Monthly Archives: November 2021

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Sports – NFL Picks 2021, Week 10

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 10 Picks

(8-6 last week, 84-52 for the season)

Bye teams: Bears, Bengals, Texans, Giants

 

Bal @ Mia

Buf @ NYJ

TB @ Was

Atl @ Dal

NO @ Ten

Jax @ Ind

Det @ Pit

Cle @ NE

Min @ LAC

Car @ Ari

Phi @ Den

Sea @ GB

KC @ LV

LAR @ SF

 


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Movie Review – The Harder They Fall

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jeymes Samuel

Starring: Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz

Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo, RJ Cyler

Year: 2021

Jeymes Samuel’s first feature film is, not surprisingly, not that great; the fact that, whatever talent he has, has been forced into this big a spotlight this soon is worse.  Netflix originals, and all modern streaming films, have that to their discredit; they allow directors who aren’t ready to be on the big stage to showcase ideas that aren’t ready to be born yet.  The result is bad media that, the more we get, the more we convince ourselves is fine media, bringing down our taste levels and breeding more trivium.  Chances to artistic people; good.  Billing those chances as blockbusters; bad.  The Harder they Fall is an interesting take on the Western genre, an inclusive skew that could be fun, but has been bloated into an Oscar-contender because a DVD service wanted it to be, not because it had that potential.

On the lawless plains, no one has time to mourn over your corpse, because there will be fresh graves to dig tomorrow, and most of those thrown down six feet deserve the deaths that found them so young.  Gangs rule the towns, gang bosses kill at will, and your soul is the cost of surviving, at least until tomorrow.  Rufus Buck was once the leader of them all, the most feared outlaw alive, but he finally fell to the law, and now rots in jail.  A boy he once spared, Nat Love, has a gang of his own now, and uses them to hunt down those who worked with Buck to kill his family, all those years ago.  Now, Rufus is sprung, Nat is on the trail, and two rival bands face off in a shoot out that will decide the fate of a town, a time, and the wild, wild West.

To touch on it once more before moving on, I like that Netflix and others give amateurs a chance to reach real audiences; that’s commendable.  But those amateurs are giving us crap, obviously, because they’re new, but we’re starting to not be able to tell fool’s gold from real metal.  Our taste is being dumbed down, by these films and these series, and I think that has a terrible long-term effect.  Now, that doesn’t mean that The Harder they Fall is abysmal, it just means it wasn’t ready, and it’s in no way a high-quality feature.  Its style is …weird.  It’s like Spike Lee meets Quentin Tarantino meets 300 meets Coffy.  It’s way too much a “nod” to Lee, it takes violence to the max, it’s almost comic book-y, and it definitely brings Blacksplotation to bear, which might be laudable but still feels off.  This film is too much, and also too much to handle, zipping around into different genres and realms and musicals until audiences are dizzy.  The all-Black cast is impressive, but comes across as a forced point, rather than an inclusive decision, which does no one a service.  Oh, and Regina King’s accent is an embarrassment to remember, a Razzie waiting for its acknowledgement.  This film is for too many failures and nods, and far too few triumphs; not awful for a first try, but that’s not how it was billed, so that is not how it will be judged.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Sports – NFL Picks 2021, Week 9

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 9 Picks

(7-8 last week, 76-46 for the season)

Bye teams: Lions, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Washington

 

NYJ @ Ind

Atl @ NO

Den @ Dal

NE @ Car

Min @ Bal

Cle @ Cin

Buf @ Jax

Hou @ Mia

LV @ NYG

LAC @ Phi

GB @ KC

Ari @ SF

Ten @ LAR

Chi @ Pit

 


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Movie Review – The World to Come

Category : Movie Review

Director: Mona Fastvoid

 Starring: Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Casey Affleck, Christopher Abbott

Year: 2020

I will not be the first or the thousandth critic to mention this, but it bears repeating; women are gay and continue to be gay in times other than the recent European-American past.  Hollywood must think that it stumbled upon some sort of secret, that women used to like each other some times, but only white women, only in big dresses, and only tragically.  Again, I am in no way the first person to see this trend, but we have got to move away from Ammonite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, The World to Come, films that show “birdcage” wives & daughters touching fingers and accidentally discovering that they are lesbians.  It’s weird and it needs to stop, or at least expand, because I think audiences are ready to accept that gay ladies might be among us …*looks around* …right now!

