So I had my first two fantasy football drafts of the year last night and I find myself tied to Rashard Mendenhall and Beanie Wells a little more than I probably would have liked. The one reason that I'm not that broken up about it is that I feel like Mendenhall is a rare workhorse back who gets red zone carries and Wells is a solid back who is now the last man standing in Arizona since his main competition, Ryan Williams, went down injured. Of course, part of me also feels like since Beanie isn't a sure thing, Larod Stephens-Howling could be a sleeper. But there were a few lessons that I learned from my first draft:
1. You Can't Build A Perfect Team: This should seem obvious but I think every fantasy football player heads into the draft expecting to put together their ideal lineup and are disappointed (usually midway through the draft) when that didn't happen. For me, these first two draft were odd since I usually wait on QB's but these were 6 point passing TD league so I wanted to invest early. Still, after looking over the league (and especially in 4 point passing TD leagues) I think QB is the position you can wait for. You should try to get 1 top receiver and, as always, grab your backs early. This year, it's tempting to wait on RB's since there are so many committees but I just can't see it being smart to have the other back in committees as a starter.
2. Wait on WR's: While I think it's smart to grab one elite receiver if you can, after that, I think it's better to wait on receivers. You can grab an elite TE early and that will make your life easier during the season so you don't have to decide between the decent but not that consistent free agents/mid-to-late drafted TE's. Once you get into the middle of the draft, the #2 receivers seem to be all the same. I also think that there are a lot of potential sleeper WR's who are falling in draft and, also, WR is the position where people can come out of nowhere. For instance, in PPR leagues, I wouldn't be surprised if John Fox's new regime in Denver could get Eddie Royal to where people thought he was last year. Andre Roberts could be the new #2 WR in Arizona and that's often a solid fantasy option. There's a lot out there. With running backs, sleepers are all-or-nothing. Guys like Delone Carter, Jamie Harper, Ben Tate could either take over for their starters and be very good or they'll be getting 10 - 15 carries a game and offering you very little if they don't find the end zone.
3. Avoid Patriots: To me, the goal is consistency and that's what Patriots players can't offer. You never know if Aaron Hernandez or Rob Gronkowski are going to be the go-to TE. Tom Brady often spreads the ball around and while I like Chad Ochocinco as a fit in real football, I don't think he's going to put up Randy Moss-like numbers. And the running backs, good lord. They could run a four headed monster in the backfield. The only Patriot worth picking up is, obviously, Tom Brady. After that, I'd look at Patriots as #3 wide receivers or backup running backs.
4. Don't Reach for Sleepers: I'm the king of drafting guys the year before they bust out and I also get a few guys in my head that I want and forget that I'm one of the few people who are that fired up about them. While guys like Tim Hightower have moved from sleeper to possible starter, many others like Denarius Moore, Antonio Brown, the aforemomention Roberts, aren't guys that you really have to take before the kickers and defenses start going.
5. Rest of Defense: This year, more than ever, I see defenses going rather early. I really don't know why. Maybe it's because people don't love their options so they decide to fill a starting spot than take a backup they don't love but I think it's a lot better to get some solid backups before landing a defense. There are usually one or two defenses worth grabbing but you can almost never tell who it's going to be. Two years ago San Francisco was the top scoring defense and a lot of the supposed top teams struggled. Last year, the defenses were more what you'd expect but only three of them scored enough to warrant an early pick. The one thing I would say about defenses is that the AFC Central is playing the NFC West this year so they may be the teams you'd want to take since the West, while improving, still isn't very good.
And finally, 6. Don't Listen to Anyone: OK, if you want to take Blaine Gabbert in the first round, you should probably listen to everyone but for the most part, you should just take the team you want and ignore the "experts". Looking back, most of these experts hit on 33% of their predictions at best. Hell, there was a guy on Yahoo! who kind of bragged about his picks last year and only had 2 good ones and had about 4 outright busts. Yahoo! is also guilty of writing so many columns that people have mentioned pretty much every players available at one point or another. Experts were the ones who thought Shonn Greene, Ryan Mathews, and didn't have Arian Foster on their radar at all. In the end, despite all of their time wasted on fantasy football, these experts don't know any better. You can use their composite rankings for help and should check up to make sure there aren't injuries or pre-season camp issues (like Ahmad Bradshaw beating out Brandon Jacobs last year) but, for the most part, go with your gut. This is your team and I find its better to win and lose with your own guys than to be sitting with a bunch of players that you got because other people said you should.
