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Showing posts from July, 2014

Now Playing

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

Wish I Was Here
Starring: Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Joey King, Pierce Gagnon, and Josh Gad
Synopsis: Zach Braff has a certain feel as a filmmaker. He showed that with his debut feature, “Garden State,” in 2004. But Braff is probably better known for his comedic roles, such as the part he played on the long-running sitcom, “Scrubs.” It’s been 10 years since “Garden State,” but Braff is back with another slice of life that looks at the complexity of family and faith. It feels like a natural companion piece while being a completely separate story. In “Garden State,” Braff was a young man, struggling to make it in Hollywood, who returned for his mother’s funeral to re-connect with his estranged family and friends. This story tackles someone who’s a bit further in life, but still grappling with those same struggles and ideas. Braff has a subtle, yet beautiful style. He mixes soundtracks that augment and emphasize the scree…

2014 Broncos Season, Training Camp

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"Oh, I most definitely feel pressure, but it's great pressure. It's good pressure. It's going to make me a better person and a better man and a better player for this team." — Montee Ball, Denver Broncos running back

So we're a week into the season, kind of. We're in the midst of training camp — that longish stretch between the start of practice and when a first game will finally take place. If you're counting at home, that game will finally be played a week from tomorrow, on Thursday, August 7.

So far there have been a lot of interesting things during camp. People have been excited to return. The Broncos played live in the stadium on Sunday. Rahim Moore's emotional return was beautiful to see. And then there was Peyton Manning leading everyone in a dance to "Rocky Top." In other words, it's clearly camp season.

We have yet to see how questions will be answered on the field, but there are still some questions about this team. It'…

Summer TV Roundup, Week Twelve

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In this space each week I review the new shows of summer. There have been many, but it's a mixed bag. I review the pilot and second episode of new shows. If you don't see a new show from summer listed here, please check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Food Fighters, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC
About: I'm just going to be upfront — I can't be impartial about Adam Richman, who gave the world "Man vs. Food," or food shows in general. I like seeing the dishes and thinking about what they might taste like. And I like Richman as a host. So It was pre-ordained that I would watch this show — which pits home cooks against celebrity chefs. They cook the home cooks recipes, then an impartial panel judges the final product and the home cooks hope to win money. It's an interesting twist on the cooking show premise, which is fun, and it's also about a lot of fascinating recipes. I was also excited that this show was fun, well put together, and fascinating. It could b…

AMC's Best New Show

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"It’s easy to lose sight of what’s great when it’s right in front of you. You get used to it." — Donna, "Halt and Catch Fire"

AMC is in a bit of a transitional period. "Breaking Bad" is over. "Mad Men" has just seven episodes left. "The Walking Dead" is a ratings giant, but it's also aging. And the network's attempts to launch the next wave have stumbled. "The Killing" shuffled off to Netflix, and soon the graveyard. "Hell on Wheels" works on Saturday nights, but that's about it. And Heir-Apparent to "Breaking Bad," "Low Winter Sun," was quickly one and done.

So the network needs to find itself again. In the Spring it offered "Turn," a Revolutionary War drama about a network of American spies. It is a fine show with a wealth of historical story to serve as a guide for seasons to come. It's first season earned decent ratings, and it is assured of returning next year for …

The threat to marriage

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"One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry." -Oscar Wilde
Christians spend a lot of time trying to uphold traditional marriage and defend it. There have been many bills in many states in recent years about the defense of marriage. Most often, these attempts are to prevent perversions of God's plan for marriage, including among same sex couples or polygamists. And to be sure, that is something worth standing up and fighting for.
But I think a larger threat is the idea of marriage itself, which has been under attack for some time. Just two weeks ago, two different shows aired on the same night that sought to depict what it means to be in a modern marriage. In both cases the shows center on heterosexual couples who've been married for several years, have stable homes, and are raising children. And in both shows they are bored and miserable.
In "Satisfaction," the couple re-ignites the flame of their marriage by being with a male esco…

The NFL's Double-Standard

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""I could understand this decision 20 or 30 years ago when people didn't understand the dynamics of domestic violence. This is a throwback to an earlier era." Judy Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families on Ray Rice suspension.

