August 23, 2010

Movie Review #44 (Eat Pray Love)

Eat Pray Love (2010) Julia Roberts, Richard Jenkins Directed by Ryan Murphy

It is hard for me to quantify this film as a man. I can tell you watching this from a man’s point of view and from a woman’s will be a very different experience…and not all films are like that. This film whether you want it to or not, is a journey your going on, so be prepared to examine your own life because you will, first while watching this film and frankly again after its over (I came down from this film with a bottle of wine and some In & Out because I was too lazy to make pasta). The film is based on the Elizabeth Gilbert memoir which I did not read, but know the basics. Julia Roberts stars as Liz in a wonderfully empowering female role (you don’t see many films that put a woman out there as this film does) and she is brilliant in it. If I have beef with the film it is that it is not as honest as the book was (I had questions about the character and went home to get those answered by double checking the book, and the film lacks clarity I assume to protect Liz’s likabilty…which even with those emissions it does not, I often found myself not liking or believing her character, but that was why it felt so real…people are like that), but I understand to a degree why that was done…though you will probably sense as I did that the whole story isn’t always being told (art imitates life in this one very well). It is a really powerful film that is hard to watch if you have things in your own life that when you reflect on them, they make you emotional…which let’s be honest is us all.

Eat Pray Love Is the story of Liz Gilbert (Oscar worthy performance by Julia Roberts) a writer who has a divorce, and then a failed relationship hit her hard, so she follows the advice of an old medicine man Ketut (played adorably by Hadi Subiyanto) and goes on a year long journey to Rome (where she Eats), India (where she prays), and finally Bali (where she returns to Ketut and ultimately loves). The locations of this film are flat gorgeous, and the food and wine shots make you want to go to dinner when it’s over. The film itself is excellent, for me it isn’t carried by Julia and her character Liz, it is carried by those people she meets on they way…all men…and all so important to the journey. The standout performance in the film belongs to the excellent Richard Jenkins who plays an ex-alcoholic who has lost his family and is searching for forgiveness of himself in India…it is the best relationship of the film. Two others that are excellent are Billy Crudup (her ex husband) and Javier Bardem (a love interest). I highly recommend this film to everyone; it probably is cheaper than a therapy session and provides the same service…just drink some wine afterward! {Look I didn’t cry and I’m a cryer sometimes but if you are going to cry the two scenes to get something in your eye are the one where they flashback to the wedding dance between Crudup and Roberts, and the one with Jenkins telling Julia why he is in India…tough.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) “Sometimes losing balance for love is part of living a balanced life” It is quotes like that which make this film memorable, I’m not sure about it’s rewatchability (depends how much wine I have in me and if I want to reexamine my life choices) but I know a powerful film when I see one…a Best Picture worthy 7.5 on the scale.

Food For Thought: After the film I enjoyed a bottle of Trader Joe’s Petite Reserve Pinot Noir which was very good, and if I had it my way I would have gone with Tomatoes and asparagus covered with fresh mozeralla and olive oil…but I went In & Out instead. Next up for Queen Julia Roberts is a film called Larry Crowne co starring Tom Hanks.

August 22, 2010

Football Preview 2010 (Part 2-Fantasy)

Last Year I didn’t give you a Fantasy Football Preview that was in depth, all I gave you were rankings, so this year I thought I’d ratchet it up a notch because in the process of writing this I’m also sharpening my draft readiness. I hope there is information in here that is useful.


Two years ago the Fantasy Squawkers told you to draft a RB first no matter what, last year they said hey you better get yourself a WR, any guess what they are going to say this year? Um yeah that would be an elite QB, to be fair they still hedge that by ranking only one QB (in most ranks from ESPN/SI/CBS/Yahoo) in there top ten. I have always argued that if you want to enjoy your fantasy season and still have a great chance to win then go and get that QB that you want…so long as your guy is elite. After all you have to sit there and root for this guy every week, he may as well be a guy that is rock solid and is on a team that can win. There are four elites-Brees, Brady, Manning and Rodgers…I have all these guys in my top 10, after that you can go as high as you want with Schaub, Romo, Rivers, and even Ryan and I won’t look down at you. Fantasy drafting is the art of being a fake GM and in real life GM’s want depth…so what do you think you should do as a fake GM…get yourself some depth, this year there is lots of it. Bottom Line-Get Depth Get guys who are guaranteed touches...high upside guys will always be there...Thomas Jones will not.

