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Showing posts from September, 2013

Fall TV Roundup, Week 3

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For people who watch TV like it's their job, last week was Christmas. Below are my recaps of all the new shows. Keep in mind I watch the first and second episode of each new show, offering grades. If you don't see a new show here, check previous weeks. Shows appear according to day of the week (Monday to Sunday) and air time (8 to 10 p.m. EST).

Monday Nights:
Sleepy Hollow, Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered September 17)
"Sleepy Hollow" had one of the most surprisingly strong pilots. I enjoyed it more than I thought, but wondered how it could be sustainable as a series. Episode two did some nice things, and I am still all in on finding out how this works. But I'm still skeptical. The best drama pilot last year was "Last Resort," which also presented challenges as to how it could be sustained. 13 episodes later we discovered it couldn't be. The same could happen here. Still, I like the bones of the show and the two lead performers. This has been a…

2013 Broncos Season, Week 4

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I have been a Bronco fan for a long time and I don't think I've ever seen our team look this good. And, by all accounts, we might get better as key defenders get healthy and Manning and the offense have more time to work together. That is a scary thought for 31 other NFL teams.

Week 4: Broncos 52, Eagles 20
Season Record: 4-0 (3-0 Home)
Key Play: In the third quarter, after taking the opening kick-off, the Broncos culminated a 10 play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown toss to Demariyus Thomas. Like so many opening drives of the second half, it extended Denver's lead and opened the flood gates. The Broncos, who led 21-13 prior to the touchdown, put up 31 unanswered points on the way to a 32-point home win.

Recap: This was a tale of two teams seemingly going in opposite directions. While the Broncos and Eagles came into the game with the top two offenses in the league, the Broncos continue to build while the Eagles have stumbled after an opening night win over the Washin…

Finding our Peace in God

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"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." — Philippians 4:4-7

Paul is a tough guy to read. He offers some challenging, but important words to live by. Sometimes when that happens our tendency is to respond, "yeah, but he didn't have to deal with what I have to deal with." Paul clips us there, too. He was beaten, shipwrecked, snake bitten, and imprisoned for his faith. In fact, he wrote those words about rejoicing and giving all our cares up to God while he was in prison awaiting execution. You can't really argue with that.

If that wasn't enough, I'm going through the book "Crazy Love," by Francis Chan, with my Sunday School c…

Upcoming Releases — October

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After surviving the summer season and languishing through some rough weeks in September, Christmas has come early for serious movie fans. October has a number of high profile projects that could be serious contenders come Award season. Enjoy!

Friday, October 4:
Gravity — "Children of Men" was one of the finest movies the year it was released, and remains a personal favorite. Sadly it was passed over for lesser fare. This time director Alfonso Cuaron, the visionary behind "Children of Men," is back with a movie that looks incredible. And he's brought some high-profile friends in stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. This could be one of the most fascinating and daring films of the year.

Runner Runner — Ben Affleck has proven a great director and a solid actor. Justin Timberlake is good in comedies. Both will be playing against type here. Affleck will try his hand at being a larger-than-life villain, while Timberlake is the dramatic foil and protagonist here.…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.

Prisoners
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo, and Maria Bello
Synopsis: “Prisoners” begins with every parent’s worst nightmare. It’s Thanksgiving, a time of family and celebration. Then two little girls go missing. There are a lot of ways that a film with this set up can go, and “Prisoners” explores them all. It is a dark film, with a lot of nuanced plot twists. It’s a long film and it’s hard to watch. While there are some great performances, one can’t help but wonder what the ultimate goal was for writer Aaron Guzikowski. Was it that we’re all trapped here on earth with people filled with darkness? Was it that there’s darkness within us all? That’s one question the film never answers in its 154 minute run time. This film has a moody and gritty feel, which is likely a credit to director Denis Villeneuve. The location, settings and way the story is filmed add a degree of angs…

Week Four Picks

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Time for week four! Last week I went 12-4, so I think it can only go downhill from here. I don't feel good about the games this week, either. This is the first week of byes, so only 15 games this week. As always, these are picks against the spread and Lindsay's picks are in ().

