Friday, May 10, 2013
Written by Paul Laverty
As I was taking my seat in a local theater proud of its independent film offerings, settling in for one such film, Gimme the Loot (which I hope to review soon), the trailer for another came on. In the two minutes or so in which I was treated ever so briefly into the world of The Angel's Share was plenty for me to be interested in the film and seek it out once it too came to theater near me. Ken Loach is a name with which I am familiar, as most movie buffs probably are. However, I have never had the pleasure of getting to see one of his films, of which his two most renowned are probably Kes and The Wind That Shakes the Barley, separated by over 35 years. After seeing his latest effort, I will be sure to check those films out and see if their constitutions are quite as socially aware, endearing, and mixed with a light sense of humor.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Written by Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce
My perspective for this film is not unique, I am sure there are plenty of others out there in my same position. For one, I have never so much as touched a copy of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic that has captured the attention of generations of American readers. Now that may sound sacrilege to many hardcore fans, some of my friends included, but I've never been a huge reader of the classics. Perhaps I should remedy that in the future, but what it does leave me is a blank slate going into Baz Luhrmann's latest effort, which affords me the unique opportunity to experience a great story for the very first time, albeit under the direction of somebody with a very unique style and vision in Luhrmann. I would be hard pressed to say Romeo + Juliet is what Shakespeare had in mind, even if it did manage to be a pretty good adaptation.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Written by Drew Pearce & Shane Black
With the upcoming release of the new Superman reboot, Man of Steel, it may seem strange that I lead into my review of the new Iron Man film with a personal anecdote of mine about Superman. I could have waited and had the perfect lead in for my review of the new Zach Snyder/Christopher Nolan collaboration. But I chose instead to use it hear because, strange as it may sound, it actually fits much more with the story of Iron Man 3 than it would any Superman film. When I was a small child, my brothers and I were playing around in the basement, and I made the fateful decision to jump off the couch as if I were the flying superhero Superman (I had not been properly introduced to Tony Stark yet). Upon doing so, my eye found the corner of the coffee table. Lucky for me, it was just above my eye actually, and I survived on six stitches and gnarly scar.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The NFL Draft has become an event unto itself, and a way for crazed fans to stay attentive and attached to their teams even in the off season. It has grown to such proportions that people like Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay make a living off of projecting prospects and teams potential draft choices. The pundits sit on their stage criticizing or celebrating pick after pick when ultimately only time can tell whether a team's draft night selections were good ones, or bad. There was a time when I might pay attention to the draft, probably when I was in high school and more interested to see who picked up some of my favorite Ohio State Buckeye players, but that time has passed. Nowadays I am lucky to even find out who my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, selected.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Written by Claude Sautet & Jacques Fieschi
As a young man I was never very musical, nor did I strive for the arts very much at all. I was more of the athletic jock type to be honest, spending my time rough housing with my brothers and friends outside, playing ball down at the field and what not. Sports were my passion, and in many ways still are, but I have luckily expanded my horizons. I now love things like music and movies nearly as much as baseball. The passion is there for sure, but I am not wholeheartedly sure the talent is. I own a guitar that I strum from time to time, not that much of the noise I produce could be construed as music, but I take pride in it because it means something to me. It is a release, and while it may not be professional, or sound great, it gives me the opportunity to express myself, even if only to my own ears, and there is something to be said for that.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
When I was growing up as an impressionable young man, my summer days were often filled with long hours at the ball fields, playing baseball or watching my brothers play. Whichever it was, I always seemed to end up playing in the dirt, never getting the opportunity to really play in the mud, for if there was mud from a summer storm, there were no games. Other kids will have other stories, but that's mine and I'm sticking to it. There was some putt-putt and summer blockbusters mixed in there as well, with R-rated films being a treat from my grandmother who would buy us the tickets and pick us up later. I suppose I lost some of my innocence then, with the exposure to the violence of those films. But for me it was all spectacle. For Ellis and Neckbone in Jeff Nichols' (Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter) latest film, Mud, the loss of innocence was much more real; and the rain fell enough for them to dirty themselves in the mud of an Arkansas summer.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Written by Jacques Lagrange & Jacques Tati
A few years back I had the opportunity to see a wonderful little French film called The Illusionist, no, not the Ed Norton Prestige competitor. This was a quaint animated film that accented the fall of the career of a French illusionist in a very enjoyable, yet very sad, melancholy manner. As he tours Scotland with a small girl, amazed at his ability, our illusionist protagonist becomes more and more antiquated. I bring this up because when that film was released, I came upon the realization that it was in fact my introduction to Jacques Tati. Based on an unproduced screenplay from the acclaimed French actor/director, The Illusionist captured and enraptured my attention and appreciation. It all makes sense after watching this, my first true Hulot/Tati treat.
The marketing team of the ESPN 30 for 30 series knows what it is doing. They released the Jim Valvano/NC State Cinderella story documentary Survive and Advance on the eve of the NCAA tournament. They have now released their next short, a story about Mr. Irrelevant, the last pick in the NFL Draft, just before the 2013 edition of the draft (In addition, the latest full length 30 for 30 release will likewise be released prior to the draft and feature a story from the famed 1983 draft class that included John Elway, Dan Marino, and 5 other future HOFers). But this short is not a highlight of the idea of Mr. Irrelevant in the NFL Draft. It is a much more personal story about a man who found himself with that dubious distinction, and was still able to make a sizable impact.
The New York Giant in question is John Tuggle, a RB out of California selected last in the 1983 draft. I don't want to give away too much about his story, I recommend you spend the 11 minutes to watch the film and find out anyway. But what makes this short work, and makes it interesting are the questions and topics it seems to raise with the example of Tuggle. It doesn't necessarily seek the answers to these questions, or even ask them directly, but while watching the film, I was able to contemplate some real existential thoughts; thoughts of the meaning of a human life, and the impact we can have on others, as small or as big, and as known or unknown to us. Each life can have meaning if we strive for it, and for some of us, tragedy might befall us, but that moment of doubt need not slow us down or diminish our ability to interact with others, be a part of a community, and make a true impact in this world in which we live. As small an insignificant as we may think we are, that impact could go well beyond we think it might, and touch more than we ever thought possible.
*** - Very Good
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Although not near as formidable as our friends in the Northeast, or Minnesota and the Dakotas, nor as biting or intimidating as say Alaska or for our neighbors north of the border in Canada, the winter months in All-American Ohio can get plenty cold, and for plenty long enough I may add. The pitter-patter of April showers brings with it a deluge of activity in this region, as many awaken from their winter hibernation to soak up what sun there is as the temperature begins to rise, and will most likely continue to do so much further past the point of comfort come July and August, the dog days of summer when the Indians and the Reds will be battling for position in their respective baseball divisions. All of this will give way once again to fall, when the Buckeyes football team will dominate the landscape of changing colors and falling leaves; all to simply go back into the cold winter months when I will once again be reunited with my old but familiar patchwork quilt, which brings me warmth and comfort.
Monday, April 8, 2013
With the national championship game set to tip off tonight between Louisville and Michigan, there is no better time than now to take a moment to look back on one of the greatest stories in NCAA Men's Basketball tournament history. The charm of what has become known as March Madness is found in the unexpected, the unknown players, teams and coaches grabbing the national spotlight to be the next Cinderella story. And there has never been a Cinderella story quite like the 1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack, who rode the wave of a tremendous winning streak to not only earn a bid in the tournament, but all the way to the title game where they took down a giant to win the National Championship.