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Showing posts from January, 2017

Winter TV Roundup, Week 5

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We are on the cusp of February sweeps, which brings an onslaught of new programming. For now, we have the last gasp of January newbies to consider. I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this winter in these weekly posts. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Wednesday Nights:
Six, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on the History Channel (Premiered January 18)
About:
This series is supposed to be a stirring and patriotic look at what it means to be a Navy Seal, specifically part of Seal Team Six. It features a former member (Walton Goggins), who is grabbed by terrorists in Africa, and his former team who comes to his rescue. At least that's where it's going a presume. The second episode was split between domestic drama at home -- one couple dealing with infertility, one guy dealing with being too much of a player, and one trying to balance home responsibilities with work life -- and Goggins stuck in a prison camp. Neither aspect was too engaging,…

Upcoming Releases, February

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We're on the cusp of February. It's a short month that's often toothless at the Box Office. While Academy Award nominees continue to get wide release, we get a smattering of new films. Often we see a glut of movies aimed at capturing the Valentine's Day date crowd as well. This year offers a few options depending on your tastes.

Friday, February 3:
The Space Between Us -- This film finally gets a release! Ads starting appearing last Spring, when the film looked to get a summer 2016 release. Then it was pushed to fall 2016. Then moved to February, where its romance elements could capture that Valentine's Day crowd. We'll see how it does.

Rings -- This is a sequel/re-make/re-imagining of "The Ring." It looks sufficiently creepy, and like a film traveling a well-trod path. But cheap horror movies are profitable, so they will never go out of style.

Friday, February 10:
Lego Batman Movie -- You had me at Batman. But, seriously, Batman was one of the best parts…

A People of Forgiveness

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Sometimes in my job I get a sneak peak of the Sunday sermon. Such was the case this week, when I was asked to read over the manuscript and find the right teasers for our marketing, such as the one above. I read the message to be delivered by Tim on Wednesday morning. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since.

It is a message about forgiveness. It presents forgiveness, and it's integral role in our faith, in s simple and straightforward manner. But it's a concept that's anything but simple. I was deeply moved in reading Tim's words and thinking about our world. Little did I know it was a precursor to a week in which we, as Christians, would need to ask ourselves hard questions about what we believe, and about how our actions reflect those deeply held beliefs.

Forgiveness is a powerful, beautiful and necessary thing. But often those that claim to represent Jesus aren't the best ambassadors for that. That cut to the heart of the message, which looked at…

2017's Most Anticipated Releases

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We're about a month into 2017 so it seems like a good time to look at some of the movies I'm anticipating in 2017. As always, hope springs eternal. We have plenty of exciting concept films coming in the next 11 months. Let's hope they live up to our hopes.

Lego Batman — February 10
About: I love Batman, who is by far my favorite hero. I also was a fan of the "Lego Movie," particularly the character of Batman. You're telling me now that he gets his own movie. I'm sold.

Logan — March 3
About: Wolverine is a close second in terms of my favorite superheroes. Sadly, the two stand alone Wolverine films have been disappointments. But, as I said, Hope Springs Eternal. The first trailer for "Logan" made the hair on my arms stand up. I hope the film actually delivers.

Beauty and the Beast — March 17
About: Disney has done well with live-action films, and this one looks like it could potentially their best yet. The trailer gave me chills. Emma Watson and Dan St…

Best Picture Nominees - Hacksaw Ridge

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Nine films have been nominated for Best Picture. We'll find out on Sunday, February 26 which one claims the top prize. But until then, I'll be taking a look at each of the Best Picture Nominees.

Hacksaw Ridge
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Luke Bracey, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, and Teresa Palmer
Director: Mel Gibson
Total Nomination: 6
Nominated For: Best Picture, Best Actor (Garfield), Best Director (Gibson), Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing
About: Sometimes for a movie the nominations are the victory. When it comes to "Hacksaw Ridge," that's likely true for the big categories. It feels like an incredible long-shot to win Best Picture, ditto for Garfield as Best Actor. In fact, Garfield himself expressed surprise at the nomination. He did great work, and he deserves to be in the field, but Casey Affleck and Ryan Gosling are the clear favorites. Probably one of the biggest shocks on nomination day was hearing Gibson&…

