Monthly Archives: August 2013

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Movie Trailer – Divergent

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet, Miles Teller
Release: March 21st, 2014

I get that making movies based on bestselling tween books is a guaranteed way to make money.  But do you have to pick a book that is almost a complete ripoff of Hunger Games?  Aren’t there any other mediocre novels to choose from, ones that don’t feature a heroine in a dystopian United States?


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Movie Review – Burn After Reading

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring: Frances McDormund, John Malkovich, George Clooney, Brad Pitt
Year: 2008

I’ll watch most anything as long as the Coen Brothers are involved, and most likely I’ll love it.  Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother; some great films.  Others were just alright: Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, True Grit.  But regardless, this duo makes very interesting and very original films, and Burn After Reading is no exception.  At first it seems like a crime/CIA/covert ops drama, and then the more you watch it the more it feels like a comedy.  By the end you realize that they’re mocking a pretty ridiculous genre, using humor to point out what we ought to have been laughing at all these years, yet took so seriously. 
The plot is a mess of who’s sleeping with who, who’s blackmailing who, and what the hell is going on.  Ex-government employee Osbourne Cox recently quit his job and is on the verge of a divorce.  His wife is sleeping with Harry, another DC insider.  Harry is sleeping with anyone he can find, including the very simple-minded Linda Litzke.  She and her equally dimwitted pal Chad happen upon some “serious secret shit”, and decide to blackmail Ozzy Cox or sell the information to the Russians.  They, of course, are in way over there heads.  People are followed, blood is spilled, secrets are revealed, and nothing is easy as the situation spins out of control.
Burn After Reading is one of the best spoofs you’ll find.  It pokes perfect fun at the classic FBI intel storyline and the nonsensical plots that always emerge in them.  If you didn’t have a sense of humor you might actually believe that this was a serious film, because it sticks to the genre so closely.  But, of course, it’s actually a comedy and everything the characters do is designed to mock and amuse.  It’s a hilarious movie; Brad Pitt & Frances McDormund are great as the bumbling blockheads who think they can outwit the professionals.  John Malkovich & George Clooney are equally excellent as the paranoid G-men who really have no idea what’s going on.  Sometimes the humor goes a little over the top, but it’s all meant to show us how utterly insane we must be to believe any story like this for more than a second. 

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰


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Movie Trailer – A.C.O.D.

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Stu Zicherman
Starring: Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Catherine O’Hara
Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch, Richard Jenkins
Release: October 4th, 2013

I think you can tell by the cast list that this movie is going to be bad.  Not that all these people are bad actors, it just looks like a poor combination.  Adam Scott is strong, Poehler, O’Hara, and Lynch are funny, but I just don’t see this movie working.


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Sports – Fantasy Football Part 2

Category : Sports

With a lot of Fantasy Football Drafts taking place this weekend, people are truly ready for some football.  This weekend’s games will tell us a lot about each team and about each player’s fantasy outlook, as they are basically dress rehearsals for the upcoming season.  So get your cheat sheets ready, rank your players, and prepare to draft!  Here are Olie’s Fantasy Predictions, based on my top secret and highly coveted Super Spreadsheets.  Let the games begin!

TEs

  • Jimmy Graham is all alone – With Rob Gronkowski perhaps missing the first couple weeks of the season, Graham becomes the only TE worth an early pick.  He might be the only one who goes over 1,000 yards and/or two digit TDs.  If you get Drew Brees, make sure to also grab Jimmy Graham.
  • Witten woes – Don’t draft Jason Witten hoping for a lot of scores.  He’s no longer a huge redzone target, and he no longer gets many TDs.  He’ll deliver more yards than most TEs, so draft him if your league gives a lot of points for yardage.  But otherwise, let him fall.
  • Hidden gems – As you make your way down the list of fantasy relevant TEs, there’s not too much to get excited about.  After the first few superstars you have a bunch of mediocrity.  But there are a couple buy low options; Jared Cook, Brandon Myers, and Martellus Bennett.  Those guys won’t blow your mind, but they will provide you with cheap TDs.
  • HEATH! – He’s pretty seriously injured, but assuming Heath Miller returns healthy at some point this season he could actually be a sleeper pick.  There’s no way to tell when he’ll return, but it could be around week 6, 7, or 8.  If you can stash him late in the draft, or even get him on the Free Agent list, he could give you a quick boost.
  • Avoid the Eagles – Don’t plan on taking a Philadelphia TE as your starer.  Neither Celek nor Ertz will get a lot of action in Chip Kelly’s system.  Expect Vick, McCoy, and Jackson as usual, but don’t expect a ton of redzone scores from either Eagle end.

