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Showing posts from August, 2016

Superhero Movie Countdown — No. 1

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As we come to the end of summer, we come to the end of my superhero movie countdown.

No. 1 — The Dark Knight (2008)
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, and Maggie Gyllenhaal
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." — Lt. Jim Gordon
About: When you're a film that forces the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to change it's practices, that's something to take notice of. "The Dark Knight" was easily the best film in 2008, and of the first decade of the 21st Century. But it didn't get nominated for Best Picture. The outcry was so great, that the Academy changed the rules regarding Best Picture nominees the next year. That's cinematic power. But beyond that, this is a b…

Upcoming Movie Releases, September

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We're into September. The summer blockbusters are past, but we're going to start seeing some fascinating movies of substance. Fall movie season is upon us.

Friday, September 2:
Light Between Oceans - In the past, Labor Day weekend has been a dumping ground of cheap horror and action films. That was last weekend. This Labor Day, we get a prestige drama starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander. Prepare to cry.

Morgan - This is a corporate thriller that's kind of flown under the radar. I don't know what to make of that, but I like the cast and, potentially, the idea.

Friday, September 9:
Sully - Tom Hanks stars as the pilot who performed the Miracle on the Hudson. This could, potentially, be one of the best releases of the early fall.

Wild Life - This is the first animated movie of the fall. It's set on an island with some colorful characters, but I just can't get too excited.

When the Bough Breaks - We've seen this movie 100 times. This time it's Morris …

Summer TV Roundup, Week 14

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The summer TV season is finally over. This is the last of the Summer TV Roundups. Next week I'll preview fall and then begin our fall roundups! But for now, you know the drill. I review the pilot and second episode of new shows this summer. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Wednesday Nights:
Gommorah, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Sundance (Premiered August 24)
About
: The latest show on Sundance is the Italian import "Gommorah," which is a series about organized crime. The first two episodes debuted on Wednesday in a two and a half hour block. It is an interesting series and has some potential to be compelling. It's also completely subtitled, violent, and felt overly long. I liked the first two episodes to a certain degree, but not enough to fully invest in the story. It took a bit of time in the first hour to even figure out which of the characters would be key. Still, for those who like mob stories and those who want something with a little more…

2016 Broncos Season - Roster Projections

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We're through three pre-season games, and the Broncos are still at 90 men on the roster. The first cut down day (to get to 75) is tomorrow, with the Broncos cutting to 53 by Saturday. Here's my latest projection for the final 53, which includes some big changes.

QB: (2)
* Trevor Siemian
* Paxton Lynch
Mark Sanchez didn't play in the third pre-season game, and he looked poor in the second game. The Broncos save $3.5 million, a draft pick, and a roster spot letting him go. If he's not going to be the starter, I think that's the way they go.

RB: (3)
* CJ Anderson
* Devontae Booker
* Ronnie Hillman
Many believe Hillman is on the block, and it wouldn't shock me if he was cut in favor of Kapri Bibbs. But Booker has been uneven, and Hillman is a proven commodity. I think Hillman makes the final cut.

FB: (2)
* Andy Janovich
* Juwan Thompson
Janovich is a lock for the roster, but the question has been Thompson. I have been on the fence, but I think the Broncos like the de…

2016 Broncos Season — Pre-Season Week 3

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The Broncos have likely seen all they're going to see of the starters until Thursday, September 8.

Pre-Season Week 3: Broncos 17, Los Angeles Rams 9
Pre-Season Record: 2-1 (1-1 home)
Key Play: In the third quarter, with just under seven minutes left, Ronnie Hillman carried the ball in from seven yards out to give the Broncos at 17-9 lead.

Recap: The third pre-season game is typically a dress rehearsal, and if that's the case, the Broncos looked strong. After a slow start on offense, Trevor Siemian got things going late in the first half. The Broncos were able to get an offensive touchdown, passing no less, and never let it go. The defense looked strong and we saw all we needed to see from the first string. Meanwhile, Paxton Lynch continues to develop and the race for positions seems to be coming into view.

Quarterback Competition:
* Trevor Siemian — 10-for-17, 122 yards, one touchdown and one interception
* Paxton Lynch — 6-for-13 for 57 yards
* Mark Sanchez — DNP
It looks like the c…

Best of the Century, Pt. 2

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On Tuesday the BBC released a list of the 100 best films of the 21st Century so far. It was a list of movies from around the world and compiled by critics. Yesterday I took a look at the movies that were included on the list. Today, I'm going to offer five movies that I think should have been on the list.

