Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Quote to Think About

With all that's going on in Iran, here is some science courtesy of John F. Kennedy...

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Republican Party Akin To Iranian Protestors?


Here are some interesting tweets, courtesy of The Fix.

First, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), who is running for governor of the Wolverine State, tweeted: "Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House."

Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) then followed Hoesktra's tweet with two of his own. "Good to see Iranian people move mountains w social media, shining sunlight on their repressive govt -- Texans support their bid for freedom," Culberson wrote, adding in a second tweet: "Oppressed minorities include House Repubs: We are using social media to expose repression such as last night's D clampdown shutting off amends."

Uh... I mean, maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see any similarities between fat, rich, white males and disenfranchised Iranians. Do you? I'm sorry but the republican party is completely in shambles right now. They are voting against funding for the military, which is so hypocritical I can't even begin to get into it, but just remember whenever the democrats opposed funding for the wars that Bush started they called it a "vote against the troops". What a nightmare. Then, one of their potential presidential candidates Nevada Sen. John Ensign, a man once quoted, in reference to the Clinton scandal, as saying: “I came to that conclusion recently, and frankly it’s because of what he put his whole Cabinet through and what he has put the country through, he has no credibility left.” Well mister Ensign, I guess you have no credibility left and neither does your party it seems.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ahmadinejad Is Not The Issue

Foremost I would simply like to point out that I realize Ahmadinejad likely wasn't legitimately re-elected in Iran, but under their political structure the presidential seat is almost powerless, and the policy implications of his rule are negligent at best. Nevertheless, I applaud the outrage over the political corruption and election fixing, surely I consider this a major transgression and recognize the strain it puts on a nation where many strive for legitimacy, peace, and acceptance only to be overshadowed by a menacing figurehead, who despite the medias oft-misquotes, is still a fear-mongering-hate-artist who deserves a life of imprisonment. The real point of this blog though is to explore the quintessential question of, who really runs Iran? It is easy to cast a sole figure into the role of devil, as was done from Bin-Laden and Hussein to Hitler and Stalin and so on and so forth, in this case Ahmadinejad is the face of horror, but my understanding is that he has been sorely miscast for the role. The most important factor in understanding Iran is that their government, while they do hold elections, is not a true democracy, they are more or less a strict Islamic theocracy. What the BBC classifies as a "network of unelected institutions controlled by the highly powerful conservative Supreme Leader" is the pillar of "government" by which all decision making must run through, and while Ahmadinejad may or may not line up with them on certain issues, he -nor any of the elected parliament members- really matter, it seems, because regardless of their efforts, even if they were in favor of change (mild or radical), I have serious doubts as to whether or not they would fly. Basically, my contention is that if Mir Hossein Moussavi were not [potentially] cheated out of office by a rigged election, it doesn't even really matter one way or the next. If you want change, change the system. That's just one mans humble opinion though.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Current Republican Landscape

I was just reading an article from last Wednesday's edition of USA Today and there are some pretty jarring figures in a Gallup poll they cited. The figures referenced state that the majority of republicans consider Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney to be the leaders of their party. That's a pretty scary thought if you're a republican, or for that matter, any human being who happens to live in this country. Not only are neither of these men viable figureheads for the future, but their status as present mouthpieces for one of the two political parties of note is pretty pathetic. Dick Cheney is somewhere in between a has-been and a never-was, who has spent his recent months bitterly attacking President Obama and making false claims that the country is now "less safe" and condoning methods of torture. Limbaugh, though is the real joke though, not only are his radical right-wing opinions incredibly convoluted and oft-ridiculous, but this is a guy who once (and probably to this day) has an addiction to prescription drugs, and is a KNOWN RACIST. This is the same guy who played a little tune he called "Barack the Magic Negro" on his radio show. Ugh. So there you have it folks, your republican party in 2009. Good luck on putting another right-winger in the oval office next election. Who knows, maybe Mitt Romney is the answer. Ha, or better yet, Sarah Palin?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Blagojevich on Letterman

I love Letterman and he does not disappoint with a lot of his zingers in his interview with former Illinois politician Rod Blagojevich.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

