Monthly Archives: October 2017

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Sports – NFL Picks 2017, Week 8

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 8 Picks

(11-4 last week, 57-49 for the season)

Bye teams: Cardinals, Packers, Jaguars, Rams, Giants, Titans

 

Mia @ Bal

 

Min @ Cle

Atl @ NYJ

Car @ TB

SF @ Phi

Chi @ NO

LAC @ NE

Oak @ Buf

Ind @ Cin

Hou @ Sea

Dal @ Was

Pit @ Det

Den @ KC

 

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Movie Trailer – I Love You, Daddy

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Louis CK

Starring: Louis CK, Chloe Grace Moretz, John Malkovich

Release: November 17th, 2017

I do like the black&white, old Hollywood, New York, Woody Allen vibe, but is CK just copying that and trying to sell it as his own?  Will there be enough original content to go with the throwback?  Looks like he brings his brand of humor, which is cool, but I’m not sure that will be enough, and honestly he isn’t that good of an actor.


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Movie Trailer – Hangman

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Johnny Martin

Starring: Al Pacino, Karl Urban, Brittany Snow

Release: 2017

For a serial killer movie, this doesn’t look half bad, but that doesn’t really mean it’ll be any good.  These are a dime a dozen, so why even waste your time watching a new one?  What will make this movie any different from a thousand others?  Pacino?  Nah, he’s washed up.


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DVD Review – The Beguiled

Category : DVD Review

Director: Sofia Coppola

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Colin Farrell

Year: 2017

Had The Beguiled failed to change my opinion, I was ready to call Sofia Coppola exactly how I saw her; as bad a director as she is an actress.  Her films have always failed to capture me, to pull me to the side of the critics who rave about her work.  The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, A Very Murray Christmas; she has others, but these are the ones that stand out as much less engaging and strong than most would claim.  Also, I don’t understand her obsession with Kirsten Dunst, an actress who is nowhere near the top level, who does have a certain look/vibe/quality, but nothing that moves me to watch.  So I was prepared to completely call Coppola down had her newest movie not struck the right chord; not that my opinion would ruin her holidays, but this film was my personal last straw.  Turns out I need not have worried; The Beguiled is above average in every way.

The Movie

The Civil War, and no American is free from its repercussions.  Especially those living on the front, the boundary between North and South that is constantly changing hands, constantly a place of battle and of fear.  At Farnsworth’s Seminary for Young Ladies, Miss Martha keeps the school running even while war rages on, because for these girls home is worse; Atlanta, Charleston, any of the Southern cities that the Yankees have brought under attack.  So life goes on at the school in much the same way it always has; lessons, music, manners, French.  But the slaves have gone, most of the girls have left, and the sound of cannon fire fills the otherwise empty silence of morning, a constant reminder that change is swirling all around.

When one of the younger girls, Amy, searches the woods for mushrooms to eat and wild animals to care for, she stumbles upon a wounded soldier, a Northerner, a Blue Belly, an enemy of the household.  But out of Christian goodness she introduces herself and helps him to the Seminary, where Miss Martha welcomes him in, not cordially, but with an air of duty to a save a man’s life, no matter which side he’s on.  The teacher at the school, Edwina, is immediately intrigued by this man, someone who has been all over the world, a journeyman who has seen adventure.  And the eldest girl, Alicia, is interested too, for far simpler and natural reasons.  This unwanted guest soon becomes a member of the family, but his allegiances, and his manhood, will eventually cause serious problems.

I bite my tongue; The Beguiled is solid, and Sofia Coppola did a tremendous job.  Now, just to be fair, it was a book first, and then it was a 1971 Clint Eastwood/Don Siegel movie, and then she wrote this screenplay based on that screenplay based on that novel.  So you can see that there was a ton of base for her to work with, but that’s not to her discredit, you do what you can with what you’ve got and you don’t make excuses or apologies.  Coppola crafted a great version of this story, a very simple and beautiful and spooky version that should be applauded for what it didn’t do as much as for what it did.  The film refused to lose control; it stayed tightly wound, it was short, it was basic, and yet I found that to be very refreshing.  We didn’t need a ton of metaphor and complications, the plot was strong on its own, and Coppola left it largely alone, adding her style of course, but letting the movie speak for itself.

