Monday, October 24, 2016

Tribe - Underdog To The Underdog

For as long as anyone can remember who is able to read this, the Chicago Cubs have been perennial underdogs. They have even been dubbed the "Lovable Losers"  - by their own fans and every Ken Burns Documentary every made.  After all, about 108 years of no World Series Crowns, and 71 years of no World Series appearances make it apt.

But now, the Cubs are not the underdog. Not by a mile.  They have been boastfully dubbed the "Big Bad Cubs" by just about everyone in the media, social media and public opinion in general.  Enter the Tribe, the underdog - to the underdog.  And that moniker fits just fine.  Personally, my hope would be that everyone, and I mean everyone, keeps telling this bunch of Indians they can not win this thing. That has been the gas in the engine here all year long. 

The Tribe has been written off even before the first pitch of this series. They are not enough of this, and not enough of that.  Too injured, too young, we really aren't that good, blah blah...  That alone, has been the very thing that has taken the pressure off this team all season long, and made them play as loose as a goose in a steam room. The Cubs, who are wearing a tight 108 year old iron collar around their neck coming into this season, now have the weight of being "a shoe in" for the title.  The Indians can tell you all about that from 1995. 

I've seen a lot of posts on Facebook and Twitter like, "Let's prove them wrong.."  blah blah, but I'm not sure that's the way to go. I think Tribe fans should not be angry, and simply enjoy this as much as the Tribe does.  Let's allow the Cubs, and their suddenly insanely arrogant fans, carry the same weight as the Red Sox, and the Blue Jays.  According to the media they had much too much for the Tribe too.  They are now playing golf, and Big Papi is watching reruns of his various awards  ceremonies while we're playing for the title.

Under normal circumstances the Cubs would be a feel good story, but these are not normal for anyone. These Cubs are pretty darn good. But the Cubs have been pretty darn good before. Finally, the Cubs make it this far and they can't embrace who they are, or who they have been. They are now the big town bully, and the Tribe, are..well ...the Cubs.  Ironic that after a century of waiting, you would think that the Cubs would have a hard time not being the underdog. They would have to deal with the Yankees, or Red Sox.  But no one ever thought they would face - The Cleveland Indians.  They make movies about those clowns!

So while the Cubs have to learn to be someone else, the Tribe can just go on being who they are and have been as long as anyone reading this can remember. They can be the underdog. In fact, they are underdogged to the 100 year old  - underdog.  Gonna make it all the sweeter when the Tribe wins this thing, and oh yeah, ends their own 68 year drought.  Remember that?  We are the only ones.

For this year no one wants to talk Tribe intangibles.  Our own drought, The Cavs karma, a city on the definite rise. A team that somehow got home field advantage for the entire playoffs, and has seemingly thrived on the very adversity that was dispatched to doom them. As we step over the Bones of the Red Sox and Blue Jays strewn along the way.  Destiny is playing here - this year.

Play loose, play easy, and enjoy this next week.  Go Tribe!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - Jack Reacher 2

A lot a very average reviews nationally for the latest Tom Cruise - Jack Reacher flick, and frankly I can't understand why.

Can we just get over the fact that Cruise is not as tall and hulky as Reacher is in the books?  He's the one. Swallow the hook!  He is the movie Reacher period.  Look, I am not a huge Cruise fan either, but I am a fan of this enigmatic character that Reacher is. And I have never read a single Reacher book.

In this installment, Reacher the semi-retired, semi off the radar, heavily decorated Amy Intelligence man comes face to face with a ghost or two from his colorful past. Plus, he meets a new attractive female high ranking Army officer, who is in big trouble and needs Reacher to help clear her name after she is charged with spying against the United States.

This is the second in this series, and frankly I like them. These are action based, but these are smart too.  Reacher is a GREAT character that is hard to figure out. He's flawed, and he's confused about many things in his life, both past and present. He does of course have James Bond like skills, but his flaws and his confusion make him very much like everyone else.

This moves along nicely, and has enough action to keep your senses engaged, and enough smarts to keep your mind engaged too.  Yes, there is a hole or two here, and yes some of this is a bit convenient, but who cares.  There is no illusion of this winning an Oscar or anything. This is just a fun escape movie that is better than most in this genre because of the character that Reacher is.

Jack Reacher 2.  Good, go, fun!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Tribe - Just Believe

This started with the Cavaliers, and now it's the Indians turn to face the tons of doubters who continually tell us these teams just aren't good enough.

