Monthly Archives: March 2022

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Sports – Feisty Foxes 2022

Category : Sports

Spring is in the air and that means baseball!  A new season is right around the corner, time to root root root for the home team.  And with the beginning of the MLB year comes the beginning of fantasy baseball.  If you play you know how addicting it is; the daily lineups, the trades, the hot/cold players, the IL stints.  And if you’ve never played, hop on board & enjoy the ride, it’s a great way to enjoy a great game even more.  Here is my fantasy baseball team this year, once again christened the Feisty Foxes.  I went home run heavy with a bullpen of solid pitchers.  Let me know what you think and/or how your fantasy draft went this year.  Good luck everyone!

 

Hitters

 

C – Gary Sanchez – Minnesota Twins

1B –Paul Goldschmidt – St. Louis Cardinals

2B – Javy Baez – Detroit Tigers

3B – Josh Donaldson – New York Yankees

SS – Bobby Witt – Kansas City Royals

LF –Lourdes Gurriel – Toronto Blue Jays

CF – Fernando Tatis – San Diego Padres

RF – Franmil Reyes – Cleveland Guardians

Util – Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels

Pitchers

 

SP – Jacob deGrom – New York Mets

SP – Julio Urias – Los Angeles Dodgers

RP – Lou Trivino – Oakland Athletics

RP – Alex Colome – Colorado Rockies

P – Charlie Morton – Atlanta Braves

P – Lance Lynn – Chicago White Sox

P – Shane McClanahan – Tampa Bay Rays

P – Sean Manaea – Oakland Athletics

P – Mike Clevinger – San Diego Padres


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Movie Review – Starsky & Hutch

Category : Movie Review

Director: Todd Phillips

Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn

Year: 2004

As ridiculous as this movie is, this crew is a good time waiting to happen.  Phillips, Stiller, Wilson, Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Jason Bateman; comedy is in good hand with these guys.  It’s a certain style of humor, to be certain, over-the-top and in-your-face, but with a simplicity that’s sure to entertain.  It isn’t quite as insanely funny as Zoolander, or as good, but Starsky & Hutch is fun for a specific group; those who watched the show & those who loved the characters, and those we watch they guys & love their quirky characters as well.

On the Bay City police squad, no two cops are feared less than David Starsky and Ken Hutchinson.  Starsky is too overzealous, shooting up the streets to apprehend pickpockets, losing sight of the true mission by following the rules too closely.  Hutch is the opposite but is equally terrible, following no guidelines but his own, rubbing elbows with crooks and ignoring the ethics of his job.  But they will both have to get it in gear, when they become partners and a case falls into their laps that could bust the city’s drug scene wide open, if only they can keep their eyes on the prize.

Stiller & Wilson are a pair of lovable knuckleheads, and if you like that style of comedy you are going to love this movie, which has aged pretty well and is still a ball.  Add in Vaughn & Ferrell and you’ve got something classic in the making.  It’s silly, it’s wacky, it’s not so well structured, but hey, neither was the show, and if you dug that in the 70s you can did this now, with its throwback references and its eye to the style.  Obviously a goofy 90 minutes that won’t impress beyond simple fun, this film is nevertheless cool as ice.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

 


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Book Review – From a Buick 8

Category : Book Review

Author: Stephen King

Year: 2002

Although From A Buick 8 might not be King’s very best work, it is definitely his most identifiable; if someone were to ask me what this dude’s writing style was, what his voice sounds like, I would point them to this bizarre novel.  It’s plot is strange, perhaps not very relatable, but the talent within the writing itself is undeniable, and all Stephen King.  It’s his version of storytelling on display in a grand way, like sitting down with the man himself and watching him spin some webs.  Again, maybe the plot isn’t the all-time best, but there are pieces of this book (mainly the format, the delivery, the pace, the life within it) that are.

Ned has recently lost his father, near the eve of his own growing up, in Pennsylvania as a typical, teenage guy; football now, college on the horizon, ain’t life grand.  But his father dies in a traffic accident while working as a State Trooper, and Ned latches of to the Troop like a group that represents his dad, instead of sprouting his own wings and flying toward his own life.  And because of this close tie to a tight-knit brotherhood, Ned is about to be let in on a little secret, the truth behind why there’s an old, immaculate, classic car just sitting in a shed beside the station, a secret that will suck him right in & swallow him right down.