1. Doubt (2008)
About: This movie, based on a stage play from John Patrick Shanley, was nominated for many Academy Awards but didn't win much. All four principal actors, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis were nominated for Academy Awards, and several should have won. This is a film that asks a lot of hard questions, features some fantastic performances and probably should have been the Best Picture winner. It should have been one of the films that made the list.

2. Up In The Air (2009)
About: Jason Reitman has faded from view a bit in recent years with his past few releases, but no director started stronger than Reitman. His first three movies wer…

Best of the Century, Pt. 1

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On Tuesday, the BBC released a list of the 100 best films released in the 21st Century at this point. That includes movies released from 2000-to present. It was compiled by a list of critics voting and the overall list is quite surprising.

Today and tomorrow I'm going to look at the list. Today, I'm going to react to the movies that made it, specifically the top 10. Tomorrow, I'm going to highlight a few of my favorite movies from this stretch that weren't included.

If you want to see the whole list, visit http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160819-the-21st-centurys-100-greatest-films.

Here's the top 10 according to the BBC:

1. Mulholland Drive (2001)
2. In the Mood For Love (2000)
3. There Will Be Blood (2007)
4. Spirited Away (2001)
5. Boyhood (2014)
6. The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
7. Tree of Life (2011)
8. Yi Yi: A One and A Two (2000)
9. A Separation (2011)
10. No Country For Old Men (2007)

When you look at that list, you'd be forgiven if you hadn…

Superhero Movie Countdown - No. 2

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We are in the home stretch. My No. 2 film might not be a conventional choice, but it's a film that's always stuck with me.

No. 2 - Watchmen (2009)
Starring: Billy Cruddup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Matthew Goode, and Malin Akerman
Director: Zack Snyder
Quote: "They claim their labors are to build a heaven, yet their heaven is populated by horrors. Perhaps the world is not made. Perhaps nothing is made. A clock without a craftsman. It's too late. Always has been, always will be. Too late." - Dr. Manhattan
About: Movies don't get much darker than "Watchmen." It's based on a D.C. Comics graphic novel, but it was meant to be an indictment of our fascination with superheroes and saviors, and an indictment of our culture and government. It is a Nihilistic worldview, and it is dark. It's a world of extremes, and none of those include faith, hope, and love. But in that, we get a window into a certain view of the world, and…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 13

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Summer is well past the dog days and headed for the home stretch. But there's still new shows vying for our attention. In these weekly posts I look at the first and second episodes of new scripted series this summer. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Too Close to Home, Mondays at 9 p.m. on TLC (Premiered August 22)
About: This is the first scripted series for TLC, a network best know for "19 Kids and Counting" and "Toddlers and Tiaras." It's not an obvious choice, but it speaks to the incredible explosion of scripted television. But, let's all take a moment and remember that TLC stands for The Learning Channel. How this series, or any of their other shows, really fit that title escapes my understanding. What I do know is this new series comes from Tyler Perry, and it's set in Washington, D.C. and a small town in Alabama. The first two episodes aired together on Monday night and they were... poor. That's th…

Rio 2016, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Sunday brought to a close 17 days of competition at the 31st Olympiad. It was a games that was full of highs, lows and something in between. Here's a look back at this year's Olympic Games.

The Good:
* We are all witnesses! Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt showed themselves to be other worldly. Phelps, at age 31, competed in six events, garnering five gold and one silver medal. For his career, he now has 28 medals, 23 of which are gold. In the 2008 Olympics in Bejing, Phelps when 8-for-8 in getting gold medals, but I think his 2016 Olympics, which came eight years later after a furious comeback, might be more impressive. He's the greatest Olympian in American history, and maybe ever. He is simply incredible. But equally as impressive is Bolt, who won the 100 and 200-meter individual events, and anchored the gold medal-winning 4x100 relay. Bolt is now 9-for-9 in Olympic finals, dominating in the running events for three straight Olympics. The debate will doubtless rage for year…

2016 Broncos Season, Roster Projections

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Another week of Pre-Season is in the books. One more game until the first roster cuts. Today I continue my roster projections. News is coming out that Mark Sanchez might not make the team. At this point, I'm saying he's still in. Let's see how I feel on Sunday.

