Monday, January 30, 2012

The 5 Most Evil NFL Teams

1. Dallas Cowboys. It's no coincidence all those Satanic ritual movies have the Cowboys' logo with a circle around it. Having the gall to call yourself "America's Team" gets you to to the top of this list right quick.

2. Green Bay Packers. They win too often, and their stupid Lambeau leap is obnoxious.

3. New England Patriots. They never ever ever lose. Well, sometimes they do. They are the football version of entitled, smarmy Duke basketball.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers. They are always mediocre yet nearly always worm their way into the late rounds of the playoffs and sometimes even swipe Super Bowl titles.

5. Seattle Seahawks. It's impossible to take anything sportswise from Seattle seriously, yet I still hate the Seahawks because of their obnoxious color scheme and ability to pull out undeserved wins with semi-regularity.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Man on a Ledge

Stuff gets real when you're teetering on the ledge of a Manhattan high-rise, having flashbacks in 10-minute chunks to keep the audience apprised of what's going on in your noggin. It's tough to blame you if you're, say, Sam Worthington and you overact a bit. Maybe you let your Aussie accent come in and out as you taunt a pair of police officers inside the window and an adoring crowd below. Maybe you dart your eyes so much you resemble the Hamburglar.

Maybe you just zone out on occasion, as Third Eye Blind's Jumper courses through your mind.

Whatever the case, Man on a Ledge manages to overcome an iffy performance by Worthington to stay riveting throughout its running time. Kudos to the filmmakers for pitching a super-high concept -- 21 stories high, more or less -- and wringing every possible bit of suspense from it.

The film opens in a way that makes you want to tap the back of the head of the guy in front of you, saying "Can you believe that guy just checked into a hotel, jimmied up the window and just stepped out there? I mean, the movie is called Man on a Ledge but holy sh*t, the man is actually on that ledge! Do you think he's really there or it's just a green screen, like what weathermen and Jar Jar Binks use? How do you think he'll get down? The guy's got a secret. What do you think it is? And why does the guy keep talking like Crocodile Dundee?"

Since actually saying all that stuff would get you tossed out by the other 15 people brave enough to pay for a ticket to a new movie that opens in the January wasteland, you've got to twirl those thoughts to yourself as you sit back, grip the arm rests and let Sam's flashbacks fill you in, bit by bit.

Thanks to its unique and convincing plotting, the movie manages to make infinite scenes of a dude just standing there fascinating. The movie is at its best when you don't know what's going on in his head, and you're leaning forward hoping he cuts ties with all the lies that he's been living in. You'd kind of like to see him jump, but then again you totally wouldn't, because that would make the movie far too short, unless the third act consists solely of paramedics doing grisly work with spatulas.

Once the film lets you in on all its mysteries -- thankfully doing so subtle way that respects your intellegience and not in a Scooby-Doo manner -- it drags a little, but manages to pull you back in every now and again by cutting and verifying that THE DUDE IS STILL UP ON THAT LEDGE!

The filmmakers might be on to something here, that could fix just about every boring movie. Bella and Edward keep playing chess? Show Jacob on a ledge! Sylvester Stallone's stumbling through a monlogue? Have him do it on a ledge! There are Chipmunks, Smurfs or Muppets on screen, and they won't do anything entertaining? Put 'em all up on a ledge, then push!

Here's hoping the ledge movement begins here and now, and historians look back on this great moment that started it all.

Starring Sam Worthington, Edward Burns, Ed Harris and Elizabeth Banks. Written by Pablo F. Fenjves. Directed by Asger Leth. Rated PG-13. 102 minutes.

My novel, Stormin' Mormon, is available as a Kindle book for $1.

The 5 Worst Competition Shows I've Had The Misfortune Of Watching

1. American Idol. If Ryan Seacrest came out today and said "Hey, I'm the antichrist," I would think, "Yeah, that's about right." I hate everything about this show, and Seacrest is the head of the beast.

