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Showing posts from April, 2016

Upcoming Releases — May

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Though it is currently snowing and in the low 30s here, I am assured the Summer Movie season begins in seven days. We've made it to May folks. Let the good times role.

Friday, May 6:
Captain America: Civil War — This begins phase three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and things will never be the same. Our heroes will be squaring off, and I think more than feelings will get hurt. I'm #TeamIronman all the way, but I can't wait to see this first summer blockbuster.

Friday, May 13:
Money Monster — You don't often see George Clooney and Julia Roberts starring in a film directed by Jodie Foster during the summer movie season, but that's what we get here. Plus a film that promises to be a somewhat scathing look at our financial markets.

The Darkness — Summer is good for three things — action blockbusters, big, broad comedies, and low-budget horror films. This is that third option.

Friday, May 20:
The Nice Guys — This is the latest action/comedy from writer/director Shane Blac…

Now Playing

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


Everybody Wants Some
Starring: Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell, Wyatt Russell, and Zoey Deutch
Synopsis: This is the latest from writer/director Richard Linklater, and it's set at a small college four days prior to the start of the 1980-1981 school year. It follows the baseball players at the school, and the wild adventures they have as the year is about to start. It's about sports, it's about college, but mostly it's about a certain time in life at a certain point in our country's history. Linklater famously did something similar with "Dazed and Confused," which takes place on the last day of school for high school and junior high students in 1976. While "Everybody Wants Some" isn't a sequel in terms of story and characters, it feels connected in a lot of ways. It feels like another exploration of youth in a finite time period at the end of the 1970s. Perhaps drawn from Linklater&…

Top 25 Countdown — No. 2

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Today I continue my Top 25 countdown with my second favorite film of all time.

No. 2 — The Dark Knight (2008)
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman
Director: Christopher Nolan
Quote: "Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight." — Jim Gordon
About: I remember the first time I saw "The Dark Knight." I remember how stirred I was, how I felt, and how I wept at the end. That same feeling I had washes over me every time I watch "The Dark Knight," though I've seen it 100 or more times in the eight years since its release. It is a beautifully made film. Christopher Nolan is a gifted filmmaker. He sought out not to make a superhero film, but to explore what Batman would be like in a real, grounded world. He started that work …

Spring TV Roundup, Week 9

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We're almost to May, and the broadcast season is coming to an end. But new shows of Spring continue to bloom. In these weekly posts I look at the new scripted series of Spring, reviewing the pilot and second episode. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Containment, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW (Premiered April 19)
About: This is the latest new show for the CW, and it's late April premier and the fact everything else has been renewed on the CW isn't a hopeful sign. That being said, you never know about the CW. The series is being billed as a limited series event, but again if the ratings are good it will come back. The series is about a virus outbreak in Atlanta that threatens the city and, potentially, the world. But think "Contagion" here, not "The Walking Dead." This isn't the zombie apocalypse, just the apocalypse... maybe. I liked the pilot and I like the concept. The characters and acting wasn't partic…

2016 Broncos Season — The Search for a Signal Caller

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The Denver Broncos off-season is progressing, but there's still a lot of uncertainty about who plays quarterback. The NFL Draft begins Thursday, and that should bring some clarity. Until then, let's look at the options.

What we know: The Broncos have two quarterbacks on the roster — Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian. They are the defending champions and neither of the two quarterbacks that played last season — Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler — is still on the roster. That's not ideal. John Elway has said the Broncos will have at least three — possibly four — quarterbacks in camp, and all will compete to be the starter. So who will that third man be? There are a number of possibilities.

Option 1: Trade for Colin Kaepernick
About: The Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers had a deal in place for this a few weeks ago. In fact, Kaepernick came to Denver and met with John Elway about the team and fit. The problem is, the financials don't work. Denver won't pay more than $7 …

Five Questions GoT Season 6 needs to answer

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As I type we're 20 minutes away from the sixth season of "Game of Thrones." There's a lot that could happen but before we find out what will happen, here's five questions I want to see answered in season six.

1. What happens to Jon Snow? When we left, he wasn't in great shape. In fact, he appeared to be dead. HBO tried to sell that all summer and fall. But most of us simply can't — or won't — believe it. I expect we'll get some answers.

2. Can Theon's character be redeemed? For several seasons his storyline has been pathetic. In fact, as a character, he's kind of pathetic. But did his path to redemption begin in the season five finale? Time to find out.

3. What the heck is up with Bran? He was on a mission for four seasons to get out beyond the wall. He did it then was missing from season five. Supposedly he has a part to play, but I want to see what it is.

