This summer I am jumping back into the pool of disappointment known as the Star Wars prequels. I have reconciled the fact that the prequels never could have lived up to 16 years of pent up anticipation. I want to give them another shot.
Still they were sub par. Below are some of the characters I still have issues with from the first go around:
- Ric Olie: He has a lisp and look not dissimilar to fear monger Rudy Guiliani and some of the worst dialouge of the prequels, which is saying a lot.
- Baron Papanoida: There was clearly way too much time and money wasted on the digital effects to clear out the Beard’s gigantic neck waddle.
- Ki-Adi-Mundi & Plo Koon: Hey guys, you are on the council, how about extending your force sensitivity a bit and realizing you are about to get whacked. I have not seen such a pathetic foresight since, well save Silvio Dante in the Sopranos finale. Really Sil….you guys are at war. It would probably be best if you had your gun in your pocket rather than an attache case in the back seat of the car.
- Dex Jettster: The fact that he serves “Jawa Juice” in his coffee shop would have been enough. But Dex conveniently knew what a Kamino Sabre Dart was upon the first viewing. Great writing George.
- Rune Haako and Nute Gunray: Horrible Asian stereotypes + awful trade storyline = lame characters.
- Jar Jar Binks: Do I need to elaborate? Even The Beard realized his mistake and burying the character, making him responsible for the demise of the Republic (clever George, clever) and giving him two line sin Episode III. He makes me yearn for the gravitas of the Ewoks.
It is not as elaborate of a list as I thought it would be. As I went through my mental inventory I found some of the characters to be endearing. So they were taken off of the list. Sure Captain Tarpals is never going to be a top ten guy for me, but when he is held up against Jar Jar, well…he looks like a gem.
Maybe this is not going to be as easy as I thought…
Ice-T, I am done with your films.
To many, this might seem like common sense. But there is good in you Ice-T; I have seen it.
Maybe I am holding onto the exceptions to the rule, “New Jack City” and “Trespass”, I don’t know. But after “Leprechaun in the Hood” and this film, you don’t have a free pass to the head of Netflix Instant Queue.
“Surviving the Game” had such promise.
The cast: Ice-T, Rutger Hauer, Gary Busey, Charles Dutton, and F. Murray Abraham: a nice mix of slumming thespians and hammy scene chewers.
The premise: A group of hunters lure me out to the wilderness and hunt them as game, hence the clever title. It is not the most unique premise, but I thought with the actors involved and the right spin it could be something special.
All I kept thinking was that “Hard Target” was so much more fun than this. Both films shared the same storyline, a lead with a ridiculous hair cut and a great supporting cast.
But “Hard Target” had a scene where JCVD knocks out a snake with a punch to the head
a stone cold, cajun spewing, horseback riding, arrow slinging diabetes slayer in Wilford Brimley and a proven action director in John Woo. You never had a chance Ice-T.
I looked up the director of “Surviving the Game” Ernest R. Dickerson on IMDB. The man has grown since that film. He has helmed some episodes from some of my favorite shows: “E.R.”, “The Wire”, ‘Treme” and “The Walking Dead”.
But none of that helped Ice-T et all back in 1994.
There are some decent moments in “Surviving the Game”, but they are fleeting. I cannot even remember the path or a specific moment where Ice-T went from depressed loner to a vengeance machine.
I think it happened when he was chatting with Dr. Cox in a cave, but it never felt real, earned. This is the same guy who at the beginning of the film cried over his dead dog (played by the worst dead dog prop ever) and got his butt kicked by the cabbie?
Perhaps if his character were played by someone with an ass-kicking pedigee I could have let it slide. But a dread-locked rapper with a weak build? No dice.
When you sit through a film waxing poetic about “Hard Target” it is impossible to recommend it. “Surviving the Game” is not for you, well, unless you really have Busey addiction that you need to satiate. If that is case might I recommend “Predator 2?” or “Point Break”?
“Surviving the Game” is available on Netflix Streaming.
I hope all the fathers out there have a wonderful Fathers’ Day with their kids. I lieu of writing today I spent some time with my kids as I have to work tomorrow.