Ks

  • Young Blood – The kids are scoring the points and are here to stay.  Walsh of the Vikings and Tucker of the Ravens are both the real deal, especially if your league gives extra points for 50+ yard field goals.  Neither kicker will get as many point-afters as Prater or Gostkowski, but points are in the field goals and these guys will deliver.
  • Escape from Cleveland – For years Phil Dawson was the best player on the whole Browns team, and now he’s finally free.  His leg is still solid and the Niners will give him the opportunity to score and score often.  Super Bowl bound?  It’s possible.
  • Akers – He might be old, but David Akers is alive and kicking.  Literally.  Now with the Lions, he has the chance to put up some points.  Not a ton, but a solid amount.  If the Lions rebound and have a great season, they’ll take Akers right along with them.
  • Sea Bass – He’s had a great career, but Sebastian Janokowski’s day in the sun might be over.  The Raiders are just a bad team, and they don’t get near the endzone often enough to draft their kicker.  He’ll still get a few FGs, but he might have the least extra points of any kicker this year.
  • Don’t overpay – There are no kickers that blow everyone else away.  There are also none that will sink you.  I’m not saying draft Caleb Sturgis as your starting kicker, but don’t overpay for one of the top guys either.  Kickers can wait; some free agent might end up leading the league.

DEFs

  • Da Bears – Chicago scored a ridiculous 10 defensive touchdowns last season.  And they only allowed 16 points per game.  A defense that can do that will get you a bunch of fantasy points.  Only problem is, that’s hard to repeat.  Don’t expect the exact same stat line, but draft them high.
  • Sleeper hold – If you’re looking for a sleeper defense, look no further than St. Louis.  They might not be the first group that comes to mind when you think about smash-mouth football, but this defense will score you some points.  If you miss out on the big boys (San Fran, Seattle, Baltimore) you could do much worse than the Rams.
  • The Pack – Green Bay used to be a high scoring defense, literally.  They might allow a lot of points but they’d get defensive touchdowns to make up for it.  Last season they only scored 3 TDs, and this season shouldn’t be much better.  They’re not dynamic enough to get early.
  • The Bottom – Some defenses shouldn’t even be drafted as backups: Tennessee, Oakland, Jacksonville.  Don’t draft these teams; there are a ton of better options.  Namely, every other team in the league.
  • Draft early – Unlike kickers, there is a big difference between the top defenses and the bottom ones.  Don’t be hesitant to take the team you want earlier than others do, or to jump on the bandwagon when defenses start to be selected.  Get one of the big dogs early and you won’t be disappointed.

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Movie Trailer – The Turning

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: 18 different directors
Starring: Rose Byrne, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving
Release: September 26th, 2013

I guess you’d have to be a fan of Tim Winton’s work to really appreciate this movie.  I’ve never read his stuff, so I don’t think I’d get it.  And maybe if it weren’t for Cate Balanchett I wouldn’t even have watched the trailer, which I’m sure was the point of casting her.


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Sports – Fantasy Football Part 1

