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Showing posts from October, 2014

Upcoming Releases — November

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October is floating out the door in a haze of costumes and sugar tonight. But never fear, November is here. It has two of the most anticipated films of the year — Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" and the next installment in the "Hunger Games" series. Time to get excited.

Friday, November 7:
Interstellar — This is the latest from Christopher Nolan, and stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, among others. It looks like a fascinating film that tackles a number of different issues, including our impending environmental crisis and time travel. I'm all in on this movie.

Big Hero 6 — This is the latest animated film, this one based on a Marvel property. It looks like it will appeal to kids, but I'm not sure it's got a wide ranging audience.

Jessabelle — Out monthly horror movie release. Why? Because these movies are cheap to produce and usually turn a profit.

The Theory of Everything (Limited) — This is a biopic on Stephen Hawking. It looks like a …

Now Playing

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

Best of Me
Starring: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, and Gerald McRaney
Synopsis: Nicholas Sparks has been a prodigious writer when it comes to modern romance stories, and nearly all of them find their way to the screen. Sure, they are highly formulaic, but often they have a niche audience, too. The problem isn’t who is going to watch them, but if there’s any mystery left. Sparks’ films always follow the same model, and that usually includes the death of at least one major character. They are romance stories, yes, but not everyone gets a happy ending. “Best of Me” follows that model to perfection. It’s a story of romance, but it doesn’t mean everyone gets a happy ending. But after years of seeing these stories play out on the big screen, it’s fair to wonder if audiences have grown weary of them. That seems to be the case as “Best of Me,” despite being well put together, didn’t fare well at the Box Office. There is nothing wrong wi…

NFL Picks, Week Nine

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It’s time for the week nine picks, which includes the annual Patriots-Broncos battle. Last week Lindsay pulled ahead again, despite me having a decent week. We remain close entering the second half of the season. Lindsay’s picks are in brackets.

Week Nine:
Saints -2.5 Over Panthers (Saints)
Jaguars +11.5 Over Bengals (Bengals)
Browns -6.5 Over Buccaneers (Browns)
Cardinals +4.5 Over Cowboys (Cowboys)
Jets +9.5 Over Chiefs (Chiefs)
Chargers +1.5 Over Dolphins (Chargers)
Washington +1.5 Over Vikings (Washington)
Texans +2.5 Over Eagles (Eagles)
Rams +.95 Over 49ers (49ers)
Broncos -3.5 Over Patriots (Broncos)
Raiders +14.5 Over Seahawks (Seahawks)
Ravens +.5 Over Steelers (Steelers)
Colts -3.5 Over Giants (Colts)

Last Week: 9-6
Lindsay: 10-5

Season: 64-58
Lindsay: 65-57

Fall TV Roundup, Week Nine

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In these weekly posts I review the new shows on TV. I give grades for the pilot and second episode of each of the new shows this fall. If you don't see a new show below, please check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on DirecTV (Premiered October 14)
About: This is an original sitcom from DirecTV based on the play by Peter Ackerman. It's about a series of misadventures based on the premise that nothing good happens after midnight. Apparently the scripts for this show were written after midnight, too. There is nothing good about the show. The episodes are short, oddly paced, strangely constructed, and lacking in jokes. It appears to be trying to move in real time with various stories, but it's hard to follow and not interesting enough to compel you to make the effort. Everyone is getting into original programming now, and DirecTV has launched several series this fall. This is by far the worst.
Pilot Grade: F
Secon…

Dead Meat

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“Good news is you're not dead yet.” – Gareth, “The Walking Dead”

“The Walking Dead” has never been a subtle show. It’s not exactly known for its quiet moments and subtle character exploration, though I contend it has that. It is a show that pushes the envelope in all sorts of ways.

Beginning at the end of last season, when our heroes arrived at Terminus, it was easy to sense something foreboding was about to happen. In the season premiere, the worst fears were realized. The people at Terminus had snapped and were, in fact, eating other survivors. It was a grim fate that our heroes narrowly avoided.

In the woods, after reaching safety, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) looked back at the smoke in the distance coming from Terminus and felt they needed to go back and be sure that everyone was dead. The other survivors convinced him that was folly. It was no longer their problem and, besides, it was doubtful anyone could have survived all that. Rick wasn’t so sure, but he acquiesced to the will …

A Midseason NFL Assessment

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The NFL finishes week eight tonight, so it's time to revisit the standings and make the mid-season playoff picks.