My first draft is this weekend so I prepared by doing a handful of MOCK DRAFTS (best ones are available on ESPN Fantasy) where I drafted at different positions (given that in 3 of my leagues I am unaware of the draft order). The thing I noticed the most in these MOCKs was the amount of value in each round…I normally am a best guy on the board drafter but I found my self actually turning into a fill your positions guy. This year given the talent and amount of upside at the bottom of the draft I recommend you fill your rosters slots in the first 5 picks even if you have to draft QB, RB, WR, TE, then get another RB or WR…it ends up better when you get at least one elite at each position.


THE CLASS-(1) Drew Brees (2) Tom Brady (3) Peyton Manning (4) Aaron Rodgers THE SOLID (5) Matt Schaub (6) Tony Romo (7) Joe Flacco THE UPSIDES (8) Bret Favre (9) Kevin Kolb (10) Matt Ryan THE DICEY (11) Philip Rivers (12) Jay Cutler (13) Eli Manning THE BACKUPS (14) Donovan McNabb (15) Alex Smith (16) Chad Henne (17) Vince Young (18) Matt Stafford (19) Carson Palmer (20) Matt Cassel

Think the top 6 are safe guys, last year I drafted both Brady and Romo and I was able to turn Romo into depth pretty early on, so if your team is shaping up nicely and you have a chance to double up on a QB then shake up your draft and go get him. I love the Patriot offense this year with two new TE’s and the emergence of Tate and Edelman, but I understand that Brady played at a lower level last year so there is some risk. I don’t love the Packers as much as most and sense that there may be some letdown. Guys like Stafford, Smith, and Palmer to me are all very solid backups so match them up the with worst bye week team you can and draft them late. {Sleeper season-Matt Cassel has a running game that will be great and a new offensive coordinator in Charlie Weiss so keep an eye on him they might catch a case of the winnings}


THE CLASS-(1) Chris Johnson (2) Adrian Peterson (3) Frank Gore (4) Ray Rice (5) Michael Turner (6) Maurice Jones Drew (7) Steven Jackson THE UPSIDES (8) Cedric Benson (9) Ryan Grant (10) Rashard Mendenhall (11) DeAngelo Williams (12) Jonathon Stewart (13) Ryan Mathews (14) Knowshon Moreno (15) Beanie Wells THE DICEY (16) Matt Forte (17) Shonn Greene (18) LeSean McCoy (19) Pierre Thomas (20) C.J. Spiller THE BACKUPS (21) Jerome Harrison (22) Jamal Charles (23) Thomas Jones (24) Clinton Portis (25) Michael Bush

The problem with RB’s is the new committee system, I don’t know how Shonn Greene who is an injury risk can be on so many top ten lists, with LT there I don’t see him in the end zone more than 7 times max. I love KC and their running game but if you want Jamal Charles you better get Thomas Jones…same goes for the Carolina Boys of Williams and Stewart. I way overrated Matt Forte last year but this year I still see value (he is going in the fifth round…why not he will catch more passes if Jay Cutler can calm down about his arm which is better than Elways so he says). You can’t go wrong with the top 6 but I’m concerned with Steven Jackson he may get too much work early and get hurt. {Sleeper season-Jerome Harrison is going to rush for a 1000+ yards, get him in the late fifth or early 6th and thank me later…P.S. if you miss out on him go grab Michael Bush).