On The Record: My Super Bowl Winner

I hate to toot my own horn (I don't really hate to do that), but last year I was probably the only guy who - before the championship round games in each division were played - picked the Giants to topple the Patriots in the super bowl. Proof you say? This is why we have archives, click me. Not only that, but I am on a string of moneyline winners the likes you've never seen dating back to 1998 believe it or not... granted a lot of the earlier picks were pure luck, but there's something to be said for a decade long streak of winners. For whatever reason I just get vibes on upset games, like last years Giants win and even the Patriots over the Rams in '02. Anyway, onto tonight's game, I had planned on making this post about a week ago but I've been back and forth the entire time. My pure, unadulterated hope that the Arizona Cardinals stomp out the Pittsburgh Steelers and spiral that dreadful city into a bout of misery the likes of which they haven't faced since the steel industry came crashing down, seems to be clouding my judgment on this game. I tended to lean towards Pittsburgh based on the fact that I wanted to protect my streak and make the safe play, but that's just not the kind of guy I am. Here's what I see happening, Dick Le'Beau and his Steelers defense have been hearing all week how brilliant Kurt Warner is at picking up the blitz, instead of heeding the advice of analysts nationwide, their hubris will lead them to come full throttle at Warner. If they get to him - and they will get to him - they look like geniuses. But, their arrogance to stay in attack mode will let Warner make one quick pass underneath to Boldin who will look to distribute punishment to the Steelers secondary as much as they will look to distribute punishment on him (I like Boldin in that match up by the way), or one quick down field strike to the potent Larry Fitzgerald and this game could fundamentally change in a heart beat. If you put the Steelers down by 7 or 14 early, they will have a hard time devoting themselves to the run and the Cardinals will be able to drop back into coverage with their highly skilled, if not over-anxious, secondary will have ample opportunities to make a play on one of Roethlisberger's down field balls. I like the Cardinals in this one. Thats my pick, I'm sticking to it. Enjoy the game!

Super Bowl Movie Trailers

Transformers 2:

Fast and Furious 4:

Williams, Terps Responds With a Win

Amidst all the turmoil in College Park, Maryland came away with a solid 73-68 in conference win over Miami. Greivis Vasquez (11 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists) was one missed Adrian Bowie layup away from a triple double, but Landon Milbourne was really the key to the game making a bevy of huge buckets down the stretch. Top ten recruit, Lance Stephenson, shockingly enough was in the building even though there has been no evidence whatsoever of him having one iota of interest in being a Terp. Good game for him to be at. Now, the reason I posted this is because I wanted to take a glass half full look at the season. If you're an optimist you could reasonably argue, with some merit, that Maryland really only should have three losses this season, those being to Duke, Georgetown, and Gonzaga. That's a record of 18-3 (6-1 in ACC). The one out of conference loss at home was to Morgan State who overcame a 17 point deficit to win. Then, Maryland managed to blow a 14 point lead at Miami with under 8 minutes to go. Follow that up with an overtime loss at Florida State and another 14 point 2nd half blown lead to Boston College at home and you have a recipe for disaster. Honestly, Maryland, though undermanned clearly has the talent to build 2nd half double digit leads, so something is missing. These losses all seem somewhat flukey to me, and yes a loss is a loss, but the team isn't necessarily doomed for next season, considering everyone is returning with the exception of Dave Neal, who will be replaced by two 6-10 freshmen bigs. Sean Mosley looks incredibly promising as a freshman and will be a fourth point guard next year along with Vasquez, Hayes, and Bowie. Milbourne is steadily improving as well, hopefully Dino Gregory and Cliff Tucker can add some seasoning to their games and we'll see what happens. Maybe even Burney and Dupree... ok, now I'm getting out of control. You get the point, though.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Who Is George Obama?