Since I decided to just sleep through Hurrican Irene, I'm still groggy from about 48 hours of snoozing so here's another band that I've had as a prospective tryout for a while now. It's another UK band, Pete and the Pirates. Like Leisure Society, they have an interesting sound that I liked but not one that I find myself yearning to here. Still, they're worth a listen.
I'm kind of torn on "In Time". I like the concept and some of the action scenes look decent but I have to say that I have a hard time buying Justin Timberlake as a down on his luck guy and most of the lines are delivered in such an earnest fashion that they were borderline groan-worthy. Plus, as much as the Inception BWOOOONG has been taking over trailers of late, I haven't seen a trailer that just ripped off Inception like this one. I feel like Christopher Nolan should get a cut of the opening weekend.
I'm not sure why they're doing it and haven't read anything explaining the logic behind this but Sony has decided to release The Godfather on YouTube. They didn't even block embed codes. It's not HD but freeloaders can't be choosers, right?
UPDATE: Turns out it was too good to be true. The YouTube page was a fake Sony UK site and Sony has since contacted YouTube and gotten the page taken down. I'm so used to Hollywood not making much sense that I believed it. Oh well.
Attack the Block was a fun time at the movies but also somewhat disconcerting. The problem is that the film is an alien invasion in a UK projects with a fair amount of laughs but given the recent goings on in London, the film seems like it should represent much more than it does. The film doesn't hide the fact that the thug teenagers have problems with the law and that those problems aren't all their fault. At one point, when going to the police is mentioned as an option, one of the main characters sighs hopelessly something like, "They'd just arrest us anyway." One of the other kids muses that the aliens might be a government conspiracy, "“First they sent guns, then drugs, now monsters. We ain’t killing each other fast enough, so they sent aliens along to speed up the process.” There is a kind of sense of hopelessness, both the kids in their predicament and because the predicament has raised these kids to have a jaded view of the world and themselves. However, that's just the film's plane of existence. The movie doesn't really seem to make anything more of the main characters' issues than your typical action film does. It doesn't seem to have any lasting meaning or message and that was kind of bothersome to me, given that we're in troubled times and could use a new voice. Now, I know I overthink things but with the riots in London, it just felt odd to sit back and ignore what message kids could get out of the flick.
The other reason I mention all of this is because part of me wants to describe the filmgoing experience as "pleasant" which is completely the wrong word. But all in all, the film never really excelled at any aspect. It wasn't as much of a comedy as Shaun of the Dead but it wasn't all that scary either. The film had some fun moments but not too many laugh out loud set pieces; the tension was there but I was never really scared or tense; and the action scenes were fun but almost always had you wondering, "Man, these things don't run very fast." Initially, I considered this film to be a cult classic but I think it's more likely to be one of those second echelon "lost" classics, the ones that celebrities will cite as cool movies they remember but that most people won't have seen or been blown away by. I have no doubt that it will find an audience on DVD and there will probably be rumblings of a US version of it (or someone will just rip it off and come out with their own Aliens in the Hood movie) but I can't say that I would say it's a great or even very good movie. It was good. A solid 7 out of 10. Of course, in today's movie marketplace, 7 out of 10 is close to being one of the better movies of the year.
I'd definitely recommend checking it out but don't go in with huge expectations because the film is what it is, a effective if not excellent low budget indie flick. But for all of my good not great pronouncements, I should add that the acting is very good, especially from the kids. I think their performances were also what got me so focused on the deeper issues because I really bought them as inner city kids, struggling to find a way, any way, even if it isn't a way out.
Thanks to my friend Delly for posting about this on Facebook. It's Radiohead's full From the Basement performance of King of Limbs. Enjoy while you can; it's only going to be up for a limited time.
I've been sitting on Leisure Society as a Tryout for some time since I just can't figure out if these songs will grow on me or if they are just kind of floaters/background music. Part of me feels like this is the kind of music Anton Newcombe might have made if he could play well with others. (And if you don't know Newcombe, check out the doumentary Dig! about his band The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the rivalry with The Dandy Warhols.) But since I overslept today but felt like sticking to my blog's schedule and having a new Tryout today, I'll go with this crew. An interesting 60's-ish sound and quality songs but it's the kind of stuff that I listen to, enjoy, but then never really have any interest in hearing again.