THE CLASS-(1) Andre Johnson (2) Randy Moss (3) Roddy White (4) Calvin Johnson (5) Larry Fitzgerald THE UPSIDES (6) Miles Austin (7) Steve Smith NYG (8) Marques Colston (9) DeSean Jackson (10) Brandon Marshall THE DICEY (11) Reggie Wayne (12) Greg Jennings (13) Sidney Rice (14) Anquan Boldin (15) Dwayne Bowe (16) Wes Welker (17) Michael Crabtree (18) T.J. Houshmanzadeh (19) Chad 85 (20) Steve Smith CAR THE BACKUPS (21) Donald Driver (22) Vincent Jackson (23) Mike Wallace (24) Steve Breaston (25) Braylon Edwards (26) Hines Ward (27) Mike Sims-Walker (28) Jeremy Maclin (29) Kenny Brit (30) Dez Bryant

One day I will be right about Calvin Johnson (I’ve been touting this guy since the beginning) and maybe that one day is today…this guy is a monster and the Lions are on the upswing, you could do a lot worse than him as your #1. The top 5 are all great after that I like the Austins, Jacksons, and Bowes of the world, but if you end up in that territory don’t forget to layer your depth accordingly…the guys you want to do that with are Welker, Crabtree, Houshmanzadeh, and Maclin. {Sleeper season-Houshmanzadeh will gather up 1000 yards and at least 6 TD’s as Pete Carroll wakes up the Seattle offense and Michael Crabtree and Alex Smith keep their coach’s pants on to the tune of 1100 yards and 8 TD’s}.


THE CLASS (1) Antonio Gates (2) Dallas Clark (3) Vernon Davis (4) Jason Witten (5) Tony Gonzalez (6) Brent Celek (7) Jermichael Finley THE UPSIDES (8) Owen Daniels (9) Chris Cooley (10) Visanthe Shiancoe THE BACKUPS (11) Zach Miller (12) Kellen Winslow (13) John Carlson (14) Kevin Boss (15) Dustin Keller

Last year I told you Witten was the guy to get and I was a bit off, I think people are slightly overrating that Cowboy offense, it won’t be quite as dynamic as people think and they will have to use Witten quite a bit…he is still a premium TE to have. {Sleeper season-Three guys that will not kill you Jeremy Shockey, Tony Scheffler, and Rookie Aaron Hernandez will all serve as good trade bait/backups in this league, they are all way undervalued.

I don’t rank defense’s or kickers because I hate drafting them early…this year I may (but probably not) change my tune on that in 1 or 2 leagues going after a very good 49ers Defense/Special Teams who will face the likes of Leinart, Bradford, and Hasselbeck a combined 6 times!

Once my 4 (yes I know 4 leagues is too many but I think I can handle them) drafts have taken place I will pick one or two to chronicle on my blog and use that to offer advice and analysis…PLUS don’t forget I will be doing my usual Bet on this (Just don’t get mad me) segment each week, the first one will appear on the draft recap…but as a bonus maybe you should think about betting the over on the Lions 5 wins and Chiefs 6 ½ wins. Also (if you can find it) Baltimore is at plus money to win there division still so go after that!

August 19, 2010

Football Preview 2010 (Part 1-Reality)

Before you dismiss my lowly BLOG just remember it was this guy (two thumbs right at me) that told you from the get-go that the Saints were going to win Superbowl 44 beating the Vikings in the 2009 NFC title game…now yes I did say they would beat the Patriots who beat the Texans in the 2009 AFC title game…but let’s not dwell on the negative after all in baseball 50% is pretty good.

Are you ready for some Bret Favre!…wait I mean Are you ready for some Football! The time has come for us to get giddy as we prepare for both the 2010 NFL season and our 2010 Fantasy Football season. It was a big news off-season and the headlines ranged anything from big fat Rolls Royce driving Albert Haynesworth wants out to one time superstar Brian Westbrook wants in. The Redskins are relevant again and no it’s not for beating up their significant other. Not to be outdone by the skins the Cowboys made some news of their own by drafting another wide receiver…that is a pre-Madonna and is divisive in the clubhouse…I’m sure it will all workout fine though, after all the Cowboys and Dez Bryant can always fall back on their mutual hate for WR Roy Williams if things get hairy. In other news Pete Carroll cuts a deal with prosecutors to leave USC without jail time and he only has to serve community service in Seattlethat’s not bad, while Kurt Warner hands over the keys to the Cardinals to the King of the Scottsdale Hot Tub Party…Matt Leinart. Some guy named Bret had ankle surgery and blah blah blah…while quietly the 49ers started realizing just how bad their division is and if they can just keep their coaches pants on, hell they just might win it! In the other conference Rex Ryan has assembled a team with so many clashing personalities not even his famous Rex Ryan Cookie Dough Chili will shut them up, while the Steelers wonder why their QB had to go all Kobe on them. Last but not least we visit the touching story of two people brought together by fate, love of the game, and the shared desire to date a Kardashian so they can have a relevant Reality TV show…T. Owens and Chad “85 and dropping” Johnson. This ladies and gentleman is the 2010 Football Preview!




