Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Are you kidding me with this?  The new Halloween time scary movie is Ouija?  Is this all you got??

This movie reminds me first off that that great Geico TV commercial out now.  You know, where the teen aged kids in a phoney slasher movie make the worst decisions ever?  That's funny because it's true.  And right on cue, here comes the new teens getting killed horror movie, Ouija.   

Here's all you need to know.  Kids playing with a Ouija Board.   Things go wrong, they wake up some spirit that is living in the house, "Mama."  Teens start getting picked off one-by-one, with the most attractive girl being the last one to face off against Mama in the movies final scene.  Seen that one before?  And yes, all these kids make the worst decisions possible.

Also, this has kept it's PG-13 stripes so this is what you WON'T get in case you decide to go. There's no obligatory girl getting offed in the tub scene.  There's no young couple getting whacked while making out almost nude scene either.  And somehow our heroine manages to fight off the evil spirit fully clothed and not in her underwear like most of these movies.

This is not original. This is not scary.  This is nothing. NOTHING!  And for those of us looking for a good jolt at the movies this time of year this won't do it.  I don't know about you, but I find little scary about watching a bunch of teens playing with a Ouija Board!  And If you do, you may want to think about getting out more. 

Ouija. This is a shameful waste of time, money and effort.


Seldom is an action movie made that is as original, and as fun as John Wick.

This is my guilty pleasure movie of the year.  First off, John Wick is certainly not for everyone. This is over-the-top practically cartoonishly violent. And this certainly has no real social redeeming value whatsoever.  But every once in a while you have to say, "so what?"  They can't all be works of art.  But in many ways this dude-centric, action, shoot 'em up revenge thriller is a work of art, in its own weird way.

In a nutshell, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a 40 ish  year old retired assassin, who somehow escaped the Russian mob 5 years ago.  He asked the leader of the Russian mob to leave after serving him for years.  With no intention of letting Wick out, the deal was given to Wick of an impossible task for freedom.  Wick succeeded, and gave the mob boss his empire.  Wick was given his freedom.  Wick marries, and settled into a normal life.  Then his beloved wife dies of cancer.

His wife, while alive made arrangements to have a beagle puppy named Daisy delivered to John after her death to give John something to love.  John does.  Then the son of the Russian boss unknowingly steals Wicks 1969 Mustang Mach 1, beats up Wick in the middle of the night while sleeping, and kills Daisy the dog.  Wick re-enters the assassin game, with the sole purpose of killing the son, and taking down the Russian mob.  You don't mess with John Wicks dog!

And then the action begins.  Wick, who is an amazing hit man, mows through man after man, taking out his revenge.  Being honest, there is a whole lot of killing in this movie, and much of it cartoonish, almost video game like.  And he does it all while looking good in his black suit.  This movie is big time tongue-in-cheek.   There is this hotel in New York, The Continental, that he checks into, and it turns out that all hit men live there.  One of many strange and fun nuances here.

There is great wit here, and some very funny moments as well.  This is a quirky, off beat movie that somehow works very well.  If you can get past the violence and accept it as the movies calling card, the story here is really pretty good. They somehow create a character in Wicks that you like and identify with. We clearly are not all hit men, but there is something remarkably real about him that brings him to our level. He is capable of great love.  I mean, taking revenge on the mob, for killing  his dog??

Reeves is great as the off beat Wick, and the supporting cast of Ian MacShane, Willem DaFoe and others gives this cred, and makes it fun.  This is paced very well, and never lets you off the hook, once you are on it.  This is certainly not for all, and this is an acquired taste, but John Wick is going to be a hit. And get ready for more, as is set up nicely for it.  This will do very well on pay-per-view in 90 days, and is worth a ticket now as well. 

John Wick.  Slick and nonstop action, irony, humor, and enough quirk for fun.  This works.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Center Of Anything

I have to chuckle a little about what I have heard today in the media, and especially on social media about the state of the Browns win yesterday.  Yeah, it was ugly but who cares in the NFL. A win is a win. The sentiment is that it wasn't good enough - and that's laughable.

Twitter and Facebook guy and gal, and Sports Radio guy and gal are all up in arms about how the Browns won the game. And as they bloviated aimlessly, I too thought of the reason why the spanking of the Steelers seems like such a long time ago to them. (Only 2 weeks).  That day was emotion, meeting execution.

Then the Browns stumbled the next week and lost to a defeated team. And this week wrestled badly with  team that is still winless thanks to the Browns.  And it all comes down to a simple broken leg.  Alex Mack, - the Browns All-Pro Center -  that never missed a play, or a snap for many years for the Browns is out for the season. And the Browns need to find another way to run, and to move the ball, because the guy who touches the ball on every single play is out.  He is the best center in the NFL - period.   C'mon!! a Center? 

