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Showing posts from May, 2014

Upcoming Releases — June

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Here's a look at what's coming up in June.

Friday, June 6:
The Fault in Our Stars — This is the latest film based on a young adult novel, but the difference here is that there is no dystopian future or supernatural lovers. Instead, it's a story about two teens stricken with cancer who fall in love and find hope despite their circumstances. This will be a tear-jerker, but it also feels like a real movie in the midst of summer.

Edge of Tomorrow — Like Adam Sandler, the name Tom Cruise is no longer the draw it once was in the heat of summer. And this film — a sci-fi action drama about a war with aliens that also has a "Groundhog Day" spin, seems complicated. I like Emily Blunt, and I think this could be watchable, but it's hard to tell how great this will be.

Friday, June 13:
22 Jump Street — Despite my trepidations, I really enjoyed the "21 Jump Street" re-boot. It's not the kind of comedy that's for everyone, but it was a lot of fun. I think t…

Now Playing

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

Blended
Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Joel McHale, and Terry Crews
About: Once upon a time Adam Sandler comedies were can't miss affairs. That hasn't been true in some time, in fact his annual comedies the past few summers have been mildly to massively disappointing. However, when you look back at the cannon of Sandler, his comedies with Drew Barrymore stand out. I think "The Wedding Singer" is his best film. So I was excited to see "Wedding Singer" directed Frank Coraci reunited with Sandler and Barrymore for "Blended." The film didn't do incredible at the Box Office — taking in just $18 million over the Memorial Day holiday. But in comparison to recent Sandler offerings, this feels like a step in the right direction. Granted, the set up is a little weak and the first half of the movie is a little dull. But once they get to Africa, the action picks up, the c…

Transform the World

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"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next… It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this." — C.S. Lewis, "Mere Christianity"

Scripture is clear about where our focus should be. Paul talks many times about turning our attention to things above, not things below. My favorite version of this is Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will."

That flies in the face of our common culture. We praise people who are original once they've become successful, but when people stray from the norm, they often face criticism and derision. We want people to conform and follow the social and cultural norms.

In the TV show "Fargo," in the b…

Summer TV Roundup — Week 3

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Summer is here, and the new shows just keep on coming. In these weekly posts I review the new shows of the summer, grading the pilot and second episode of as many new shows as possible. If you don't see a new summer show here, check previous weeks!

Monday Nights:
The Maya Rudolph Show, Monday at 10 p.m. on NBC
About: This was billed as a special, and at this point it was a special. But the hope for Rudolph and her team is that this can become a series. Variety shows were once a staple of American television, but now that's not really the case. Still, Rudolph wants to bring that back. Her show — which featured guests like Sean Hays, Fred Armisen, and Andy Samberg — felt a little bit like a more musically oriented, family-friendly version of "Saturday Night Live." There were sketches, musical numbers, dance numbers, and more. Some of it was a little risqué, but most of it was pretty tame. It was mildly entertaining, and felt like kind of a throw back. I could see it wo…

The Long Way Around

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Prior to the start of the NBA playoffs, I predicted the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs would meet in the NBA finals. After a wild, unpredictable couple of rounds, it appears that is the matchup we are going to get.

A month ago, it might not have seemed that way. Sure, the Heat cruised to a first round victory, but everyone else stumbled a bit. The Spurs needed seven games to shake free of the Dallas Mavericks, and the Indiana Pacers — the top seed in the East and presumed challenger to the Heat — almost didn't survive a first round matchup with sub .500 Atlanta.

But for a first round that, at times, looked to have a lot of excitement, the teams that were supposed to win prevailed in the end. The Clippers overcame off-court scandal in the front office to advance, the Thunder overcame the upstart Memphis Grizzlies, and the Pacers were able to slide past the Hawks.

In the second round, the top contenders held serve. The Thunder dispatched the Clippers, while the Spurs made eas…

Need All Around Us

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"America is the wealthiest nation in the world, and our prosperous middle class is unparalleled in all of history. But the way we handle our money is scandalous." — Jerry Bridges, "Respectable Sins"

For our Adult Sunday Community, we've been looking at a book by Jerry Bridges called "Respectable Sins." It's a call to action for Christians, urging them to combat the "minor" sins we've come to tolerate and accept while we paint a bullseye on the "major" sins of the world.

It has sometimes been difficult or frustrating to read, but that's the point. This is a book that calls out a lot of the little things we do in our daily lives that don't reflect the lifestyle and behavior we're called to as Christians.

Other times it's been difficult to read because I don't agree with the narrow focus of Bridges' take on these issues. In the last chapter we read, on Worldliness, Bridges talked about money, and the w…

Broncos Offseason Update, Post-Draft

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In the next couple months, the Broncos, much like the rest of the teams in the NFL, will begin their off-season training, and pre-season workouts in earnest. The dust has settled from most of the Free Agency slog, and the draft picks have all been added.