Now Playing

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

The Founder
Starring: Michael Keaton, Laura Dern, Linda Cardinelli, B.J. Novak, Nick Offerman, and John Carroll Lynch
Synopsis: There’s a famous adage, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Fittingly there’s been a lot of debate about who first offered that view of the world, but it perfectly sums up Ray Kroc, the man who’s gone down in history as the creator of the McDonald’s franchise. In the new movie “The Founder,” writer Robert Siegel chronicles the building of the McDonald’s fast-food empire. It tells the story of Kroc, his discovery of the McDonald brothers and the partnership that spawned the most famous golden arches in history. But like many true stories, it’s not always what you’d expect. The long gestating film – which was originally set for a summer release in 2016, then moved to fall and finally to January 2017 – features Michael Keaton and an all-star cast, and proves a fascinating and enjoyable watch. John Lee Han…

Oscar Nomination Reactions

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The Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday morning and, as with each year, it brings a flood of praises and disappointments. The ceremony will be Sunday, February 26, and until then we'll have plenty of time to debate the nominees and guess who will win.

But for now, I wanted to offer some thoughts on those that missed the field.

* Amy Adams. Adams was great in "Arrival," a Best Picture nominee that gathered eight total nominations. The film's director even singled out the Adams snub as a great miss by the Academy. I, too, though she should be a lock in the category. She was not only great in "Arrival," but in "Nocturnal Animals," a weird but beautifully crafted film snubbed by the Academy. I'm wondering if Adams great double effort cost her a single nomination as voters were split on which performance was better...

* "Sully" and "Silence" were ignored. Clint Eastwood offered us the portrait of a hero with "Sully…

Winter TV Roundup, Week 4

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The winter is setting in, and the shows keep flowing. January was a busy month and February might offer even more options. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted fare this winter. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Taboo, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX (Premiered January 10)
About: This latest series from FX is set in 1814 in England. It was created by Tom Hardy and his father, Chips, and Hardy stars in the lead role as a man who lost his father but now inherits a key piece of land in the Americas. With America and the United Kingdom locked in a war, both sides want access to the land. The ones that want it the most are the East India Trading Company, which will stop at nothing to pry it from Hardy's hero character. Hardy's character has some dark secrets. He was away in Africa for years, has a son that he takes care of financially by never sees, and has some sort of dark past with his half-sister (Oona C…

Championship Round Thoughts

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I think we all had this match up at the beginning of the season, right?

Well, that happened. My streak of perfect playoff predictions ended on Sunday. I thought the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers would play in the Super Bowl. Instead, it's the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots.

We probably should have all seen the Patriots thing coming. The top seed in the AFC has advanced to the title game most of the time in recent years, and between the flu, being behind and the fire alarm, the Steelers were at a serious disadvantage.

The other game is a head-scratcher. That Atlanta could win wasn't a surprise. That they'd destroy the hottest team in football, well that was. And this was yet another playoff weekend with lousy games. In 10 games in the Post Season, we have had only two really good, competitive games. That's a bad sign.

But we could be in for a good one in the Super Bowl. Hope springs eternal. And if not, there's always the prospect of the NFL s…

Game-Changer

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One of the most interesting and high-concept series to debut this fall was "The Good Place." It was about a woman (Kristen Bell) who died and ended up in the Good Place — TV Slang for Heaven. But  the thing was she didn't belong there. The architect of the neighborhood (Ted Danson) made a mistake. Hilarity ensues.

I thought the pilot and second episode were quite good, but I wondered how it was going to move forward. Of course, the pilot also took equal opportunity shots at a number of different religions, including Christianity, which was something to be considered. But there was a charm to the series, so I stuck with it.

Slowly, it developed into one of the best comedies on TV, and the best comedy NBC had done in years. While I enjoy its companion series, "Superstore," "The Good Place" reminds me of classic NBC comedies. Enough that I put it on my list of the five best comedies for 2016.

On Thursday, it wrapped up its first season. "The Good P…

NFL Picks, Championship Round

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Lindsay and I broke our deadlock on the one game we picked differently last week. Lindsay sided with the Chiefs, while I took the Steelers, and a one pick lead. Three games remain, and it's still anyone's game.