Think about this.  The center of everything is the most important part of anything.  Ever had a blown out lower back?  I have.  Do you know what yo can do? - Nothing.  Go ahead, try to get out of a chair.  When your car has a problem, and it's something deep inside the center of the engine, big problems.  Where are the lug nuts on a tire? Where does the food sit on the table? Where is the front door on your house?  Where are the lines on a highway?  And where do you get your balance?  All from the center.

What would have happened to those Indians teams of the 1990's if shortstop Omar Visquel was out for the year?  Would they have been the same?  Or Lebron with the Cavs?  The people or things in the middle of anything are the most important cogs in any machine. (Guess where the cogs are?)  And when something in the center of anything is lost or damaged a new way must be found to steady yourself, and get you back to center.  Especially when have the best of something, like the Browns do in Mack

Even though those unknown, unnoticed and unheralded pieces in the center of anything are taken for granted, you sure do notice when they are missing, or broken.  That's life though, sometimes things hurt in the middle and we have to find a way to bounce back.  You've had your turn I'm sure a time or two, as have I.  And somehow we are still here, and sometimes better than ever when we solve the center issue.  In life, or on the field.

Now, like you, it's he Browns turn.  They will have to find a way with a bit more imagination, and a continued, and even more fierce heart.  

Oh yeah, guess where that is? 

DVD - New Streaming and DVD October 28

This week there are only two major releases, but I think one of them is one of the years best.   

Keep in mind we only feature major movie releases here and not straight to DVD, games, or TV shows making their way to video.  Where applicable, I will link you back to my original review from the theater run to help you make the decision before you commit to renting, or buying. 

New This Week

Begin Again - 

This is just flat out good. A movie about a down and out music producer.  This has a great story, and terrific music.  Kiera Knightley is amazing! Great cast.  Second best movie of the year behind Chef so far.

Deliver Us From Evil - 

Supposedly based on a real story from a New York City cop, who dealt with this supernatural case years ago.


Thursday, October 23, 2014


Can we just stop now with all the Nicholas Sparks stuff?  Please?

This will be short and sweet.  If you've seen any Sparks novel/movie, you've seen them all.  We couldn't say that a few years ago, but we can now.  Truth be told, there is no reason on earth to see this, for the exception of a Michelle Monaghan sighting as she stars in this, and I'm a big fan of hers.  She doesn't make enough movies.

With that said, the kindness stops. This insipid flop of a romantic movie is just about all we can take.  For a few minor, and I mean minor exceptions this has the same characters, the same feel, the same basic plot line and the same - everything as every other Sparks book and movie. Heaven forbid Nick can you stray off the path even a little and attempt to give us something that even resembles remotely something original. 

Stop me if you've heard this one before.  She's a woman grown up who has married the wrong man, who's a jerk and she's unhappy.   He is a ridiculously good and good looking guy who looks good without a shirt who gave up on her 20 years ago.  She's married and unhappy.  He's never married and sullen.  They reunite accidentally. They rekindle the fires.  She cheats with him, it's OK though because it's Sparks.   But it can't be. She has to go back to her life!  Then one of them dies! Oh, the agony of it all! 

Oh yeah, it's told in flashback form, showing them when they were young and in love. Back and forth, back and forth.   You know the drill.  He's awkward, she's outgoing. She chases him, he's reluctant.  Then as adults, they constantly talk in whispers in romantic settings, and oh yeah, they've grown up to be amazingly beautiful perfect adults.  The whole thing just makes me want to puke!

Not the actual story line mind you.  I like a good romantic movie as much as anyone. But this is the same thing time after time!  Is it simply too much ask Sparky Ole Boy, that you give us something different at some time in your career?  Seriously, don't you have enough dough?  Have a little dignity to stop making the same exact movie and story time after time.  I know it has worked, but that train may be leaving the station, as this stiffed hard opening weekend to a 5th place finish. 

The Best Of Me.  Break out the air sick bag. Same of formula, same movie as always.  One of the years worst. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The new Brad Pitt WWII tank battle drama Fury is here, and is intense.

This is certainly a movie where good discretion on who sees it is well advised, as this is a hard R rated movie, showing the horrors of war in Germany in the waning days of WWII.  And although for the most part it isn't Saving Private Ryan hard to watch, this is pretty intense and gruesome at times.

But this is also pretty darn good.  Although I will say, this will fall short of the really tremendous movie it could have been with its cast, storyline and hype.  In short, this could be classified as disappointing, but only in the fact that it's very good, and not great.

Pitt stars as a tough as nails tank commander who as driven his Sherman tank and his crew all over WWII. From North Africa, to France, Belgium, and now Nazi Germany.   Somehow he, his crew and the tank they have named Fury, are still running even though the Nazi Tiger Tanks are far superior in every regard.   The war is winding down, and Germany is falling, but the final resistance they are finding is intense and determined.