This is a bit of a weird story, since it’s much more Mist & Christine than Cujo & Carrie; basically it’s not horror, and never tries to be, it’s more a part of Dark Tower lore and all that involves.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t creepy, it sure it, and that doesn’t mean it’s not exciting, it sure raises pulses.  But it’s more other-worldly & cross-universal, like some of King’s deeper dives, not like most of his popular stuff.  Still, Buick 8 has a tale to tell, and like I said before, that telling is masterful.  Never has King given more of his own style, relying on nothing else, than with this novel.  This is how he speaks, this is his voice, this is what you should expect every time, with the details changed to adapt to whatever nightmare he concocts next.  It’s almost like he was unburdened by, for example, a ghost story that his publishers wanted him to write, but rather set free to tell a weird story with details that kinda didn’t matter, focusing on the language and the feel more than the action and events.  Perhaps just for big King fans, Buick 8 is nonetheless a spectacular work.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 


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Movie Review – Licorice Pizza

Category : Movie Review

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman

Year: 2021

It pains me to say this, but Paul Thomas Anderson has completely lost it, whatever “it” is.  The spectacular director of so many iconic films has run up against a creative wall, and his current ideas are simply not interesting, not entertaining, and not well adapted into movies.  Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master, Inherent Vice, Phantom Thread, and now Licorice Pizza; it couldn’t be more simple than a meteoric rise at the beginning and a precipitous fall at the end, with some of the best films we’ve ever seen in the middle.  Unfortunately, his last three projects have been subpar, with a waning interest level from audiences and a decline in creativity from a director who I used to say was one of my Top 5 favorites; I worry that if things keep on this way I’ll need to find a replacement.

Take us back to LA in the 1970s, when records spun the soundtrack of the times and a generation attempted to grow up in a country that was attempting to find itself.  Gary, a 15-year-old actor and entrepreneur, falls instantaneously for Alana, a 25-year-old girl taking his school picture.  He’s a schmoozer, she’s a lost soul, they both find each other, but it’s not meant to work out; the age difference, at this point in both their lives, is just too far a gap.  But they become fast friends, Gary leading Alana on scheme after scheme, many of which put them at odds, in trouble, or even pull them wildly apart.  But it’s a wild time in general, two young people need a hand to hold to get through it, and there’s no telling what might be around the next corner, so you’d better hold on tight.

First of all, this is a time capsule film, so if you grew up in the 70s, if your name is Gary or Jerry or Greg or Jeff, this is the transportative film experience for you.  You’ll love the music, you’ll feel at home, especially if you grew up on the west coast, and you’ll understand the balancing act that these kids were taking part in, as they tried to salvage their sanities when the world was going to shit.  BUT, if that’s not you, I think you’ll find Licorice Pizza extremely lacking.  Apart from some cool cameos, which were unnesseccary but at least interesting, the film was a big dull dud.  Nothing happens because everything happens, there’s too much going on and nothing of importance; it was like Waiting for Godot but weirder and less poignant.  And the biggest problem, biggest by far, at least for those who notice such things, is that the acting is abysmal.  And that’s not just me saying that, the two main leads aren’t actors; Haim is a pop musician and Hoffman is the son of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, neither have ever acted before.  So, Paul Thomas Anderson creates a movie about his own growing up starring two non-actors, relies solely on nostalgia and a killer soundtrack, makes the movie far too long, and it gets nominated for Best Picture?  No way, this is the weakest work he’s ever given us, by far, and it’s upsetting that not everything understands this.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Nightmare Alley

Category : Movie Review

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Bradley CooperCate Blanchett, Rooney Mara

Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, David Strathairn

Year: 2021

First a pulp fiction novel, then a noir film, now an Oscar contender; Nightmare Alley has had quite the ride.  This Guillermo del Toro adaptation looked to be less twisted than the director’s previous works, with no creatures and no fantasy, just a sad tale with bizarre characters.  But I am here to say that it is no less dark than del Toro’s norm, no less devious of plot and challenging of theme, no less spectacular.  For, while I continually put this movie off because I didn’t like the look of it, I was proved wrong when it succeeded in every facet I feared it would fail.  Not only is it an Oscar contender, but it should be considered more than worthy of Best Picture, over any competition thrown its way; this film is that good.