Below are some links to some articles I have written on fatherhood.
Great Movie Fathers – Day 1 – Dr. Thomas Wayne
Great Movie Fathers – Day 2 – Edward Bloom
Great Movie Fathers – Day 3 – Anakin Skywalker
Great Movie Fathers – Day 4 – Peter Bailey
Great Movie Fathers – Day 5 – Marlin
From the age of 12 through the age of 18 my Thursday nights were all about “Must See TV” on NBC. “The Cosby Show”, “Family Ties” and “Night Court” provided much needed levity during those stormy years. The comedy block was also an appreciated harbinger of the weekend.
I am an informational Borg; a lot of what what I watch and read becomes a part of me. This was especially true in the years when “Must See TV” was not just a slogan to me, but a way of life. I was a sponge; those story lines and characters seemed to hold either relate-able situations or ones that I hoped to relate to some day.
I often kid that my neurotic nature is partially fed by my teenage/20′s adolescent love of “Seinfeld” mixed with an admiration of Woody Allen films. 20 years after I even thought about “Family Ties” I find myself a 21st Century Steven Keaton, politically speaking.
Some might think I am overselling the comedy block’s impact, I would say most undersell the way media shapes us. The truth, as almost is always the case likely rests in the middle.
My favorite of all the comedies from that era was “Cheers”. It was edgy (for a pre-teen/ teen in the late 80s/early 90s). And there was something about the gang of day drinkers that hit me in the right spot. They were hard on each other, but there was a genuine affection that I could relate to.
The show was a major lens through which I saw my world, so much so that I was responsible for the two Cheers references in my 8th grade year book. I gave Dan Murphy a nod as the future Norm Peterson.
Why, I am not sure. I always liked Dan, and that seems like a mean thing to have come up with. I am stunned that it was allowed, especially since I went to St. Andrews, a Catholic School. They were so strict that during our year end slide show “If You Leave” by OMD was cut off before they could utter “touch you once, touch you twice”. That seems so quaint now, if that is worst lyric I have to deal with in the pre-teen/teen years I will feel like the world’s luckiest dad.
I also tabbed my twin brother Jon with “future Woody Boyd”. That was really cruel. He is a smart dude, always has been. It is in the DNA, of course. For what ever reason he must have pissed me off that day, which would be standard for that time in our lives.
Don’t judge us, you try dealing with sharing everything but your boxer shorts with someone who is also dealing with raging hormones and mood swings. It is a recipe for verbal and physical battles.
And still with, “Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen” to the “Left side of Cliff’s Brain” jokes getting referenced by me in the last month, “Cheers” is still a touchstone.
While it normally these references relate to something positive, there have been some missteps. Cheers is the benchmark for all bars, and in that way it has failed me. No bar I have ever been in has been populated with so many genuine fun as “Cheers” displayed all those Thursday nights. Heck, no bar has hit the level of Gary’s Old Town Tavern.
And today I must take umbrage with Woody Boyd. His dislike of Kale in the episode “Veggieboyd” cost me 20 years with the nutritious veg. In spite of all the laughs he provided me over the years I am not sure that I can forgive him for that.
After reading “Real Food: What to Eat and Why” by Nina Planck* I was drawn to try the leafy veg as she kept extolling the nutritional virtues it throughout the book. The moment of truth: would my personal tastes trump 20 + years of mis-allocated hatred thanks to the shenanigans of Cheers junior bartender? I sauteed some last night with olive oil, garlic and cream and rolled the bones.
*Which you should read. It blew my mind and I am all in. Well, I was all in on local and organic already. But now there is no turning back.
It was amazing.
And all these years I missed Kale thanks to the episode below:
And damn you Frasier. After tonight I can say that Kale is never a bad idea, no matter what the good doctor thinks. Given his personal instability maybe we should discount any advice he ever gave. Kale, like Chick-Fil-A, is f’n delicious. (to the well again, but I love that scene.)
Besides, “Frasier” came at time when Thursdays transitioned. Goodbye “Must See TV”, hello “must drink quarter drafts night”. And though Sunny’s was never anywhere near as cool as Cheers, after 8- 10 .25 drafts I could be convinced it was.