NFC EAST: Cowboys 10-6 Eagles 9-7 Redskins 8-8 Giants 7-9 (The BEast) has new drama with McNabb changing teams and the arrival of Shanahan to the Redskins and Des Bryant to the Cowboys, but like always these teams will beat up on each other and the high expectations of this Cowboy team will fall short yet again. I like the Skins who have the easiest schedule of this group, but not enough to get into the playoffs as it’s hard for me to bet against Andy Reid and his Eagles even with a new QB, though Kolb will struggle at times. (Stars of Division-DeSean Jackson and Chris Cooley) {Sleepers-Devin Thomas WR Redskins and Jeremy Maclin WR Eagles}

NFC NORTH: Vikings 11-5 Packers 9-7 Lions 7-9 Bears 6-10
Old Man Favre gets it done again only this year with a touch less flare (BTW Favre and Britney Spears are the only world-class divas that get away with Trucker hats and Sandals), Aaron Rodgers and the Pack disappoint as their defense crumbles, while Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson actually stay healthy enough to hang above 500% for most of the year. Cutler and the Bears are helped by a great defense who often gets tired defending on the their own goal line time after time as Cutler continues to give the ball to the other team just so he can attempt to gun it in comeback glory. (Stars of Division Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson) {Sleepers-Johnny Knox WR Bears and Toby Gerhart RB Vikings}

NFC SOUTH: Saints 11-5 Falcons 10-6 Panthers 8-8 Bucs 3-13 Drew Brees strikes me as the kind of guy who can produce back to back MVP like seasons as the Saints lead the NFC again, meanwhile Matt Ryan and Michael Turner bounce back enough to make the playoffs. Jimmy Clausen defies the odds by being a good ex-Notre Dame NFL player (wow is Brady Quinn bad) and I don’t see the Bucs being good at all…in fact to give them 3 wins was tough. (Stars of Division-Drew Brees and Michael Turner){Sleepers-Jimmy Clausen QB Panthers and Josh Freeman QB Bucs}

NFC WEST: 49ers 11-5 Cardinals 8-8 Seahawks 7-9 Rams 3-13 Alex Smith will finally stay healthy and protect the ball as he hands off to his stud back Frank Gore who will finally have the kind of running lanes he needs to be a #1 star back, Matt Leinart won’t be quite as bad people think, but he won’t have enough defense to get him above 500% either. Hasselback has his swan song season as he leaves with class but he loses too many close ones, and the Rams do their best Lions impression fighting for a few wins during an epically bad season. (Stars of Divison-Alex Smith, Justin Forsett, and finally Frank Gore){Sleepers-Michael Crabtree WR 49ers and Early Ducett WR Cardinals}


AFC WEST: Chiefs 9-7 Chargers 9-7 Raiders 8-8 Broncos 6-10 I got the exact order last year in this division correct, but this year it’s a bit tougher. The Chargers are talented but I hate the coach and there’s some drama on both sides of the ball so I have them taking a step back. My logic on the Chiefs is that they will control the ball so well with the two new guys in town (Charlie Weiss and Thomas Jones) they will find themselves in position to win a lot of games. I think the Broncos will show flashes and the Scrappy Raiders, on the backs of Michael Bush and Darren McFadden, will actually make it to 500% this year. (Stars of Division-Michael Bush, Ryan Matthews){Sleepers-Matty Cassel QB Chiefs and Jabar Gaffney WR Broncos}