Who would have thought the Cowboys would be favorites in the NFC, or that the Arizona Cardinals would be in the catbird seat in the NFC West. That's what our 2014 NFL season has been like.

NFC:
West — The Seattle Seahawks aren't the team they were last year, and the San Francisco 49ers have been ravaged by injuries. Quietly, the Cardinals have accumulated a 6-1 record and lead the division. But the Cardinals still have to play three games with the 49ers and Seahawks.

North — The Detroit Lions have been good in close games, and lead the division at 6-2 despite some big injuries. They'll be healthier following a bye, but the Green Bay Packers are lurking. The Chicago Bears, however, have been the season's biggest disappointment.

South — Four teams under .500. This is the worst division. It seems like it's down to the Saints, a frisky 3-4, and the Carolin…

2014 Broncos Season, Week Eight

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It’s time for our Broncos recap for the week. Another week, another huge win for the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
Week Eight: Broncos 35, San Diego Chargers 21 Season Record: 6-1 (5-0 Home) Key Play: In the opening drive of the third quarter, leading 14-7, Broncos’ cornerback Chris Harris broke on a ball from Phillip Rivers, picking it off. On the ensuing drive, Peyton Manning connected with Emmanuel Sanders on his third touchdown pass of the night, building a 14-point lead. The Broncos maintained that lead throughout the end of the game.
Recap: The Broncos had one home loss last season, the only AFC West loss of Manning’s Bronco career. It came on a Thursday night game against the Chargers deep in the season. The Broncos looked like they were determined not to let that happen again, and along the way they increased their division lead and maintained the top spot in the conference. In addition, with a balance of explosive offense and a strong defense, the Broncos are beginning to look like the favo…

NFL Picks, Week Eight

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It was a big week last week as I caught back up to Lindsay. Time to pull ahead. Lindsay's picks are in brackets.

Week Eight:
Broncos -7.5 Over Chargers (Broncos)
Lions -3.5 Over Falcons (Lions)
Bills +2.5 Over Jets (Bills)
Bears +6.5 Over Patriots (Patriots)
Ravens +1.5 Over Bengals (Bengals)
Texans -.5 Over Titans (Texans)
Chiefs -6.5 Over Rams (Chiefs)
Dolphins -5.5 Over Jaguars (Jaguars)
Vikings +2.5 Over Buccaneers (Vikings)
Panthers +4.5 Over Seahawks (Seahawks)
Cardinals -2.5 Over Eagles (Cardinals)
Browns -7.5 Over Raiders (Browns)
Colts -2.5 Over Steelers (Colts)
Packers +1.5 Over Saints (Saints)
Cowboys -9.5 Over Washington (Cowboys)

Last Week: 6-9
Lindsay: 4-11

Season: 55-52
Lindsay: 55-52

Now Playing

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

Fury
Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LeBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, and Jon Bernthal
Synopsis: William Sherman — the Union Army general who marched through the South near the end of the Civil War, leaving a path of destruction in his wake — once said, “War is hell.” Often, though, war movies have a tendency to soft-pedal certain aspects. Now that might sound like a bit of an overstatement, and perhaps it is, but many of our war movies focus on the nobility of the cause, the heart of the men or the importance of the objective. That’s not a wrong way to go, but it’s not the whole story. War is, indeed, hell — and not just for those who are caught in its wake. War takes a mental toll on the men that fight it, no matter the outcome. David Ayer seems interested in this idea with his latest film, “Fury.” What makes it different is the action in the tanks — something I’ve never seen done quite like this — and the emphasis on the fact no …

Fall TV Roundup, Week Eight

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The fall TV season is eight weeks in and no new shows have been cancelled. That doesn't mean there's been lots of hits, it just means networks are being a bit more patient. Interesting to see how this will play out. On another note, the CW has quietly won the fall. It debuted just two new shows, but both have been pretty good and both have been picked up for full seasons. Yes, it's been that kind of start to the new season.