Stan stumbles onto the fairgrounds fresh off a bus, running from a past he’d rather leave behind.  No bother, so many on the road these days are escaping something worse with little hope for better, as the Great Depression comes to a close, America gets ready for another Great War, and bums roam the railways with no particular place to go.  Stan has prospects though; he’s still young, he’s whip smart, he’s very handsome, and so he finds himself taken in by a traveling carnival troupe, learned the tricks of the trade until he can do them better himself.  With that thought in mind, and with the lovely Molly in tow, Stan heads to the big city to become Stanton Carlisle, mentalist extraordinaire, secretly a cheap hustler who wants to leach the rich of their earned wealth.  Teaming up with psychologist Dr. Lilith Ritter, he sets out to do just that, fool powerful men into giving him parts of their fortunes, until fortune turns on Stan and he is left so far in over his head that he may drown in his own imagined powers.

I really did put off watching this film, mostly because I simply thought it looked poor.  I love del Toro, this cast has everyone you want to see, I just didn’t like the look/feel of the trailer/advertising; I thought maybe it was audiences who were being hustled.  But I am overjoyed to announce that I was wrong; Nightmare Alley is a tremendous achievement of entertainment and insight, one of the very, very strongest of the entire year.  Not only does the cast do a phenomenal job bringing this creepy tale to life, but every scene is a masterwork, every song, piece of furniture, costume, angle, and bit of dialogue ring true, real, and dramatic.  This story will have you wide eyed examining the deeper meanings, its pace will have you on the edge looking for more, and the end will hit you with a force you didn’t see coming; how many movies can claim that?

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Deep Water

Category : Movie Review

Director: Adrian Lyne

Starring: Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas

Year: 2022

When is a sexy thriller neither sexy nor thrilling?  When is a psychological drama neither psychological or dramatic?  When it’s Deep Water, the answer is Deep Water, a point to you if you guessed Deep Water.  This genre blob deserves to be wiped off with a napkin, not soaked up by Hulu audiences like it’s actually a film worth remarking upon, and I’m angry at the fact that I feel like I have to do so, now that I’ve watched it and it has, eww, gotten on me.  While we’re at it, let’s wash this film from our collective memories, because it’s giving us nothing, and it’s making an already-awful genre look even worse.

Vic is a very wealthy man, having developed a microchip for drones that helps the government track our enemies and eliminate them.  A bit of a gray moral area, but Vic enjoys his financial success, dabbling in art and photography and magazine editing and mountain bike riding; basically spending his time casually.  Meanwhile, his young, extremely gorgeous wife Melinda is enjoying her time casually too, sleeping around with young men, or so it appears.  And *they* seem to *dis*appear, oddly enough, with Vic joking that he’s killed them; haha, very funny.  But, I mean, …has he?

At first it appears that Deep Water is just another middle-aged, book-club, guilty-pleasure, slightly-sensual novel-turned-film, and that’s fine, that’s a genre, albeit a dumb one.  And this movie does fit that category, and I guess some people will stream it, find it thrilling, and go to bed happy.  But, under the surface, this is an extremely poorly made piece of work, a real mess of a movie, and something that we ought to be better than.  It’s so badly written as to be insulting, the characters make no sense, the plot is pitiful, and the ending should make us weep over the two hours of our lives that we lost.  Deep Water is trivium, amateurish trivium at that, and everyone involved should be embarrassed.  It’s not sexy, it does not suck audiences in, and it will not fulfill whatever hole Gone Girl-style flicks usually fill or Fatal Attraction-esque noirs typically satisfy; it’s just plain awful.

My rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – The Edge

Category : Movie Review

Director: Lee Tamahori

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin

Year: 1997

The term ‘hidden gem’ might be overused, but it has probably never been used more correctly than in reference to The Edge, one of the very best under-the-radar films of the last 50 years.  It has everything going for it and delivers on every level; that might sound like an exaggeration, but I tell you sincerely, this is perfect movie-making and about as great a cinematic experience as audiences are likely to have.  The Edge is drama of the utmost intensity, but delivered to us in a way that’s as popcorn as any action flick, melding genres into a stream of events that you can’t turn away from and exhibited with a talent that you hardly ever see.