And in past Tryout news, Kyla La Grange has a new single "Heavy Stone". I'm still addicted to a few of her songs (Walk Through Walls, I Could Be, Been Better) but I don't know if this one is going to crack the rotation.Latest tracks by Kyla La Grange
So just a few weeks after the NFL lockout was ended, the Arizona Cardinals have paid Larry Fitzgerald and insane deal of 8 year, 120 million dollar contract. I really hope that the other owners heard about this and realized that they are their own worst enemy. And I hope that NBA owners, who seem hell bent on canceling the season, also take a lesson from this. The bottom line is that the main reason that contracts get out of hand in sports is because owners offer this kind of money.
The NBA has it better than the NFL as they have max contracts but, like their pigskin cohorts, they can't seem to figure out how not to give max deals to undeserving players. They also don't seem to understand that, unless you're talking about an elite player, it's better to spread money out amongst a number of guys rather than mortgage your whole future on one single athlete. The Arizona Cardinals are not a good football team and have a question mark at QB but they just gave a wide receiver ridiculous money. Larry Fitz could break every record known to man but it still isn't going to help the Cardinals overcome their weaknesses and actually win games.
The Denver Nuggets showed what teams should do when their superstar wants to break the bank. You trade him and get a ton of young prospects who are more easily re-signed, are easier to root for, and make your team just as good as it was before. Also, there needs to be a way so players are stuck on terrible organizations. Larry Fitz took the money and stayed but I can't be mad at someone at LeBron who looks at this franchise and the flexibility it has (or doesn't have) and decides to go elsewhere. The Cavs had 8 years to build around LeBron and kept giving him also-rans as teammates (like Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams, Larry Hughes, etc. )
On a related note, it's absolutely stunning to see how LeBron has been overtaken by Kevin Durant, in terms of promotion. The Nike store in NY almost has no pictures of LeBron up, sports stores have seemed to swap out their LBJ photos for Durant as well. It would be interesting to know if this was a concerted effort by Nike to dial down LeBron's exposure or if they really just wanted to pump up Durant's brand.
Anyway, I just hope that the NBA looks at the Larry Fitzgerald deal and remembers that the main reason that most of their teams are in such dire straits is a) their own inability to manage their funds and b) the NBA's need to overexpand. Profit sharing isn't as fruitful when you have four teams too many eating away at the pie.
The Guard is one of those movies that, if a major studio had made it, I'm not so sure that the review would have been so glowing. Whereas indie films get to be "understated", studio films are just not that funny. This film treads in the same beaten path as Hot Fuzz but it's plays it straight rather than as a spoof and it doesn't really add much to the proceedings to stand out. Also, the fish out of water element with Don Cheadle seems wasted. That character is basically just there so that Brendan Gleeson's character has someone to talk to and to whom he can occassionally throw a racist joke. There's a b-story with Gleeson's characters mom that would be emotional if it didn't all seem so convenient for the story. In the end, there's just not enough here to really make the film worth a trip to the theater. It's a decent enough movie but it doesn't have anything to elevate itself out of the ol' "Wait to DVD/HBO" crowd.
I feel bad for pushing Crazy, Stupid, Love so hard on people because I feel like I might be raising the level of expectations too high but it was just a film that hit the right notes for me and also kind of took a jab at some of the things that I do that I know I probably shouldn't. Case in point, my go-to footwear is usually cheap sneakers so this little bit from the film struck a chord and made me laugh.
So if you haven't seen it yet and are going to the movies, check out Crazy, Stupid, Love.
In terms of my film ranking of the year, I have to say that expectations probably helped Limitless move up so much. Had I been excited about this film and not so much for Hanna or Source Code, maybe those films would be ranked higher and Limitless would be a disappointment. In the end, my low expectations for the Bradley Cooper thriller helped it as did the fact that, instead of heading out to a theater, I saw the film while lying in bed trying to get over a stomach bug.
