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Found 38 results

  1. I don't get to nearly as many movies as I used to, so the smaller independent movies - particularly those that look like a downer - get bumped off the see list. With the multiple Golden Globe wins, my wife and I decided to check this out and I felt that this was a better contender for best picture than others in recent years (I'm looking at you La La Land). It was a dark, angry film. But it also had moments when I was laughing out loud in the theatre. Several articles have recently been written about this style of film - you often see this in Coen brothers movies, and this did remind me somewhat of Fargo - an easy comparison to make with Francis McDormand starring. But I did feel that the levity in this film was more of a release valve on the darkness and helped carry the story to the end, whereas I lost interest in Manchester by the Sea last year for, frankly, being too depressing. McDormand and Rockwell have both played similar characters before, but both turned in fantastic performances. And three cheers for any Best Pic nominee/winner that clocks in at 2 hours or less (1:55 in this case).
  2. The great Russian baritone, Dmitri Hvorotovsky, known primarily in America through his recordings of Tschaikovsky and Verdi, passed away this week after a 2 1/2-year struggle with brain cancer. The Metropolitan Opera's loving tribute to Hvorotovsky is here: "Dmitri Hvorotovsky." (Do take a few minutes and watch the videos - the second video was when Hvorotovsky only had about six more months to live.) Nov 22, 2017 - "Dmitri Hvorotovsky, Silver-Mained Baratone from Siberia, Dies at 55" by Anthony Tommasini on nytimes.com
  3. I'm writing this for my mom, who enjoyed listening to Mel Tillis (among many other country-music singers). From what little I knew of him, he seemed like a really nice person. "Longtime Country Singer, Songwriter Mel Tillis Dies" on abcnews.go.com
  4. As my tribute to "Fats" Domino: my favorite song by him, not quite as popular as some of his biggest hits, "I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday":
  5. I just finished watching "Annihilation" by Patton Oswalt, and it was fantastic - it was as good as any high-dollar stand-up video I've ever seen. Oswalt is clearly influenced by Louis CK, but he's Louis CK on steroids. How this man was able to go from Trump, to audience-teasing, to an extended skit about his wife's death, to pitching a film, to spending Halloween with his daughter, and make the entire thing not just funny, but *hilarious*, is almost incomprehensible - the "Polish lady of doom" was the thread that helped him do it, and I honestly thought she'd make an appearance in the last sketch, but he did it without her. This is currently on Netflix, and I cannot recommend it highly enough - it is truly *great* stand-up comedy, a level which makes me ask myself, why on earth have there only been perhaps 10, perhaps 20, of "these" well-funded productions in history? When they work, they're as entertaining as any film or sporting event, and "Annihilation" works in a big way. I cannot recommend this any more enthusiastically! I also recommend watching the show first, and then enjoying these articles afterwards: "Patton Oswalt's 'Annihilation' Is Funny and Profound" by Alison Herman on theringer.com "Patton Oswalt Returns to Stand-Up: The Comedy of His Life" by Dan Snierson on ew.com "Patton Oswalt's 'Annihilation' Review: Humor Meets Heartbreak" by Evan Valentine on collider.com "In His New Standup Special, Patton Oswalt Makes a Triumphant Return from Annihilation" by Dennis Perkins on avclub.com "Patton Oswalt Gets Personal about Wife's Death in New 'Annihilation' Netflix Comedy Special" by Ashley Boucher on thewrap.com "Patton Oswalt Faces Wife's Death with Jokes, Heartbreak, and Body Fluids in New Netflix Special" by Maeve McDermott on usatoday.com "Patton Oswalt on Surviving Trump's Tweets and Surviving Annihilation" by Andrew Husband on uproxx.com "Patton Oswalt on Chaos, Kindness, and 'Annihilation'" by Isaac Kozell on splitsider.com "What's on TV Tuesday: 'Patton Oswalt: Annihilation' and 'Hit the Road'" by Sara Aridi on nytimes.com "Patton Oswalt Works through the Void on 'Annihilation'" by Audra Schroeder on dailydot.com "In 'Patton Oswalt: Annihilation' on Netflix, the Comedian Uses Dark Humor To Cope with His Wife's Passing" by Taylor Maple on bustle.com ... and there are many more.
