Celebrating America With Movies: Fourth of July Viewing Alternatives


I first want to state that I fully believe that America, and this great holiday in particular, are meant to be celebrated outdoors. Not necessarily in those ridiculous looking American flag shorts you bought online a few years ago to "stand out" and then dug through your closet to find Read more

Examining Our Love-Hate Relationship with Taylor Swift


Two years ago, I revealed to the world I had a sad, secret love affair with Taylor Swift and her music. It was a difficult moment for me, as I had publicly bad-mouthed the pop star for years. “I mean, can she really sing?” I would question. “And she Read more

Letter to the Editor: Thoughts from a Veteran and Current Police Officer


Today we're posting this "Letter to the Editor" that we received this morning from someone whose identity shall remain anonymous. He's a veteran and currently a police officer in the city of Memphis. In light of the recent tragedy in South Carolina he just had a few words he Read more

Monday Morning Mailbag: Jurassic World, Cavs-Warriors, & More


Wise Guise Warriors... I'm back! A lot has been happening in the world since I last posted. I got lots of questions about all sorts of topics in addition to many things I've wanted to blog about but haven't had time. So, without further ado, here's a Monday Morning Read more

Previously on The Bachelorette... A Season Review


  Disclaimer: I watched the show immediately after my favorite hockey team suffered a brutal loss. All comments and analogies will most likely reflect how upset I was at the time. I’m still upset, for what it's worth. But hey, you know the old saying – it’s better to let Read more

The Bachelorette 2015: Bio Breakdown


This past Monday I felt an emptiness in my life. I knew it had nothing to do with my work or my personal life or not pursuing my dreams or anything like that, so I googled "the bachelorette 2015 start date," and to my delight I found that it Read more

SAG, Golden Globe nominations push “Boyhood” out front in Oscar Race

Posted on by Alex Beene in Awards Addict, Entertainment, Featured, Movies | Leave a comment

boyhood_stillIs “Boyhood” really the frontrunner for Best Picture? Upon release this summer, it certainly felt like a contender. The perfect review scores and strong limited box office seemingly guaranteed that. And yet, the lack of star power in the film made it feel more like a production made for critical praise than gold.

The Hollywood Foreign Press and Screen Actors Guild this week have reversed the opinion held by some others and myself. With strong showings in the nominations for the Golden Globes and SAG this year, Richard Linklater’s latest entry seems poised to take Oscars by storm. Lack of big stars be damned; the quality of the film will stand for itself.

And yet, we know how the Academy feels about these things. Remember “Gravity” last year? That film was lavished as a major cinematic accomplishment (and had star power on top of that!) but failed to win Best Picture. It certainly didn’t do poorly in terms of statuettes awarded, earning quite a handful, including Best Director.

“Boyhood” could end up in the same boat this year, especially if “The Imitation Game” catches on. Packed with historical relevance and a strong cast, it’s the type of classic Best Picture winner the Academy may be more in line to honor.

“Birdman” continues to get attention, but its meta-filmesque status makes it hard for the Academy to embrace as a whole. That won’t stop it from being a really strong contender throughout the season. Ditto to “The Theory of Everything.”

The Globes stepped in to save “Selma,” which didn’t impress SAG. It remains to see if the historical drama can catch on. “Unbroken” is similar in its struggle, but it’s massive absence so far doesn’t speak well for its chances down the line.