In short, Limitless is another film that does well because it doesn't really try to be anything more than it is. It doesn't really take any risks, it hits all the notes it's supposed to hit, and is paced pretty swiftly so you never get bored. Of course, that's also the downside of the film because there's nothing new that really surprises you and despite a fairly interesting premise, there's a superficiality to it. We watch the characters go through their problems but we never really feel for them. Granted, that might have been tough to do in two hours but if Hollywood is going to turn so-so films into tv series (as they are with The Lincoln Lawyer), this seems like the perfect candidate. It really has everything you need for a great TV show and, honestly, it would be a shame if someone in Hollywood doesn't see that because in a long form thriller/drama, this could be a show to remember. As it is, it's kind of a forgettable film but not terrible for a rainy day when you don't feel like paying 100% to a legit movie.
Here's the opening scene of the Kings of Leon documentary "Talihana Sky" that'll be airing this Sunday at 10 on Showtime. Kind of an interesting open, showing some of the characters in the Followhill family. It seems a little more slice of life which might be good but it might have been interesting (if a bit on the nose) to intercut the packing & private jet of the hard rockin' kids to the prep and pickup truck of the preacher father.
Inhabiting a space in between Julia Stone and The Joy Formidable (albeit, a lot closer to Stone), Kyla La Grange is an up-and-coming UK artist who has just released her first single on Chess Club records and it's pretty darn good. Someone on YouTube mentioned Jesus & Mary Chain and they are a bit like that but the sound isn't as polished (which I prefer.) Below is a collection of a few of her songs, some of which you can download for free via soundcloud, and the unofficial video to my current fave of hers - "Walk Through Walls". I can't say that I'm addicted to her as I am the Joy Formidable but I definitely like these songs and am very interested in seeing what else comes from her in the future.Kyla La Grange by Kyla La Grange Kyla La Grange - I Could Be (free download) by Stayloose
In short, "30 MInutes of Less" is a amateurish version of "Pineapple Express" (It even begins with the main character smoking pot while doing his menial job.) and it has a feel of a big budget version of a high school film class production. There are some funny moments but almost all of the jokes come from dialogue and there aren't that many laughs that come from the situation itself. In fact, pretty much everything is explained via expository dialogue. Still, it's a decent diversion and you don't leave entirely disappointed but it just strikes me as a film that will be appreciated more when discovered on DVD or cable than when you go out and spend 11 bucks in the theater to see it.
One of the biggest issues with the film is that it has an oddball, unfinished feel to it. The first reason is the casting. It's odd to see Jesse Eisenberg trying to actually act and then cutting to Aziz Ansari and Nick Swardson, who deliver some of the funniest lines but are not particularly strong actors. There's a reason that Michael Pena delivers the best performance of the movie and that's because he seems to be the only guy who has the complete package of being able to act and be funny. Danny McBride is fine in the movie but it's the same Danny McBride performance he has settled into and it's starting to get a bit stale. As for Eisenberg, while he does break a bit from his usual role, he just didn't seem to be the right fit for this flick. With the character being so underwritten, you needed someone who exuded slacker and that's just not Eisenberg. I think Eisenberg and Franco should have swapped roles of this and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and both movies would have been better off.
As for unfinished, as I noted before, for a film with an interesting concept, almost no jokes come from the scenario. Almost all of the laughs come from one liners (many of which may have been improvised.) There's a bit about the main guys loving action movies and they get some tips from Point Break but it's a half-assed storyline. It's almost like they had it in the script, realized that it was too much like "Hot Fuzz" and a few other flicks that have done the same learning from movies storyline and they abandoned it. The heist scene is kind of funny but it too seemed rushed and didn't really get the most out of the potential. And, in terms of setting up the world in which it operates, the film opens up with Eisenberg's pizza delivery guy driving all crazy which kind of works against the film. It needed an open establishing the lame, boring life that is then thrown out of sorts. As it plays, there's a pseudo-action scene, a big argument, and then we're off to the races. I don't need a 30 minute first act to build character but the entire film just seemed rushed. (Fittingly, just as this review is rushed which is why it's not one of my better blog posts.)
Director Ruben Fleischer delivered a solid comedy with "Zombieland" but he kind of seems to be aping Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's films. "Zombieland" was strong but was no "Shaun of the Dead". Similarly, "Hot Fuzz" was a step back for Pegg/Frost as was "30 Minutes or Less" was for Fleischer.