Week Four:
49ers -3.5 Over Rams (Rams)
Ravens -3.5 Over Bills (Ravens)
Bears +2.5 Over Lions (Bears)
Bengals -4.5 Over Browns (Bengals)
Colts -8.5 Over Jaguars (Colts)
Chiefs -4.5 Over Giants (Chiefs)
Vikings +.5 Over Steelers (Vikings)
Cardinals +2.5 Over Buccaneers (Cardinals)
Seahawks -2.5 Over Texans (Seahawks)
Jets +3.5 Over Titans (Titans)
Cowboys -1.5 Over Chargers (Chargers)
Broncos -11.5 Over Eagles (Broncos)
Redskins -2.5 Over Raiders (Redskins)
Patriots +1.5 Over Falcons (Patriots)
Saints -6.5 Over Dolphins (Dolphins)

Last Week: 12-4
Lindsay: 10-6

Season: 33-15
Lindsay: 27-21

2013 Broncos Season: Week 3

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When the Broncos play the Raiders, it's always an interesting battle. Monday night's matchup moved the Broncos to 3-0 and closed out the third week of the NFL's regular season.

Week 3: Broncos 37, Raiders 21
Season Record: 3-0 (2-0 home)
Key Play: After giving up a long touchdown pass to Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders to cut the lead to 17-7, the Broncos came storming back. Peyton Manning connected with Eric Decker along the sideline for a 61-yard gain that got the offense moving again. Shortly after, Manning connected with tight end Julius Thomas on a 13-yard touchdown strike to make it 24-7.

Recap: Division games are always tough, and Raiders games are always something special. While I'm glad for the win, it's hard to get too excited. The game ended up closer than it should have been thanks to a couple blown coverages, some sloppy turn overs, and a garbage time touchdown. These teams aren't equal. Denver was supposed to win — big. The official line was between 1…

Fall TV Roundup, Week 2

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I reviewed a lot of the shows premiering this week during the post last week after the early pilots were released. If you want the full recaps, check last week's post. However, below I have the grades for the pilots that are (finally) premiering this week that I've seen. Also, below is the reminder about "Sleepy Hollow," which has it's second episode tonight.

Monday nights:
Sleepy Hollow, Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered September 16)
This was the best new pilot I've seen. Check out episode two tonight!
Pilot Grade: B+

Tuesday Nights:
Dads, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX (Premiered September 17)
A lot was made about how offensive this pilot is before it aired. It is offensive, and inane. The jokes are kind of pedestrian, which is when there are jokes. I think this is a complete misfire. This is the worst of the pilots I've seen, but it's possible FOX will show patience. First off, they want to make the comedies work on Tuesdays. Second, it wasn't t…

'Dexter' strains to 'Remember the Monsters'

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"I destroy everyone I love." — Dexter Morgan, "Dexter"

Series finales are tricky. More often than not, they leave fans grumbling. "Seinfeld" was one of the greatest sitcoms on TV, and the build up to its series finale was legendary. So was the finale — for all the wrong reasons. It was a confusing and disappointing hour that left people scratching their heads. The cast got a chance to sort of atone during season seven of Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but still it seemed like an odd choice.

Then there's "LOST." Producers spent a lot of time protesting that the characters weren't dead and the island wasn't purgatory. After two confusing seasons to wrap it up, it turned out both of those things were true. And the final resolution was, again, confusing and disappointing.

The last few seasons of "Dexter" have been uneven at best. Knowing it was going to end, the eighth season held plenty of intrigue and pr…

Trapped Under the Dome

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CBS decided to get in on the action of an event series this summer with a 13-episode adaptation of Stephen King's "Under the Dome." At least that's what everyone thought. After the show blew up in the ratings, CBS decided to double down and order a second season. Meaning that this summer wouldn't be a one-off event series after all.