  6. The NFL season starts tonight, and the Pats are favored by 9.5 against the Chiefs. Who would you pick against the spread and why?
  7. When "Get Out" debuted in theaters last winter, I couldn't wait to see it. It had a 99 percent positive critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and friends whose opinions I value raved about it. I am not a fan of horror films, and I really didn't know what to expect. I certainly didn't anticipate what I saw--a thought provoking and highly entertaining film. This is a great film. It is a thrilling, darkly funny, mysterious movie that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. "Get Out" is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele. My son is a fan of Key and Peele, so I expected this film to be funny in a slap-sticky, "Scary Movie," way. I couldn't have been more wrong. The humor is sophisticated and satirical. This movie feels like escapism, but at the same time, it made me think. It is the tale of a black man dating a white woman who goes to meet her family in their upscale country home. Nothing is as it appears during this bizarre weekend. "Get Out" reminds me of some of my favorite old films, combined in a way that is fresh and new. I watched it for a second time last night, renting it on Amazon. After the credits roll, an alternate ending is presented. The director explains why this ending--the original one--was abandoned. I enjoyed watching the film for a second time, seeing all of the nuances I missed the first go around, and I liked hearing about why the movie ultimately ends as it does. If you rent this version, be sure to watch after the credits to see this interesting addition.
  8. "Glen Campbell, 'Rhinestone Cowboy' Singer, Dead at 81" on cbsnews.com I preferred Glen Campbell's country music (as did my mom) to his performance in "True Grit."
  9. In our Sports Forum, we have a thread on your rookie quarterback, Deshaun Watson. I've followed Watson carefully for the past four years, and have watched every single moment, of every single game, that he has played for the past two years. If you're concerned that Watson can't be an "NFL-style," pocket quarterback, well, I think that's a legitimate concern, but I also think that Watson - even though he can scamper - has a pocket-quarterback mentality in his head. The scrambling quarterback works best in college; the pocket passer works best in the NFL, and I honestly believe that Watson has the tools and the discipline to be both. Here in Washington, DC, we suffered through the agony of watching Robert Griffin III, who won the Heisman Trophy for Baylor, and for whom the Washington Redskins gave up a *fortune*. RGIII was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and *deserved* it, producing one of the greatest seasons in NFL history by a rookie quarterback. However, RGIII was never taught to be a pocket passer, and the Redskins allowed him to be a sitting duck for the NFL's monster linebackers, who used him as a tackling dummy. The Redskins didn't take him out when he became visibly injured (it was very, very hard to watch), and just like that, RGIII's career was over (or, at least, it's probably over). Don't think for a moment that Deshaun Watson isn't acutely aware of the sad tale of RGIII. All he needs is to be taught how to transition from college to the NFL, and you just may have yourself an All-Pro-caliber QB for the next decade. I'm going to be pulling for the Texans, and for the great Deshaun Watson - I only hope that he has someone down there who can teach him properly; otherwise, all bets are off. One thing you shouldn't worry about is all these articles about Watson's interceptions. The articles fed off themselves; I actually *watched* every play Watson made for the past two seasons, and he threw a total of about five lousy interceptions; the rest of them came with a large dose of sheer bad luck, irrelevant situations (an 80-yard, Hail Mary with 2-seconds left in the half, for example) or missed patterns by his receivers - the interception tally wouldn't worry me in the least. You've got yourself a champion on your hands, and at least one person up here in Washington, DC who will be pulling for him. Cheers, Rocks
  10. Getting to this a little late, but if you are looking for FREE cultural events in DC this weekend, this week long immersive Māori program at Natural History looks pretty cool. Daily performances of the Kapa Haka at 1:00pm and 3:30pm. Other programing includes the carving of a 20 foot waka canoe and Tā moko – the art of Māori tattoo, along with 70 traditional Māori art pieces. A friend of mine took her kids and they loved it.