In New York in 1856, farming couples attempt to start families, raise children, grow crops, tend livestock, and survive the best they can, through harsh winters and chaotic circumstances.  Abigail & Dyer recently lost their only child, and Abigail finds it hard to move on, to try again.  But she finds a friend in another childless woman, Tallie, who is outspoken, bold, beautiful, and comes to visit often.  The two begin a romance when they discover that their affection for each other goes beyond companionship, but Tallie’s husband is suspicious and violent, making the secret affair dangerous, but never not worth it.

Disobedience comes to mind as a movie that did it better, but even being able to catalog which movies are the same and did it better/worse is a problem.  And I understand that it doesn’t change over night, that it is also partly my problem, grouping by orientation, that’s a me-issue, but come on filmmakers, we don’t need a period piece to accept that women might be into women, we can hear that tale in other ways.  Really, it’s also just simply bad storytelling, giving us that same arc over & over again; we don’t need more depictions of dissatisfied wives in big dresses finding each other and being really sad about it.  The tragedy is also a problem, which is why something like Love, Simon was a big deal; it took a very normal recipe and made a gay guy the main character, which shouldn’t have been an “aha!” moment but was.  Otherwise & also; this movie isn’t even that good.  It’s dull, it turns bizarre, the music royally sucks, and I was bored for the vast majority, though the acting was actually pretty good.  But the direction & writing weren’t, we demand better, so please give it to us.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Dune: Part One

Category : Movie Review

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa

Year: 2021

Dune is the largest cinematic spectacle we’ve seen since COVID; thank god it’s good.  Not only did we need this larger-than-life event, but the book needed this retry as well, another attempt at telling something so grand it’s almost untellable; almost.  If anyone could do it, that director would be Villeneuve, we’re just lucky it was him: Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049.  Add Dune to that amazing list as another volume in the library of that stellar filmography, and watch with an abandon that only the very best filmmakers deserve.  This film is everything we could hope it would be, and what”s best; it’s just the beginning.

Based on the classic, trend-setting series of the same name, Dune is the story of the rise of Paul Atreides, son of Duke Leto Atreides and the Lady Jessica, heir to House Atreides and the power of its home planet.  The known universe is ruled by a great Emperor, who pits House against House so that none grow powerful enough to threaten his control of the stars.  Central to this struggle is Arrakis, known as Dune, a desert planet where can be harvested melange, or spice, the ingredient needed for space travel, long life, and supreme mental power.  House Atreides has recently been given dominion over Arrakis, ousting the brutal House Harkonnen, and creating a war between them.  When Paul begins having visions, he comes to understand that his fate is entwined with that of the people of the desert, their religious beliefs, and their military strength.  Only in joining them can he become truly strong, and only in accepting his destiny can be become truly great.

Dune is huge.  I mean, the premise couldn’t be bigger; whole humanoid species travel throughout space, one Emperor rules everything, Houses take control of entire planets, their wars encompass solar systems.  It’s an epic adventure of the largest scale, and this is only the beginning, Paul coming into his own, this is just his origin story in a way; we haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s to come.  In that vein, think of this as a two-and-a-half hour set up to what could potentially be the greatest film franchise of all time, better than Lord of the Rings or Alien or even …dare I? …Star Wars.  We’re talking potential here, people, potential to be awesome, something that, with this director and this cast, could actually come to fruition.  Planets, armies, time, space; there are no limits, and if this is just the beginning, we have a lot to look forward to.

Part Two is on it’s way in two years, that’ll be fun, but meanwhile I guess we just have Part One, no need to look too far ahead, and no problem either, since the film is perfectly fine on its own without the help of its progeny.  It’s a movie made for any audience, since it has the action and the metaphor, the danger and the depth, something for everyone, no matter what you’re looking for.  It’s big, but it’s also small at the same time, telling the story of a boy, that’s it, while also telling the story of the whole galaxy.  The advanced tech is cool, the ancient brutality is vicious, the tribes are incredible, and I could spend all day looking up backstory info, because there’s just so much.  And, you know, this may be the best cast in history: Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Javier Bardem, Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, Sharon Duncan-Brewster.  It’s as boundless as Star Wars, as pivotal as Wheel of Time, as magical as we could wish for, and comes just at the right moment.  Dune is a success from any angle, and could possible get so much better.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