Monday Nights:
Jane the Virgin, Mondays at 9 p.m. on the CW (Premiered October 13)
About: This is one of the craziest concepts on TV. A young woman, who's been saving herself for marriage, is accidentally inseminated by her doctor. On top of that, there is all kinds of weird intrigue and family drama. But this is also one of the most watchable new shows of the fall. Star Gina Rodriguez is a great grounding force, and the show really plays up the tele novella themes. Some have suggested it's great family entertainment, but I wouldn't go that …

Actions and Consequences

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"We were being human beings." — Gareth, "The Walking Dead"

These last two weeks I've been reminded how glad I am to have "The Walking Dead" back on the air. Some may love it for the zombie kills and the action, but I love how it makes me think about the world, about humanity, and about life. I think that's what the writers and producers have loved about making the show the past few seasons, too.

The world of "The Walking Dead" is brutal. Forget zombies, there are a million things that can kill you. However, as has been said before, the most dangerous animal is man. It was right there up front when the preacher (Seth Gilliam) says that people are almost as dangerous as walkers, to which Daryl (Norman Reedus) replies that people are more dangerous.

Later in the episode, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) has some words for Carl (Chandler Riggs) about the nature of the world. He says, "You are not safe, no matter people are around, or how clear th…

2014 Broncos Season, Week Seven

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It's time for the weekly Broncos' recap. This one has a lot to celebrate as the Broncos pounded the 49ers, moved into first place in the AFC West, and saw Peyton Manning set the all time touchdown record.

Week Seven: Broncos 42, San Francisco 49ers 17
Season Record: 5-1 (4-0 Home)
Key Play: In the third quarter, leading 21-10, Peyton Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas on a 40-yard touchdown strike. The Broncos would add two more touchdowns in the third quarter — both on runs from Ronnie Hillman — to take a 42-10 lead and salt the game away.

Recap: There's not much more you could ask for in a game than what the Broncos delivered on Sunday night. Peyton Manning set the record for most touchdown passes all time. DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller pounded Colin Kaepernick all night. The Broncos posted 42 points in three quarters, and played their most complete team game. And, of course, with the Chargers' loss in the afternoon, the Broncos moved into sole possession of fir…

'Boardwalk' of broken dreams

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"All a dream to begin with. Ain't nobody ever been free." — Chalky White, "Boardwalk Empire"

"Boardwalk Empire," once HBO's shinning hope for the future, is fast moving toward it's resolution. The show is one episode away from its series finale, and that end is starting to take shape. And I don't think it'll be a happy ending.

One of the things that I loved about "The Godfather" was the way it showed Michael Corleone fighting against the pull of his family. There was tension about who he wanted to be and how he wanted to live. But he was devoted to his family, and that pull ended up drawing him fully into that world. There is a beautiful moment when Michael is beside his father's hospital bed, when he says "I'm with you now" to his father. That's not only a statement about his physical proximity, but the decision he's made to abandon his dreams and do what must be done to protect his family.

What I …

A Trip to the North Pole

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I have lived in Colorado for almost two and a half years, but there are still plenty of things I haven't done and seen. One of those is visiting the North Pole, which is located just about 10 miles west of the city into the mountains.

With Lindsay's family in town, including her niece and nephew, it was a good time to go and check it out. And what we found was more than I expected.

Nestled in the mountains, The North Pole is deceptively large. As we learned on one of the rides, it spans 27 acres. It's also a lot more jam-packed with fun than I had envisioned.

Prior to going, I figured you'd get to meet Santa, there would be some shops, and a couple rides. What it actually has is tons of rides, lots of shops, a chance to meet Santa, and a great atmosphere. As Lindsay said, it reminds one of what theme parks were like 50 years ago. And I gather that's intentional.

So it was a day where we got to meet Santa with the kids, play in the skee-ball gallery, and I got a tu…

The Value of Life

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“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” - Joseph Campbell

I saw the movie "Fury" on Friday afternoon. For those not familiar, it is a harrowing tale of a tank unit during World War II. I have lots of thoughts on the film and on how it changes what we typically see from the genre, which I'll get to in a future post.

What sticks with me most from the screening was how it made me feel. I live in a military town. I am proud to live in a military town and grateful for all the freedoms our fighting men and women afford me. I was happy to see a unit of soldiers attend the screening of "Fury." Then the movie started.