I wondered how the show could go another season — after all many of the characters got killed off during the initial 13 episodes this summer. On Monday the first season drew to a close. As befits a show heading into another 13-episode run, it ended with more questions than answers.

It also reminded me of the major drawback of these summer shows. I thought the same thing when "Rookie Blue," a Canadian cop drama imported by ABC, wrapped up the previous week. We now have to wait until late May or early June to get answers. That's a long time to wait. While it follows a similar model as cable series, it feels like a long ti…

'The Bridge' to nowhere

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"If we catch John Doe and he turns out to be the devil, I mean if he's Satan himself, that might live up to our expectations, but he's not the devil. He's just a man." — William Sommerset, "Se7en"

"Se7en" is a moody, brilliantly crafted crime drama. It has social issues on the periphery, and a criminal mastermind at its center. There's some great things about the film, and it has a somewhat killer ending. But the last act of the film isn't as good as the lead up, despite the fact that Kevin Spacey does an incredible job as the criminal mastermind John Doe.

I couldn't help but think about that when I watched the 11th episode of the first season of "The Bridge." The show started with a lot of promise, some quirky characters, a lot of social issues, and a taunting serial killer hovering over it all. The question was how it would all play out.

The final confrontation — in addition to being a let down — felt a lot like a knoc…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.

The Family
Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diana Argon, Tommy Lee Jones, and John D'Leo
Synopsis: Robert De Niro has made a good portion of his career out of playing mobsters. He won an Academy Award for his work in “The Godfather, Part II” and was part of “Goodfellas” and “Casino.” So it makes sense that he would return to a familiar role with “The Family.” The latest comedy/action film from writer/director/producer Luc Beeson (“The Professional”) looks to put a new spin on the genre. It starts with a central premise — what would it be life if a mobster turned witness and had to spend the rest of his days in Europe under a new identity. Much like Beeson’s recent films, “The Family” is set in France and has very multi-cultural sensibilities. The film is shot well and has a good cast, but there is little that feels fresh and original about the premise or the film. One of the things that “The Family” tries to explore…

NFL Picks, Week 3

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Another week, another decent record. While Lindsay beat me by one pick in week two, I still lead the season by four picks. As we're into the third full week of the NFL season, the lines are starting to come back down to earth and more accurately reflect the teams we're seeing on the field. Case in point is the Steelers, who after an 0-2 start where they looked poor, are now underdogs at home on Sunday night. As always, Lindsay's picks are in parenthesis.

Week 3 Games:
Chiefs +3.5 Over Eagles (Eagles)
Packers -2.5 Over Bengals (Packers)
Browns +5.5 Over Vikings (Browns)
Cowboys -3.5 Over Rams (Cowboys)
Lions +1.5 Over Redskins (Redskins)
Chargers +3.5 Over Titans (Chargers)
Patriots -7.5 Over Buccaneers (Patriots)
Saints -7.5 Over Cardinals (Cardinals)
Giants +1.5 Over Panthers (Giants)
Texans -2.5 Over Ravens (Texans)
Dolphins -1.5 Over Falcons (Dolphins)
Bills +2.5 Over Jets (Jets)
Colts +10.5 Over 49ers (Colts)
Seahawks -19.5 Over Jaguars (Seahawks)
Bears -2.5 Over Steel…

Fall TV Roundup, Week 1

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It's the happiest time of the year. New TV shows are premiering. They are all full of promise — well, maybe not "We Are Men" — and four weeks from now, we'll be over most of them. But for now, we focus on the promise! In this weekly write up I will evaluate the pilot and second episode of all the new shows I can possibly watch. Thanks to Hulu, we have a few before they've actually premiered for kick-off week! Shows are listed in order of air date (Monday to Sunday) and air time (8 to 10 p.m.) In the Central and Mountain Time Zones, shows appear an hour earlier.