This made me laugh for a number of reasons. First of all, George Obama, our president's half brother was arrested in Kenya on charges of marijuana possession. Alright, so the dude is a clown, but what I can't figure out is why the hell Barack's father would name the son who is actually in America, Barack but a son who lives in Kenya George. Seems to me like it should be swapped, right? George Obama doesn't have the same ring, though, does it? Ha. Heres the story from CNN:

George Obama, the half-brother of U.S. President Barack Obama, has been arrested by Kenyan police on a charge of possession of marijuana, police said Saturday.
George Obama was arrested in Kenya on a charge for possession of marijuana, according to police.

George Obama was arrested in Kenya on a charge for possession of marijuana, according to police.

Inspector Augustine Mutembei, the officer in charge, said Obama was arrested on charges of possession of cannabis, known in Kenya as Bhang, and resisting arrest. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday, Mutembei said.

He is being held at Huruma police post in the capital of Nairobi.

Speaking from behind bars, Obama denied the allegations.

"They took me from my home," he said, "I don't know why they are charging me."

George Obama and the president barely know each other, though they have met. George Obama was one of the president's few close relatives who did not go to the inauguration in Washington last week.

In his memoir, "Dreams from My Father," Barack Obama describes meeting George as a "painful affair." Barack Obama's trip to Kenya meant meeting family he had never known.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Homeless Man Beaten in D.C.

Absolutely ridiculous... people just let the guy sit there passed out on the curb in critical condition without doing a damn thing or even calling 9-11. What a world.

"Feels Like a Black Republican"

Oh, wait, it is a black republican. And, from the great state of Maryland of all places, CNN reports, "The Republican National Committee today elected former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele as its new chairman." You may remember Steele lost to Ben Cardin in the race for the senate seat back in 2006 [I believe it was]. Steele, in his vein campaign efforts, tried to bamboozle black voters with radio advertisements linking Martin Luther King Jr. to his campaign by making the true, but "gotcha", statement that King himself was a republican. Unfortunately for Steele anyone with any political knowledge realizes the party completely flipped formats since King was a member, but such is politics and his antics were not rewarded in victory so all is well. As for the racial side of this, I think it's great that black Americans are making power moves in politics, I think Steele is a bit of a clown, but the achievement and what it says about the current political landscape is great. Now, I'm sure that I'm not alone in thinking this very well may be a counter to the popularity of the democratic President Barack Obama, but there is also no question that Steele has all the credentials in the world. So, take it for what it's worth.

Dagger... Los Angeles man kills his 5 children, wife, self after being fired from Kaiser,0,4523206.story

Armed with a handgun, Lupoe evidently roamed room to room starting as early as Monday evening, fatally shooting his wife and five young children -- including two sets of twins.

Early Tuesday, Lupoe faxed a bitter, rambling two-page letter to a local television station blaming his employer for his actions. Though his wife and children were already dead, he also called the station threatening to kill his family, investigators believe. He followed this up with an incongruous call to police saying that he had returned home and that "my whole family has been shot."

...Kaiser Permanente confirmed in a statement that Lupoe and his wife, Ana, were recently terminated from employment at the health network's West Los Angeles Medical Center. Hospital officials declined to provide details, saying only that they were cooperating with investigators and "deeply saddened' by the deaths.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama Set to Meet With House Republicans


So it is 4:30 PM here on the East Coast and President Obama has recently ended a nearly 2-hour marathon meeting with the less than fickle congressional right wingers. In something of an unprecedented move, Obama - clearly the leader of democrats nationwide - met with "rank and file" republicans from the House of Reps to discuss a way to bridge the gap on an economic stimulus plan that would infuse $825 billion into the economy by way of not only spending, but also tax cutting. Business as usual was conducted on the republican side of things, where conservative lawmakers were simply unwilling to accept any economic proposal from a left leaning president. For whatever reason, it seems to me (and I know this goes on both sides, a la Nancy Pelosi), that whenever a slight compromise is proposed, the republicans always shove it back in the democrats face and offer a counter that is incredibly conservative in its nature. Well, you might ask, what is the compromise that Obama has offered? Here is your answer, from the New York Times
several Republicans said they would like the tax cuts to move more swiftly, according to people in the room, but the president replied that $275 billion was the most he would be willing to negotiate. The session stretched longer than an hour, with both sides conceding at several points that they have unmovable philosophical differences on many of the issues.