"Fury" is not a subtle movie. The violence is fast, furious, and disturbing. This is a darker take on a war movie. And what made it darker, for me, was the loud applause, cheering, and clapping whenever someone was killed, which was often. Toward the …

Now Playing

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

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Starring: Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, and Ed Oxenbould
Synopsis: This film, based on a popular children's book, tells the story of two days. The first is a terrible day had by Alexander (Oxenbould). The second is the horrible day had by the rest of his family, possibly because of Alexander's birthday wish, that brings the family closer. It's a cute little family film filled with PG hijinks and plenty of lessons learned. It's just 81 minutes, though at times that feels too long. But, basically, this is a film that does what you'd expect. It's aimed at kids, and meant to offer a family-friendly option at the Box Office, something that's been in short supply in 2014. It's not an animated film, but it has that kind of feel. The performances are all fine and the adult stars — Carell and Garner — do most of the heavy lifting here. This is a lig…

America's Team

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On Tuesday the results of a new Harris Poll were released and there is a new team with the title of America's Team — the Denver Broncos.

For years, America's Team has been the title of the Dallas Cowboys, a team with a rich tradition and a national following. But that hasn't been the case for more than a decade. The Cowboys haven't gone far in the post season since the 1990s, and the team hasn't even been able to finish better than 8-8 for more than three years. They've been the definition of mediocrity and missed opportunities.

Ironically, on Sunday the Cowboys posted their first signature win in some time — a 30-23 beating of the reigning Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle. The Cowboys have the league's top rusher in DeMarco Murray — an odds-on favorite to win NFL MVP at this point — and are tied for the league's best record at 5-1. In short, this looks like the year of the Cowboy's resurgence.

But it was the Broncos — a team that l…

NFL Picks, Week Seven

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Last week's picks were an improvement, but I'm still trailing Lindsay. Will this be the week I draw even? One can only hope. Lindsay's picks are in brackets.

Week Seven:
Patriots -9.5 Over Jets (Patriots)
Ravens -6.5 Over Falcons (Ravens)
Bills -4.5 Over Vikings (Bills)
Bears -3.5 Over Dolphins (Bears)
Bengals +2.5 Over Colts (Colts)
Browns -4.5 Over Jaguars (Browns)
Lions -2.5 Over Saints (Lions)
Panthers +6.5 Over Packers (Panthers)
Titans +4.5 Over Washington (Washington)
Seahawks -6.5 Over Rams (Seahawks)
Chargers -4.5 Over Chiefs (Chargers)
Cowboys -6.5 Over Giants (Giants)
Cardinals -3.5 Over Raiders (Cardinals)
Broncos -6.5 Over 49ers (Broncos)
Texans +3.5 Over Steelers (Texans)

Last Week: 10-5
Lindsay: 9-6

Season: 49-43
Lindsay: 51-41

Fall TV Roundup, Week Six

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Fall is in full swing, which means plenty of new shows. But how many are good? That's always the question. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new shows. If you don't see a new show below, please check previous weeks!


Monday Nights:
Jane The Virgin, Mondays at 9 p.m. on the CW (Premiered October 13)
About: This is an American adaptation of a tele novella. It's about a woman who is trying to make her way in life and saving herself for marriage that is accidentally inseminated by her doctor and ends up pregnant. That seems like a wild concept, and it is, but this show was surprisingly sweet and thoughtful. Some early reviews called this the best in family entertainment. I guess by 2014 network standards, that might be true. But I'm not sure this is a great show for kids and teens — though it is on the younger-skewing CW network. Still, there are some interesting ideas to be mined here. And it's interesting to see the issue of an unwanted p…

2014 Broncos Season, Week Six

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The Broncos returned to the New York, the site of their Super Fiasco last February, and came away with a win. It wasn't incredible, but it was a win.

Week Six: Broncos 31, New York Jets 17
Season Record: 4-1 (3-0 Home)
Key Play: In the fourth quarter, with less than a minute left and the Broncos nursing a seven point lead, Von Miller went to work. He pressured Geno Smith into an incomplete on first down and combined with Derek Wolfe for a sack on second down. On third down, Smith sailed a ball that was picked off by Aqib Talib, who returned it for a touchdown with 15 seconds left to ice the game.