4. What's going to happen with Army of the Dead? Jon held them off at Hardhome, bu…

Five comedies worth watching

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There was a time in the 1990s when the sitcom was the premier format on TV. But now times have changed. There are more channels and content streams than ever for TV, but it's still hard to find diamonds in the rough. And on networks, the great and compelling shows are even harder to find.

Here's the list of my five favorite sitcoms right now.

1. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix
About: This comes from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the duo behind "30 Rock." And it's got that same sort of sensibility. It was originally developed for NBC, but they passed. Wisely Netflix didn't. The first season dropped last Spring and the second season dropped on April 15.

2. VEEP, HBO
About: This little comedy about a plucky vice president (Julia Louis Dreyfuss) trying to work her way to power has been consistently funny and consistently witty. This is the show we deserve for our current state of government. And it's part of the best night of TV, alongside "Game of Throne…

TV's Best Returns

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"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." - Cersei Lannister, "Game of Thrones"

On Sunday night, at 9 p.m. EST, the best show on television returns with its sixth season premier. It's fair to say no show on television is like "Game of Thrones." That's a credit to author George R.R. Martin, who created the world through a series of books, but also to showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

When the show debuted on April 17, 2011, I didn't know what to make of it. In fact, I gave the pilot a C-, and I was convinced the show wasn't going to be for me. I hadn't read the books, and I had trouble diving into the rich world and narrative.

Five years later, I can't believe there was ever a time when I thought "Game of Thrones" wasn't for me. By the end of that first season, I was hooked. And the show has done nothing but get better in its five seasons. As we prepare to embark on the si…

Now Playing

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

Confirmation
Starring: Wendell Pierce, Greg Kinnear, Kerry Washington, Jeffrey Wright, Mamie Gummer, and Zoe Lister-Jones
Synopsis: This is the latest original film from HBO, this one centering on the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas (Pierce) as he was trying to be appointed to the Supreme Court. His confirmation hearings are derailed by allegations of sexual harassment from a former co-worker, Anita Hill (Washington), and both are brought before the Senate to testify. The film chronicles the few days of hearings and the treatment of both Thomas and Hill. True stories like this have become incredibly popular. "The People v OJ Simpson" was the best new show of 2016, and this film follows a similar track in chronicling the real people involved and the sequence of events in front of and away from the cameras. We all know what happened here — Thomas was confirmed and continues as a Supreme Court justice to this day. But…

Top 25 Countdown — No. 3

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Today I continue my Top 25 countdown with a Coen Brothers classic.

No. 3 — No Country For Old Men (2007)
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Woody Harelson, and Kelly Macdonald
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Quote: "I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; him up in Plano and me out here. I think he's pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough'd never carried one; that's the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn't wear one up in Comanche County. I always liked to hear about the oldtimers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can't help but compare yourself against the oldtimers. Can't help but wonder how they would have operated these times. There was this boy I sent to the 'lectric chair at Huntsville Hill here a while …

Spring TV Roundup, Week 8

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Allegedly it's Spring. Here in Colorado, we've had snow since Friday. But it's supposed to be Spring. And the new shows keep coming. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Hunters, Mondays at 10 p.m. on SyFy (Premiered April 11)
About: This series is based on a novel and is about hunting aliens. I thought the pilot was boring and confusing. Worst of all, it lacked anything approaching compelling characters or story. The second episode attempted to bring more depth to the characters and plot. I still didn't find it compelling, but there is an argument to be made that it was slightly better. For fans of the book upon which this is based, or hardcore fans of the genre, this might be worth a watch each week. But I didn't think it was good, and I found it difficult to care about any of the characters or story. It feels like a low-budget miss.
Pilot Grad…

Summer Movie Preview, Pt. 2

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The summer movie season is almost upon us. It officially kicks off with the first weekend in May. In part one, I highlighted five films from the first two months of the summer season. Summer usually comes in like a Lion and goes out like a Lamb, with the quality and quantity of blockbusters sliding in July and, especially, in August. Will this year be the same?

July:
Ghostbusters, July 15
About: This isn't really a sequel or a re-make, more like a re-imagining. Paul Feig takes the reins here with an all female cast led by Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. Those three have collaborated on some great comedies, will "Ghostbusters" be the next? Right now I'm on the fence after a lackluster first trailer. Still, this has to be one of the most anticipated films of summer, right?

Star Trek Beyond, July 22
About: When J.J. Abrams re-booted "Star Trek," it was to rave reviews. People were split on the follow up, "Star Trek: Into Darkness." I liked it, but can…

Summer Movie Preview, Pt. 1

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Summer is coming. On the calendar it's usually Memorial Day Weekend (or late June if you're a purist). But at the movies, it's May 1. We have four months of summer blockbusters to fill those long, hot days. Over the next two days, I'll be highlighting 10 films that we can look forward to this Summer (five from May and June and five from July and August). First up is out early summer releases.