2. Survivor. They give these people way too many creature comforts and don't starve them or let them suffer from diseases nearly enough. The only thing they're really "surviving" is increasing public apathy.

3. Deal or No Deal. There's no skill involved in this idiotic game, and nobody ever accepts the first deal, so there's no sense in it even being offered. The arcade game rocks, though. Gives out a ton of tickets.

4. Big Brother. At least the people in Survivor have to deal with the elements. People in this show just sit around and complain about each other. I get enough of that at work.

5. The Bachelorette. It's universally understood that dudes, especially dude-bros, which populate this show, hate the idea of marriage and only do so when they're forced to. The idea that dude-bros would compete for the ability to get married is akin to zebras at the zoo competing with each other to see who gets to be roommates with the lion.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The 5 Worst Breakfast Cereals

1. Cheerios -- I'm pretty sure this is made by the same cardboard they used to make the boxes. Each bite takes you that much closer to depression rather than cheeriness.

2. Special K -- The reason this stuff has brand recognition as something that makes you thin is it's impossible to eat.

3. Shredded Wheat -- Munching on this makes you feel like a horse chewing on hay. I've never tried hay, but it's probably better than this.

4. Kix -- I understand why mothers approve, because they love to torture their children with things that taste terrible, such as vegetables. But I can't comprehend the assertion that alleged kids actually approved of this. Whoever these kids were, they clearly have never encountered sugar.

5. Raisin Bran -- It's like Corn Flakes, only with the added bonus of like seven raisins in the entire box. Bran Raisin should be its actual title, only with the word "raisin" in agate type.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The 5 Dumbest Pizza Toppings

1. Extra cheese. It's impossible to tell whether or not it's really there. I hope pizza makers punish people who order this by giving them less cheese.

2. Pineapple. This is pizza, not a luau. Get that crap out of here.

3. Anchovies. This is pizza, not a haunted aquarium of dead fish that still have their heads and bones intact. Get that crap out of here.

4. Chicken. You have to eat this garbage in 98 percent of your other meals, so you deserve a break when it comes pizza time.

5. JalapeƱos. They improve almost everything, but pizza is the rare exception. Rather than enhance the taste of pizza sauce, they combat it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How I Stopped SOPA

In case you were wondering why SOPA got shot down, it was definitely because I refused to post an update here yesterday. This action pretty much single-handedly got Obama to come out three days before and render the bill moot by saying he would not support it.

Yes, my lack of posting was so powerful that it traveled back in time to make that happen. You're welcome. Let me know if there are any other social causes I can single-handedly champion for you, internet.

For the record, I also stopped PIPA Middleton from doing whatever she had planned. The British should stay out of the American lawmaking process anyway. We are independent from you now, dammit! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

5 Things The Internet Want You To Hate Right Now


Suze Orman's Approved Card.

The media for ignoring Ron Paul.

The media for telling you what's wrong with Ron Paul.

Ron Paul.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: The Way

The sugar-sweet father-son team-up turns out to be far more than Martin Sheen doing a favor for the less famous of his sons. Emilio Estevez pours his heart into the script and direction of the travelogue, starring his father as a man grieving over the death of his middle-aged son by going on a cross-country hike.

The film starts off unremarkably, but builds momentum as it goes and gradually becomes something near transcendent. Deborah Kara Unger adds pep as a woman Sheen's character meets along his literal road to redemption. Estevez wisely shows restraint with the character, stopping short of making her the protagonist's sole salvation.

A thoughtful meditation about the way fathers fail to connect with sons, and they way we shoulder regrets that last a lifetime, The Way is a worthy effort and a sign that Estevez may yet emerge as an excellent filmmaker.

Review: We Bought a Zoo

While We Bought a Zoo isn't exactly Cameron Crowe's grand return to relevance as a film auteur, it does prove that the wheels haven't fallen off quite as badly as they'd appeared to after the Elizabethtown debacle.