Recap: The Broncos won the game. The team is 4-1. The team is on track. But that doesn't mean they look great. At this point, it's time to accept that this isn't the same dominant Broncos team that made it to the Super Bowl last season.That doesn't mean the Broncos can't get back to the Super Bowl. The team is talented and, frankly, there aren't really any dominant te…

Return of the Dead

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"We've all done the worst kinds of things just to stay alive. But we can still come back. We're not too far gone. We get to come back. I know... we all can change." — Rick, "The Walking Dead"

When "The Walking Dead" signed out for the season last Spring, our heroes were left in a precarious situation. They had spent the back half of the season realizing just how brutal the world is, in search of a safe harbor, and trying to discover who they were meant to be.

Some were critical of that approach. Some complained about the pacing of the final eight episodes of the season. I loved it. The back half of the season was a deep dive into these characters and the nature of man. It was slow and, at times, brutal. But it was fascinating.

But none of that prepared us for where the season would end up — with our heroes finally arriving at Terminus, a sanctuary that loomed as a beacon of hope, only to end up trapped in a train car. The impression given was tha…

Homeland Returns — Should We Care?

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"It's not all about you Carrie." — Quinn, "Homeland"

My wife and I have been watching a lot of new shows. One of those is the sitcom "Selfie," which is loosely based on "My Fair Lady." My wife liked the pilot quite a bit. I thought it was OK. When watching the second episode, it felt like the show was back to square one.

I looked at my wife and suggested it was the kind of story that might have been better as a 90-minute romantic comedy movie. She agreed. Sometimes shows get sold based on a great premise, but there is a limit to how long that can be stretched.

That same idea could be applied to "Homeland," which started with a flourish four seasons ago. But that's probably where it should have ended. It was about a brilliant, but flawed CIA analyst who had her suspicions about the intentions of a solider that spent eight years in captivity before returning home.

That first season was superb, but even in that it stretched credu…

Now Playing

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

Gone Girl
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, and Casey Wilson
Synopsis: Adapting a popular novel is tricky. Many have tried, and few have succeeded. But then again, few are David Fincher. “Gone Girl” isn’t Fincher’s first foray into popular fiction, but it is one of the most anticipated films of the year. Everything about “Gone Girl” has been dissected — from potential plot changes to the casting of Ben Affleck. But the finished product is nothing sort of a crime noir worthy of its director. “Gone Girl” might not end up being the best film of the year, but it’s certainly the best mainstream release so far. It features strong performances, an engrossing story and the personal touches of a fantastic auteur. “Gone Girl” is the kind of movie where you can’t really discuss much of the plot without giving it away. It’s a mystery. What happened to Amy Dunne, and why? Those that…

NFL Picks, Week Six

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Last week was another rough one. Lindsay has pulled out to a three pick lead through five weeks. Time for the comeback. Lindsay's picks are in brackets.

Week Six:
Colts -2.5 Over Texans (Colts)
Bills +3.5 Over Patriots (Patriots)
Bengals -7.5 Over Panthers (Bengals)
Browns -1.5 Over Steelers (Browns)
Broncos -8.5 Over Jets (Broncos)
Lions -1.5 Over Vikings (Lions)
Packers -3.5 Over Dolphins (Packers)
Jaguars +6.5 Over Titans (Jaguars)
Buccaneers +3.5 Over Ravens (Buccaneers)
Chargers -7.5 Over Raiders (Chargers)
Bears +3.5 Over Falcons (Bears)
Cowboys +7.5 Over Seahawks (Seahawks)
Cardinals -3.5 Over Washington (Cardinals)
Eagles -2.5 Over Giants (Giants)
49ers -3.5 Over Rams (49ers)

Last Week: 7-8
Lindsay: 9-6

Season: 39-38
Lindsay: 42-35

Fall TV Roundup, Week Five

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In these weekly posts I review all the new shows I saw this week. I offer grades and reviews for the pilots and second episodes of new shows. If you don't see a new show listed below, please check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Manhattan Love Story, Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on ABC (Premiered September 30)
About: This new sitcom — which is paired with the interesting "Selfie" — is another love story. The twist is that you can hear the internal thoughts of the lead characters. In the pilot they meet, fight, come together, fight, and come together again. It's pretty boilerplate stuff. And the internal monologue feels like a set of cliches strung together into a script. In other words, this show was a hot mess. There wasn't a lot to like here. I didn't love the "Selfie" pilot, but I think there's potential. With "Manhattan Love Story," I don't even really see any potential.
Pilot Grade: D

NCIS: New Orleans, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS (Pre…