Alright, so the article says both sides have unwavable issues, well, why don't we choose the side that the American people have most recently elected into office. Why don't we allow the man entrusted with the economic well being of the country for the next 4 years to do what he was put in office to do? I'll tell you why, because the republican congresspeople are interested more in career advancement than in the day to day lives of average American people. In other words, if a republican congressperson takes their small, meaningless stand right now and the plan that Obama has proposed does not work for whatever reason, the objector will be able to springboard there next campaign with the "I told you so" banner hanging from the rafters. You're not fooling me and you're probably not fooling anyone with this nonsense, so let's get something done for a change.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gary Williams Predicament

Here's the case for Gary Williams:

* 11 straight tournament appearances from 1994-2004.

* Back to back Final 4's.

* Maryland's lone national championship.

Here's the case against him:

*Horrible recruiter, see this post.

*This will be the fourth year out of five that we will miss the big dance (which should NEVER happen to a team that has won a national championship in the last decade)

You tell me... Is a guy coach for life, even when the NCAA game may have passed him by, when it comes to recruiting and being able to handle a "one and done" type of athlete. Comment and I'll spar wit you either way.

Friday, January 23, 2009

NBA All-Star Ballots Announced

I did my personal ballot on the blog the first day of January 09, and this week the actual ballot was released. Below is the official roster and emboldened are the players I voted for that made the roster.

Eastern Conference
Allen Iverson (Detroit Pistons)
Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics)
Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)

Western Conference
Kobe Bryant (L.A. Lakers)
Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets)
Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)
Amare Stoudamire (Phoenix Stoudamire)
Yao Ming (Houston Rockets)

President Obama on Air Force One

Pretty cool short video here of Obama on his first filght on Air Force One.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar Stuff

Today the Oscar nominations came out, I will list all the nominations for all the important categories, plus my pick in bold. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button lead all films with 13 nominations, but the sleeper movie of the year Slumdog Millionaire came in strong with 10 nominations in its own right. Surprisingly, a less critically acclaimed and less hyped movie The Reader (a movie I didn't see, hence no link to a review) crept it's way into top picture honors, beating out the likes of The Dark Knight, Gran Torino, and The Wrestler.

Best Actor:
Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)
Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
Sean Penn (Milk)
Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

Best Supporting Actor:
Josh Brolin (Milk)
Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)

Best Actress*:
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
Melissa Leo (Frozen River)
Meryl Streep (Doubt)
Kate Winslet (The Reader)

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams (Doubt)
Viola Davis (Doubt)
Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Taraji P Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Marisa Tomei (The Wreslter)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire
The Reader

Best Picture:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

*Shame on me, I didn't see any of those movies, they're all on my list of movies to see before the summer though!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PRESIDENT Barack Obama Sworn In

It's on, my thoughts on the speech later.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama is a Rock Star/Don't Ask Don't Tell

Barack Obama or Jesus Christ? The guy is literally a rock star, he is a cross between Bon Jovi and Jay-Z if you can imagine that. According to a recent poll, CNN reports "President-elect Barack Obama is more popular than ever despite recent speed bumps on the road to his inauguration". This started when he was in campaign mode and he was drawing massive crowds just to hear him give a speech, people literally believe he is the savior for this country, and frankly that can only be a good thing. The guy is giving Americans not only hope, but also confidence that a brighter day is in store, and with confidence comes upswings in the American way of life and perhaps even the economy. Honestly, I thought once he was elected, the excitement would tale off but in reality its just now reaching a fever pitch, according to the survey 84% of people polled are "thrilled or happy" he will be inaugurated on Tuesday. Think about that. In history, there has never been an American politician with this kind of god-like status, end of story. Not even JFK. Heck, I was a skeptic at first and I still think, politically John Edwards was the man for the job, but Obama won me over and I wouldn't have it any other way. Obama it is now officially reported, he will strike down the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" military policy and will let gays to openly enlist in the military. When this policy was first instilled by Bill Clinton it was considered a groundbreaking move and Obama is simply going to take it to that next level. Frankly I'm a fan of the move. Honestly, the don't ask don't tell policy was only there, not because they think that gays should have to keep their sexuality to themselves, but just because you simply don't want to ruin the cohesiveness of a unit when the stakes are so high when it comes to national defense. But as far as I'm concerned if a soldier chooses to jeopardize his life, her life, or the life of an American because of a fellow-soldiers sexuality, they shouldn't have joined the military to begin with. Props to Obama. Let's make major moves in 09.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ben's Welcomes Barack