Green Bay Packers (10–6) at Atlanta Falcons (11–5)
About: Is there a better quarterback in the NFL right now than Aaron Rodgers? When the Packers were 4–6 and he said they’d run the table, people laughed. Others were skeptical. Even I didn’t believe they could do it. Eight weeks later, we all stand in awe. What he did in Dallas on Sunday was the stuff of legends. And yet, there’s Matt Ryan. Some thought Ryan should be the NFL’s regular season MVP, and what he’s done is nothing short of impressive. On Saturday, against the Seattle Seahawks, he simply threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns against no interceptions. And when these two teams met earlier in the year, it was Ryan and the Falcons that came out on top in a shootout. It’s hard to imagine a better game than that…

Hope and Change

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"Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane." _ Red, "The Shawshank Redemption"

Today we begin a new chapter in the United States of America. Many have strong feelings about this. Some good, some bad, some hopeful, some fearful. And many people have strong feelings about the previous eight years. Some good, some bad, some wistful, some angry.

We endured one of the longest, most bitter elections in our history. And the two and a half months since that day have, essentially, been no different. But the decision has been made, the oaths of office administered, and we march on to the future.

Some feel President Obama was a great thing for our nation these past eight years. Others feel he was the worst President we've ever had. In the swell of emotion on this day, and with how close we are to his time in office, it's really impossible to tell. History will be the judge, and we likely won't have a good measure o…

Now Playing

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

Live By Night
Starring: Ben Affleck, Chris Messina, Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller, Elle Fanning, Chris Cooper, and Brendan Gleeson
Synopsis: This is the latest film written and directed by Affleck, based on a novel by Dennis Lehane. It's set in the 1920s, first in Boston and then in Tampa Bay. Affleck plays Joe Coughlin, the son of a police captain and a WWI veteran who turns to a life of crime. After being beaten and nearly killed by the Irish mob, Joe gets out of prison and throws in with the Italian Mob in order to get vengeance. He heads to Florida and helps build a rum empire during the height of Prohibition, finding love along the way. But nothing good lasts forever, especially in gangster films. Affleck is a talented director and a solid actor, and he puts together a good cast here. The source material is decent, as is the setting and the concept. But this just doesn't all come together. The film is plodding and lacks pop.…

The Final Problem

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"All lives end; all hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock." — Mycroft Holmes

When "Sherlock" debuted in 2010, no one knew what to expect. Tales of Sherlock Holmes have been told and re-told many times over the past few years. And a new iteration, set in the modern era and starring someone named Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, didn't set hearts ablaze.

How times have changed. Now, Cumberbatch and Freeman are household names in the United States, as well as their native England. And "Sherlock" is one of the most anticipated series on both sides of the pond.

After wrapping their third three-episode season in February of 2014, fans were left to wonder when, and if, "Sherlock" would offer a fourth installment. They teased fans with a one-off last winter, before returning with another three-episode season on January 1. That season drew to a close with "The Final Problem" on Sunday.

It was an amazing season, wh…

Winter TV Roundup, Week 3

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The weather outside remains frightful, but the options on the small screen are delightful, and plentiful. In these weekly posts I look at new scripted series this winter, reviewing the pilot and second episode. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Taboo, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX (Debuted January 10)
About: This latest FX drama stars Tom Hardy, who also serves as a producer. It's set in 1814 in England, and surrounds the son of a deceased shipping merchant who inherits a piece of land to go along with the flailing family business. This piece of land is in high demand from the United States and England, particularly the East India Trading Company, who want to use it to gain control over Vancouver. That all sounds a little more straightforward than the show is. The show is moody, creepy and, at times, weird. And of course Hardy plays right into that, having helped craft the story with his father, Chips Hardy. At first I didn't know what to m…

Divisional Round Thoughts

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Well, that's more like it. After a Wild Card weekend that yielded four games that were busts, all four of the divisional games were more competitive. And, all four of the winners went as I predicted, setting up two interesting championship games.

Below are some thoughts on these games.

* Green Bay and Pittsburgh are hot, and so are their kickers. Mason Crosby got the Packers into the NFC title game thanks to a pair of 50-plus yard field goals in the last minute of the game. The Steelers, meanwhile, made six field goals, which was enough to get the win.

* Experience matters. The Falcons might not have much playoff experience, but in the case of three of these games, the more seasoned playoff team got it done.

* Le'Veon Bell is the man. He ran for 170 yards on Sunday night, after going for 167 in the Wild Card round.