So before the season starts in earnest, it's time to look at the good, the bad, and the unknown for the 2014 Broncos, a team hoping to get to the Super Bowl again.

The Good:
* The Broncos added some new passing weapons. Sure, Eric Decker is a loss, but the Broncos have Emmanuel Sanders, who will fill a role and add some speed, and drafted Cody Latimer, a tall, strong receiver who some have said is in the Demariyus Thomas mold. So, I think the Broncos will be OK there.

* The Broncos have worked to add secondary depth. Aquib Talib and T.J. Ward add veteran talent. Chris Harris continues to develop, as does Rahim Moore, Duke Ihenachio, and Kavon Webster. Then the Broncos went out and got Bradley Roby to add depth. It's a good, so…

Life in the Clone Club

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"There's a reason we look exactly the same Art. Why the prints match and the DNA is screwed up. But you have to promise to protect me and my daughter." — Sarah Manning, "Orphan Black"

Last year there was one show on BBC America that became a phenomenon. I didn't see it when the show originally aired, but I soon heard everyone buzzing about "Orphan Black," a sci-fi drama with an incredibly layered mystery.

As the second season debuted April 19, I decided to catch up on what I'd missed. Over the past month, I've ripped through all 15 available episodes of "Orphan Black," and it's fair to say I know what all the buzz is about.

The show is addictive, original, and well crafted. Below are three thoughts I've had getting to know the phenomenon that is "Orphan Black."

1. Tatiana Maslany is incredible. As the central character(s) on the show, she has to change accents, personalities, appearance, and more to create dist…

Now Playing

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Here's my review for the week.

Godzilla
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, and Juliette Binoche
Synopsis: Godzilla has a proud cinematic history. He first graced the big screen in the 1950s — not long after World War II when the lasting effects of a world that had entered into the nuclear age were unknown. Even those that haven’t seen a “Godzilla” film, or worse yet saw the 1998 travesty that tried to re-boot the series, are familiar with the character. Godzilla is a part of the American cultural landscape. And, given the technological advances in filmmaking, it only makes sense to look at this property again. Director Gareth Edwards hasn’t made a lot of movies, but his work on the 2010 indie darling “Monsters” was enough for studio executives to put this iconic property into his hands. And that appears to have been an inspired choice. “Godzilla” is a big-budget summer blockbuster, but it’s also a loving homage to the ico…

Bring Back Some Variety

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"I never thought I'd get a chance to do what I'm doing. It's such a dream." — Maya Rudolph

As we coast into summer, networks have continued to put out original programming. Some of it is borrowed from Canada — "Motive" and "Rookie Blue" on ABC I'm looking at you — and others are shows that networks ordered last year but decided they shouldn't have — like NBC's upcoming comedy "Undateable."

Then there's the wild cards. In the past few years a couple projects have gone to pilot stage but not become series. But sometimes the networks air the pilots to see what the response is in case they want to change their minds. "Mockingbird Lane" was supposed to be NBC's re-boot of "The Munsters," instead it was a weird one-hour Halloween special.

On Monday, NBC got back in the variety show business with "The Maya Rudolph Show." While it was billed as a special, behind the scenes there is the very …

The Best Part of "Godzilla"

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"One of the things you do as a writer and as a filmmaker is grasp for resonant symbols and imagery without necessarily fully understanding it yourself." — Christopher Nolan

"Godzilla" opened on Friday. It's the latest in what will be a long line of summer blockbusters the next four months. It was the biggest opening of the year, and it's a fine monster film. But the best part of that experience had nothing to do with the work by Gareth Edwards or anyone else responsible for bringing "Godzilla" back to life. The best part was what came before the film.

"Interstellar" — the latest film from Christopher Nolan — opens in November. It's full-length trailer debuted on Friday, running in front of "Godzilla." And it, more than anything that came after it, was what I loved most about my "Godzilla" movie-going experience.

Nolan is a rare talent and an excellent storyteller. He grapples with tough questions and subjects, of…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 2

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Today I continue my look at all the new shows this summer. I review the pilot and second episode. It's going to be a long, packed summer season for TV as all channels — even networks — move toward a year-round programming model.