Monday Nights:
Sleepy Hollow, Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered September 16)
Every year there is a new show premise I think sounds terrible that I mock until I watch it. This year, that might be "Sleepy Hollow." I couldn't understand how this could be a show. I still am not sure how it works for a full season, let alone multiple seasons. But I'm hooked. The show was witty, it was tigh…

2013 Broncos Season: Week Two

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Another week, another Broncos' victory. This time Peyton moved to 3-0 in Manning bowls as Denver gets off to a hot start.

Week 2: Broncos 41, Giants 23
Season Record: 2-0 (1-0 Home)
Key Play: After the Giants benefitted from some defensive penalties and scored on a one-yard touchdown run from Brandon Jacobs to make it 17-16 in the third quarter, the Broncos came storming back. Knowshon Moreno, who had recovered and advanced a fumble from teammate Demaryius Thomas earlier in the drive, broke free on a 25-yard touchdown scamper, his second of the day, to make it 24-16. That added pressure led to sloppy play from the Giants, who imploded in the fourth quarter to lose by 18 points at home.

Recap: In two weeks, the Broncos have faced two preseason favorites — the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants — and dispatched them with ease. The team is averaging 45 points a game, and appears to have a fairly unstoppable offense. What was impressive in week two — also a road contest — was that the …

How do you enter worship?

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"Are you not entertained?" — Maximus, "Gladiator

How do we enter into worship? Why do we come on Sundays? Is it part of a routine, or are we drawn there by some other desire? This was the idea that Nancy Beach, a founder of Willow Creek, sought to explore this morning through her message, titled "Consumer or Consumed." The basic idea is that we are to be consumed in worship — consumed by a love of God. But all too often we are consumers, there to take it in and evaluate what we've just seen.

That is a cultural norm — we have become a hyper critical society. The advent of social media has made it easier than ever to offer instant feedback for every experience. And we do, all too often.

That's even the case with worship. Some will provide instant comments about the joy they felt in worship, which leads to the effusive praise of God. Others use the easy of contact to register complaints about the way service failed to move them.

This is a consumeristic m…

New Show Preview

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The fall season is 10 days away (or two if you're FOX). Below I have my pre-season picks for the most promising and least promising of each of the Network's new offerings.

ABC: (Shows premier the week of September 23)
Most Promising: "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," premiers Tuesday, September 24 at 8 p.m.
This show comes from Joss Whedon, who does great shows and movies, and comes from part of the world of "The Avengers," only the biggest blockbuster of all time. The cast looks good, the trailers look good, and I'm ready for this one to arrive.

Least Promising: "Back in the Game," premiers Wednesday, September 25 at 8:30 p.m.
Not sure about this premise. It feels a little like a sad attempt to wedge the "Bad News Bears" conceit into a family sitcom. The pilot was released early, and I wasn't impressed.

CBS: (Shows premier the week of September 23)
Most Promising: "The Crazy Ones," premiers Thursday, September 26…

Burned Out

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"Start from the beginning, start with: 'My name is Michael Westen. I use to be a spy.'" — Fiona, "Burn Notice"

On Thursday, with little fanfare, "Burn Notice" came to an end after seven seasons on USA. Now, USA has built a little niche for itself in a crowded cable market. It has some nice shows that have done well and it seems poised to continue.

But when "Burn Notice" debuted, that wasn't the case. Joining "Psych," which itself is nearing the end, "Burn Notice" was one of the first original break out hits for USA. And at it's prime, the show was fairly enjoyable.

The premise was simple: A guy who worked black ops for the CIA was burned, meaning he was cut off, and had to figure out what to do with his unique skill set and without the protection of the government. That meant, during the middle seasons, helping people in need alongside his friends.

This was an enjoyable show, with a little action and a little…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.

