Tuesday, March 17, 2015
India, Timor-Leste, Chinese Taipei, and Cambodia also advanced thus making Mongolia, Nepal, Macau, Brunei, and Sri Lanka the first teams officially eliminated from Russia 2018.
The second leg of the Yemen-Pakistan matchup has been postponed, to be played in a neutral location, following violence in Lahore where the match was to be played today. The first leg was also played in neutral territory due to security concerns in Yemen, who currently lead 3-1.
The six winners will be drawn into 8 groups of 5 teams each for home-and-away group play starting on 11 June.
Next up: CONCACAF begins first round play on 22 March with Barbados at home against U.S. Virgin Islands.
Friday, March 13, 2015
The 12 matchups are:
India - Nepal
Yemen - Pakistan
Timor-Leste - Mongolia
Cambodia - Macau
Chinese Taipei - Brunei
Sri Lanka - Bhutan
Bhutan is the lowest-ranked team in the world at 209 and they defeated Sri Lanka away 1-0 in front of 3,500 stunned fans. 21-year old Tshering Dorji scored in the 84th minute to give his nation their first ever World Cup qualification win.
Macau and Mongolia will have challenging three-goal deficits to overcome in their second legs. The other teams are all still very much alive.
CONCACAF qualifying will begin on 23 March.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Bill Murray has had a late stage career renaissance playing curmudgeonly irritated men whose bitterness and sarcasm masks some deep loss within. It started with Rushmore and found one of its greatest expressions in Lost in Translation. It reaches a nadir in Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent which has Murray playing the title character who is anything but a saint.
Vincent is a rude misanthropic angry man with a ramshackle house that’s falling apart, a car that isn’t doing much better, a healthy drinking problem, and a penchant for gambling as a means of increasing his debs and chances of getting broken kneecaps from his loan shark Zucko (Terrence Howard). Oh, and his best friend is Daka, a pregnant prostitute stripper (Naomi Watts, sporting a cartoonish Russian accent) whose employment options are limited to men who find her belly a turn-on.
Played in all earnestness as a tribute to the private investigator sub-genre of crime fiction, Scott Frank’s adaptation (which he also directed) of Lawrence Block’s A Walk Among the Tombstones is about as grim and nihilistic a treatment as you’re likely to see in a mainstream movie. The character Matt Scudder featured in more than a dozen of Block’s books and some of those have been adapted to the screen before. But Frank, who is no stranger to pulp fiction and mystery stories involving a tough PI (Frank wrote the screenplay adaptations of both Get Shorty and Out of Sight), doesn’t bother trying to reinvent the genre or to put a new spin on it. A Walk Among the Tombstones is effective classic mystery storytelling. It’s more hard-edged and just plain evil than any adaptation of Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade ever was, but the hallmarks are there.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Saturday, February 21, 2015
A genuinely tough call this year. It's a tight race between Boyhood and Birdman, with American Sniper perhaps a not-too-distant third given its popular success. But really it will be one of the first two. I feel almost like it's a toss-up even as to whether they will split Director and Picture or sweep.
My final answer is...
Birdman. (I actually typed Boyhood first and changed my mind, that's how indecisive I am). Ultimately perhaps it comes down to the fact that Birdman is about a tortured actor who sees himself as a true artist looking for critical approval. And actors make up the largest contingent of the Academy.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
This film has not yet been released commercially in the United States.
Anti-war movies so often fail at being effectively anti-war because any depiction of fighting, violence, brutality, or death inherently glorifies it by making it sensational. One of the best anti-war movies I can recall is Danis Tanovic’s Oscar-winning No Man’s Land which featured virtually no fighting at all but was about two wounded soldiers from opposing sides in the Bosnian War stuck in the tract of land between the lines. It was about the absurdity and ineffectiveness of war and the need for human understanding in conflict. No Man’s Land was the movie I thought of most often during Tangerines, one of this year’s nominees for the award that Tanovic’s film won.