First off: out of all the major sports ( of which it is a stretch to call the NHL these days) the NHL benefits most from HD. The ice looks white, rather than gray as it does in standard definition. The action looks more dynamic. The NHL needs HD to show off the beauty of a game.
That being said, the effort by Vancouver in game 7 was ugly…just plain ugly. Other than Ryan Kesler and Christopher Higgins no one in a blue sweater acted like they cared about how the game turned out until it was too late.
Still high marks have to go out to the Boston Bruins. They were all over the Canucks. On the forecheck there seemed to be 4 forwards. On the back end, 3 d-men. They were amazing. And they deserved the result of Game 7.
But oh those Canucks. I knew they were in trouble when I read that Daniel Sedin backed off of his game 7 guarantee earlier today. He played like a scared man tonight. D. Sedin made the Stay Puft marshmallow man look like a slab of granite. Soft was offended when I mentioned him as being so. I found myself loathing the man, his game, his lack of desire. He is making how much?
The Canucks had sprayed 37 shots on Tim Thomas. I cannot think of more than 5 that were especially dangerous. The home team fired at least as many high and wide as they gripped their sticks way too tight. They knew there margin of error was small and that they were done when Patrice Bergeron potted his goal at 14:37 of the first. The fans in Vancouver backed that feeling, you would have thought it was 19:57 of the third.
- Dear refs, when you allow hooking and interference like you did throughout the game then you are determining the game. Both sides contributed once they knew your parameters, which were way too loose.
- Pierre Maguire’s dome is shiny. The makeup people need to take HD into account when powdering him up.
- Doc Emrick needs to find another term than “pinball” to describe a puck that bounces around. He could spawn a drinking game, especially when the games dip into June and bad ice.
- Tim Thomas was all class going through the line at the end of the game. It made me feel better about Beantown collecting another title.
- I second thought I still hate it, Zdeno Chara will have his name on the Cup.
- Ah, a great tradition: booing Gary Bettman when he makes announcements…love it. He needs to go. Love the “Bettman Sucks” chant.
- Nice class Canucks fans, Tim Thomas was great and he deserved your cheers, well until they became boos.
I am looking forward to next year when I become a Winnipeg fan.
This past Mothers’ Day I hit the ceiling. Online there were a bunch of supposed sentiments wishing all mothers, grandmothers’, Godmothers’ and Dads who fill the Mothers’ role a happy day.
What a bunch of bullshit.
I expect that the authors of Mothers’ Day blessings would be up in arms if someone said something about doing a great job in spite of the fact it was a man’s job. That is troglodyte thinking, as is the lumping of dads who nurture in Mothers’ Day. Nurturing and raising kids is not a woman’s job, not anymore. And like many traditional (read fossilized thinking) man’s jobs it never should have been considered so.
I stay home with my kids during the day and work the night shift. It is a result of job search roulette: my wife found the full time job first, I shifted into a role I never thought I would have. I was going to be the point parent in the day to day, often mundane, always rewarding job of caregiver.
I can do almost anything any mom can do. I am sorry to go all kindergarten debate on you, but it really chafes me. I can mend broken skin or a broken spirit with the same aplomb as anyone with two X chromosomes. The only thing I cannot do is give birth or breastfeed, not that I would want to do either, especially the former as I had front row seats for two deliveries.
I give total respect for that aspect of motherhood. All mothers are to be commended and celebrated for what they go through. I would never survive what my wife went through, two births with no drugs. I barely made it through my first IV two years ago. I could not watch the IV get placed in Nicole’s arm during either birth. I know what I am when it comes to pain and discomfort: a wuss.
So Happy Fathers’ Day to all dads. I have a special place in my heart for those dads who are the point parents. It is nowhere as easy as “traditional dads” would think it is. It is the hardest job I have ever had, but also the most rewarding. So please don’t demean what I do by calling me “Mr. Mom”; that’s Mr. Dad to you.
I’ll be the one making the PB&J, minus the crusts of course.
as rare as it is.