AFC SOUTH: Texans 11-5 Colts 11-5 Titans 8-8 Jaguars 5-11 I just don’t see it with the Jaguars in any way this year, last year I predicted 6-10 and they went 7-9, this year I’m going even lower with 5-11. The Titans will stay at 8-8 again this year as they work out a defense that won’t be as good, and the running game can’t possibly repeat that kind of performance. As for the top two spots 11-5 sounds right for both. Last year I predicted a big jump for this very talented Texans team, maybe I was bit early they were in both Indy games last year and should’ve won one of them if not both. I think the Colts will show some age especially in that defense. (Stars of Division Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub, and Chris Johnson){Sleepers Donald Brown RB Colts and Jacoby Jones WR Texans}

AFC NORTH: Ravens 11-5 Bengals10-6 Browns 6-10 Steelers 6-10 The Ravens are loaded with talent, but that defense isn’t what it used to be. The Bengals actually have great balance in their roster and they were probably the best fit for a guy like T.O. I like them to have a nice consistent season, with Carson Palmer passing the ball a little better. As for the Steelers this will prove to be a lost season for them, once their QB went Kobe it was all over, they will show some flashes but ultimately a beat up defense and rusty offense will be too much to overcome. I like the Browns to make some progress as Holmgren gets this thing headed in the right direction. (Stars of Division Ray Rice and Joe Flacco){Carson Palmer QB Bengals and Jerome Harrison RB Browns}

AFC EAST: Patriots 11-5 Jets 9-7 Dolphins 8-8 Bills 2-14 The Bills will be really bad, like Godfather 3 bad. The Jets are clearly overrated and have way too many personalities floating around in that locker room to work, they will start sluggish and play catch up all year long. The Dolphins stay relevant but there are still too many spots on that team that have questions. My Pats are being overlooked again and that’s good if you’re a Pats fan (everybody knows New England teams play better with a chip on their shoulder), new additions at the TE and CB position prove worthwhile and Brady and Moss work their magic again. (Stars of Division Tom Brady and Randy Moss){Sleepers Chad Henne QB Miami and C.J. Spiller RB Bills}

Playoffs: NFC round 1: Falcons @ Cowboys/Eagles @Vikings. NFC round 2: Falcons @ Saints/Vikings @ 49ers. NFC Title: Saints Vs 49ers Champ-Saints
AFC round 1: Bengals @ Colts/ Chiefs @ Ravens. AFC round 2: Bengals @ Patriots/Ravens @ Texans. AFC Title: Pats Vs Texans Champ-Patriots
SUPER BOWL 45- Pats 41 Saints 38 MVP Tom Brady (one year late but still a great matchup)

I promise if this dream matchup of the Pats and Texans doesn’t work out this year I will stop picking it. Other scenarios that came close for me were Vikings vs Pats, 49ers vs Ravens, and Saints Bengals…but the Pats vs. Saints just felt right again. That’s it for 2010 Football preview as you see the NFL is all about Parody and that makes for a good season (unless you like the Bills, Bucs, or Rams)…so enjoy NFL 2010!

Bonus College Football Title Game-Alabama vs Penn St. (I would put Ohio St. in there but that schedule that is soft as Velveeta prevents me from giving them much due).

August 15, 2010

Movie Review #43 (The Other Guys)

The Other Guys (2010) Will Ferrell, Marky Mark Wahlberg Directed by Adam McKay

Adam McKay knows who breads his butter, that’s Will Ferrell…ever since 2004’s Anchorman (which was great) he and Will have teamed up for a comedy every other year like clockwork. This year it’s The Other Guys which like Talladega Nights is chock full of laugh out loud moments…but the story at times doesn’t make sense. The film plays a bit too much like a collection of funny bits, that they decided to throw together in a loose and lazy plot. That said it is funny and if your paying the ticket price for this film…my guess is that’s all you expect.

The Other Guys is the story of two paper pushing cops that are tired of sitting at a desk and long for the glory that the other bad-a*# cops that reside in their precinct have (the funny Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). After a tragic accident that leaves two cops dead, Officers Gamble (played hilariously by Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (played oddly by the often bad Marky Mark Wahlberg) get their chance to shine. It is of no use explaining the plot to you with this film, it really is just a vessel for funny antics (and some not so funny ones as well). I will say that the movie is chock full of guest stars and non are more funny than Michael Keaton who is Police Captain Gene Mauch who moonlights as the night manager of Bed Bath and Beyond (Hilarious!). Eva Mendes is also quite funny as Gamble’s wife. The Good Guys will not be as memorable as Anchorman was, and it’s not quite as funny as Stepbrothers, but it is funny enough and it will make money. Though it is random and at times nonsensical I still recommend it (especially to Red Sox fans who want to see Derek Jeter accidentally shot).