Riddick
Starring: Vin Diesel, Katie Sackhoff, Jordi Molla, and Matt Nable
Synopsis: In 2000, writer/director David Twohy delivered a somewhat memorable drama with “Pitch Black.” Vin Diesel played a convict on a transport that crashed in a remote location that was plagued by fierce creatures. The film worked because it felt like a low budget horror film that worked before such things were trendy. Naturally, since Hollywood can’t let anything that works stand alone, the film earned a big budget sequel in 2004. “The Chronicles of Riddick” didn’t work at all. The budget was bigger, the story was lamer and the whole production felt like a mistake. “Riddick” pays homage to the films that came before it. While the film feels like more of a return to the tone and style that made “Pitch Black” a cult hit, “Riddick” still takes time to tie back to what came before in the underwhelming “Chronicles of Riddick.” It also takes time to do somethi…

Week 2 Picks

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It's time for the week two picks, which includes the Manning Bowl as Peyton and the Broncos travel to meet Eli and the Giants. I expect a lot of offense in that one.

Week one was pretty solid. I went 10-6, which is good for trying to figure out how these teams will be this season. Of the six losses, several were teams where I picked the correct winner but they didn't cover (Patriots, Bears, Indianapolis Colts) and a few where I picked the wrong winner (Buccaneers, Browns, and Packers). We'll see how week two goes.

Week 2 Picks: Lindsay's picks in ()
New York Jets +12.5 Over New England Patriots (Patriots)
St. Louis Rams +7.5 Over Atlanta Falcons (Rams)
Carolina Panthers -2.5 Over Buffalo Bills (Panthers)
Minnesota Vikings +6.5 Over Chicago Bears (Bears)
Baltimore Ravens -6.5 Over Cleveland Browns (Ravens)
Dallas Cowboys +2.5 Over Kansas City Chiefs (Cowboys)
Green Bay Packers -7.5 Over Washington Redskins (Packers)
Tennessee Titans +9.5 Over Houston Texans (Titans)
Ind…

Week One Roundup

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After five days, the first week of the NFL season came to a close. It was a revelatory week, full of surprises. Below are some thoughts on what we learned after one full week of games.

1. The old guard of the AFC is struggling. Sure, the Broncos looked good on Thursday, but the other division winners from a year ago struggled. The New England Patriots need to find offense, having to come back at the end of the game to top the Buffalo Bills and their rookie quarterback. The Ravens clearly have some holes. And the Houston Texans struggled on defense for a half, falling behind 28-7 to the San Diego Chargers before rallying for victory. These were four presumed contenders and division winners, but aside from the Broncos no one looked good in week one.

2. The AFC North is in trouble. The Ravens got blown out on Thursday night, the Cincinnati Bengals are still their own worst enemy and the Cleveland Browns still don't have an offense. But the biggest issue might be in Pittsburgh. Prior…

Binge Watch

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Though FOX returns most of it's fall shows, and debuts a few new ones, next week, premier week for most shows is two weeks away. So how do you fill the time? By binge watching some shows that have been excellent so far this year.

Below are six suggestions of shows to binge watch as you bide your time waiting for the new shows premier and returning favorites to debut.

Comedy:
New Girl, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX
This show finished a superb second season last spring. It's the best comedy on network TV and remains delightful and entertaining. The second season didn't get as much buzz, or award nominations, but I think it was better than the first. Catch up before the season three premier on September 17.

The Mindy Project, Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on FOX
This show had a lot of promise out of the gate, but it struggled to find an audience. However, FOX renewed it for a second season. The first season is already out on DVD, so it's easy to catch up before the second season pre…

Overcoming our hardships

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"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." — Romans 5:3-5

This week in our FOR series we looked at the concept of how God can use our suffering for our good, and the good of others. If anyone understood this idea, it was Paul. Paul didn't have an easy ministry. He was beaten, ship wrecked, snake bitten, and imprisoned for the Gospel. Yet his favorite themes were perseverance and joy. It seems counter intuitive, but God used Paul to offer hope and comfort to those enduring hard times.