A lot has been made of the TBS coverage of the Indians run through the playoffs, and the national media in general, doubting this team, on air, the entire way.  The angst that exists between the sports networks and the Cleveland sports teams is nothing new, as they can't get their heads around the fact that these teams are really good. They continue to dismiss us, and we just keep winning, and they continually get embarrassed for their non-educated views and opinions.  In short, they don't know the Tribe at all, because we are not Boston, New York, San Francisco, or Washington.  All of who are home on the couch.

Let's recap how good we really are, and see how really inexcusable it is the media doesn't know this they way they should.

-  We played the entire season without our best overall player, Michael Brantley
-  We played half the season without maybe the best catcher in the American league, Yan Gomes
-  We lost 60% of our starting pitching rotation in September and October
-  We had a franchise best 14 game winning streak - (started playing ball in 1901)
-  We are the only team in MLB not to lose 4 games in a row this season
-  We are 64-1 when leading by 3 or more runs
-  We don't have the energy of playing in front of 40K fans every night
-  We were in first place virtually all season long
-  We earned home field advantage by sweeping the WORLD CHAMPS at seasons end on the road.
-  We swept the Red Sox and unceremoniously sent Big Papi packing

And the list goes on and on. Yet, night after night, game after game they all say, this is the end. This is where it turns. 

I am not angry at TBS, ESPN or anyone else in the media.  I don't think it's "hate" at all.  I think it's their biggest nightmare. A team that may be baseballs best, and they know nothing about them because of their voluntary blindness and obsession with the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Big Papi and the the rest of that bunch.  It's insanely embarrassing for them, not us.  Even a local beat writer for the Tribe pronounced them dead a couple weeks ago, in print, after the Carlos Carrasco injury causing a huge stir.

But all of this, all season long brought this bunch of kids and veterans together, and they got it done.  I even heard a guy on ESPN - TODAY  saying, "The Indians really are not the best team, they are just playing well now... blah blah.."  I personally don't care if they are the best team, I just want them to win the World Series.  They are the first ones to make it there going 7-1 against the medias much loved and vaunted East Coast Teams.  Sorry to embarrass you  - yet again.

This is why baseball is such a a great game.  It's life in a fishbowl, and teaches us so much. It humbles us, teaches us how to win and lose graciously, it shows that life can be challenging at times and that hard work and perseverance can pay off.  So for all of us that have ever been told repeatedly we're not good enough, or not as good as someone, or something else, you have two choices.  You can believe it, or you can do as the Tribe did  - just - believe. 

Just believe - Thank you Tribe.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - The Girl On The Train

Here comes the new poster child for a compelling story that I'm sure is far more interesting to read, as opposed to seeing on the big screen.

This is no way reflective of the good story this is. It simply is not told well in this version in this movie. Even with the strong star power of the lovely Emily Blunt, this unfortunate adaptation of this story looks little better than a Lifetime movie for their fall lineup.  This movie is very slow at times, predictable all the time, and compelling very little of the time.  If you watch this with any attention span whatsoever, you will be an hour ahead of it they whole way.

This is the story of three women, one main man, and twisted lives they lead in a very affluent area seemingly in Connecticut, just outside of New York City.  It is a movie where there seems to be a murder of passion, as these women are interconnected in one way or another. They all have big problems, and one of them ends up dead.  All while our main character, Rachel (Blunt), watches the other two women's lives play out in front of her, as her life spirals out of control while she rides the train daily into the city. 

Blunt is very good here and the supporting cast is as well cast, including Haley Bennett (who also is in the Magnificent 7 right now), the great Allison Janney, Justin Theroux and others.  They are not the problem. This great story for some reason was placed in the hands of people seemingly dead set on making a boring movie, as opposed to making one more closely resembling the book.  This veers wildly from it, and no one really benefits.

The Girl On The Train.  They made a Lifetime movie, so wait to see it for free on your TV, or Netflix soon if you must.

Friday, September 30, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - Deepwater Horizon

Mark Wahlberg continues to make movies with stories that need, and should be told. Deepwater Horizon is the latest flick to do this.

This is based on the story of the sinking of the massive oil rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf Of Mexico in April of 2010 where 11 men lost their lives.  We all kind of know what happened, but what really happened, and who are these brave people that work well off shore on those oil platforms?