I love professional football. It is by far and away my favorite sport, and I look forward to the fall most during the year in no small part because I know the NFL will be back. But it's far from a perfect, especially in the way it deals with social issues.

This has been a hard week for football fans, especially Christian football fans. Tony Dungy, a great coach and a great man of faith, spent much of the week on the hot seat for answering a question. He said that, as a coach, he would not have drafted Michael Sam because of the distraction.

This caused instant blowback. Sam is the first openly gay player in the National Football League. Given our current cultural climate, you can't really say anything negative because of…

Upcoming Releases — August

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Summer's coming to a close. It's been a mediocre year at the Box Office, and usually August doesn't add to that legacy. However, this year August might be one of Summer's strongest months. Take a look at what's coming over the next five Fridays, and all the days in between.

Friday, August 1:
Guardians of the Galaxy — This hasn't been a good summer for action movies, or for superhero movies. "Guardians of the Galaxy" seems poised to change all that. It's the latest from Marvel Studios, and it looks like a fun, and funny, action adventure. I think this might end up being one of the best movies of the summer.

Get On Up — Chadwick Boseman is making a career of playing iconic African American figures in biopics. Last year it was Jackie Robinson, and now it's James Brown in this biopic "Get On Up." This feels like a more serious movie for Summer, but it also looks like it might be a good time.

Friday, August 8:
Into The Storm — It's be…

Now Playing

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

The Purge: Anarchy
Starring: Frank Grillo, Zack Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, and Michael K. Williams
Synopsis: This is the follow-up to the successful film from last summer, "The Purge." This continues the world and the idea introduced in "The Purge." It's set in the future where the New Founding Fathers, in an effort to re-make America, created a night where all crime, including murder, is legal for 12 hours. It's a fascinating concept that yields a lot of possible directions in creating a new horror franchise. I doubt this will be the last of these films to make its way to the theater. What I liked about the second film — and chronicled in an earlier blog post — is the way it continues to explore larger social and political themes. This film does that a lot more than the first one, while at the same time delivering all the beats you'd expect from a film like this. The actors do well here, and writer-dir…

2014 Broncos Season, The Saga Begins

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"Pat Bowlen's leadership has been critical to the success of the Broncos and the entire NFL. From building a championship team that is a pillar of the community to his important work for the league on television and labor matters, Pat's love of the game drove him and we have all benefited from his passion and wisdom." — Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

Today, the Denver Broncos open training camp, officially kicking off the 2014 season. There is a lot to talk about, but first I have to note that the season gets off on a sad note. Pat Bowlen, Broncos owner, had to step down from his day-to-day duties with the team because of poor health.

Bowlen has owned the Broncos since 1984, and he's been a driving force in their success. He's been a great owner, and a great ambassador for the franchise. My hope is that the Broncos will use this as fuel this season as they try to make a run at a title. Bowlen once famously held up the Lombardi trophy and said it was for Joh…

Summer TV Roundup, Week Eleven

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Here's a look at the new shows rolling out this summer. In this weekly space I review the pilot and second episode of new shows, of which there have been many. If you don't see a new show below, please check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Seed, Mondays at 9 p.m. on the CW
About: This is a TV show that aims to mine some of the territory covered in "Delivery Man." It's about a slacker who donated to a sperm bank and then, years later, was found by some of the children he fathered. Now he's trying to be involved, at least to some extent, in the lives of the kids and their parents. But where as in "Delivery Man" Vince Vaughn's character used the experience to help in practical ways and to grow up a bit himself, that doesn't seem to be the focus of "Seed." The pilot was mildly amusing in spots, though not really compelling. The second episode felt like a giant step backwards. It wasn't funny or well-executed, and if anything the cen…

A Televised Opportunity to Wallow

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"I think I'm supposed to stay broken, maybe we all are." — Laurie, "The Leftovers"

"The Leftovers" is HBO's high-concept new show. It's clear the network wants it to succeed, but it's also clear that the jury is still out. HBO has, historically, renewed shows on the eve of their premier, or just after the first episode. It's an early sign of confidence, and usually helps push viewers to the show. Even if it doesn't really continue — like "Luck," which was renewed for a second season and cancelled before that season aired.