The drama, which tries so hard to be uplifting that it nearly gives itself a hernia in the process, tells the story of a wealthy single father who makes the bizarre decision to spend it all on a defunct zoo. It probably doesn't hurt that Scarlett Johansson is the zookeeper that comes with the property.

Matt Damon, finally looking something close to his age thanks to his longish, unkempt hair, keeps the main character relatable, if not quite understandable. There's an endearing, almost Fitzcarraldo-like irrational obsession to his character that keeps you from rolling your eyes as he continues his silly quest to indulge his ego.

It's much the same for Crowe, who decides to adapt a strange, navel-gazing book rather than tell a personal story like the ones that gave him his stature to begin with. Then again, if Elizabethtown is the only type of personal story left in Crowe's tank, maybe it's best that he went off in this new direction. 

Review: Pariah

Director Dee Rees's penetrating, heart-rending film tells the tale of a lost, directionless Brooklyn teen (Adepero Oduye) whose browbeating parents force her to hide her burgeoning sexuality, leaving her to work things out on the streets with questionable influences.

Brutally efficient dialogue and pitch-perfect performances keep the film riveting throughout. All facets of the film work in concert to make you feel the isolation and shame of the protagonist, as she searches for someone, anyone who can understand what she's enduring. Pariah sets a new standard for the coming-of-age genre.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Rampart

If the play-by-their-own-rules movie cops of yesteryear operated in these PC times, he would spend most of his time filling out paperwork and trying to fight off suspensions in meetings with internal affairs.

Such is the plight of the rogue LAPD officer played with fevered grit and searing angst by Woody Harrelson. Dubbed with the nickname "Date Rape," for his alleged vigilante assassination of a date rapist earlier in his career, he's seen by his colleagues as a man's man who operates the way they'd like to if they had the stones, as well as the utter disregard for the consequences.

Barely apologetically racist and unashamedly womanizing, Harrelson struggles to keep his professional life and family -- whose members are exhausted of his macho act -- together after he's caught on video delivering a brutal beating to a motorist. Unable and unwilling to apologize from his public temper tantrum, he's left scrambling to defend himself as the streets themselves turn against them.

A crackling potboiler with seething political undertones, director Oren Moverman's is fascinating from beginning to end. It's heartening to see Harrelson -- a fine actor who's too often relegated to comic relief -- find such a meaty role. I want to see more of the same of Harrelson's newfound Roman spring.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Review: Undefeated

Documentarians Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin have created a Friday Night Lights for a new decade. Their stellar football film captures the struggles of a downtrodden program. The inspirational and moving tale reveals the joys and angst of the game, positing that football reveals character rather than builds it.

The access and footage the filmmakers procure is fascinating, and almost hidden-camera like. A feature film could easily be developed from this material, but I doubt it would touch the essence of what makes this doc superb.

The story unfolds in a genuinely unpredictable way, with heartbreaking, magnificent twists. I'd rank it alongside Go Tigers as one of the best football documentaries I've seen.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Review: Coriolanus

While period Shakespeare adaptations are usually rote and unimaginative, modern re-imaginings give the work new life and allow it to shine in different ways. Ralph Fiennes's exquisite adaptation of Coriolanus falls into the latter category. 

Updating the setting to a potentially apocalyptic war setting. Fiennes is superb as a conflicted warlord, who bristles under the domineering ways of a character played with authoritative excellence by Vanessa Redgrave. Equally outstanding is Jessica Chastain, in what seems to be her 300th standout performance of the year, 

Excellent visual and sound design keep the film moving at a brisk pace, and the careful, inspired adaptation by John Logan reshapes the play into a riveting, thoughtful action film.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Off To A Great Start

It took me all of two days to catch my first cold of the new year. Right now I'm on pace to break Dan Marino's record of 5,084 colds caught in 1984. I'm hoping my kids come through for me by relaying every sickness possible from daycare and preschool by wiping their snot on every surface of my home. Wish me luck.