This stars Wahlberg as Mike Williams, a real technician on the DH.  It also stars Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, John Malkovich and Ethan Suplee in a nice breakout role for him.  All of our stars are actual real characters from the real story.  It is told from Williams point of view who somehow found his way off the DH under amazing circumstances. 

This movie puts you right on the DH, and place that we never get to go. How many of us have actually been on a rig?  The sets are amazing, and the casting of our characters and the total supporting cast is terrific.  The special effects are sensational, as this is extremely intense, exciting, and very suspenseful.  This is incredible movie making in every regard.

As far as the plot is concerned, this places the blame for this horrible disaster right at the feet of B.P. Oil.   They did NOT own the rig, as they hire companies who know what they are doing to drill and capture the oil. Here, the BP brass overrides the company and pushes the DH to over perform and go against protocol and safety procedures. This is not an anti-energy movie, but it is not afraid to place blame where they feel it belongs.

This movie also takes the time to let us get to know these people on these platforms. And shows us what kind of lives they lead, which none of us really know. They also explain what the DH was, and what role it played in the gulf.  And how the system works at large. This is a very exciting movie, that is right on time for this time of the year.  It's grown up, and is helping usher in the fall movie season where the better movies start showing up.

Deepwater Horizon. Flat out good all the way around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW - The Magnificent Seven

Many people who go to see this star-studded western will have no idea this is a remake of a movie from about 50 years ago of the same name.  Same basic premise, but not the same movie.

The M7 from the 60's was even more star-studded at the time than this one, and was a big hit. But this time Denzel Washington leads a strong cast, in this really well done remake directed by the ever improving, Antwon Fuqua. 

Sadly, for some reason westerns in this era don't do the box office they should.  Yes, this did open number one but this is certainly a hit, and absolutely very good.  This is far more like Tombstone (1993), True Grit (2010), and Unforgiven (1992) than the original M7 in its feel, look and overall presentation.  Our stars are great, and Washington continues his march on, as a reinvented tough guy in his second career.

This stars Washington, also Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and many others, in this story of revenge and redemption.  A poor western city is being taken over by a horrible bunch of terrible people for profit and a few members of the town hire a few strong gunmen to push back.  It's a classic formula, and it works.  It pits really tough, and bad men, against really tough worse men.  A feel far more authentic than the 1960's John Wayne classics of simply good versus bad. 

This is very well done, with incredible character development, and a story that is timeless. This is also filmed beautifully in the wonderful mountainous backdrop of the American west.  The music soundtrack is strong and our performances same.  This is also shot in the classic western style of Clint Eastwood style of westerns. Many very tight facial shots, with strange characters to showcase the tension in the room.  This technique was certainly researched before shooting, and works very well still. Tombstone used the same formula and was great there too.

Yes this is violent, but not bloody or gratuitous.  This is powerful, and exciting with a strong plot, and a very nice payoff.  Kudos to our supporting cast, sets and costuming, all extremely good and really adds to the entire project.

The Magnificent Seven. Terrific!

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Clint Eastwood directed it, Tom Hanks stars in it, and the true story supplies the backdrop for this bio-pic of Captain Sullenberger. The pilot at the controls of the US Airways flight that went into the Hudson a few years ago.

Since the actual flight only lasted 208 seconds, there has been a lot of speculation if there is enough story to make this as a feature movie. What this is, is the back story of the investigation that followed the accident where every single person got off safely.  Some of this you know, and some you don't.  I always think that is a sign of good movie making, where you have a story where you know the eventual outcome, and still have it being compelling and interesting.

This is Eastwood's real first wading into the CG world, and being honest, the scenes where the landing is showcased are quite good.  It successfully puts you on the plane, and in the cockpit, a place few of us seldom get to go.  Might be interesting to see how actual pilots view this, but from a citizens view, it looks pretty good.  But I, and every other critic can't honestly tell you if it's authentic or not.

This movie also understands well, that this has a story to tell, and says it in about a hour and thirty-five minutes.  Good move.  They take this about as far as it can go, and this does not get old and repetitive. Hanks is very good and the supporting cast, although small, is well cast and quite good. 

Is this fantastic?  No, but it is interesting and sometimes it is nice to see a movie that showcases an actual event that does have a good ending.  Even though the plane is ill-fated, the eventual outcome is basically a happy one. This is not too intense for most, it is compelling and done tastefully where essentially anyone can go. One of the more tame Eastwood flicks ever.

Sully.  Available to you in IMAX as well.