President-elect Obama enjoyed some of D.C.'s infamous Ben's Chili Bowl over on U Street. In my opinion the restaurant is a little bit overrated and for the price you can definitely find equal chili in the city, but it is what it is. Anyway, here is the video of Obama mingling with customers at Ben's, chowing down, and stating that he is "neutral when it comes to Maryland and Georgetown" when someone asks which squad he supports.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Movie Review: Revolutionary Road

Ever since I saw the trailer for this film, which features a sampling of the abundance of moving dialogue, laced over a cover of Nina Simone's "Wild is the Wind". Seriously, if you don't feel like reading my review then at least watch this trailer and tell me you don't want to immediately get out of your chair and hit the theaters.
Revolutionary Road is chock full of great dialogue, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet turn in two of the finest performances of the movie year. I raved about Rosario Dawson in my Seven Pounds review, but after watching Winslet star as April Wheeler, wife to DiCaprio's Frank Wheeler, battle with the misery of suburban hell, it makes Dawson look like a minor leaguer. The movie opens with DiCaprio and Winslet meeting at a party and sharing a few drinks/laughs, the opening credits fade in and as they fade out we meet the couple years later in a suburban hill, with nice suburban furniture, two nice suburban children, and a nice suburban car. Frank Wheeler works in the city. April Wheeler tends to the home and children. Frank hates his job. April hates her life even more. What's interesting about this film, which takes place in the 1950's, is that it really makes you think (as a younger movie-goer) about your parents lot in life. As a 21 year old, all you think about is how your dreams are becoming less and less likely to be actualized, you see your family at home and their jobs and simply assume that they have accepted their lot in life and are happy with everything they have achieved. Perhaps, they are miserable and nobody even knows it. April Wheeler is miserable and she decides to let it be known; she convinces Frank - who, though reluctant, is likely just as miserable on the inside as his wife - to move to Paris and live life the way they always wanted. Soon after though, Frank gets offered a promotion, April gets pregnant and the couple struggle and fight over what they should do. The extremes of love and hate portrayed by DiCaprio and Winslet are unbelievable. What's most interesting about the film though, is the role reversal you get from a prototypical movie. How many times have you seen a flick where a man and wife settle down and have kids, until the man realizes he never achieved his goals in life and sinks into a mid-life crisis? Well, this time, the script is flipped and Winslet plays is masterfully, her performance is one of the best I've seen in a very long time and her emotional range was put on full display throughout. In a movie where DiCaprio and Winslet shined so brightly on the screen, I would be remiss not to mention the performance from Michael Shannon as a neighborhood man recently released from a mental institution. Shannon's character though is far from insane, he simply sees through the mascaraed and masks of happiness that Frank and Annie put on everyday and frankly, he steals just about every scene he is in. I rate this movie 4.5/5, the acting was incredible, the script was incredible, and the movie was really thought provoking.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Movie Review: Seven Pounds