This is a precarious time for HBO. "Game of Thrones" is incredible, and is humming along toward season five. But if you look at the rest of the network's lineup, it's in flux. "True Blood," currently dominating Sunday night cable ratings, is ending in a few weeks. "The Newsroom," HBO's high-profile dalliance with Aaron Sorkin, has had two middling seasons in the…

Natural Beauty

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"All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." — 1 John 1:3

There are a lot of ways that people feel closer to God. One of them is through nature. I have heard many people talk about interacting with the natural beauty of the world, and feeling closer to the Creator, and more in awe of His creations.

That hasn't really been the case for me. I am not a big nature person, though I do appreciate the natural wonder and beauty. But on Sunday, as I took a slow train ride up and down Pike's Peak, I started to appreciate what speaks to people in those remote, peaceful places.

There was something beautiful and meaningful about the quiet mountain spaces. I saw lakes, forests, green space, and incredible mountain views. It was a unique experience — much like last year when I saw the Grand Canyon — and it was something unexpected.

Being in that place, especially at the summit when you could see for miles in each direction, it was impossible…

The End Draws Near...

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"Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains." — Matthew 24: 4-8

A few weeks ago "Entertainment Weekly" had a feature on the new "Mad Max" movie. Well, it was partially on the new movie, and partially on apocalypse films in general. One thing I found surprising and fascinating was the timeline of movies, and the exponential rise in such films in the last 20 years. When you see it mapped out, as it was there, it's staggering.

That leads to an inevitable question of why?

I think it comes down to two things. First, we are obsessed with the end, and endings in general. A…

Politics of the 'Purge'

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"Listen to me very carefully, my friend: killing Shaw will not bring you peace." — Professor Charles Xavier, "X-Men: First Class"

"Peace was never an option." — Eric Lensherr, "X-Men: First Class"

The newest horror movie franchise is "The Purge." The first film debut last summer, and it yielded not only a fascinating premise but seemingly endless possibilities. You see, it's a horror movie that doesn't need a big bad — like a Freddy Kruger or Jason Voorhies — because it recognizes the ugliest, and most dangerous thing in the world is mankind in general.

The film was based on a simple premise: In the future, to save America, the "New Founding Fathers" created The Purge, a night were all crime, including murder, is legal for 12 hours. The result is a more economically sound country, and a country with a much lower crime rate. That all sounds great, but it comes with a cost.

The first film really sought to explore the w…

Now Playing

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Here's the review of the new movie I saw this week.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Starring: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, and Keri Russell
Synopsis: “Planet of the Apes” has been a part of our cultural landscape for a long time. It was popular in the 1970s, then got a second chance at life in 2001 with a Tim Burton re-boot.
While that re-boot didn’t take, 10 years later Hollywood tried it again. In 2011 “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” put the franchise front-and-center by taking it back in time. In truth, it wasn’t so much a re-boot or a sequel as it was a prequel. The film sought to explore the origin story so we could learn just how Apes came to talk and then rule the world. Making the most of new movie technology and a fresh take on the subject matter, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” turned out to be a surprise hit that re-booted the franchise. Three summers later “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” picks up that ball and looks to run with it. Seeing as how this conti…

The fuss about hashtags

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"We don’t consider a hashtag when we’re writing a title." — Shonda Rhimes, TV producer

This post might make me seem sort of like a grumpy old man. I guess I'll have to be fine with that. But I don't get this fascination with attaching everything to Twitter.

Sure, I have a Twitter account. I've even been known to post links to this blog on my Twitter account. I like reading some of the information and I think it's a fine Social Media outlet. Unlike much of the world, though, I'm not obsessed with it.

Yesterday, during the annual press tour, Shonda Rhimes, the creator of shows like "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal," and the new "How To Get Away With Murder," was asked why she created a show with a title that didn't work easily as a hashtag. Her response to that question — which drew applause from a number of reporters in the room — is the quote above.

Rhimes might be in the minority, though. Just try watching shows — particu…