Perhaps the reason she could allow that is because the actors were all so committed, so perfectly cast in their roles and prepared to stay in their lanes.  No one stole the show, no one shoved another aside for the limelight, everyone came to do their job, and it was a job well done.  Kidman was great as Miss Martha, a little stoic, a little cold, but with waters running deep.  Dunst delivered one of the better performances I’ve seen from her, sexy and smart and subtle.  Farrell is extremely underrated, especially flourishing when he’s actually allowed to be Irish.  And the rest of the cast was much more than filler: Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke.  They all teamed up to bring a fascinating story to life, Coppola brought an artistic style to the plot, and the result was an oddly enjoyable 90 minutes.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 (1080p HD Widescreen), and shot using an Arricam LT camera with Zeiss Master Prime and Angenieux Optimo lenses and an Arricam ST camera with Zeiss Master Prime and Angenieux Optimo lenses, the video quality of the Blu-ray isn’t as exceptional as you might imagine.  Coppola, I think, intentionally left the images slightly grainy, left the color slightly dark, in an attempt to convey the time period rather than the power of modern media.  And it worked, the film felt very authentic, and there are great visuals throughout shot with an intelligent eye, just don’t expect perfect picture quality.

Audio – The Blu-ray disc was done in English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, with an option of Spanish 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, and English Descriptive Video Service.  Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.  Also, button sounds can be turned on or off from the sound menu.  The audio was very nice, with a great balance and an ear for period music, allowing it to naturally occur more often than not, setting the scene with a smart use of instruments and song.

Extras – There are a few special features on the disc, though not a ton.  A Shift in Perspective is a 7-minute behind-the-scenes look.  A Southern Style is a 5-minute featurette about keeping the film period correct while also incorporating artistic vision.  And there are six previews; Nocturnal Animals, Hyde Park on Hudson, Loving, Dallas Buyers Club, The Danish Girl, Suffragette.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended.  Sofia Coppola has changed my opinion, and perhaps even caused me to take a look back at some of her films, on the chance that I missed what she intended and could possibly see it now.  Again, this film was a smart choice, not an entirely original project, but I don’t fault anyone for borrowing, as long as the result is something I can enjoy.  Coppola weaved a cool tale, Kidman, Dunst, and Farrell were all superb, and The Beguiled becomes one of the Top Ten or Twenty of the year.  It isn’t reinventing the wheel, as the expression goes, but it is solid film-making with capable acting; it would be greedy to ask for more.  The video served its purpose, the audio was nice, and there are a few extras, so the technical side won’t dazzle you, but it does its job.  I’d like to go back and watch the original; I’d be interested to see why Coppola cut out the nudity, if she was intending to do this story from a female rather than a male perspective, but the fact that I’m so curious is a sign of a film well done.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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Movie Trailer – 12 Strong

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Nicolai Fuglsig

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña

Release: January 12th, 2018

This movie represents everything that is wrong with the false sense of patriotism that the Conservative movement of America claims as its own, never realizing that what they cling to is propaganda, not love for their country.  It’s shit like this that keeps Wal-Mart shoppers voting Republican, because they think they are allowed to love guns and hate Muslims, that it’s OK to feel afraid and angry and mistreated all the time, that everyone feels the same way.  Well, we don’t, some of us see through the smoke screen, and if this sounds like ranting it’s only because I’m so tired of one party claiming patriotism like it’s something you can own, and turning off their minds because it’s easier to be led than it is to face the harsher truths and work through them intelligently.  This movie gives those people what they want; explosions, courage, a target to hate, and the permission to buy in, the only cost being their vote.  I know I sound like a left-wing loony, and that real life doesn’t make sense in the context of buzz words, but this movie really set me off, and I do think it was created by a certain recipe that someone knew would rile up the exact people I can’t stand.  So, forgive my indulging in rhetoric for a minute, but apparently I needed to vent that.