Golden Globe Film Nominations:

Best Motion Picture – Drama “Boyhood” “Foxcatcher” “The Imitation Game” “Selma” “The Theory of Everything”

Best Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical “Birdman” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” “Into the Woods” “Pride” “St. Vincent”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher” Benedict Cumberbatch, “Imitation Game” Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler” David Oyelowo, “Selma” Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Jennifer Aniston, “Cake” Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything” Julianne Moore, “Still Alice” Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl” Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical Amy Adams, “Big Eyes” Emily Blunt, “Into the Woods” Hellen Mirren, “The Hundred-Foot Journey” Julianne Moore, “Map to the Stars” Quvenzhane Wallis – “Annie”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Michael Keaton, “Birdman” Bill Murray, “St. Vincent” Joaquin Phoenix, “Inherent Vice” Christoph Waltz, “Big Eyes”

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood” Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year” Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game” Emma Stone, “Birdman” Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Robert Duvall, “The Judge” Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood” Edward Norton, “Birdman” Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher” J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Director – Motion Picture Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Avu Duvernay, “Selma” David Fincher, “Gone Girl” Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman” Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture “Birdman” “Boyhood” “Gone Girl” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” “The Imitation Game”

Best Animated Feature Film “Big Hero 6″ “The Book Of Life” “The Boxtrolls” “How To Train Your Dragon 2″ “The LEGO Movie”

Best Foreign Language Film “Force Majure” – Sweden “Gett, the Trial of Viviane Amsalem” – Israel “Ida” – Poland “Leviathan” – Russian “Tangerines” – Estonia Georgia

Best Original Song – Motion Picture “Big Eyes” – “Big Eyes” – Music and Lyrics by: Lana Del Rey “Glory” – “Selma” – Music and Lyrics by: John Legend, Common “Mercy Is” – “Noah” – Music and Lyrics by: Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye “Opportunity” – “Annie” – Music and Lyrics by: Greg Kurstin, Sia Furler, Will Gluck “Yellow Flicker Beat” – “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 1″ Music and Lyrics by: Lorde

Best Original Score – Motion Picture “Birdman” “Gone Girl” “The Imitation Game” “Interstellar” “The Theory of Everything”

 

Sneak Preview: Favorite Films of 2014 So Far

Posted on by Clayton Martin in Entertainment, Featured, Movie Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment

Birdman_movie

Every year I rank my favorite films of the previous year in January or February. You can find past editions in our archives, including the 2012 edition when I ranked my top 50 movies of the year. Like I said then, and will reiterate now, I need to get a life. This year I want to share my work-in-progress list early and make sure some of these films that deserve your attention get it before award season. I still have a lot I want to/plan to watch (plus some films that haven’t even come out yet).

The order is very much subject to change but here are my current standings (plus a tweet-length review): Read more

Why WWE was right to fire CM Punk

Posted on by Alex Beene in Featured, Other Sports, WWE | Leave a comment

Punk

Fittingly, as we were all giving thanks for the wonderful things in our lives yesterday, former WWE superstar CM Punk interrupted the holiday with a long, rambling podcast as close friend Colt Cabana’s guest.

It’s filled with the typical, ego-charged rhetoric from Punk we’ve come to expect. He says he’ll never go to work for WWE again, citing a barrage of claims, with the most damning being Vince McMahon and company sent him termination papers on his wedding day. Read more

Rugby: My New Favorite Sport

Posted on by Grant Oster in Featured, Other Sports | Leave a comment

 All-Blacks-USA-Eagles

Last week I experienced the thrill and experience that is the sport of Rugby. Well, the thrill and experience that comes from watching the sport of rugby. Last Saturday, I went to the USA Eagles v New Zealand All Blacks game in Chicago. Packed into a sold out stadium, with 61,499 other screaming fans, I enjoyed my first professional rugby match. This was unlike any display of athleticism I had ever seen. Rugby has the fast-paced and continual play that is exhibited in soccer, with the full contact that one would expect during an American football game. It only took one game because I am now hooked on rugby. Read more

Movie Review: Interstellar

Posted on by Joseph Williams in Entertainment, Featured, Movie Reviews, Movies | 2 Comments

1415190921_interstellar-movie-hd-wallpaper-and-poster

On September 12, 1962, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University setting the United States of America’s Space Race goals for the 1960s.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

I wish we didn’t live in the cynical world we live in. I’m perfectly willing to admit, as my wife reminds me often, that I can be too optimistic for my own good at times. Matthew McConaughey’s character is similarly ridiculed as too optimistic and too much of a dreamer in Christopher Nolan’s latest epic cinematic adventure (and first since the conclusion of his Dark Knight trilogy). But the world where he farms and raises his children is Nolan’s vision of what could result if our cynical world devolves to its natural conclusion.