May:
Captain America: Civil War, May 6
About: This is the beginning of Marvel's Phase 3, and it promises to change the face of cinematic universe forever. This one pits out heroes against one-another after the government proposes restrictions, Iron Man agrees and Captain America rebels. Time to pick sides, but no matter what the fans win as this blockbuster kicks off summer 2016.

Money Monster, May 13
About: Most of the time summer movies break down into basic categories — action films, superhero films, R-rated comedies, and animated films. But "Money Monster" doesn'…

Revisiting a Classic

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"Here’s an answer to your question that I don’t think you’re going to like: the current crop of 18-25 year olds is the most politically apathetic generation in American history. In 1972, half of that age group voted. In the last election, 32%. Your generation is considerably less likely than any previous one to write or call public officials, attend rallies, or work on political campaigns. A man once said this, "decisions are made by those who show up." So are we failing you, or are you failing us? It's a little of both." — President Josiah Bartlett, "The West Wing"

"The West Wing" has been off the air for a decade, but it remains a vibrant part of culture in the United States. It was incredibly well written, it was well acted, and it got people thinking about the American government. There had never been a show like it before, and there hasn't been one since.

The series debuted in 1999 and ran for seven years, going off the air in 2006…

Now Playing

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

The Boss
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, and Peter Dinkledge
Synopsis: It would be easy to dismiss Melissa McCarthy. She long played a supporting character on TV, then got her own starring gig on “Mike & Molly,” a reasonably popular CBS sitcom that is frequently over looked and under appreciated. In between, she blew up as a crass, delightfully hilarious supporting player in “Bridesmaids.” Since then, McCarthy has played a number of similar characters in a variety of films. Some, like “Spy” and “The Heat,” have worked thanks to her talent and the ensemble. Others, like “Identity Thief” and “Tammy,” have fallen flat. Looking at the trailer for “The Boss,” it’s tempting to assume it falls into that latter category. But this is a sharply written film that makes the most of its cast in creating a delightful Spring comedy. McCarthy is a unique comedic talent. She can channel so many outlandish characters, but she does it in a…

A Legend Takes a Curtain Call

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"The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do." - Kobe Bryant

Twenty years. Five world titles. One team. That's only part of the legacy that Kobe Bryant leaves behind. He played in more than 1,300 NBA games, but last night was his final curtain call. And it was amazing. Despite a mediocre season, one that had many questioning if he'd hung on too long, Bryant played 42 minutes, took 50 shots, and scored 60 points before the home crowd. He delighted them. He reveled in the moment. And he went out on a high note.

I am 34 years old and, despite growing up there, only one California sports team has ever been near and dear to my heart. That's the Los Angeles Lakers. But being a Laker fan has been rough the past three years. The team has won 27, 21, and 17 games, respectively. But they still had Kobe, and therefore still had hope. Or at least the fans still had hope.

With Kobe leaving, it's the end of an e…

Top 25 Countdown — No. 4

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My Top 25 countdown continues with a classic, award-winning thriller.

No. 4 — The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Scott Glenn, and Ted Levine
Director: Jonathan Demme
Quote: "I've no plans to call on you, Clarice. The world is more interesting with you in it." — Hannibal Lecter
About: It's hard to say you love a movie that's as dark and complex as "The Silence of the Lambs," but that's the case. I remember the first time I saw it, when I was young, and the chills and terror it gave me. Hannibal Lecter, as played by the great Anthony Hopkins, was the most terrifying person I'd seen on screen. In a lot of ways, he still is. But now I've seen this movie dozens of times — including on the Big Screen as part of a classic rewind in 2014. And I still find it impeccably made and compelling, which is why it's on this list. It's also a classic of American cinema. It's one of only three films to win Best Pic…

Spring TV Roundup, Week 7

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We're in the midst of Spring, and like flowers new shows continue to bloom — or at least appear. In these weekly posts I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Spring. Don't see a new show listed below, check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
The Detour, Mondays at 9 p.m. on TBS (Premiered April 11)
About: This is the latest comedy series from TBS, starring Jason Jones and Natalie Zea as parents on a road trip that presents a few challenges. The series has drawn comparisons to the "Vacation" series, and for good reason. Jones and Zea are hilarious and strong in the lead roles and the first two episodes — which both aired Monday — set a pretty strong template for the show. There were gross out gags, funny sight gags, and a lot of other interesting aspects. Jones, who is a writer/producer for the show, is great in the lead role. The kids in the series — Ashley Gerasimovich and Liam Carroll — are great, too, and really help drive the show. Comedy can…

A Call to Fear

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"I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world, than stand with the world and be judged by God." — Grace Wesley, "God's Not Dead 2"

God's not dead, but rational arguments and discourse might be. At least that's how I felt watching the latest sermonic Christian film, "God's Not Dead 2." This is a direct sequel to the 2014 original which made hay at the Box Office and "ignited a movement." To me, it was a frustrating mix of beauty and fear-mongering.