Monday Nights:
24: Live Another Day, Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX
About: "24" was a wildly popular series for eight years, then ended its run. This limited, "event" series is careening toward the end of its 12-episode summer run. Those that enjoyed the show the first time around will likely be pleased with this current run. The familiar faces — those that survived those first eight seasons — are back, along with some new ones. The real time conceit still seems kind of fun, and kind of unbelievable ( a lot has happened in just three hours). And Kiefer Sutherland still gives you everything you'd want from this part. Of course, the morals and methods are still a little warped, but what can you do. Doubtless it will come to a satisfying con…

Two Down, One to Go

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It's kind of ironic that the two sports with the greatest characters, boxing and horse racing, have both been on the decline. In both cases it's for the lack of a suitable hero.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/horse_racing.html#XkPkDZdOKgI8ZA81.99
"It's kind of ironic that the two sports with the greatest characters, boxing and horse racing, have both been on the decline. In both cases it's for the lack of a suitable hero." - Dick Schaap

Yesterday California Chrome, the unlikely colt with an amazing story owned by a couple California farmers, won the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown. Having already won the Kentucky Derby to start the month, the horse is now just a mile and a half away from adding its name to history.

The Triple Crown in horse racing is, perhaps, the most illusive prize in all of sports. I have watched these races with great interest for as long as I can remember, yet in my lifetime there has not been…

Upfronts Week — Closing Thoughts

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This past week was Upfronts week, when the networks unveil their new fall schedules as well as the new shows hoping to catch on. Though we have a few months to ponder all these presentations, below is a recap of my initial thoughts of the week, including my picks for the five most interesting and five least interesting shows, regardless of network.

Trends: Comedy is on its way out. Last year at this time, each of the networks were touting their high-profile comedies, and many had increased the number of comedy hours on the schedule. In 2014-2015, not so much. CBS broke up its long-standing Monday night block of comedies (only two shows and one hour will air in the fall) and it won't have its Thursday block in place until the end of October. NBC finally gave up Must-See TV Thursday, and its two hour block of comedies on that night, and by February it will have a comedy-free Thursday. And FOX has abandoned its two hour comedy block on Tuesday nights, pushing some live-action sitcoms…

Upfronts Week — The CW

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This is Upfronts week, the week when all the major networks unveil their fall schedules. Each day during the week I'll be taking a look at each network's new fall offerings and giving some cursory thoughts. Of course, we'll have months to parse the new an returning shows, and the lineup choices, once the fall season begins in September.

Network: The CW

Most Interesting Scheduling Decision: The CW as we've previously known it is gone. This is a network that — dating back to when it was the WB — seemed to have a penchant romantic dramedies that were popular — and predominantly aimed at — young women. "Supernatural," which will be in its 10th season this fall, was an outlier. Now, it appears to be the brand the network has rebuilt itself into. No more is this the network of "Gossip Girl" and "The Carrie Diaries," even the last vestige of that programming ("Hart of Dixie") has been held to mid-season. Instead, this feels like a networ…

Now Playing

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

The Neighbors
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, and Ike Barinholz
Synopsis: Heading into this summer season, it seemed like comedies would rule the day. Just two weeks in, that seems to have born out. “The Amazing Spiderman 2” won its opening weekend but fell off last week as audiences flocked to see the Seth Rogen-Zac Efron comedy. There comes a point in life when you have to let go of your youth and embrace adulthood. It happens at different times for different people, but one day you wake up and realize your life has changed. That’s the idea at the heart of “The Neighbors.” It’s a funny, charming comedy that has a lot going on. While the central couple is wrestling with their changing reality, they also face the very real threat of a fraternity that moved in next door. Nicholas Stoller, who also directed “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Get Him to the Greek” and “The Five Year Engagement,” has a great sense o…

Upfronts Week — CBS

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This is Upfronts week, the week when all the major networks unveil their fall schedules. Each day during the week I'll be taking a look at each network's new fall offerings and giving some cursory thoughts. Of course, we'll have months to parse the new an returning shows, and the lineup choices, once the fall season begins in September.

Network: CBS

Most Interesting Scheduling Decision: The most interesting thing CBS did this fall is agree to a deal with the NFL to host eight Thursday Night Football games. The NFL is the biggest ratings maker, and biggest money maker, in the fall, so it makes sense that networks would want that on the air. The network that needed it least was CBS, so naturally they went out and got it. That should be good for a solid win for Thursday nights through October, and also for a demographic win. As a result, Thursday anchor "The Big Bang Theory," CBS' highest performing comedy and one of the highest rated shows on TV, will start the …

Upfronts Week — ABC

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This is Upfronts week, the week when all the major networks unveil their fall schedules. Each day during the week I'll be taking a look at each network's new fall offerings and giving some cursory thoughts. Of course, we'll have months to parse the new an returning shows, and the lineup choices, once the fall season begins in September.