But, again, while I was disappointed that the film didn't get more out of its concept and was miscast, it still is a funny enough flick that you won't leave completely let down. I just think the odds are better that you'll enjoy it if you wait until DVD/cable.
It blew my mind when a year or so ago, a guy in the movie industry stated that studios WANT trailers that basically give away the plot. Apparently, for every person who is pissed off and complains about trailers that show everything but the very ending, there are a lot more moviegoers who want to know everything but the ending before they head into the theater.
And now there is this Wired story that explains how some people enjoy spoiled stories more.
Now, one of the reasons that I don't think this study necessarily correlates to film is that I feel that reading is far more involved and even when reading a short story, the journey is the thing. I believe that in literature, a good 2/3's of a story isn't ruined by a bad ending as much as film. One reason might be, ironically, the shock of a bad ending in a film. When reading, you can kind of find a spot where the film goes downhill. Many films don't go downfill, they plateau and there's more of a "What the hell happened?" feeling.
Anyway, I still hate spoilers and like comedies when I know as few of the jokes as possible. The one thing that I do think the new No Spoiler craze has hurt is film criticism because so many critics try to write their readings of the film without giving anything away, which is counterintuitive. Film criticism can't really truly begin until the film is presented (or spoiled) and then the critic investigates or breaks down what exactly it all meant. But that's a horse that I've beaten to death so I'll just stop before I rant on about Reviews vs. Criticism.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross put together a great score for David Fincher's "The Social Network" and they are back on his latest film, the American adaptation of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". Here's the first taste of the score and it sounds just as creepy as you'd expect. Thanks to Slash Film for the heads up.
I wasn't a fan of Spin's Nirvana cover album and I kind of wish something like this was on it instead of the stale covers. Just something off the beaten path.
With the flopping of "The Change-Up", it seems like Ryan Reynolds's shot at the A-List has come up short. Reynolds, like most fallen It Boys, seemed like he had what it took to break out. He had the looks, the personality, a decent fan base from earlier, smaller films, and his marriage to Scarlett Johansson got him some more exposure from the tabloids. So what happened?
The first problem was that the movies weren't good. And not only were they not good but they weren't in his wheelhouse. Reynolds's fan base stemmed mostly from rom-coms like The Proposal or Definitely, Maybe, with a little help from his role in cult comedy Waiting... The Green Lantern was going to be a tough sell because not only was Reynolds's going to have to help sell a lesser known, harder to explain superhero but his geek credentials were pretty low after showing up in the worst movie of two different franchises (Blade III and X-Men: Origins: Wolverine). "The Change Up" was a little closer but he seems better suited for "Horrible Bosses", where his charm and ability to play put upon/exasperated could have been put to better use.
And while some people might think that Reynolds's failure would be a blow for Hollywood studios, the reality is that, in the casting offices, Reynolds had already been replaced. The reality is that when an actor is getting his shot at the big time, more often than not, there's already someone else lined up to replace him. The writing for Reynolds might have already been on the wall when studios didn't seem to be throwing roles at him and his bigger projects, a Deadpool film and RIPD, were going forward rather slowly. Despite their trying to sell Reynolds as the next big thing, it seems like Hollywood was already hedging their bets on him.
So who is the next actor to get their shot at the A-list? The most obvious Next It Boy is Michael Fassbender. He got his first taste of the big time with X-Men: The First Class and he's been the hottest prospect in Hollywood. The reason that Fassbender might be around for the long haul isn't that he's a surefire matinee star; it's that he doesn't seem to want to be one. Instead of going for the brain dead tentpole flicks (and the nice accompanying paychecks), he's choosing strong directors and interesting material. He reteamed with Steve McQueen (Hunger) and has 2011 releases with Soderbergh (Haywire) and Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method). And in 2012, he's in the much buzzed about Prometheus, which is Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi. The reason that this approach is usually better is because a) when in smaller pictures with notable directors, the focus is less on box office performance and more on actual acting performance. Also, it's always best to establish one's acting credentials so that box office failure doesn't mean the end of the world. Sam Rockwell did a solid job of this so when he failed to make a splash as a leading man, he was still able to fall back into character work and the occasional indie lead ala "Moon".