Seven Pounds, starring Will Smith and Rosario Dawson, is the tale of... well, it's a story about... really, at it's core, its a movie that focuses in on... uh, honestly, I have no plot description. Not that the movie is about nothing, it is about something, but I'm just not really sure what and I literally had no clue what was going on for almost the entirety of its 2-hour runtime. I will say, though, it was beautifully acted by Rosario Dawson in a supporting role that is worthy of an Oscar in my book, her character was incredibly moving and played as the counter balance to Will Smith's (also putting in a near magnificent performance) solemn portrayal of Ben Thomas, a man whose plot line would surely spoil the movie if told. The problem, though, is that not only does the movie leave you scratching your head (and not in the unpredictable mystery/thriller type of way), but the storyline is complete nonsense and not-believable once it is finally revealed what Smith's Ben Thomas' motivation is for doing what it is he's doing. I realize this review may seem complicated and vague, but I don't have a lot to say about a movie without much purpose for the first 9/10 of the way through and if I do let it be known what happens at the end the movie is ruined. You'd have to see it to understand what I'm saying, but please don't rush out to theaters for this one, there are a ton of better choices. At the same time though, the movie certainly wasn't bad, my official rating of it is a 3/5, it is certainly an interesting - if not depressing (today was a very depressing movie day for me, I started my morning by watching Reservation Road on HBO and that literally ruined my day) - film that is acted flawlessly by Dawson, Smith, and even Woody Harrelson is a very small supporting role.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Roland Burris = Clown

God, this guy really wants to be a Senator doesn't he? Unfortunately, for a seemingly bright guy, he hasn't a clue. I honestly wonder what he expected to happen Tuesday when he showed up on Capital Hill hoping to be sworn in as Junior Senator. Did he think that anyone would accept the credentials of his designation by disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich? While it is true that legally, since Blagojevich is still the Governor and thus, still has the right to appoint the person to take over Obama's old senate seat, these aren't normal circumstances and normal actions should not be expected. Blagojevich is on the verge of getting the boot and at times like this it is pretty obvious what needs to happen; you make an exception to the rule. Hell, Bush is still in office, he should have no problem circumventing the seemingly illegal to do what he feels is right, seeing as that he has done just that numerous times over the last 8 years. Blagojevich really put Burris in a lose/lose situation by nominating him and really marred the reputation of Burris and for that I sympathize with Burris, but Burris is only compounding his misfortune by turning this into a media circus. A simple thanks, but no thanks would have been just fine. Yes, if not Burris this would be somebody else, but, let it be somebody else, who knows he might have legitimately been chosen after all this blew over, but now that seems pretty unlikely from where I'm sitting. What a mess.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Seeing a Movie Alone (in theaters)

Personally I have never done it and frankly, I find it appalling. I've often considered it... especially for something like an 11AM showing of a movie that has been out for a while, but I could just never pull the trigger because in my opinion, once you start seeing movies alone you're in full blown psychopath mode. I instantly envision a 36 year old man with a bag full of Werther's originals in his pocket at Madagascar 2 or Twilight trying to lure 6th graders into his van after the credits roll. Anyway, for those of you who have seen a movie in theaters by yourself, what was your experience like? Was it weird? Did you feel like a creep? Who did you whisper your mid-movie zingers to?

Also, for men out there, what is the etiquette on seeing chick flicks or movies about the gays (e.g. Milk) with other men? I for one am all for the gays, I love the gays, I wish I was gay, I consider gay to be the new black, but I refuse to see a chick flick with another man. It's just a line I won't cross. What about with rentals? When I go to a Redbox for example, sometimes I like to dabble in the romantic comedy genre (Definitely, Maybe is a solid flick), so what I'll do is pretend I'm talking on the phone to someone as I'm browsing through the machine... "whats the name of that stupid movie you wanted to see again?... oh that's right [insert chick flick here]" and then I'll rent it and still have my man card in tact.