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) In one scene Michael Keaton reads off a briefing check list intended for his police officers to his night Bed Bath & Beyond crew…brilliant! Funny but not classic like Anchorman was…A very serviceable 6.0 on The Scale.

Food For Thought: Marky Mark has had some really bad performances (Planet of the Apes and Shooter) but he does do well in those roles he seems suited for (Three Kings and The Departed) and luckily his next one seems well tailored to him, The Fighter coming out later this year is the story of Wahlberg’s real life friend Mickey Ward and it looks very promising (as a random side note I was just by Marky Marks old house in Dorchester as I was visiting my grandma who lives right down the street…still looks the same). For Will Ferrell there is Megamind which also comes out later this year and pits him against an animated Brad Pitt as Metro Man..could be good.

DVD Review # 46 (The Losers 2010)

The Losers (2010) Zoe Saldana, Jeffrey Dean Morgan Directed By Sylvain White

For the life of me I can’t figure out why Peter Berg (director of Friday Night Lights) who co-wrote The Losers didn’t direct it. This film needed a sharper director to make it work right, because it was close to being really good, but fell short because of some lazy mistakes in execution…let me list them: (1) First of all you needed a bigger name than Jeffrey Dean Morgan (of The Watchmen and Grey’s Anatomy fame) to pull off a role that required that much bravado and respect. (2) In order to make the double crossing plot twists of the film work we need to understand the characters of this mercenary group and why they were loyal to each other…and the ten minute opening is not enough…just ask The A-Team why that doesn’t work. (3) Lastly the tone of the good guys and the tone of the bad guys don’t sync up right…in fact we want Jason Patric (the bad guy) to win, because frankly he is the only really magnetic character in the film (and BTW this is the first decent acting I’ve seen by Patric in a long time…since NARC) and if the film is centered around these lovable Losers I should want them to win…and I didn’t. All that said it is watchable and it was slightly better than The A-Team. I said to another disappointed A-Team viewer that had you inserted this plot into The A-Team film it would have been better because we understand those characters already (at least if you watched the show you do) but this comic book adapted film needed to introduce it’s heroes better.

The Losers is the story of a U.S. Special forces team that is set up on a Bolivian operation by a mysterious CIA agent known as Max (played cleverly by the usually awful Jason Patric). While in exile their team leader Clay (played well but not well enough by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is visited by another CIA agent (presumably anyway) Aisha (played by the wicked hot Zoe Saldana), who explains to them how they can both help her and get their revenge on Max. The plot is layered well at times, but ultimately fails to make sense because it opts to entertain us instead of keep us intrigued. The rest of the team includes the very funny Jensen (played well by the next Captain America-Chris Evans), Roque (played like an old spice commercial character by Idris Elba), and Pooch (played very solid by the good Columbus Short). The plot twists aren’t what they should be and the ending is average at best. I think it was my mistake to expect more from this film that had a good trailer, but nonetheless it is a solid action film for a rainy day.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Zoe Saldana and Chris Evans performances (I refuse to give Jason Patric credit) bump The Losers up to 6.0 on the scale…but I’m being generous like I was with The A-Team. Possible but unlikely in rewatchablity

August 6, 2010

DVD Review #45 (4 for the road)

I’m going away for a bit, so here are a few DVD’s to think about while I’m gone.