This is the story really of these five men in this tank, and how they bond, survive, and cope with the horrible conditions of war. This takes you inside the tank, where we seldom have gone, and shows the situation these men find themselves in.  Battling the Nazi's, inferior equipment, sanity and each other.

Fury has numerous, and lengthy battle scenes that are the movies best.  These are skillfully done, and look amazingly authentic.   But it should be noted, they are not for the squeamish.  In addition to their length, they are brutal at times, and there is plenty to make everyone a bit uncomfortable.  There are scenes outside of battle scenes too that are hard to take, as this pulls no punches.

Fury is a raw, unfettered, and and unapologetic movie whose main component is to take you into WWII and show you that is simply wasn't a John Wayne propaganda piece.  It was horrible stuff.   With apologies to Battle Of The Bulge, and The Desert Fox, they are classic tank movies that were of their era and are fine.But Fury is far more accurate and direct in taking you inside the tank, and to places you must be brave to go in cinema.

Pitt continues to get better with age in an acting sense.  Ever since Moneyball, I think he has really matured and is flat out getting better in each movie forward.  Although, this is not as pleasant as Moneyball, Pitt is great, and wonderfully cast as this guy you certainly don't want to cross, but absolutely want on your side in a fight.  The sets and backdrops here are wonderful, and the costuming is first rate.  They really transport you behind the lines magnificently, and you feel of the era.

Fury.  Brutal, tough, hard to watch at times, but quite good.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Royals Role

Time for the World Series.  It is possibly my favorite sporting event as nothing really is like post-season baseball.

With due apologies to the major TV networks, the sad reality is that they have to drag their cameras, announcers and crews and try to find Kansas City on a map. (It's in Missouri.)  And yes, you must broadcast the series, even if the Yankees are not in it.  Also, with apologies to the Giants and their fans, this World Series is all about the young Kansas City Royals.  They are charged with a feat far larger than winning 4 games in the next week.  Their role, is to save Major League Baseball - if only for a while.

Baseball has a few enemies starting with themselves.  No salary cap and the desire to proote only the major TV markets has made it an extreme unfair playing field for all other teams.  The sports media -Who insist on simply covering every aspect of the league as it pertains to the Yankees, Red Sox, and the..well.....Yankees and the Red Sox.   The new fan -  who has become a front runner.  Rooting for only teams that win.  Foregoing the home town team, because of their inability to compete.  And it's understandable, as all they know is that all the great players want to play in about 6 cities, none of them theirs, and getting huge money to do so.

I have always maintained that nothing can galvanize a city like a winning MLB team, and I stick by it. It's the every day of it, the drive to the playoffs and making a deep post season run.  Enter the Kansas City Royals.  No one is going to sit here and tell you these guys make minimum wage, of course they are making good money, but in a baseball sense they are not the Yankees by any means.  They are team that built themselves, with their own farm system, and added a few unnoticed pieces here and there pulling guys off the baseball scrap heap, making bold trades and doing frankly, what they had to do to survive.  The hope was to contend.  Instead, the Royals have now hypnotized a nation.  Winning this series will give the nation and the sport a much needed lift.

They have a ton of guys you've never heard of who play the game the right way.  They play 15 miles east of one of the great Mid-American cities we have that no one knows about on I-70.  They play in a facility that has been recently revamped, but seriously was LIGHT YEARS ahead of its time when built originally in the 1970's. They get zero credit, and deserve it all.  They were he precursor to every single new ball park (including our beautiful park) 20 years before Baltimore's Camden Yard which gets it all - and it's not accurate.  Kansas City built the first fantastic ball park 42 years ago! And BTW - it has hosted 73 MILLION fans since.

If the Royals can finish this off, not only will they capture the hearts of Americans, at least for a little while.  They can also give hope, real hope,  to the dozens of other MLB cities that think they will never have their say in the big show.  That the World Series is not only for the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals.  Yes, the Royals climbed this mountain in 1985 with a world title, but it's different now by a mile.  There is a lot riding on this for the fans mind set for the immediate future and well being of the game. 

This is a team and an organization that once was mighty when the game was smaller. Then fell victim to the game and money growing out of control.  And just when the league and the media was hoping they would simply bow down, or go out of business, the Royals have scaled the summit again, and are on the precipice of restoring order to the baseball world that has tried everything to rid itself of such small market pests. 

The Royals role is of course to win this series, but it's really beyond baseball.  It's to win it for millions who feel that the world is sometimes a bit too big, and score one for the little guy.  And give hope to baseball fans and to to those not mesmerized by baseball, that good things can happen to good people who spend their lives doing things  - the right way.