Charles is a billionaire who is married to a model, a private jet owner who also happens to know every random fact on the planet; fortune has favored this man heavily, and his age hasn’t slowed his wits.  On a photo shoot with his wife and her photographer, trying to live a little and get out of the city, Charles finds himself oddly in his element.  He has the wilderness knowledge, but has never put it to any practical use …until now.  When his amphibian plane crashes, Charles is stranded in the forest with Bob, the photographer, and Stephen, the assistant, in a situation that’s cold and dangerous and dire.  It becomes even more so when a bear picks up their track and decides that he is hungry; surviving the weather is suddenly the least of their concerns.

I assume there are a large number of people who have seen this movie, but I feel like there may not be a large number who remember it and remember just how damn good it is.  Even the cover of the VHS was awesome, just the two main actors snarling like their lives are in jeopardy, selling that emotion to us even before the film begins.  And then, my god, Hopkins & Baldwin put on a master class, convincing us that they were dying, giving us layers beneath just surviving, reeling us into a backstory that never went away; I have hardly ever seen better.  The music is phenomenal, the setting is severe, the terror is real, and these characters are two I have never forgotten.  If it’s been awhile, do yourself the favor of re-watching something spectacular, because it hasn’t aged a day.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 


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Movie Review – Die Hard

Category : Movie Review

Director: John McTiernan

Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Reginald VelJohnson

Year: 1988

Time to review Joey & Chandler’s favorite movie; DIE HARD!  It’s been years since I’ve visited this Christmas classic, and Christmas classic it is, if a very bizarre one.  It’s action, it’s comedy, it’s holidays in LA, which are always weird; Die Hard is a lot of things rolled into one, but it’s always a good time had by all.  This whack-a-doo wonderland never takes itself seriously, and that’s its saving grace, that audiences are only asked to have a great time, a few laughs, cringe a little, shout out loud, and come away remembering something wild.

John McClain, a New York cop through and through, is visiting his family in LA, where his wife took a high-power job and moved their family.  Things are strained, there’s doubt in the air, but John comes for Christmas with the hope of fixing the mess.  But he’s about to have another problem; terrorists take over his wife’s office building, and thus her office party, and John may be the only guest who they haven’t accounted for.  With his background and his skills, he will now attempt to take down the bad guys, who are much more devious and prepared than they first appear to be.

First of all; yes this is a Christmas movie.  It takes place at Christmas, it has Christmas music, it’s about family and saving the day, it just happens not to be cold.  Secondly, it’s about as good an action flick as you are likely to watch.  It’s silly, it’s fun, it has laughs, big moments, a nice rhythm, and you will have fun, I almost guarantee it.  Willis is no actor, not really, but he is a cool tough guy, and that works well here, as he’s blazing his way to glory and saving the populace.  Add in Alan Rickman as one of the most iconic and evil villains on the big screen, and what you’ve got is gold, which is why Die Hard has yet to be forgotten.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Sports – 2022 NCAA Tournament

Category : Sports

March Madness is here! It’s time once again to predict a bunch of basketball games, get most of them wrong, and then rub it in your friend’s face when they do worse than you.  The field is wide open this year, per usual, and any team could win the championship.  Here are my picks for the Final Four and my prediction for the winner of the dance:

 

East – Kentucky Wildcats

West – Gonzaga Bulldogs

South – Arizona Wildcats

Midwest – Iowa Hawkeyes

2022 NCAA Champion


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Thought – 2022 Oscar Picks

Category : Thought

Coming soon, the Academy Awards!  I’ve very excited about this year’s Oscars; there are a ton of excellent films represented, as well as the annual snubs left out.  It should be a great show and I’m sure I’ll be reacting live during the event on Twitter (@OlieCoen).  You can check out my Oscars page for a complete listing of the nominees in the six major categories, but here are both my predictions and my picks for the best films of 2021:

Best Actor

Best Supporting Actor

Best Actress

Best Supporting Actress

Best Director

Best Picture