Making a Modern Day Musical” takes viewers through the making of the film.  “More Guy, More Girl” explains a little of the motivation behind the scenes and the story.  You can watch a hand drawn comedic bit in “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy”, and you can download the song ‘Falling Slowly’ if your computer has a DVD-rom drive.  There are also four trailers available: “Amazing Grace Trailer”, “The Commitments”, “Blind Dating”, and “2 Days in Paris”.

Final Thoughts

Highly recommended.  The movie is excellent.  It has a vibe, a sound, a feeling, that most films can’t even begin to grasp.  The story, the music, and even the acting are exactly what you should find when you go searching for a high-impact film.  The DVD is good.  It has unpolished camera work, but it is to add to the film, not detract from it.  Sound quality is great, and the DVD extras are interesting, if not exemplary.  All in all, a movie I have seen and would see over and over again.

✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ – Content
✰ ✰ ✰ – Video
✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ – Audio
✰ ✰ ✰ – Extras
✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ – Replay


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Sports – 2013 MLB Predictions

Category : Sports

With free agency pretty much over, spring training starting this weekend, and no one having any real idea how any of the clubs will actually perform, I think it’s time to make some picks.  So here they are, my 2013 MLB Way Too Early Predictions:
AL East 
  1. Yankees – This team is stacked. Added Youk & Hafner. Lost Swisher.
  2. Blue Jays – On the up. Added Dickey, Reyes, Melky & Josh Johnson.
  3. Red Sox – Too talented to fail again. Added Victorino, Napoli & Hanrahan.
  4. Rays – Searching for a new identity. Added Loney. Lost B.J. Upton.
  5. Orioles – Not enough power to sustain. Lost Reynolds.
AL Central
  1. Tigers – Should be great. Adden Tori Hunter. V-Mart back from injury.
  2. Indians – Francona! Added Bourn, Stubby, Swisher & Reynolds. Lost Choo.
  3. White Sox – Hitters are a little too old. Lost Pierzynski.
  4. Royals – Nice pitching staff. Added Shields & Santana.
  5. Twins – Why isn’t this team better? Bad rotation and no closer.
AL West
  1. Rangers – Excellent at every position. Added Berkman & Pierzynski. Lost Hamilton.
  2. Angels – Could win a lot of games. Added Madson, Hamilton & Hanson.
  3. Athletics – Won’t repeat last year. Added Jaso.
  4. Mariners – Stuck in mediocrity. Added Morse & Morales.
  5. Astros – Should be just plain awful. Added Carlos Pena.
NL East
  1. Nationals – Very solid lineup. Added Span, Soriano & Haren. Lost Morse.
  2. Phillies – Best pitching staff in the league. Added Young. Lost Victorino.
  3. Braves – Talented, but inconsistent. Added the Upton Bros. Lost Chipper.
  4. Mets – Good lineup, but not great. Added Buck.
  5. Marlins – Very, very bad. Added Polanco. Lost Reyes & Josh Johnson.
NL Central
  1. Reds – Great rotation, nice lineup. Added Choo. Lost Stubby.
  2. Cardinals – Pitching is a question. Carpenter out with an injury.
  3. Brewers – Solid, but stagnant. Called up Segura.
  4. Pirates – Just not enough talent. Added Martin. Lost Hanrahan.
  5. Cubs – Cursed, I guess. Added Edwin Jackson, Baker & Feldman.
NL West
  1. Dodgers – Great team, all around. Added Greinke &Crawford. Lost Loney.
  2. Giants – Solid returning team. Lost Melky.
  3. Rockies – This team has potential, and they can only go up.
  4. Diamondbacks – Good, but not special. Added Prado. Lost Justin Upton.
  5. Padres – Weak rotation and poor lineup. Very little support or energy.  
Most improved teams: Blue Jays, Indians, Rockies.
Least successful teams: Astros, Marlins, Padres.
World Series: Rangers vs Dodgers.

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Thought – Drexel Theater

Category : Thought

This Sunday a friend & I will be attending Drexel Theater’s 16th Annual Red Carpet Bash.  It’s an Oscar-watching party at a great Indie movie theatre here in Columbus.  You can walk the red carpet, try local food & drink, win door prizes, and watch the Academy Awards in HD on the big screen.  I’m very excited for it.  If you aren’t doing anything this Sunday night, maybe I’ll see you there.  It costs $30 for an advanced ticket, and they expect to sell out, so don’t wait too long.  Should be a glamorous night.
Speaking of the Oscars, I have made my award predictions.  Check out The Oscars page to see all the nominees, who I think will win, and awards from past years.  Let me know who YOU think will take home the Academy Awards this year, and check here & on my Twitter (@OlieCoen) on Sunday to get updates from Drexel Theater.  Have a great weekend!