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Political Passport: Election 2014 Recap & Reflections

Posted on by Joseph Williams in Featured, Politics | Leave a comment

US Capitol70

The votes are cast, most of them have been tallied, and the American experiment lives to see another day. To paraphrase one of the only lines that was any good from Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, “Every two years we drive to a fire station and overthrow the government and there isn’t a policeman in the street.” It’s a beautiful thing and so rare in all of human history. Our structure and our system cannot be lauded enough. For all its many imperfections, it may just be the closest to perfect we can get for self-rule.

Before what many expected to be a good night for Republicans turned into a great night for Republicans, Peggy Noonan shared insight into how both winners and losers could be gracious as we wrap up another election season.

For those who think Mr. Obama has faced unusual levels of rhetoric, consider this question from a reporter to Mr. Bush:

“Thank you, Mr. President. With all due respect, Nancy Pelosi has called you incompetent, a liar, the emperor with no clothes and, as recently as yesterday, dangerous. How will you work with someone who has such little respect for your leadership and who is third in line to the presidency?”

This is how Mr. Bush replied. “I’ve been around politics a long time. I understand when campaigns end and I know when governing begins. And I’m going to work with people of both parties. You know, look, people say unfortunate things at times. But if you hold grudges in this line of work, you’re never going to get anything done. And my intention is to get some things done, and soon—we’re start visiting with her Friday with the idea of coming together.”

That is the sound of political graciousness. It would be nice to hear it from Mr. Obama on Wednesday.

As for the Republicans, if they have as good a Tuesday night as they increasingly expect, it would be nice if they were gracious and big-minded, and a real relief if they didn’t look smug and get that curled smile that says “We got it back, baby, and Harry Reid will soon be out of that pretty office.” Wouldn’t it be nice if they were happy but modest, and made it clear they’re aware of the fix we’re in? “It is not about me and it’s not, my hardworking friends, about you. It’s about this thing we were given called America. It needs our help. So we are happy tonight, but it’s work in the morning, and the kind of work that is the most important, saving our country.”

Or, more pointedly: “I know what this is. It’s the base giving the party one last chance. They are telling us we better do something. That’s the meaning I take. and I mean to come through.”

That is what the GOP should be thinking this morning. Honestly, that is what every elected official of every party should be thinking this morning. That’s what the losing candidates should be thinking as they consider next steps. And, more importantly than all of them, it is what ordinary Americans, you and me, should be thinking. It’s not about our political parties, although that’s important. It’s not about who won and lost, although I believe that is also vitally important.

It’s not about us. It’s about this thing we were given called America. It’s about the responsibilities we have to each other and to the world, as we see historic levels of evil on the move, raping, beheading, and enslaving. It’s about truly caring for the most vulnerable members of our society, both those who are born and those who are unborn.

This means we will have to forego the easy answers that do more about making ourselves feel good and self-righteous than actually empowering those who feel hopeless. It will mean pragmatism and compromise, but not without standing up for principles and truth. It will mean knock down, drag out debates, but hopefully a focus on the ones that truly matter and insisting upon dignity for all, even those we feel argue for the least dignified positions.

If you read all of this reflection as more empty rhetoric about hope and change, then you misread me. The time for talking and wishing away our country’s problems is over. There is real work to do. I hope the 2014 election results show our President that it’s time to get down to business. I pray that the President and the new GOP congressional leadership focus on getting real work down to create economic growth and opportunity for all Americans of every socioeconomic class, race, and community.

Christopher Nolan’s latest masterpiece, Interstellar, is ultimately about hope in the midst of hopelessness. I hope our new elected officials and every single American now realize that hope does not descend from D.C., but must be nourished in our families, neighborhoods, and communities.

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