Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feature Presentation--ESPN 30 for 30

At our annual work party, we received a gift certificate that we had to spend in one hour. Since this wasn’t my first rodeo, I immediately went to Best Buy and bought the entire set of ESPN’s 30 for 30. Over the holidays I started digging into the.

Two Escobars

Unbelievable film about drugs and soccer and the impact of both on the world. Fasicinating to hear about how drug lords got involved in Colombian soccer and took the club teams to the top of the continent, especially Escobar’s influence at Medellín side Atlético Nacional, which was led by another Escobar. As for the national team, I remember reading about Colombia beating Argentina 5-0 in Buenos Aires, but now I have a digital record of the thrashing.

USA 94 went wrong from the moment they touched down, dealing with the pressure of being favorites, an opening game loss to Romania, and then defeat to the US. Based on the film, Andres Escobar was killed for disrespecting local toughs, which is a far different story than I knew. Great film and well worth seeing.

King’s Ransom

I vaguely remember Gretzky getting traded to the Kings but how no idea the impact it had on him, on Edmonton and on the league. An epic shift in the history of the league came down to a business decision, much in the same way the LeBron decision happened recently. You must get value for an asset before losing it for nothing. That’s what Pocklington did and everyone has to move on.

The U

Flashback. I remember the Canes and Catholics v Convicts and Wide Right I and II, and this film provided a depth to one of the great college football dynasties. From nowhere, Miami became a national power, bringing a level of physicality, speed and braggadocio not seen before in college football. I can still visualize all of those picks thrown by Testaverde in the ’86 Orange Bowl and still shudder to think what might have been if they won that game.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Feature Presentation--Holiday Viewing

A Fistful of Dollars

After watching the season finale of Community Season 2, I decided to watch this movie. I’m not a big Western guy and don’t get references to Leone or Spaghetti Westerns or anything like that.

I almost gave up after the intro. Yikes. I know this was made in 1964 but surely that was bad then as it is now. Took me a while to figure out the plot and what Clint Eastwood’s character was even doing there but by the end it was pretty clear.

The movie was ok, with very sparse production value. Let’s just say I’m not going to catch up the Western genre anytime soon.

Modern Family Season 2

What a quality show, telling little nuggets of wisdom about love and family and life in 20 minute segments. That’s all I have to say.

Hung Season 1

One my best friends suggested this and since it was shot in Detroit, with part of one episode being shot a BIGGBY location, I gave it a try.

Meh. Interesting idea, actually very intriguing, but I’m still not sure on the execution. What would it look for an everyman to become a male escort being pimped by an everywoman with a dream and some hard work? It might look something like the show. Obviously the Lenore character is the correct angle but would have been too obvious at the outset. The tension and misfortune and mistakes are plausible but it’s kinda hard to sit through. This is not a show that I watched in a day. It took two because I was vacation but I did get bored of it. Not sure that I’m going to continue for season two.

Sherlock Holmes’ Game of Shadows

Let me first say that I have not seen the first one. Not sure why, just didn’t, but over Thanksgiving, I saw the trailer for this movie and immediately said I have to see this. Some time opened up over Christmas, and me and the missus checked it out.
Man is Robert Downey, Jr amazing. Non stop energy and charisma, you cannot take your eyes off him. Jude Law provides a nice foil, keeping things grounded as the two meander around Europe. The story was fascinating, using the market of war and the impact of geo-politics to craft a narrative that kept the audience intrigued.

Liked the introduction of Moriarty but why introduce him and kill him off in the same film? Surely that would have set up a third. Plus bringing back Sherlock at the end. Seems like they shot their wad with that one.

The actions sequences were visually appealing. I enjoyed how they used Sherlock’s thought processes to explore the action and create depth to the moment. I thought the slow mo through the forest was a little much and went on a little too long. Other than that, clever angles and techniques to move the story long.

The movie is good fun and worth seeing, at least once.

Sherlock (BBC) Season 1

My best friend recommended this series from the BBC. Having just seen Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows, I was primed for the World’s Greatest Detective.
After watching the first episode, I tweeted: Sherlock is a combination of House and CSI and Perfect Strangers. Honestly, my first impression was—wonderful. The show takes Doyle’s stories and inserts them into the 21st century, using current technology, situations and dialogue to update the character and create fascinating, dramatic, and enjoyable shows. The Sherlock of the modern age uses the tools of the day—internet, smart phones and medical expertise—to track down cases beyond the police. The interaction with Watson is quite good, as the two play off each other to form a team of energy, wisdom and cunning.
The first season has three episodes and introduces the principal villain, Moriarty, in the last one. I imagine this will set up season two and I anxiously await watching it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Feature Presentation: Looking Back

EPL Goals 1992-2007

This is one of the many I items I treated myself to for my birthday.  Got the three disc set pretty cheap, but no price can be put on the memories I had from the early days of the Premier League.