* The AFC continues to be dominated by premier passers. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. That's the list, for the most part, of quarterbacks w…

Best Picture Contenders

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We are more than a month away from the Academy Awards, and a few weeks away from official nominations, which will be announced on Tuesday, January 24. But it's not too early to begin speculating about which movies will make this year's Best Picture field.

The Academy changed its rules a few years back. No longer are we required to nominate just five, or required to nominate 10 films. Instead, there must be a minimum of five, and can be a maximum of 10. That leaves plenty of questions as to how many will make the cut.

Below I've broken it down into Locks, Probables, and Wild Cards. We'll find out on January 24 home many make the cut.

The Locks:
* La La Land — This musical has been sweeping up awards and nominations, including going seven-for-seven at the Golden Globes. It is the finest film of the year, and a favorite to win it all.

* Moonlight — I haven't seen this one, but it's another that's sweeping up plenty of awards, including the other Best Picture pri…

Farewell Wade

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Wade Phillips, defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos the past two seasons, is officially moving on. He took the same position with the Los Angeles Rams, and now Joe Woods — the secondary coach — is taking over as the defensive coordinator in Denver.

My first memory of Wade Phillips is when he was head coach of the Broncos. That was following the Dan Reeves era, when John Elway was our quarterback and we couldn't get over the hump. Elway famously didn't get along with Phillips, and pushed for him to be fired. His firing paved the way for hiring Mike Shanahan, which was arguably the best era in Broncos' football.

Phillips went on to serve as a head coach in Buffalo, where he presided over the Music City Miracle defeat, and in Dallas, before returning to what he does best, coaching defense. He was a long-term defensive coordinator for Gary Kubiak in Houston. So it seemed natural that Kubiak would bring him to Denver.

But that was hardly a sure thing. It seemed that El…

2017 Broncos Season, New Head Coach

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The off-season is under way, and that means a new leader for the Broncos. It's time for a check in as we have a new coach and a new direction heading into the 2017 season.

I was among those who were bummed when Gary Kubiak retired. I'll admit the 2016 season wasn't ideal for the Broncos. It was a step back, and the offense looked sluggish quite often. I think much of that had to do with the health issues that plagued Kubiak throughout the season. And I'll always be grateful for what he brought to the Broncos, both as a player and coach, and I know he will be missed.

But as the thoughts turned to a new coaching search, there were a couple candidates that emerged. One was Kyle Shanahan, the son of former coach Mike Shanahan, who is an offensive guy. What he's done in Atlanta is great, and he seemed to be a good fit to repair the offensive woes that hindered the Broncos in 2016. The thinking there was, also, that Wade Phillips and the defensive staff would be retaine…

Now Playing

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

Hidden Figures
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, and Jim Parsons
Synopsis: What do you think of when you think about the space race? Likely you think about the competition with Russia. You might think about John Kennedy’s promise we’d get to the moon in the decade of the 1960s. And you probably think of heroes like John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. That’s not wrong. It’s also not the whole story. The new film “Hidden Figures” takes a look at the space race through the eyes of three brave women who helped make it all happen. And they’re also probably women you’ve never heard of. The beauty of the story is that it re-frames our view of history in a good way. It’s also an entertaining and engaging film that’s likely to be a strong contender at the Academy Awards. The film picks up in 1960 with a trio of African-American women working for NASA, which was then housed in Langley, Virginia, where the CIA…

NFL Picks, Divisional Round

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Lindsay and I picked the same way for all four games in the Wild Card Round, so we're still tied with seven games left to go. On to the Divisional Round!

Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1) at Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
About: The Seahawks won convincingly at home last week, beating Detroit 26-6. They were supposed to win and did. Earlier this season, the Seahawks beat the Falcons, too. But that game was in Seattle and turned on a controversial non-call. Since then, Seattle has been up-and-down and lost Earl Thomas. While it didn't matter against the Lions, it probably will against the better offense of the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan has just one career playoff win. It was at home, against the Seahawks. I think he gets his second on Saturday.
The Pick: Atlanta 27, Seattle 20
Lindsay: Falcons

Houston Texans (9-7) at New England Patriots (14-2)
About: This is the most lopsided game of the weekend, and sadly it's the Prime Time game on Saturday night. The Texans won 27-14 at home against the Ra…