The passage above, from Romans, is one of my favorites. I love the idea that our sufferings lead to hope. In Philippians, the book we're studying for the series, Paul constantly writes about joy despite the fact he is in chains and about to …

Guilty Pleasure Action — Boondock Saints

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I wrap up my guilty pleasure series with my final action film entry.

Boondock Saints (1999)
Starring: Norman Redus, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Connolly, and Willem Dafoe
About: This is another movie I first saw in college. It was a little independent film that found a new life on DVD and became a cult classic. It became one to such an extent that a sequel was made a couple years ago. Some films can't be captured a second time. This is one of them. The first movie is a little weird, a little violent, and a little wild. It's an acquired taste, but I think it's fascinating. The characters are strong, the performances are good, and the story is easy to follow. If you want a quirky film with some great shootouts, here you go.
Rating: R for strong violence, language and sexual content.

Guilty Pleasure Comedy — Mallrats

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Summer is pretty much over. Here's a look at the last of my Guilty Pleasure comedy entries.

Mallrats (1995)
Starring: Jason Lee, Jeremy London, Shannen Doherty, Claire Forlani, Jason Mewes, and Kevin Smith
About: Smith had a set of comedies that have become indie favorites. Among them is "Mallrats." I've found there are basically two groups of Smith fans. Some think "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy" are the highlights, other think "Mallrats" is the best. I fall into the latter category. I think the movie is hilarious. It could have been that I saw it in college, and it always reminds me of that. But it's a movie that I can watch over and over again and still find it funny. Sure, it's a bit dumb and juvenile, but it's funny. I think what really makes it for me is Jason Lee, who has the best lines and parts of the film. It's just a weird, amusing movie.
Rating: R for strong language, including sexual dialogue, and for some scenes…

2013 Broncos Season: Week One

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And now the regular season begins!

Week 1: Broncos 49, Ravens 27
Season Record: 1-0 (1-0 Home)
Key Play: In the third quarter, on third down, Peyton Manning threw to Wes Welker who appeared to make a sliding catch to extend the drive. Replays showed that Welker dropped the pass, but the Ravens failed to challenge the play before Manning snapped the ball. The Broncos went on to score a touchdown to take the lead, rattling off 21 points in the third quarter on the way to a huge win.

Recap: After an uneven, and often uninspiring, preseason, it was fair to wonder how the Broncos would do on opening night. They faced a Ravens team that ended their season in heart-breaking fashion last January, they were in prime time, and oddly they were favored by more than a touchdown over the defending champs. Through the first half, that looked like too many points. After the third quarter, it looked like Las Vegas sold the Broncos way short. Now it's one week. The Broncos were motivated. But you have…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.

The Spectacular Now
Starring: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Synopsis: Everyone has known that person who was the life of every party. The person who was always fun, seemed to take everything in stride and never took life too seriously. The problem is, at some point the party has to end. For Sutter (Teller) it’s time to take a hard look at how he wants to live his life. “The Spectacular Now,” a new teen drama, looks at those formative times when you’re trying to figure out who you want to be. It’s not the first film to tackle this subject, nor the best. Despite that, there is a certain appeal to the lead characters and the story. Based on the novel from Tim Tharp, the film follows a high school senior who’s the life of the party and doesn’t know how to buckle down and prepare for the future. It makes him popular in high school, but doesn’t leave him much …

Exploring the depth of humanity in "Broadchurch"

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"They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other." — The Joker, "The Dark Knight"

We have a lot of different kinds of horror films. There are vampires, zombies, demons, supernatural serial killers, vicious animals, genetically mutated killers, and violent aliens. We like to imagine that the evil that threatens us comes in the form of supernatural monsters, but in reality the biggest threat is the evil that resides within us all.

One of my favorite writers is Stephen King, and this is something that comes through clearly in his writing. While there are sometimes supernatural elements in his stories, it's our fellow humans that pose the biggest threat. That's the the…