Category : Sports

With a lot of Fantasy Football Drafts taking place this weekend, people are truly ready for some football.  This weekend’s games will tell us a lot about each team and about each player’s fantasy outlook, as they are basically dress rehearsals for the upcoming season.  So get your cheat sheets ready, rank your players, and prepare to draft!  Here are Olie’s Fantasy Predictions, based on my top secret and highly coveted Super Spreadsheets.  Let the games begin!
QBs
  • Drew Brees #1 – Your league might not draft quarterbacks early, but Brees ought to be the first one taken, whatever round you choose to pull the trigger in.  With HC Sean Payton back, the Saints will be a high flying, quick scoring offense that puts up a ton of points.  Brees benefits the most from that, and so will your team if you draft him as the first QB overall.
  • Peyton & Tom – Last year Manning had the question marks and Brady was the solid pick.  Brady ended up with better overall stats, but not this year.  Peyton has Wes Welker, a better understanding of the offense, and a year of rehab on his neck.  Tom lost all his toys.  He’ll still produce, but Peyton will have the better fantasy season.
  • Kaepernicking – Colin Kaepernick was a postseason sensation and will be drafted too highly.  I think he’ll struggle a little bit this year, now that he’s not taking everyone by surprise.  Don’t overpay for his late season numbers; you’ll regret it when he isn’t a fantasy stud.
  • Lost their magic – Quarterbacks like Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers, Matt Schaub, Jay Cutler, and Michael Vick can’t be counted on to be your #1 QB this season.  They’ve all had big years, but don’t seem likely to repeat them any time soon.
  • QB by committee – That being said, a pair of those guys together on your fantasy team might just win you some games.  If you’re willing to gamble, this could be the year that having two mediocre quarterbacks could be your ticket to the postseason.  You’d have to play the matchups and then get very lucky, but it worked last year for some people and it could work again.

RBs

  • AP All Day – Adrian Peterson will be the #1 overall pick in a lot of drafts this weekend, but don’t get too excited.  No RB that rushed for 2,000 yards has ever rushed for more then 1,500 the next season.  Now, he still scores a bunch of TDs and will still rack up yardage, but don’t believe him when he says he’s gonna break the all-time record this season.
  • Stephen Jackson in Hotlanta – The Falcons have a new RB and there’s reason to be excited if you’re a fantasy owner.  Michael Turner has been consistently putting up points in Atlanta for years, often quietly and under the radar.  Stephen Jackson will do the exact same.  He’ll score TDs, get yards, and give you a very solid source of points each week.
  • Run DMC – Every year the buzz is that Darren McFadden is about to break records.  He has the talent to do it easily.  But injury problems and a bad team always hold him down.  With a return to the man-blocking scheme that he prefers, there’s a chance this year that he puts up huge numbers.  But don’t pay for a chance; take him late and be pleasantly surprised.
  • The Law Firm – Stay clear of BenJarvis Green-Ellis.  Not only did he have a disappointing season last year, but rookie RB Giovani Bernard is poised to take away a lot of his fantasy points.  Green-Ellis is still #1 in Cinci, but that could change at any point this season.
  • Pittsburgh Problems – And stay clear of any Steelers running back.  Le’Veon Bell seemed poised to be fantasy relevant, but with his injury the staring spot is wide open.  Pittsburgh has a ton of adequate backs to take his place, but that’s not a good thing in the fantasy world.  They could play the hot hand or do a backfield by committee, the black hole of fantasy points.
WRs
  • Megatron – Don’t be nervous about picking Calvin Johnson.  His TD numbers were bad last year and his yardage was other-wordly.  This year order will be restored; less yards, more touchdowns, a ton of fantasy points.  Last season he was tackled on the 1-yard-line four times.  Talk about bad luck, for the Lions and for you.  But this year normalcy returns.
  • The Lambeau Leap – There are some new star WRs in Green Bay, and you can feel free to draft any of them.  They might all score 8 TDs and be similar in yardage.  Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones; any of the three will be a solid #2 WR for your fantasy team.
  • Mile High Salute – The same can be said for Peyton Manning’s weapons in Denver, with only slightly more disparity.  Demaryius Thomas will be the stud, Wes Welker will be the yards guy, and Eric Decker will be somewhere in between.  Draft any of the three with confidence.
  • Former Superstars – A few guys who’ve put up some great numbers before won’t repeat them this year.  Miles Austin, DeSean Jackson, Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace, Stevie Johnson; don’t expect big things from them, and don’t draft them as more than your #3 receiver.
  • Undraftables – There are some teams with some hype, but don’t overspend to get their players.  WRs from Tennessee, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Cleveland, and even Seattle won’t be worth much this season, even if their teams seem to be trending up.  Stick with proven talent unless you find yourself able to take a gamble in a late round with a receiver who has upside.

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Movie Trailer – C.O.G.

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Kyle Patrick Alverez
Starring: Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, CaseyWilson
Release: September 20th, 2013

I don’t know.  I read the book recently (Naked by David Sedaris) and I just didn’t like it.  You can check out my review if you like, but I wouldn’t recommend the novel.  I’m not sure the movie looks any better, and I think I’ll just steer clear.