QB: (3)
* Trevor Siemian
* Mark Sanchez
* Paxton Lynch
Sanchez is on a short rope.

RB: (3)
* CJ Anderson
* Devontae Booker
* Ronnie Hillman
I still think Denver keeps Hillman.

FB: (1)
* Andy Janovich
I like Juwan Thompson, but he hasn't been a factor in two games. This could be a place where the Broncos have to make a tough cut.

WR: (6)
* Demaryius Thomas
* Emmanuel Sanders
* Jordan Norwood
* Bennie Fowler
* Jordan Taylor
* Cody Latimer
I like Kalif Raymond, but he hasn't done enough as a returner or receiver. Norwood and/or Hillman could be the returner again, and Norwood looked good as a receiver. I also think the Broncos hang on to Latimer for at least one more year.

TE: (3)
* Virgil Green
* Jeff Heuerman
* J…

2016 Broncos Season, Pre-season, week 2

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It was the first home game of the year for Denver, and it wasn't pretty.

Pre-Season Week 2: San Francisco 49ers 31, Denver Broncos 24
Pre-Season Record: 1-1 (0-1 home)
Key Play: In the fourth quarter, leading 24-17, 49ers quarterback Christian Ponder connected with Dres Anderson on a 30-yard touchdown pass to put the game away for the 49ers.

Recap: There was some to like Saturday night, but there was a whole lot more to be skeptical about. Denver's offense doesn't look great, and that's partly due to the quarterback battle, which remains as unsettled as ever after the game. Part of it was the sloppy performance on defense. Granted, much of that came with role players and guys just trying to make the squad in the game, but it was still a poor showing. From a shut out a week ago to getting torched for 31 points at home on Saturday. There's a lot for the Broncos to clean up before the regular season begins in 18 days.

Quarterback Competition:
Trevor Siemian — 10-for-14, 75…

Amazon does Pilot Season again

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Amazon has released another crop of pilots, this time a trio of half hours, to be viewed and reviewed by the public. This is your chance to have a say in what Amazon takes to series. I have watched all three, and I wouldn't classify any of them as comedies, per se. I also wouldn't watch any of them as a series. This is, by far, the worst pilot season Amazon has done yet. Like the networks, they may fast be running out of ideas.

The Tick
Starring: Peter Serafinowicz, Griffin Newman, Valorie Curry, Brendan Hines, and Jackie Earle Haley
About: We've already had a "Tick" live-action series. It was funny, but a little bit weird. This one wants to be funny and a little edgy, I think, but none of that comes through in the pilot. Granted, it's a lot of heavy lifting to introduce characters and world in a half hour series that also wants to be funny and groundbreaking. But this pilot manages to accomplish none of those things. It's a total miss, tonally and in terms…

Fall Movie Preview

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Fall is one of the best times for movies, a blessed mix of blockbusters and serious stories. This fall, hopefully, will be no different. As we look toward the land of better movies, here's eight fall films (two each month) I'm looking forward to seeing.

September:
Sully (September 9): Tom Hanks is an American treasure, and seeing him in the role of Capt. Sully in this biopic looks great. The trailers give an interesting feel for the story, and I'm curious to see what Hanks does with the role.

The Magnificent Seven (September 23): This isn't complicated. Antoine Fuqua is a great action director, and this films stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. I'm sold. Plus, having seen both "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Seven Samurai," I'm curious to see what they do here.

October:
The Birth of a Nation (October 7): We live in a rich time for explorations of dark periods in our history. In 1915, D.W. Griffith delivered a classic silent film called &qu…

Now Playing

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

Pete's Dragon
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Begley, Oona Laurence, Karl Urban and Wes Bentley
Synopsis: In 1977, Disney released a hybrid live-action/animated film called “Pete’s Dragon.” Set in the northeast, the film centered on an orphan with a troubled relationship with his adoptive parents that relied on his friendship with a dragon, Elliott, that not many could see. The film featured Mickey Rooney and Red Buttons, and it was one in a long line of Disney films that became somewhat of a classic for a certain generation of viewers. But in this era where everything seems to be getting re-made and re-imagined, it’s not surprise that “Pete’s Dragon” has been re-born. The new iteration opened on Friday and, aside from the names, pretty much everything about the new movie has changed. It’s still about an orphan boy named Pete and his dragon, Elliott, but the story, setting and style of film is totally new. And,…

Superhero Movie Roundup — No. 3

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Today I continue my countdown with a fascinating period piece.