Contrast Fassbender's approach to that of another It Boy in Waiting, Chris Hemsworth. Thor did solid enough business and Hemsworth has been lining up the mainstream projects: Red Dawn, The Cabin in the Woods, Snow White and the Huntsman, and The Avengers along with Ron Howard's Formula One racing flick. Hemsworth is basically tying his future to the quality of these flicks. Right now, he doesn't have the fan base to help him carry a flick and if these films flop, the stink will most certainly get on him and hurt his future. Joel Edgerton, who broke out in "Animal Kingdom" faces a similar problem. His upcoming flicks "Warrior", "The Thing", and "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" all look lackluster. He does have a supporting role in "The Great Gatsby" to keep him afloat but he probably would have been better working on some indie films and building his rep rather than jumping on these so-so studio projects.
For instance, look at his "Warrior" co-star Tom Hardy. His supporting work in Layer Cake, Rock'n'Rolla, and Inception along with a breakout turn in "Bronson" has his star on the rise but he's mixed up his slate with a supporting role in the much hyped "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", a slot in a film with a great ensemble "The Wettest Country in the World", and then the role of Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises". All of that should give him a nice foundation to fall back on if his shot at the A-list "Mad Max: Fury Road" and McG's "This Means War" don't work out.
Obviously, there are other names out there, like Hardy's "This Means War" co-star Chris Pine, but I think Hardy and Fassbender are probably the two guys that Hollywood is betting on right now. As for Reynolds, he's got some more chances to steady his ship, most notably "Safe House" alongside Denzel Washington, but part of me feels like his best move would be to find a strong TV show. He just strikes me as a guy that people would gladly invite into their house every week rather than someone they'd go out of their way to see. This isn't to say that it's completely over for him (Johnny Depp wasn't exactly setting the box office afire in the 90's) but I'm just not sure if Reynolds has a wide enough appeal to become a true A-list star.
When I first started hearing all of the positive reviews about "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", I thought that low expectations had to have played a part. Still, the strong word of mouth boosted my own expectations and I have to say that they weren't met. Yes, the CGI apes are great and the effects work is some of the best I've ever seen. Yes, it's smarter than what I expected and it's more of a character piece about Caesar the ape than an action film. And yes, the film was competently made and there weren't any out and out flaws besides the casting of James Franco, who I just could never quite believe in this role. All that being said, I just was not involved or all that entertained by the movie.
My first issue was the pacing. I know that the producers wanted to show off their CGI but I felt like almost every scene and act in the film could have been cut down by a third. The climatic scene on the Golden Gate Bridge drags out far too long and in showing so much, they actually took away from the power and tension of the scene.
But the bigger issue was POV. The humans in this film are all almost secondary and while the first half of the film focuses more on James Franco's character, the lead in the film is Caesar and the general POV of the film is his. This film is more about the apes than it is the humans and, in an odd twist, you could argue that the apes are the protagonists in the final half of the movie. I was pretty stunned at the ending point of the movie and was dismayed that the actual fall of the human race is almost literally an afterthought and anti-climatic (there's a bit after the first few credits at the end that explains it).
Like Captain America, I have to say that the movie was competently made but there also wasn't really any outstanding moments (aside from the CGI). The human characters were mostly forgettable and the coming of age of Caesar honestly wasn't THAT strong. I think the film gets point for humanizing the apes and investigating Caesar's emotions but it's really not that strong of a coming-of-age tale. The movie apparently earns a lot of points from people because it does take the POV of the apes but I guess that just didn't wow me as much as it did other people.
If you like the Planet of the Apes movies, I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised by this film. Or if you like a little more thought put into your tentpole films, this could be your cup of tea. And going off of some of the films so far this year, Apes is a better made flick than most. But, in the end, it's a forgettable film and, for me, a lackluster experience at the movies. If you haven't seen Crazy, Stupid, Love, you should most certainly skip Apes and go see that instead.
As for a couple of side thoughts:
1. While it's true that her role was underwritten and was kind of useless, Frieda Pinto (below) did nothing with it and it was kind of stunning to see such a beautiful woman come off so flat. I don't think you can write her off because it was such a nothing role but you'd think a true talent could have elevated the role a little bit and shone a little brighter.