I started following (very distantly) Manchester United during the first season of the Premier League when they ended their 26 year drought of winning the title.  Robson, Bruce, Hughes and company led the Red Devils to glory in those early years, followed by Keane, Cantona, and the kids before Cole, Yorke, Solskjaer and Stam took over. 

Going through the seasons, I picked up new information, like Nicky Barmby played for Spurs?  Had no idea.  Plus there were all the clubs that have fallen away like Crystal Palace and Norwich and Swindon and Charlton and QPR.

Great goals and great memories.

I picked this up at the library because I had just finished The War for Late Night.   The tour looked brutal and showed Conan’s struggle between the rush of performing and the need to always be “on”.  Loved the fly on the wall nature of the documentary and feel that I may have missed out a comedic voice.

Love this show because almost everything is in my wheel house: sense of community amongst the study group, pop culture references throughout, the yearning for the days of college, and just a hint of awkwardness. 

Not every episode is a winner but the season as a whole is thoroughly enjoyable, especially the trampoline episode and the epic two part, Fistful of Dollars/Star Wars inspired, paintball finale.  Even the Zombie episode wasn’t too bad and that’s not really my thing. 

Is the show the most amazing thing ever?  No but it’s a fun, non-nutritious snack that I can’t get enough of. 

ESPN, to celebrate their 30th anniversary, released a series called 30 for 30, which covered a wide range of sports and topics.  One of the first ones I heard about was Once Brothers, the story of the Yugoslavian Basketball Team from the late 80’s, early 90’s.  This was particularly interesting to me because of my love of the Croatian Sensation, the Waiter, Toni Kukoc.  I knew of their success—silver in 1988 Olympics and 1990 World Champions—but I didn’t know their story.

The film is Vlade Divac’s account of his rise from small town to Yugoslavian basketball club star to world champion to NBA players and the relationships with his teammates, which became more and more strained as the former Soviet Republic broke apart.  It was heart wrenching to see him and Drazen Petrovic drift apart after a moment of nationalistic pride from Vlade.  The whole film had me on the verge of tears, as the glory and drama and tragedy of that team was retold.  I highly recommend this movie.  This is bigger than basketball and is story of friendship and hard work and redemption.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In Your Ear

It’s been a while, so I’ll just start and see where this goes.

Some of the member of Arcade Fire were in studio for theSound Opinions podcast.  Nothing earth shattering, just cool to hear their story and some of their tunes.  I am super behind on this pod and hope to catch up over the holidays.

Florence and the Machine opened up for U2 earlier this summer.  My brother-in-law didn’t know anything about U2 but was super stoked to see this group.  I checked out their debut album, Lungs.  I love the opening track, Dog Days Are Over, and can’t help but clap and smile during the chorus.  Drumming Song is a driving track that is pretty good.  The final track You’ve Got the Love is fantastic.  Love all the instrumentation and the tune is super catchy.

I don’t even know how I came across this song, So Cool by Bewitched Hands on the Top of Our Heads, but I love it.  Work is another track that is pretty good.

At a Halloween Party, the hosts had a party mix on Pandora and Beyonce’s Crazy In Love and I started jamming, which surprised everyone there.  Have to admit this is a guilty pleasure of mine.  Love that song

Moving on . . .

I admit I am late to the Kings of Leon phenomenon.  I was aware of their music somewhere out in the ether but never really sought them out, so I’ve decided to start at the beginning and give them a whirl.  Their first album, Youth and Young Manhood, is ok, nothing special in my opinion.  The first cut, Red Morning Light, is not too bad, and it is followed by Happy Alone, which was a popular song that I was familiar with.  California Waiting is decent, and Molly’s Chamber is another song that I had heard but didn’t really do it for me.  Holy Roller Novocaine might be a favorite track.  I have the next record on hold, so we’ll see how that one is.

Finally, I saw sloan for the umpteenth time at St. Andrew’s Friday night.  The band was touring in support of their 10th album, The Double Cross, which I had listened to it a couple of times on their website but hadn’t thought much of it.  After hearing most the tracks live, I am really coming around.  I already thought Unkind was up there as one of their best tracks ever, and the live version kicked ASS!!  There are several more great cuts, including The Answer Was You, It’s Plain To See, Beverly Terrace and Traces.

The band keeps cranking out the tunes, and their live versions of Ill Placed Trust, Who Taught You to Live Like That? and Money City Maniacs were epic.  They also played Deeper Than Beauty during the encore, which was sweet because I hadn’t heard that live in years.  Chris mentioned that they want to do a tour just playing songs from Twice Removed.  Sign me up as it is my favorite album