No. 3 — X-Men: First Class (2011)
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Kevin Bacon
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Quote: "You known all along why I was here Charles, but things have changed. What started as a covert of mission, tomorrow mankind will know mutants exist. Shaw, us, they won't differentiate. They'll fear us. And that fear will turn to hatred." — Erik Lehnsherr
About: There are some movies that just speak to you, and seem to transcend their genre. The final three entries in this countdown are those movies. "First Class" is not only the best X-Men film, it's one of the best superhero movies I've seen. It was a revelation when it was released in 2011, and five years and two sequels have done little to diminish its luster. It's an origin story. It's set in the 1960s. And it features a fascinating story of two men who become friends despite their diffe…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 12

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We're deep into summer, coming close to fall, and in the midst of the summer Olympics. You'd be forgiven if you forgot we still have new shows going strong. Below I look at the new shows of summer, reviewing the first and second episodes. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Secret Eats, Mondays at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel (Premiered August 8)
About: I am a big fan of Adam Richman, who started his career with "Man vs. Food" and has done a variety of food-based shows since. His latest, "Secret Eats," takes the adventure overseas. So far four episodes have aired — two on each of the previous Mondays — and they've all been similar. He travels to hot spots in his chosen locations, and there he interviews chefs, shows how the dishes are made, and then shows and samples the final product. Don't watch the show hungry, but if you like mixing food and travel, this show is for you.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-

Tues…

Draft Strategies Experiment

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When it comes to fantasy drafting, it seems everyone is pitching a strategy. Everyone has their own ranking system and everyone has a suggestion for the best path to dominating the draft and, by extension, the fantasy season. But do they really work? What about the extreme strategies?
This off-season I’ve listened to people preach about their zero running back strategy, others have advocating going zero wide receiver because the position is so deep, while others have wondered about snagging the top tight ends and quarterbacks first to give a weekly positional advantage. Then there’s always the popular best player available approach. But I wondered if one strategy worked better than others. During this fantasy season, we’re going to find out.
I opened a new account on ESPN (to keep the teams separate from my regular leagues) and set about drafting teams that follow each strategy. Throughout the season I’ll provide updates on the progress — which includes me managing through waivers and t…

2016 Broncos Season, Roster Projections

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We have one week of preseason in the books, and just a few more weeks until the Broncos' first cut down from 90 to 75. A few days later, they cut to the final 53. Each week until then, I'll make my roster projections.

Quarterback (3):
* Mark Sanchez
* Trevor Siemian
* Paxton Lynch

The Broncos will keep all their quarterbacks. That feels close to a led, pipe lock.

Running Back (3):
* CJ Anderson
* Devontae Booker
* Ronnie Hillman

Hillman could be on the bubble, but I think the Broncos keep all three here.

Fullback (2):
* Andy Janovich
* Juwan Thompson

Thompson's flexibility as an RB or FB, plus his Special Teams prowess, helps him here.

Wide Receiver (6):
* Demaryius Thomas
* Emmanuel Sanders
* Bennie Fowler
* Cody Latimer
* Jordan Taylor
* Kalif Raymond

I think Fowler, Latimer and Taylor make it for depth, and Raymond makes it as a returner. That leaves Jordan Norwood as the odd man out.

Tight End (3):
* Jeff Heuerman
* Virgil Green
* Garrett Graham

I like Heuerman as a sleepe…

Olympic Lowlight

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The Olympics bring out the best in competition and sports. So far, in the week since the games began, we've seen some powerful performances, and some powerful examples of grace and class under pressure.

Unfortunately, we've also seen the opposite. Internationally, Americans don't have the greatest reputation. The conduct of our Women's National Soccer Team goalkeeper, Hope Solo, following yesterday's loss will do us no favors.

The Americans are the reigning World Cup champions, and were expected to contend for, and win, the Gold Medal. Instead, the Americans lost in penalty kicks to Sweden in yesterday's qualifying round and were eliminated. The loss was a blow to America, but far more egregious was the comments and actions of Solo.

Of the loss she said: ""We played a creative game. We had many opportunities on goal. We showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down. I’m very proud of this team. We played a bunch of cowards. The best team did n…