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Movie Review – Forbidden World

Category : Movie Review

Director: Allan Holzman
Starring: Jesse Vint, June Chadwick, Dawn Dunlap
Year: 1982

On my tour of 80s fantasy movies, I made a stop over at 80s sci-fi.  It’s a pretty good genre, but the only problem is that every film resembles Alien in some way.  It’s amazing when you think about it, how important & influential Alien was to every space/alien movie that came after it.  For a minute while watching Forbidden World I thought, “Wow, this was made in the early 80s, Alien must have taken a lot of its ideas from this movie!”.  But I guess I forget that Alien was made in 1979.  I’m sure there are other movies that inspired it, but that film remains a highly copied & coveted piece of sci-fi cinema.  So while Forbidden World was a pretty good flick, it owes a lot to those that came before.
The story takes place in the far future on a distant planet.  In a government research facility, very important scientific work is being carried out.  The team there is attempting to create a genetically altered super food to combat the galactic food shortage.  They have succeeded in developing a highly productive mutant gene, but there’s just one problem; they can’t control it.  As the “thing” changes from one form to the next, no can predict what it will do or how it will try to survive.  When a government agent is called in for support, he finds himself in a confusing fight for survival, as the scientists want to save their long years of work, while he just wants to kill it before it kills all of them.
This film was also called Mutant, which makes much more sense.  There’s no forbidden world, but there is an ugly killer mutant who eats everything in its path.  I actually liked this movie, despite its Alien plagiarism.  It was funny, slightly clever, and not horribly acted.  It had a few awesomely bad classic scenes that I’ll remember for a while, and I’m a sucker for space plots in small spaces; again, very similar to Alien.  Incidentally, the very first scene of the film reminded me a lot of Prometheus, the Alien prequel that came out in 2012.  But taken on its own, Forbidden World was a fun early sci-fi film that started well, got a little too bloody & screamy by the end, but was entertaining throughout.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰


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Movie Trailer – How I Live Now

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Kevin Macdonald
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, Tom Holland
Release: October 4th, 2013

Saoirse Ronan has grown up a little bit since her Atonement days.  She’s not a bad actress, and I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic movies, but this one feels less like The Road and more like The Road meets Twilight.  I don’t know, it might be too tweeny.


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Movie Review – The Sessions

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ben Lewin
Starring: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy
Year: 2012

For a movie that got a lot of Oscar buzz last year, it sure didn’t get a lot of Oscar credit.  Helen Hunt was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and that’s about it.  No Best Picture, Best Director, or Best Actor for John Hawkes.  Everything seemed to be there for this movie to be a big award winner; true story, very difficult lead role, an actress outside her comfort zone.  But neither audiences nor critics really got on board.  It seemed like this racy movie really didn’t do much more than simply entertain, and after watching it I can say that that is pretty much exactly right.
The story of the film is based on an actual article by Mark O’Brien about his experience with a sex surrogate.  Mark had polio when he was young and is confined to a gurney and an iron lung.  He is a journalist and a poet, and when he begins to write a story about sex in the handicapped world, it opens his eyes to his own lack of sexual experience.  He decides to have sex at least once before his imminent death, and he hires a surrogate to make it happen.  Cheryl isn’t a prostitute, she is a therapist, attempting to open up Mark’s sexual being within six intense sessions.  As he battles with his Catholic guilt over sexuality, he must also fight his uncontrollable body, trying his best to find love and pleasure in a very unlikely place.
As you can probably gleam from the summary, the central theme to this movie is sex.  Helen Hunt is naked throughout, there are some very explicit discussions, and the characters discuss sexuality alongside morality, religion, and nature.  That said, the film is also about love and attempting to feel normal when your life is anything but.  As far as that goes, the actors do a great job telling this true story.  It’s very interesting and engaging, having a fast pace and good detail.  But, and here’s the catch, it’s nothing special.  I was expecting a little more, something deeper, less Hollywood.  But it turned out to be a regular movie about a sexual topic.  William H. Macy was a little cheesy, Helen Hunt did a weird Boston accent, and John Hawkes spouted too much poetry.  Everything was just OK and not as ground-breaking as I had hoped it would be.  I can see why it got more buzz than awards, as it just didn’t go that extra mile to become atypical.  The Sessions was good, but sadly not great.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