2. Tom Felton is falling into the Billy Zabka type. Felton was Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films and plays a sadistic punk in this film and I think he's pretty much typecast now. Zabka once complained that his character's backstory was cut out of the Karate Kid and he came off a more of a straight punk rather than an abused kid driven to being a punk by his overbearing dad and that that sealed his fate and the only roles he could get after that were as the prickish antagonist.
Hey all, I just noticed that I have 8 Spotify invitations left so if any of the loyal readers of SoulHonky.com want to join the new music service, drop me a line at email@example.com and I'll send you an invitation.
EDIT: Holy crap. Spotify is awesome. I didn't realize that it really did have pretty much every song out there. I'm not sure how this is good for the music industry. Instead of buying all of a bands CD's, I can now just click on their name and all of their albums are available to listen to via Spotify.
Well, the pullback has eliminated all of my gains and I've gone from +300 bucks to -200 over the past week or so but I feel like it might be a good time to reinvest. My pick of 8X8 was looking amazing and I'm still in the positive for that trade but now I'm only up 6% when I was around 60%, I believe, a couple of weeks ago. Looking at Finding Alpha and The Motley Fool, I've decided to hold onto 8X8, but sell my other stocks, steer away from the dollar stocks, and go with a bigger company and I'm reinvesting in Waste Management. All reports make it seem like the decline of the stock doesn't make much sense and that it should rebound. I had meant to make similar moves after the big crash but didn't do it and that cost me a lot of coin. Seeking Alpha also recommended Best Buy, Yahoo, and Bank of America; I'm considering BofA but I think I'm going to wait a bit on that because reports are that it's more of a long term play. In the short term it might not do much so there's no need to rush into buying that stock.
So now the portfolio (if you can call my tiny investments that) are: 30 shares of Waste Management (WM), 158 shares of 8X8, and 150 shares of Spartan Gold (SPAG). (I didn't even bother selling Spartan since it's a penny stock and I only have 40 bucks invested in it.)
Gary Oldman has long been considered one of the best working actors in movies and it's also been a mystery as to how he doesn't have an Oscar. In fact, Oldman has never even been nominated for an Academy Award. So unless Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy from Let the Right One In's Tomas Alfredson continues the streak of disappointing English language debuts from highly touted foreign directors, I'm going to say that Oldman will be getting his first nod and potentially his first Oscar. I'm not quite sure what is coming out at the end of the year but so far there really haven't been any performances that could trump the Academy's penchant for giving awards based on career achievement over actual performance.
Anyway, here's the latest trailer for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy". While the first trailer played to the art house crowd, this one seems like it's aimed at the mainstream audience. And it hits its target.
It was announced today that web TV portal Hulu is going to make their first original series, teaming with Super Size Me's Morgan Spurlock on a show called "A Day in the Life" which, not surprisingly, shows the day in a life of someone. I say not surprisingly not just because of the title because it seems fairly similar (albeit 29 times cheaper) to Spurlock's last television venture, "30 Days". Although that usually had people trying something new for 30 days, if I remember correctly, rather than just documenting the day in the life of a person.
Still. with more networks pulling their content and putting it on the web themselves, this seemed like a step that Hulu HAD to take. And I am pleased to see that they are taking the relative high road here instead of just churning out a flashier, trashier reality show. I think it's smart to keep the brand name Hulu clean for a bit longer; don't delve into the garbage until they have to. Still, since 30 Days didn't really do that well, I'm not sure how this show is going to fare nor do I think it is smart for Hulu to just make one show. The problems I've always had with with online content providers are that they either only have a couple of shows or they have a bunch of shows but no release schedule and therefore no reason for me to check in every day. If Hulu truly wants to stay relevant, one of the keys is to move beyond just showing video and actually deliver original daily content. The venture I've always wanted to try is a Huffington Post/Drudge Report for entertainment that also has a consistent web series schedule (to start, I was thinking one show per day.) You get people checking out your site for the news every day and you also deliver a new ep per day ala a scaled back regular TV sked. Yes, the content will cost money (which is what has kept me from it) but, at the very least, Hulu should still try to break into the entertainment news angle. How hard is it to just do what Drudge/HuffPo do and aggregate (aka steal) news from every other websites? The biggest hurdle is getting the name out there and Hulu already accomplished that.