Winter TV Roundup, Week 2

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We're only 10 days into the new year, and yet a flood of new shows has already rolled out. In these weekly posts I look at the new scripted shows this winter. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
The Mick, Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX (Premiered January 1)
About: "The Mick" got a premier behind "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and football on New Year's Day, but moved to its regular time slot on Tuesday. It's about a woman who's struggling in life that is suddenly thrust into the role of guardian of her three nieces and nephews, who are ridiculously wealthy. Hilarity ensues. And it does at some points, just not enough for me. I thought the second episode, actually, was a little step backward. There's probably an audience for this series, but I'm clearly not it.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C-

Wednesday Nights:
Star, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered December 14)
About
: After getting a special premier behind the Fa…

Wild Card Weekend Roundup

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Can anyone remember a worse Wild Card weekend? We had four games that, even going into the weekend, didn't seem like great match ups. But there was one hope — the Giants at the Packers....

The Giants-Packers game was good for a half. But as the first half drew to a close, Aaron Rodgers connected with Randall Cobb on a Hail Mary. It made the score 14-6, giving the Packers an eight point lead. Yet, when the cameras went to the sideline to see the Giants players and one of them was crying. It was at that point that I was sure the Giants were screwed.

That proved true in the second half, as the Packers won 38-13... So much for our one good game.

Here's some other take aways:

* The Steelers are really good. They were better than I thought in pounding the Dolphins, who also might be worse than I thought.

* The Lions have no heart. The Lions were once 9-4. They ended the season 9-8 with four straight losses, counting the playoffs. And though the Seahawks weren't incredible, it w…

Golden Globes Picks

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Tonight the JV Awards are handed out at the Golden Globes. I love the ceremony and like to see who wins, but this is the kid brother compared to the Oscars. Yet, we might get a preview of where the Oscars could go. The ceremony begins tonight at 8 EST on NBC.

Best Picture, Drama:
* This is a tough category, but it probably comes down to two films — "Moonlight" and "Manchester by the Sea." Both have been indie darlings, and both are near locks for Best Picture nominations at the Oscars. I have a feeling this one goes to "Moonlight"

Best Picture, Musical/Comedy:
* Baring some unforeseen wave of support for one of these other films, the winner here is "La La Land." It was the best film I saw in 2016, and a pure delight.

Best Picture, Animated:
* There's plenty of options here, but I think it goes to "Moana," which has captured a lot of hearts this winter. Kind of surprised "Finding Dory" wasn't even nominated.

Best Actor, D…

NFL Picks, Wild Card Round

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After 17 weeks and 256 games, Lindsay and I ended up tied in picks. We each got 163 right. That means the playoffs, and these final 11 games, will determine who wins the season-long competition.

Oakland Raiders (12–4) at Houston Texans (9–7)
About: These two teams played in November and we can take pretty much nothing away from that game. The Raiders finished a great season losing two quarterbacks — first Derek Carr, then Matt McGloin — while the Texans benched Brock Osweiler, found a spark with Tom Savage, saw him get hurt and now have to turn back to the Brockness Monster. So what to make of this game. The Vegas odds favor the Texans, I’m guessing simply because they’re at home. I think the Raiders have a better defense, or at least a more explosive defense, but they looked terrible in week 17. In fact, this doesn’t seem like a playoff game… As a Broncos fan, I want to cry thinking Brock gets to play in a home playoff game that he’ll probably win. I plan to watch none of this game.
Th…

Playoff Predictions

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The NFL Playoffs are upon us. We have just 12 teams and 11 games left between us and the off-season. Surprisingly, for as wrong as I was about a lot of this NFL season, my pre-season Super Bowl teams are still alive. But will I pick them again? Time to find out.

AFC Teams:                                                        NFC Teams:
1. New England Patriots                                    1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Kansas City Chiefs                                         2. Atlanta Falcons
3. Pittsburgh Steelers                                         3. Seattle Seahawks
4. Houston Texans                                              4. Green Bay Packers
5. Oakland Raiders                                             5. New York Giants
6. Miami Dolphins                                              6. Detroit Lions

Wild Card Round:
* Texans Over Raiders: I really don't want to pick Brock Osweiler, and I certainly won't be watching this dog of a game, but I think the Texans have the be…