I am all in on the hunt for the elusive runner’s high. I would say that 99.8 percent of my runs the past 4 months were all about the pain. But that .02 percent, when the runner’s high kicked in…I felt ethereal…
I want that.
I need that.
I run for that.
So much so that I am setting another goal: I am going to run in the Cortland Half Marathon on October 16th.
I love the pain, it lets me know that I am pushing myself. But I need to know that the pain is for something. The Buffalo Half Marathon and the STAP Ride for Life both got me to push that much harder. “Taste the pain now, or taste it later” the mantra that fuels me.
And now I have another goal: I want to wipe out my time from the Buffalo Half Marathon, which was a disappointing 2:42:00. I was somewhat sabotaged by a number of variables in late May: I had to pee at the gun, the heat and humidity were July-like and I missed my music, which I truly believe would have pushed me to a better time.
My second year through the STAP Ride for Life the fear of the unknown was gone. I was able to take my experiences from the first year and funnel that into the way that I trained. The 100 mile ride was completed about 30 minutes sooner than I planned thanks to the way I trained. I worked harder, but I also worked smarter.
The lessons learned on that sweltering May morning are going to be applied in my preparation for the the next 13.1 in October.
It is going to be a grind, “that’s okay because I like the way it hurts.”
What an exciting series. But let’s not confuse exciting with great basketball. For all of the clutch shots and exciting plays it was often ugly out there.
- Bron-Bron, you exceeded my hopes and dreams. Yes I am waking up to the same reality I had before you coughed up another epic fail last night. But I never hated my life. It is not perfect, but whose is? I don’t find comfort in the luxuries that you live with. I find it in my family. So take your bitterness and blame (God, really?) to wherever you can afford to travel. You are sad shell of who I thought you could be. You lived up to your empty bravado of last summer. Congrats.
- I will miss my favorite game of the 2011 Finals. I called it: “Remember When”. Every time LBJ turned the ball over, missed an open shot it would open up, “Remember when Michael Jordan tossed up that air ball from the baseline, missed the rim and caused a shot clock violation?” Me Neither. The game was extensive, fun and yes filled with bitter rancor. I loved every minute of it.
- As shocking as LeBron’s lack of engagement and confidence in the last 3 games of the series was it was nothing compared to the class that Mark Cuban showed after the Mavs won. He was unbelievably gracious. Allowing the original owner to receive the trophy was an all time move. Who would have thought? Maybe the guy has just gotten a bad rap all these years? Maybe he finally grew up.
- Dirk: you are not soft or overrated. Here’s hoping you have more left in the tank as it seemed like I have missed a lot of greatness over the past few years.
- What can you say about Jason Terry in Game 6? The dude backed up his tat. Impressive, most impressive.
- Chris Bosh, I was wrong. You played like a beast in the Finals. Maybe someone else does not belong in the “Big Three”.
- Wade was clutch for 5 games, but when he needed his dancing partner from last summer to show up, he could not. I could see this ending up in an ugly divorce before these contracts lapse. Failing is one thing. Not even trying, well, I can’t see D-Wade putting up with that long term.
- Would it be a shock to see Tyson Chandler in a Golden State uniform this fall? Incoming Warriors coach Mark Jackson fawned over him while broadcasting the Finals. Rightfully so, he was amazing and he is just what the soft, small Golden State squad needs.
- 33-18, that was the free throw attempt differential in favor of Miami in Game 6. Sure they attacked the rim more, but when the Mavs went in the paint and drew contact it seemed that the whistles disappeared. When the Mavs breathed on anyone wearing white there was a call. Even Dirk got shafted in Game 6, while Mario Chalmers was getting superstar calls. Note to Commissioner Stern, if you are going to try and force a game 7, make it less obvious next time.
- Another LBJ stat: -24 in Game 6. “The Custodian” Brian Cardinal: +18 for the Mavs.
- If the NBA institutes a “hard cap” the Heat are in some big trouble. Forget the Big Three, Mike Miller has 5 years and 25 million left on his deal. 0 points in Game 6. That is not going to get it done.
