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Monthly Archives: February 2014

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I exist in a perpetual state of catch-up when it comes to movies. I rarely see them in theaters and while friends are raving about today’s must see films, I’m still working through my queue of flicks from yesteryear.

You can trace this phenomenon back to my childhood, when I was convinced by friends to sit through an endless stream of raunchy comedies marketed for immature teens that recycled the same jokes about genitalia over and over again. After blowing through my weekly allowance on movies that left your feeling numb for all the wrong reasons, I resolved to no longer pay for bad movies. I vowed to only pay to see Hollywood’s very best on the silver screen and wait for the remainder to make their way to the HBO/Netflix circuit. So far, it’s been working. Here is a sample of movies I’ve seen in the past few years: Django Unchained (I’m a Quentin Tarantino fanboy), Inception (I’m a Christopher Nolan fanboy and didn’t want the ending spoiled), Hot Tub Time Machine (Hey, I never said I was perfect). It’s much like I stowed away in a bomb shelter from the movie-verse for a year, and since emerging I’ve been a year behind everyone else.

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Finally, The Heroic Predictions of the 2014 Academy Awards

Well, we’ve just about made it. That Oscar talk that started back in August, when Lee Daniels made his Forrest Gump opus about a White House butler, and will finally conclude Sunday night. And Lee Daniels’ The Butler won’t even be part of the conversation. Instead, we’ll celebrate the movies it seems like we’ve been arguing about forever, or at least since last October. Read More

Courtesy of IndieWire

Onscreen, Harold Ramis was best known as Dr. Egon Spengler, the Ghostbuster with all the animation of a brick wall. While the movie was filled with the most frightening ghouls on the New York side of the Hudson, Spengler barely raised an octave. This was left to Dan Aykyord, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson. The character of Spengler, in many ways, defines Harold Ramis’ work. It was always surrounded by raucous and boisterous personalities but the protagonists were never quite one themselves.

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Looks unremarkable, right? It should. Podium ceremonies are customary at the end of most motorsports events outside the US – check the Daytona 500 for Victory Lane-as-American exceptionalism – and this image from Sunday’s FIM Supersport World Championship race in Australia is no different. Three men mount the rostrum, three men receive modest trophies and a bouquet of flowers, three men pop expensive champagne bottles once the winner’s national anthem is played. A team owner laughs, soaking up the victory. A cameraman catches it for posterity. Across the road, someone takes a photo to summarize the weekend.

What’s so strange about this podium is who’s on it. To the right, Italian Raffaele de Rosa, wearing leathers for a team he no longer rides for; to the left, journeyman Scot Kev Coghlan, still winless; and in the center, the most remarkable story of the weekend. But this is World Supersport at the Australian Grand Prix in 2014. This is life at its most whimsical. This is life at the top of the bottom of the world.
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In a strange twist of events, the All-Star Game was the actual best part of this year’s All-Star Weekend. Kyrie Irving lit up the Crescent City, scoring 31 points and adding 14 assists in a record-breaking game during which both teams cleared 150 points. Saturday night’s festivities, long the most exciting of the break, failed to deliver. Elsewhere, the trade deadline passes, coming in like a motorcycle and going out like a tricycle. Also, the KD-LeBron dichotomy is heating (thundering?) up, though both just seem to want to play their own brands of basketball.

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lebron-mount-rushmoreLeBron James made Mount Rushmore a trending topic earlier this week for reasons entirely unrelated to the giant presidential faces carved into the side of a granite slab in South Dakota. From coast to coast, people got all up in arms about who the four best basketball players of all-time are, if that is the criteria necessary to earn a spot there. Elsewhere, Carmelo Anthony wants to win a championship (don’t we all?), and Pierre the Pelican finally gets a makeover, just in time for All-Star Weekend in his hometown.

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George Clooney’s Lecturing, Sanitized Vision of WWII…and Art

Everyone looks good in The Monuments Men. I think that’s part of the perk and charm of being in a George Clooney movie. He’ll crop your crew cut just right, perfectly light your skin’s aging complexion. He’ll make you feel chummy and invincible on set. That would all be fine if his latest directorial effort weren’t a World War II film. Instead of peril and suspense, you get silly vignettes of middle-aged veterans motoring along to their own internal River Kwai March. There’s a dissonance between the movie Clooney has made and the one we expect to see. Even the bullet wounds shed little blood. Read More

The first time I heard Young Thug, I was in my car. I had just downloaded his 1017 Thug mixtape and put it on my iPhone. The first song I skipped to was the one that garnered a considerable amount of buzz among message boards and tastemakers alike – a song entitled “Picacho.” “My diamonds just say Picacho,” Young Thug shouted, his voice almost cracking before heading into the second line. Though the wordplay itself was not necessarily the best I had ever heard, it was certainly noteworthy because of the yelping vocal delivery. It’s a pulse of energy that you can feel in your chest with each listen, and you just want to sing along during every chorus. You want to imitate that weird style and see if you can pull it off yourself. You are not Young Thug though, and you cannot perform this to desired results. It is, however, extremely fun to try and do so.

Fast forward to January, and Young Thug drops Black Portland with his booming cohort, Bloody Jay. On this effort, you hear gargles, warbles, whispers and that esophageal sound that you’d only hear when watching The Grudge. The signature sonic hiccuping from 1017 Thug is still present, but it is flanked by Young Thug using the low end of his voice. There’s a lot more mumbling, which starts from a high squeal, but it slowly degrades into something you are hardly able to discern. This is most evident on “Movin,” where Young Thug devolves into someone who hasn’t quite remembered the words to his favorite rapper’s song and starts uttering them with the confidence of a backing track. It’s one of the many things on Black Portland that makes it such a great listen. It can go from ALL-CAPS to 8-pt wingdings at the drop of a fast-paced snare roll.

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Sports are so arbitrary when you really think about it. It’s just a collection of athletes, exhibiting an arbitrary set of skills, governed by an arbitrary set of rules. You can throw a ball through a hoop? Good. You can throw it through a hoop behind this line? Even better.

It’s the arbitrary nature of sports which leave me finding them rather meaningless at times. When a man throws an oblong ball and another man catches it, the action doesn’t directly affect anything in the outside world. Wars are still fought. Diseases still kill. A ball passing through space doesn’t alter race relations or alter prejudices. It’s just an object traveling through space.

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