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Movie Trailer – I, Tonya

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Craig Gillespie

Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan

Release: December 8th, 2017

This is a weird trailer, but I’m willing to give it a pass, because we all know we’re fascinated by this subject and want to see it dramatized, especially by someone like Margot Robbie, who is a super-duper-star.


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Movie Review – Maudie

Category : Movie Review

Director: Aisling Walsh

Starring: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke

Year: 2016

I’ve been a fan of Sally Hawkins since Happy-Go-Lucky, which isn’t the greatest all-around film, but it does boast some great scenes, especially the ones between Hawkins and Eddie Marsan, who is a highly underrated character actor.  Their chemisty/tension is hilarious, and Hawkins would move on from that movie to become a bonafide emerging star.  An Education, Never Let Me Go, Submarine, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Blue Jasmine, A Brilliant Young Mind, Paddington; and she’ll soon be making Awards waves with The Shape of Water, one of the most anticipated films of the year.  Hawkins has talent to spare, and she is the absolute best part of Maudie, if not quite magical enough to save the feature itself from becoming a bit of a dull drama and a somewhat forgettable experience.

Life in a small town in Nova Scotia in the mid 1900s isn’t full of very exciting things, but there is a beauty in simplicity if you are willing to take the time to find it.  Fish are caught, wood is chopped, chores are done, snow is shoveled, and folks work hard because that’s what they’ve always done.  One or two oddballs pop up now and again, that can’t be helped, and this story is about a pair of misfits who somehow found each other.  Maud is a strange young woman who lives with her aunt since no one thinks she can tale care of herself.  She’s got arthritis, a limp, a unique way of thinking, and that’s just the way it is, she’ll never have a normal life.  Everett is a loner, a grump, a jack-of-all-trades who like chickens more than people, who has no time to mince words.  When Everett hires Maud to be his housekeeper, the strangest thing happens; they fall in love.

This is a true story, and I didn’t even get around to why anyone would want to make a movie about two oddballs from Nova Scotia, beside the obvious point that we are all a bit funny, that none of us knows exactly how we are going to fit into the framework of life before we simply push ourselves forward to see what happens.  Maud became a famous artist in her day, painting simple and childish nature scenes inspired by the world around her; the birds, the seasons, the tress, the man who took her in for no other reason than loneliness.  It’s a heart-warming story, how love can grow in the most unusual places, and it’s wonderful to see something as basic as Maud’s paintings be celebrated for the simplest of reasons.  As far as the film goes, it tends to be a little slow, as you can imagine, and there are no real wow moments that will cause it to stick in your mind a year after watching it.  But Hawkins’ and Hawke’s performances are strong, as should be expected, and Maudie is a pleasant film, without being a fantastic one.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – 24 Hours to Live

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Brian Smrz

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Liam Cunningham, Rutger Hauer

Release: October 26th, 2017

Holy shit, it’s like John Wick got John Wickier and then Ethan Hawke showed up.  I don’t know what to think; on one hand it looks badass, but on the other it’s probably ridiculously over the top.  It’s supposed to be, that will help, but it’s also a bit of a ripoff, so that hurts it.  I have no idea.


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Movie Trailer – Newness

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Drake Doremus

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Laia Costa

Release: November 2nd, 2017

There is nothing I do not like about this movie.  Doremus (Equals), Hoult (Fury Road), Costa (Victoria); say no more, I’m in.


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Movie Trailer – Journey’s End

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Saul Dibb

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Sam Claflin, Paul Bettany, Toby Jones

Release: February 2nd, 2018

What a stupid, stupid war, with men entrenched and dying for years so that their countries could bluster and feint.  Idiotic really, although all war could be seen that way I suppose, but at least WWII was fought against something tangible and for a world-changing purpose.  We forget about WWI; it wasn’t glamorous, it was muddy and disgusting, and so I suppose we also don’t make movies about it for the same reasons.  This one looks to change that, to shed some light on the men in the pits, to show their bravery during battles that literally gained nothing.  I’m in, though I don’t have high hopes that these actors will do tremendous work, but rather passable and solid, creating a movie that’s probably the same and nothing more.