Book of Eli (2010) Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis Directed by Allen & Albert Hughes

In a post-apocalyptic world Eli (played rather stoically by Denzel) has to go east with the last copy of the bible on earth. During a water stop he meets a jealous book collector in Carnegie (played by the good at being bad-a** Gary Oldman), he believes “The Book” will give him control over what’s left of mankind. Eli runs and Carnegie chases, it’s a pretty straight forward plot. Eli also ends up babysitting Solara (played by the scrappy Mila Kunis) and ends up in a showdown of sorts with Carnegie. The film has a few surprises and runs about 5 minutes too long (as it’s 2nd ending is just goofy), but it is a solid watch that will be forgotten not along after you hit stop on the remote.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) It’s not brilliant, but it is watchable and it will keep you entertained. I thought two scenes really downgraded it as its “visionary” plot twist gets bit forgotten because the film goes on for 5 minutes too long after it…nonetheless an admirable 6.0 on the scale. Lacks in rewatchability

Kick-Ass (2010) Aaron Johnson, Mark Strong Directed by Matthew Vaughn

The Layer Cake (2004 solid film) director (Vaughn) who specializes in violence really packs this film full of it…in fact it is so violent and bloody that it is a distraction. The film follows Dave (played fine by Aaron Johnson) who decides to become a superhero because he thinks it will be fun. Well as it turns out being a superhero wasn’t the smartest idea and Dave doesn’t have the best experiences while in his wetsuit and boots. He gets some help when he meets up with a veteran superhero and his partner/11 year old daughter, Big Daddy (played by Nicolas Cage as usual playing Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (played brilliantly by Chloe Moretz) and really their antics kind of dominant the film from that point on. It is a truly innovative film in that I have never seen an 11 year old girl cuss and kill like this in a film before. It is definitely a hard R film that is much more violent than the trailers suggest…but it kind of works. Mark Strong shows up as Frank D’Amico (he is playing every bad guy in every film these days), and Christoher Mintz-Plasse (from SuperBad fame) also shows up. Recommend it for comic book fans and maybe fans of films like Smokin Aces or Fight Club.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) It is a new spin on an old idea, but in the final analysis this films violent direction (and especially the 11 year girl) kind of make you uncomfortable watching it (or at least me), but I made it all the way through and it is getting a sequel so I assume most kids who saw it, liked it. For me it is a 5.5 on the scale and I am worried that Vaughn’s next film X-Men First Class (a prequel) will now be over the top crazy violent…I hope not.

The Ghost Writer (2010) Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan Directed by Roman Polanski

Listen Polanski is not an innocent man and I don’t really like the idea of him running around making films until he pays for his crime…but that said I do ending up watching his films. The Ghost Writer is Polanski’s newest and it is an interesting film. Essentially Ewan McGregor (who plays “The Ghost”) is hired to help finish a former Prime Minister’s Memoir (Brosnan in a role perfect for him). As he is writing the book he uncovers some startling clues that lead into a large conspiracy centered on U.S. Foreign relations. The direction of the film is very cool, but the acting (both Kim Cattrall and James Belushi are just awful) is less than great (except for Pierce he is very good). The film is very old fashioned (which is refreshing in today’s’ 3D world) but the script doesn’t always support the tone of the film. I think Polanski whiffs a bit with both the suspense and the lackluster ending, but does get enough things right to keep you watching. I recommend it to only political junkies who like Pierce Brosnan (lol that narrows it down) for the rest of us just watch The Queen or A Special Relationship (both films are better).

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Well the story is the only great thing about the film, the rest I had to try and ignore, only to be cheated with a goofy and lazy ending…oh well 5.5 on the scale and not McGregor’s best work.


Extraordinary Measures (2010) Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser Directed by Tom Vaughan

I know it had an awful trailer and it looks like a Lifetime 8 PM kind of film, but trust me if you are in the mood for a medical feel good film, throw this one in the DVD player (or Blue Ray). John Crowley (played by Brendan Frazer who looks a bit like Shrek these days) is the father of two kids who have a rare genetic disease. He seeks out a man who is doing research on this disease, Dr. Richard Stonehill (played well by Harrison Ford)…the problem is Stonehill is a bit un-liked in the medical community and it become hard to get him to compromise in the necessary ways needed to get his theoretic test drug made. The film is a bit of TV movie, but the story is real and if you let it, it will touch you. True stories like this may not make box office, but if you consider the parents and the struggle of the children I don’t how you can’t be happy when a rare victory takes place against a vicious disease.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Maybe I’m just a softy or a loyal Harrison Ford fan, but I liked the film enough to give it a 6.0 on the scale…so what if it reruns on Lifetime.