Network: ABC

Most Interesting Scheduling Decision: Thursday's at 8 p.m. has been a tough spot for ABC the past few seasons. They've launched high concept, high-profile new shows in the slot, and all of them have tanked. So this year, ABC decided to do something a little different. Their most high-profile new show comes from Shonda Rhimes, who runs ABC's successful dramas "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy." So it makes sense to give her a whole night, what was unexpected is that "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal" are each shifting up an hour to do it. Putting "Grey's Anatomy" i…

Upfronts Week — FOX

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This is Upfronts week, the week when all the major networks unveil their fall schedules. Each day during the week I'll be taking a look at each network's new fall offerings and giving some cursory thoughts. Of course, we'll have months to parse the new an returning shows, and the lineup choices, once the fall season begins in September.

Network: FOX

Most Interesting Scheduling Decision: If 2013-2014 was the year of comedies, then 2014-2015 feels like the year Networks are fleeing from comedies. Yesterday NBC unveiled a new fall schedule that broke up the two-hour Must-See TV comedy block on Thursdays. Today, FOX unveiled a fall schedule that is dumping its comedy block on Tuesday nights. Sure, "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" will still anchor the 9 p.m. hour, but now the night kicks off with the new reality show "Utopia." "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," the hottest new sitcom last year (and the Golden Globe winner) moves to Sunday nights. Wh…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 1

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In this space I look at the pilots and second episodes of new shows each season. This week we begin summer shows. Why, you ask? In Colorado Springs it's still snowing, how can it be summer. The simple fact is the regular TV year is ending, and it felt like the right time to transition. So here goes… for the next 10-15 weeks.

Monday Nights:
24: Live Another Day, Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX
About: "24" was a popular series on FOX that debuted in 2001 and lasted eight seasons. Hero Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) kicked butt, took no prisoners, and saved America from terrorists on countless occasions. His methods were brusk, violent, and sometimes dubious. So it seemed fitting that Jack exited TV just about the time we got a new Presidential administration in real life. But in this era where everything old is new again, FOX revived "24" for a limited, 12-episode run this summer. The pilot episode, which could be considered two as they ran in a long block, got the gang…

Upfronts Week — NBC

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This is Upfronts week, the week when all the major networks unveil their fall schedules. Each day during the week I'll be taking a look at each network's new fall offerings and giving some cursory thoughts. Of course, we'll have months to parse the new an returning shows, and the lineup choices, once the fall season begins in September.

Network: NBC

Most Interesting Scheduling Decision: For years NBC's mark has been its Must-See TV comedy lineup on Thursday nights. It's a proud tradition that reaches back in the 1980s. For a long time NBC's best and brightest shows have been on Thursdays. But that hasn't been the case now for quite some time. NBC has tried over the last decade to rebrand the night, and to find shows that find an audience. Last year's new crop of shows was built around a last ditch attempt to revitalize Thursdays as an NBC comedy night. It failed. This year, NBC has moved on. "The Biggest Loser" will open Thursdays at 8 p.m., an…

Overcoming Temptation

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"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” — Matthew 4:1-4

The Temptation of Jesus is a passage we're probably familiar with, but also one we probably tend to gloss over. One of the beautiful things about Jesus is that He experienced everything we experience — including temptation and even death — and He overcame them all. He provides an example for us as we seek to do the same. That’s what this passage is all about.

Jesus is about to begin His ministry. His whole reason for coming to earth is about to begin. But first, He is led to the desert, where He spends 40 days and 40 nights. This, I think, is the first thing this passage can teach us. Before we can live ou…

Now Playing

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

The Amazing Spiderman 2
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, and Campbell Scott
Synopsis: A decade ago, Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire delivered “Spider-Man 2.” It was largely regarded as the best of their films, and one of the best superhero films of the time. It made more than $115 million during its opening weekend, and was one of the top films of the year. But in this era of Hollywood, everything old is new again — even if it wasn’t that old. The problem for Sony — the studio that holds the rights to Spiderman — is that if they don’t make a new movie every couple years, they lose the rights. So in 2012, a decade after the original trilogy launched, Spiderman was reborn in “The Amazing Spiderman.” This new franchise, starring Andrew Garfield and directed by Marc Webb, offered its second outing to kick off the summer movie season. It portended to raise the stakes, the action and the excitement…

Competing Values

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"I will do what queens do. I will rule." — Daenerys, "Game of Thrones"

I remarked last week that what this season of "Game of Thrones" is setting up to be about is what people really think is worth fighting and dying for. Some seemed to have clearly identified that, but others' motives were less clear.

On Sunday's episode, we saw the deeper motivations that drive these characters, and in turn are driving the conflict and drama. What was perhaps more interesting is that the focus of the episode was on the ladies.

Earlier in the season it was revealed that Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) was behind the assassination of Joffrey, steering things in a new direction. But when he finally reached Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie), it became clear Littlefinger was behind the assassination that put the whole game in motion. He is driven by a lust for power, and more likely than not revenge.

But it was Lysa — who was last seen breast-feeding a grade schooler in season o…