The current Hulu model worked because it was really the only game in town. But now with networks hosting shows on their own site and Amazon selling shows for two bucks and no commercials, the competition is out there and gaining steam. I don't know if it's lack of vision or refusal to spend money but right now it seems like there aren't many second acts in online life. How many websites have been able to shift with the times and stay relevant rather than falling by the wayside? Hulu is taking a step in the right direction but it is a direction in which its competitors are already sprinting; one small step is still going to leave them in the dust. It should be interesting to see if they evolve and expand and maybe the new ownership has plans to do so but given the history of the web, the safe bet seems to be that, in the future, Hulu will be a thing of the past.
So how are my guesses faring so far this summer? Depends on whether you're counting my monetary predictions or my guesses for which films would land in the top 10 and where. Here's the actual top 10, how much they've made, and where I guess they were going to land.
1. Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon - 335 million
I did alright with this one. I had Transformers at #1 at 415 million.
2. Harry Potter - 325 million
I did even better here. I had the Deathly Hallows landing at #2 with 365 million.
3. The Hangover II - 253 million
Whoops. I had the Hangover limping in at #10 with 185 million and I said that it might get bumped off by Bridesmaids.
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - 238 million
Not too shabby. I had Johnny Depp and friends landing in fifth place with 280 million.
5. Cars 2 - 185 million
Whoops. I overestimated the impact the merchandising of the original film would have on this one. I had what turned out to be widely recognized as Pixar's first misstep making 330 million for the #3 spot.
6. Thor - 180 million
Ditto on the whoops. I actually had Thor landing at the #6 spot but I was 95 million off as I expected it to clock in at 275.
7. Bridesmaids - 165 million
I should have trusted the internet. I just couldn't believe that the god awful trailers for this film would lead to box office gold but it did indeed break into the top ten.
8. Kung Fu Panda 2 - 161 million
Again, my placement was close as I had it placing 7th on my list but, again, my money was WAY off. This time, a mere 109 million separated my 270 million dollar prediction and the 161 million dollar gross so far.
9. X-Men: The First Class - 144 million
Once again, right placement, way wrong on the money. I had Matthew Vaughn's film breaking 200 million dollars.
Right now 10th place is Super 8 at 125 million but that will soon be eclipsed by Captain America, which is sitting at 124 million. Either way, I was way off on both of these. Cap was actually worse since I had that film coming in #4 with 320 million. The 70% drop in week 2 of release doomed that from ever happening and I doubt they'll come close to breaking even 200 million at this rate. I had Super 8 ranked 8th with 258 million and it's probably going to settle in at half of that (and will miss the top 10).
All in all, a pretty terrible list in terms of money but I got 9 out of 10 and, so far, am not too far off in terms of where I thought the films would fall. I can't beat myself up over The Hangover II because it really shouldn't have made that much money.
Former Tryout Fitz & the Tantrums seem to be getting some love (although you wouldn't know it by their facebook fan page which still has a low number of likes) and they've posted an interesting new live recording. It's three members of the band and they are on a boat in Amsterdam. Pretty cool. The chorus doesn't seem like it's hitting all the right notes but still a very impressive little vid. And if you go to their site, you can download the song and video for free.
And here's the original version of the song.
I haven't found any new music so I thought this week's Tryout would be a recommendation from a former Tryout, Freelance Whales. They posted on Facebook about a band called Reptar, who are at Lollapalooza and are touring with up and comers Foster the People. The music is interesting and catchy and I think it will grow on me. I definitely see how they get compared to Animal Collective. Check 'em out and pick up their new EP Oblangle Fizz, Y'all!
UPDATE: OK, I'm addicted to this EP. Definitely recommend checking it out. The singer's voice originally struck me as a little whiny but I'm used to it now and am loving the songs.Oblangle Fizz, Y'all! (Preview) by reptarmusic
If you're looking for a way to beat the heat or just want to catch a quirky sit-com on your time off, I recommend checking out Better Off Ted. It was on ABC and only lasted two seasons, mainly because it was more smile funny than laugh out loud funny and it was just too offbeat for network TV. I feel like if it was one USA or another cable channel, it would have lasted a while.
The show was standard PG TV fare but below are some R rated outtakes from an episode in which life at Veridian Dynamics is thrown out of whack when a typo on a memo forces everyone to start cursing at one another in the office. The cast is great and the show is very clever and it worth a watch. Check it out.