  11. Such sad news: Maryam Mirzakhani has passed away. "Maryam Mirzakhani, Mathematician, Dies at 40" by Daniela Breitman on earthsky.org
  12. Wanted to make a Dine LA / Restaurant week thread. Any places people are excited to try? Tried Lucques for lunch yesterday. It's kind of interesting, a good chef, really tasty meals, but it's in a high priced location in WeHo (and its reflected in the dish prices); and all of the dining energy seems to have moved elsewhere in town. For appetizers, a cold squash soup (it had a surprising zing of citrus that I loved) / salad were available for desert, and a white fish fillet in beurre blanc, and summer vegetables on top of polenta and quinoa were the lunch entrees. Both were really tasty. So, I was impressed, where I'm generally not impressed by the high dining plates here, dishes were tasty and really good, and it makes me want to go back.
  13. "Botswana's Former President Ketumile Masire Dies Aged 91" on bbc.com
  14. In what was probably the greatest display of clay court tennis any adult will ever see: "Rafael Nadal Defeats Stan Wawrinka To Win 10th French Open, 15th Grand Slam Title" by Jamie Lisanti on si.com This was better than, and almost as dominant as, Bjorn Borg's performance in 1978, which itself was ridiculous. Being across the net from either man must have defined "hopeless." Name your poison: Borg (1978) 1. 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 2. 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 3. 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 4. 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 5. 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 6. 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 7. 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 Nadal (2017) 1. 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 2. 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 3. 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 4. 6-1. 6-2. 6-2 5. 6-2, 2-0, ret. 6. 6-3. 6-4, 6-0 7. 6-2, 6-3, 6-1
  15. This is a tough one for me. Soundgarden are one of my favorite bands of all time, and Chris Cornell is one of the truly great frontmen and songwriters in rock history. "With Chris Cornell's Death, We've Lost Another of the Grunge Era's Towering Rock Stars, and One of Its Best Songwriters" by Steven Haydn on uproxx.com I have many memories of Soundgarden, including a number of concerts, but my main one is me and my friend, as freshmen in college, heading to Laserdisk in Salem, OR, to pick up Superunknown at midnight when it was released (this was something you did back in the early and mid 90s). Badmotorfinger was such a monster of an album, and we were so excited. We played the heck out of Superunknown that night.
  16. "Guitarist J. Geils Dead at 71" by Jon Blistein on rollingstone.com "Musician John Warren Geils, Jr., Founder of the J. Geils Band, Dies at Massachusetts Home at Age 71" on abcnews.go.com
  17. I'm not sure how much Glenn Close is getting paid to star in this revival of Sunset Boulevard 26 years after the original, but she is worth every cent - even considering an imperfect vocal performance. This production was called 'partially staged' in London - when it moved to New York they must have fleshed out the staging a bit, but it is still much lighter than the original. After all, you need the space to hold the 40-piece orchestra on the stage which provides rich sound without being distracting behind the actors. The actor playing Joe Gillis (male lead) was fine, but gave a very by-the-book performance with very by-the-book vocals. The night we saw the performance, the woman playing his young love interest (Betty) was an understudy - she was also fine but gave a very by-the-book performance with somewhat thin vocals. This all leads to the production being a bit of a bore until Close takes the stage - it is hard to imagine anyone else in this role (though I'm sure the other actresses involved in the 1991 casting drama feel differently). Even with her breaking BOTH of the two most dramatic notes of the production (With One Look in the 1st act, and the final note of the show in the second), her overall performance carries the show. At the curtain call, Close's behavior was somewhat... eccentric - her small dog coming on stage for a back-and-forth dialogue to raise money for the theatre fund left several patrons wondering how far off Close really was from her character, Norma Desmond. This production is on stage through early June - if you're in the city before then, it is worth the ticket to see this performance.