I saw the original film, and though there were elements of beauty and honesty, I thought the basic premise played to the worst fears of many Christians — that we're being persecuted in our own country. I think that's a stretch. I think if a university professor threatened to fail a student unless he renounced his faith in God, the teacher would be out of a job. Sure, it made for a catchy exploration of what it means to stand for faith, but it didn't feel grounde…

A Light in the World

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"This church is here because Jesus wanted it here; the Lord wanted a church like this in a city like this called out under His voice to worship His name and bless the world He loves." — Tim McConnell

Yesterday we started a new series, Together, that focuses on God's call on us as the church, our unique gifts, and how we make up the Kingdom of God. Tim's thrust was that we need to be a light in our culture; that's part of the call in our lives and as a church.

It was an inspiring morning that focused on the idea that the church exists for a reason, and has a special charge in fulfilling the will of God in the world. This got me thinking about how Christians sometimes approach culture and the world — which is to stay away from it.

One of my favorite movies is "No Country For Old Men." A major part of the plot is the struggle of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who can't reconcile his idea of God and goodness with the struggle and evil he sees i…

2016 Broncos Season — Mock Drafting

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The NFL Draft is just a couple weeks away. Earlier this month I participated in the Mock Draft as the Broncos, trying to predict who the Broncos would be selected. Here's a look at the decisions I made in the two rounds we drafted.

Round 1, Pick 31: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State University
Why: The logic here was pretty simple. The Broncos have three areas of focus for the draft -- Defensive Line, Offensive Line and quarterback. At the time of the draft, it looked like adding Colin Kaepernick was a long shot (and I think it still is). So I went based on draft flow. A lot of the first round DL and OL targets were gone. So I went with a QB, selecting Cook, who was the best available. The Denver Post wrote a piece about the Broncos nabbing Cook, calling him possibly the most "Pro Ready" of the QB prospects. In addition, Jon Gruden said he thinks Cook is the best quarterback prospect in the draft. I think he could be a good fit for the Broncos.

Round 2, Pick 63: Chris Jones,…

Saving Kennedy

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“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.” — Stephen King, "11/22/63"

On Monday Hulu capped its original mini-series "11/22/63," based on the book by Stephen King. The series, which starred James Franco, was about a teacher in Maine in 2016 who has a chance to go back to 1960 and try to save President John F. Kennedy.

I was intrigued by the premise. I never read the book — though I've heard it was great — so throughout the eight weeks I was curious to see where it would go. Eventually, Jake (Franco) does, in deed, save JFK. But it comes at great personal cost. Then he heads back to 2016 to see the world re-made.

And it is. I won't ruin it for those who haven't seen it, but suffice it to say it's not the future he'd hoped to create. So he is confronted with a difficult choice of what to do next. Eventually he resets the timeline and returns to the future without doing anything. He thinks he's a failure. But he comes to realiz…

Now Playing

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

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, and Andrea Martin
Synopsis: Back in April 2002 a little comedy movie opened with just over $597,000 on 108 screens. That could easily have been near the end. Even in 2002, less than $1 million on opening weekend was a tough pill to swallow. But “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was a movie that had great word of mouth and quickly developed legs. The film remained in theaters for nearly a year – reporting weekend Box Office numbers through April 13, 2003 – and went on to make more than $240 million. It was a hit with fans, and one that has endured more than a decade later. On March 25, just shy of 14 years after the release of the original, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” picks up the story of Toula (Nia Vardalos), her husband Ian (John Corbett) and her crazy close Greek family. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is a Cinderella story of sorts. It’s about a little, personal film that found …

Top 25 Countdown — No. 5

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We're nearing the end of this countdown, and as we do we get the most sentimental choice on this list.

No. 5 — Simon Birch (1998)
Starring: Joe Mazzello, Ian Michael Smith, David Straithairn, Ashley Judd, and Oliver Platt
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Quote: "I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice, not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God. What faith I have, I owe to Simon Birch, the boy I grew up with in Gravedown, Maine." — Adult Joe Wentworth
About: When you're looking at a list of personal favorites, there are usually emotional ties to a film that get it on the list. There is something about it that stirs you. "Simon Birch" is probably the least pedigreed and least easily defended choice on this list from a cinematic stand point. Yet it's in the top five. In fact, at times in my life it's been …