Let’s hope the NBA learns from the NFL’s labor foibles. This was an exciting series, something to build on. Any break in the off-season, a lockout…well if they are silly enough to do that the NBA owners will get what they deserve, just like LeBron.
“Super 8″ has been getting killed by many of the geek elite who roam online. Everything from “missed opportunity” to disaster has been batted around. I loved the film. And in spite of that fact I read some of the reviews that hit the far end of the spectrum and I thought, “well that makes sense. If he felt that way then he should trash it”.
Filmmaking is an art. All art and appreciation of that art is subjective. That is where some of the above really chafe me: they act like their opinion of a film is grounded in fact. Even if some of the things (or in their mind facts) that bothered them are agreed upon (say like a reconciliation out of nowhere), that does not mean that it has to ruin the overall product for everyone.
Granted you should have some logical reasons for liking a film. Saying you liked “Super 8″ because you are a lens falre honk is not really appreciating the film as a whole. But if we all thought the same thing about a film, why would I check in at any of these sites?
What bothers me most is that in the process of this online debate ( which is about as slow, painful and useless as a duel to the death with corked forks) one common theme comes up. If you allow any flaw in logic to pass in a film then you are labeled as “checking your brain at the door”. I look at films in this way: they have a logical component and then there is the heart and soul.
I have always been someone who can be swayed to embrace a film if it it stumbles in the former if it makes up for it with an earned emotional payoff. It may be illogical, but I have never identified with Spock. So this is par for the course.
For example: There are parts of “Big Fish” that make me want to pull out what is left of my hair. But those last 15 minutes, and any scene with Albert Finney; well they make the film for me. So there have been times when I pop in the last 15, just to get that jolt. To some this may make it a bad or incomplete film, but I defend “Big Fish” every time. I know it is far from perfect ( what film is not?), but it works for me. No amount of snark will or should change my mind.
But at least people like Devin Faraci at BadAssDigest.com place their name on their critiques. I give him credit for placing his name on his critiques. That is much more brave than the minions of all the internet scribes who hop on the comments section and post in their Smeeish regurgitations via their avatars, how cowardly.
Though I am a fan of Faraci’s work I think he is someone who at times treads the line of thinking that his opinions are facts based on his issues. He brings in logical arguments as to why he has issues, but that does not make them facts. IN regards to “Super 8″ specifically: some I agree with and they do not bother me as much as they did him, and others I think I have answers to issues.
I am guilty of same attitude in regards to the prequels. A scene from opening night of “Revenge of the Sith”:
Frank: That was great, wasn’t it Rob.
Rob (fighting back geek tears): Shut up, you are wrong. I hate you.
So when I see that same sort of attitude reflected back at me years later (albeit more eloquently) it looks really ugly and is just as wrong now as it was back then. “Revenge of the Sith” is still a bad film. But that’s just like, my opinion, man.
Frank is entitled to his, even if he is wrong.
I had high hopes for Tim Blake Nelson’s “Leaves of Grass”.
- I am a huge Edward Norton fan. I would watch anything he is in (once).
- The premise had promise, with Norton playing dual roles of two very different twin brothers. As a identical twin crap like that normal bothers me (see “Double Impact”). But with Norton in the roles rather than JCVD I figured there would be more nuance than just different hairstyles(there was, but Norton’s twins do sport different dos, at least for a little while).
- The film looked quirky and Nelson had worked with the kings of quirk, the Coen Brothers. I was hoping that some of their magic would rub off.
Sadly, it did not. Nelson tries to tap into the Coen’s schtick, but fails. It is a tall order. If it was easy to balance quirky humor with violence then the Coens might not be so special. But they are.
The tonal shift in “Leaves of Grass” that just does not work. It occurs about 2/3rds in, and from that time on I was waiting for the film to end, which it did in limping fashion. I loved the first half, but I am left with “what could have beens.”
Unfortunately I have to not recommend this film. If you are in the mood for something Coen-like, pop in your favorite film by them. I bet it will be far more satisfying than “Leaves of Grass” or any other Coen-pretender.
“Leaves of Grass” is available on Netflix Instant.