  18. The promo for the series "Feud: Bette and Joan" caught my eye, having recently watched "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?", and reading about the rivalry between its two stars, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Usually by the time I hear about a series it is several seasons in, requiring binge watching to catch up. Fortunately, this one just premiered last month, so I was able to catch the first episode the night it aired. As expected, the show is campy fun. There are some big names, too. Stanley Tucci, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon are a few of the stars. Lange is completely transformed into Crawford. I didn't have the same feeling with Sarandon. She does have Bette Davis eyes, but watching Sarandon portray Davis, I was constantly aware I was watching Sarandon. Perhaps it is because her looks weren't as dramatically transformed as her co-star's. In the fourth episode, a reference is made to "Kiss Me Deadly," another 1950s era film that I recently watched which is also reviewed on this site. It is still too early to tell if this show will be worth watching, but I am giving it a shot because who doesn't enjoy a little retro camp from time to time?
  19. It is so much more fitting calling Chuck Berry the pivot from R&B to Rock-n-Roll than it is "Rock Around the Clock" - Berry lived his music, and wasn't just slapped together to take advantage of some new fad. There's nothing wrong with Bill Haley & His Comets per se, but ever since I began to think for myself, I've had an uneasy, "Columbus discovered America"-type of feeling about this song, reinforced after seeing "Blackboard Jungle." From chuckberry.com: "We are deeply saddened to announce that Chuck Berry - beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather passed away at his home today at the age of 90. Though his health had deteriorated recently, he spent his last days at home surrounded by the love of his family and friends. The Berry family asks that you respect their privacy during this difficult time." "15 Essential Chuck Berry Songs" by Alan Light on mobile.nytimes.com
  20. 2017 James Beard Awards

    Yes, I snoozed through the mid-February announcement of restaurant and chef semi-finalists, but behold: the media and design nominees, as well as the restaurant and chef finalists!
  21. This is the best article I've found explaining what happened, and it makes sense that it comes from BBC, since PriceWaterhouseCoopers is an English firm. "Oscars 2017: Truth behind 'Envelopegate' Emerges" by Neil Smith on bbc.com
  22. "Lonzo Ball's Younger Brother Scores 92 Points in High School Game" on abcnews.go.com He scored 41 points in the 4th quarter.
  23. What a wonderful picture this is: It's sort of depressing that I have vague memories of Super Bowl III. At least I was too young to understand why they weren't playing Johnny Unitas instead of Earl Morrall. Think about the year 1969 for New York and Baltimore: 1) The Jets beat the Colts in the Super Bowl. 2) The Mets beat the Orioles in the World Series. 3) The Knicks beat the Bullets in the NBA Playoffs. At least Baltimore didn't have a hockey team to kick around, but it wouldn't have mattered: In three playoff rounds, the Montreal Canadians lost a total of two games - the Stanley Cup took place in the semi-finals when Montreal beat the Boston Bruins, 4 games to 2. It says a lot that the St. Louis Blues won their first two rounds against their fellow West Division opponents by a combined game score of 8-0, and then lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to Montreal of the East Division, 4 games to 0. Man, talk about a dominant Division. --- Out of the First- and Second-Team All-Pros, fully 11 of them come from New England and Atlanta - at first glance, it might appear that Atlanta has the huge advantage ... until you examine the Second-Team players and see that the Patriots are loaded. First-Team All-Pros Playing in Super Bowl LXI: New England Patriots: Matthew Slater, Special Teams, UCLA Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, Quarterback, Boston College; Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Alabama; Vic Beasley, Outside Linebacker, Clemson --- Second-Team All-Pros Playing in Super Bowl LXI: New England Patriots: Tom Brady, Quarterback, Michigan Marcus Canon, Right Offensive Tackle, Texas Christian Dont'a Hightower, Linebacker, Alabama Malcolm Butler, Cornerback, West Alabama Devin McCourty, Free Safety, Rutgers Nate Ebner, Special Teams, Ohio State Atlanta Falcons: Alex Mack, Center, University of California
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