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Tuesday, 26 January 2016 20:03

Crashing of The 5th Wave'

YA sci-fi adaptation fails to live up to source material

Young adult apocalypses are big business at the box office. Book-based franchises such as 'The Hunger Games' and 'Divergent' and 'The Maze Runner' have shown themselves to be lucrative properties. Unfortunately, we've definitely passed the point at which the law of diminishing returns kicks in. For every success, there is going to be at least one failure.

Unfortunately, 'The 5th Wave' appears destined to fall in the latter category.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 20 January 2016 12:04

'13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi'

Flawed film features solid action, questionable accuracy

There are few filmmakers in Hollywood who are as commercially successful and as critically reviled as Michael Bay. His over-the-top explosion-laden aesthetic has proven to be extremely popular at the box office, much to the chagrin of just about anyone who actually cares about movies as an art form.

However, it should be noted that Bay has occasionally managed to transcend his inherent schlocky dudebro-ness and create something more. And I do mean occasionally I can think of two, the most recent being 2013's 'Pain & Gain.' Make no mistake these offerings are still very much Michael Bay movies. They just have a less 'lowest common denominator' vibe than his usual fare.

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 19 January 2016 22:32

On the road again with Bill Bryson

Re-exploring Great Britain in 'The Road to Little Dribbling'

It's time to take yet another walk with everybody's favorite literary pedestrian.

It has been 20 years since Bill Bryson's 'Notes from a Small Island' was published. That book's unique blend of exasperated affection and curmudgeonly wit is beloved on both sides of the Atlantic, both in the author's adopted home and his native land.

Published in Buzz
Tuesday, 19 January 2016 21:57

A very bumpy Ride Along 2'

Buddy cop sequel blandly mediocre

One of the wonderful things about Hollywood is that you just never know. Every once in a while, a film will come along that becomes a surprise box office hit, drawing huge audiences and making back its relatively meager budget five-fold.

However, one of the not-so-wonderful things about Hollywood is their general attitude of 'If it worked once, it'll work again.'

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 19 January 2016 21:35

The Miracle Worker' engages, inspires

Orono Community Theatre presents stage classic

ORONO One of the most touching and inspirational stories ever to grace the American stage has been brought to life in Orono.

Orono Community Theatre's production of 'The Miracle Worker' - written by William Gibson as an adaptation of Helen Keller's autobiography 'The Story of My Life' and directed by Angela Bonacasa is now playing at the Cyrus Pavilion Theatre on the University of Maine campus. The show runs through January 24.

'The Miracle Worker' tells the story of young Helen Keller (Sophia Mullins), a girl struck blind and deaf by an illness in her infancy. Despite the best efforts of her mother (Amy Moran) and father (Mark Bilyk), there doesn't seem to be any way to reach Helen, whose frustration and anger spill over into uncontrollable tantrums that dominate the household.

Published in Happenings

By any measure, this past Divisional Round was one heck of a good weekend of playoff football. Every single game was extremely competitive and filled with late heroics and great plays and just the right amount of weirdness.

Even with all of the ups and downs, Stella and I managed identical 3-1 records. We were both validated in both of our Saturday picks. New England battled their way to a victory against the Chiefs, ending Kansas City's 11-game winning streak in the process. In the later game, we got to watch the wildly entertaining end to the Green Bay/Arizona match-up. Despite the best efforts of Aaron Rodgers and company, the Cardinals won it in overtime thanks to a huge game from Larry Fitzgerald.

Meanwhile, we split the games on Sunday. Stella's belief that Seattle could upset Carolina was mistaken, though not by nearly as much as it looked when the Panthers were up 31-0. Carolina made me sweat more than I anticipated, but they ultimately got me the win. My seemingly poor pick of the Steelers came closer to paying off than I ever would have guessed considering their injury issues. Still, Stella knew that Denver would come through on their home field and the Broncos wound up holding serve and getting the W.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 12 January 2016 21:50

And the dead shall rise The Revenant'

Film features stunning visuals, exceptional performances

Sometimes, Oscar buzz can be a bit much.

Take a movie like 'The Revenant,' for example. It seems like we've been hearing about this film's awards potential for months now. Not only is it writer/director Alejandro Inarritu's follow-up to last year's 'Birdman' last year's Best Picture winner that also snagged Inarritu a pair of trophies for Director and Original Screenplay but it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, whose desperate desire for Academy recognition has become increasingly overt.

But when you sit down to actually watch the film, none of that other stuff matters. What Inarritu and company have created in 'The Revenant' is something truly special a visually stunning, powerfully performed story of betrayal and revenge. So it turns out there's a reason that people think this movie is going to win a bunch of hardware - the reason being that it's really f---ing good.

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 12 January 2016 20:00

Kibbles and Picks 2015/2016 Divisional Round

You know, I really thought that once we made into the playoffs, the fact that I had at least some knowledge about the participating teams would make a difference. And yet, here we are.

Stella came out on top this Wild Card weekend, going 3-1. Her sole blemish was admittedly a big one she was on the wrong end of the Chiefs blowout win over the Texans. However, she correctly predicted the continuation of the Bengals postseason woes against the Steelers. And as for the Seattle/Minnesota tilt, well I felt pretty good until Blair Walsh. Laces out, Jeff!

Published in The Sports Edge
Wednesday, 06 January 2016 13:51

Celeb Slab - (01-06-2016)

Motley metaphor

Every so often, I'm confronted with an item that defies definition. These events, while not necessarily Slam-worthy, resonate and continue resonating. These are the moments when the general confines of this space must be shrugged off so that mention can be made of something wonderful.

This week, that moment is Tommy Lee.

For those who were unaware, Motley Crue is allegedly finishing up their last-ever tour. While we should all probably reserve judgment on the veracity of that claim rock and roll retirement has never been a cut-and-dried thing the fact remains that if they've reached the end, then they've gone out in a weird (and somehow weirdly appropriate) way.

In a New Year's Eve show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Lee took one final ride on the massive drum kit/roller coaster that the band has dubbed the Cruecifly (because of course they have). As he reached the ride's ill-conceived apex when he sat strapped to his stool upside down high above the crowd the Cruecifly chose to soar no more, leaving the drummer dangling helplessly as he waited for crew members to come rescue him.

Published in Celebrity Slam

Tarantino's latest a stylish, violent Western

Considering his seeming ubiquity in the pop culture landscape since bursting onto the scene with the one-two punch of 'Reservoir Dogs' and 'Pulp Fiction' in the early 1990s, it's a little surprising that Quentin Tarantino has only directed eight films.
(Well by his count, anyway. Depending on how you choose to categorize the two-volume 'Kill Bill' or the 'Death Proof' half of 'Grindhouse,' you could argue that this latest is actually his ninth.)

'The Hateful Eight' is Tarantino's newest work; once again, he's paying homage to a beloved genre in this case, the Western. The director (who also wrote the screenplay) provides himself an abundance of opportunities for sweeping shots and extreme violence just the sort of combination that allows Tarantino's vision to shine brightest.

Published in Movies
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