Stay tuned for more hard hitting news, courtesy of IMJUSTLIKEMUSIQ.COM

Movie Review: Gran Torino

Got to check out Gran Torino last night in what, to most of the U.S., counts as an early release screening, but the movie has been out in Bethesda for about two weeks now. Gran Torino, starring Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski, a recently widowed, volatile, old-school, Korean war veteran, tells the tale of Kowalski and his bond with his Hmong neighbors. Eastwood's Kowalski is a complete bad ass who is especially prone to spewing racial and ethnic slurs as if they were pleasantries. Walt Kowalksi is one of the few white Americans left in the neighborhood, and though set on secluding himself from his Asian American community at first, he eventually grows very close to his neighbors who are the victims of torturous behavior from a local Hmong gang. Kowalski even acts as a father figure/mentor to his next door neighbor, a soft-spoken, well-mannered Asian teen who is often bullied by the gang. Though the script and acting is shaky at times and the storyline is very contrived (especially toward the end), Eastwood's performance flat carries the film. The major beef I have with the movie though, is that aside from Eastwood the rest of the characters were given mediocre scripts to work with, especially from the minority characters who were not portrayed realistically at all. They are completely stereotypical characterizations of their racial groups and the dialogue is hardly believable. My initial instinct leaving the theater was to give the movie a 4 because I could not stop laughing from some of the incredibly racially insensitive lines. But after stepping back and fairly assessing all of the films shortcomings, I'm going to give this movie a 3.5/5. It's a very fun movie, especially to see in theaters with friends... just make sure you're not easily offended.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Perhaps I should build up to this statement, but this is my favorite movie of the year. I feel like a plot summary is in order since a lot of people have never even heard of this movie, including the majority of the people I went to the movie with. The film centers around Jamal, a "slumdog" (which translates roughly for us in the States to "street kid"), who has landed a seat on the game show "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" and is one correct answer away from being the first to go all the way and answer every question correctly. Being that Jamal has almost no formal education, he is tortured and interrogated by Indian police who suspect him of cheating. Through the interrogation we learn the story of Jamal, his brother Samir, and their friend (and Jamal's love interest) Latika, as Jamal explains through life experiences how he came to know the answers. The movie succeeds in not only its unique storytelling, but also because of the cinematography, and the way director Danny Boyle uses Mumbai, India as one of the supporting actors. This is the first hit movie from my memory that was centered in India, and I really hope to see more films from the area because it was really incredible. I know this is a hack line, but this is really a film that can make you laugh and make you cry. What's so amazing about the movie is that, in its essence it is a traditional Hollywood melodrama/love story, but the creative storytelling, the impressive acting performances, and awe-worthy cinematography make this a must-see. 5 out of 5 stars. Go see this movie while it's still out in theaters, and if I can I'd like to recommend the AFI in Silver Spring, it really is a great movie theater and I haven't had a single bad experience there.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Movie Review: The Wrestler

I woke up this morning and figured, its 2009, let's get things off with a bang and see one of the mostly highly praised movies of 08, so I set out to Bethesda to see The Wrestler. This is a movie that had interested me since I first saw the trailer on YouTube, but once it got a 98% on I knew that I couldn't pass it up in theaters. The movie centers around Randy "The Ram" Robinson, an aging professional wrestler struggling with the realities of life after stardom, he is broke, taking mass amounts of human growth hormones, living in a trailer park, and completely alone in life. Aside from his cult following in the underground wrestling world, The Ram is a forgotten man, and after a heart attack caused from the brutality of professional wrestling coupled with his steroid abuse, he contemplates retirement. Taking a job in a deli at a local grocery market, two of the best scenes of the movie take place, one showing Rourke on a high (a non-substance induced high, at that), he jokes with the customers and seems to be content with his job. Later, though, after he inevitably messes up with anyone who would potentially care about him, you see Rourke bitter and hostile. I won't spoil anything, but he eventually loses control, and such is emblematic of the highs and lows of a man once in the pantheon of American popular culture and now a tragic failure in life. I don't want to belabor the point because everyone is talking about it, but this movie was all about acting. The story was good. Not great, just good, but Mickey Rourke is deservedly getting all the Oscar buzz. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm disappointed, but, I almost wanted more... I wanted the story to move me and it didn't. I must say though, Marissa Tomei is getting a raw deal, because she was phenomenal in her role as an aging stripper/mother and some of her scenes with Rourke in the strip club were great. As for rating the movie, it really reminded me of a documentary-style film, a lot of the camera work even got me dizzy just from the camera shaking slightly following Rourke as he walks down the stairs and runs through woods but thanks to Rourke's completely believable performance, the style of shooting worked out brilliantly. I would give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. Some of the wrestling scenes, one involving a staple gun are really brutal to watch, but some of the best cinema you'll see if you're just into really raw, gritty films. I would recommend you see Benjamin Button first, but this is still a must-see because of the performances of Rourke, Tomei, and even Even Rachel Wood, who played The Ram's daughter.