Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pixar's Cars Movie Review

Pixar’s Cars was the only film in their continually impressive lineup that I hadn’t seen. This was due in part to the fact that it was released during my first year living abroad and I had quite limited access to English language films that were not dubbed into Spanish. Also, it was the first of the Pixar films to receive only lukewarm critical praise. I had little reason to seek it out until this year which saw the release of the sequel.

At first glance it looks like a difficult sell. It’s the story of a rookie on the racing circuit named Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) whose goal to be the first rookie to win the Piston Cup (Cars’ version of the Indy 500, I suppose). His main rivals are an aging racer named The King and a brash veteran called Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton). After finishing in a photo finish 3-way tie, a 3-car race is scheduled in California. McQueen wants to get there as quickly as possible to schmooze a big sponsor, but fate leads him on a different path – to a small town in the middle of the desert.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Beginners Movie Review

What happens when a gay person feels compelled by the shame of societal norms to remain in the closet for the vast majority of his life? What if that person married and had a child? What would be left behind in the motional wreckage wrought by such a deception? Beginners seeks to explore these questions, not so much in an obvious way, but through the quiet reflections of Oliver (Ewan McGregor), who informs us at the beginning that his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer), came out to him 4 years before dying of cancer at the age of 75.

Blackthorn Movie Review

If you're in the USA, you've probably not heard of this film yet. It has opened in Spain, where it was produced. According to IMDb, it has recently opened in the States for an Oscar qualifying run.

I love the mythology of the Old West. I love the simplicity of the black hats and white hats shooting it out to establish dominance in a land without the same sense of law and order that existed in the East. It’s a fundamentally American genre albeit one that has been appropriated by other cultures. Australia has its fair share of films that share themes and nearly all Japanese samurai films are variations of westerns.

One of the great myths, at least in Hollywood terms, is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, already turned into a classic film forty years ago. Now Spanish director Mateo Gil has extended the Butch and Sundance story and made a convincing Western set in the rough and rugged landscape of Bolivia.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Once Upon a Time in Mexico Movie Review

The third film in Robert Rodríguez’s “Mariachi” trilogy takes its title, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, as an homage to Sergio Leone. The title reputedly suggested by friend Quentin Tarantino, who told him that this was his “Dollars” trilogy (in reference to Leone’s three spaghetti westerns featuring Clint Eastwood, the third of which is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and in which Once Upon a Time in the West plays no part). None of that matters, though, because Rodríguez and Tarantino love to riff on the culture of coolness. They love being in the know and they love to throw little tidbits in for their fans who are also ‘in the know’.

Monday, July 4, 2011

25 Years Ago This Month: July 1986

The major:

James Cameron's Aliens, the highly successful sequel to Ridley Scott's masterpiece of terror from 7 years earlier, featured great effects that still look great today, some terrifying scenes to rival the original and a tone and approach that took the series in a whole new direction. It's a sequel, but also in many ways an original work

Heartburn was a Mike Nichols (director) and Nora Ephron (writer) collaboration which was a mostly autobiographical account of the end of Ephron's marriage to Carl Bernstein. Stars Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep were not enough to rescue this film.

A Bit More CONCACAF Action

The US Virgin Islands defeated the British Virgin Islands 2-0 in the first leg of their matchup.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

8 Down, 164 To Go

That is, 164 more nations will be eliminated in qualifying rounds before the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

In addition to East Timor eliminated yesterday, today saw a few interesting second leg match-ups out of the Asian Confederation.

Chinese Taipei almost pulled out an upset over Malaysia, winning the second match 3-2 for a 4-4 aggregate score, but Malaysia won on away goals. They face Singapore later in the month.

Bangladesh knocked out Pakistan and will play Jordan in the second round.

After winning the first leg 4-2, Cambodia looked poised to advance. But Laos opened with two goals in the first half hour, which was all they needed to advance. But then Cambodia answered just before the interval. Then Laos opened the second half with an immediate goal to put them back on top 3-1, then scored an insurance goal less than ten minutes later. But when Cambodia got one back in the 75th minute that put the two teams dead even in aggregate. In extra time Laos tallied another 2 goals to give themselves a 6-2 home leg victory for an 8-6 aggregate win and a trip to China on 23 July.

Sri Lanka were eliminated by the Philippines, who will face Kuwait now.

Afghanistan managed a 1-1 draw against Palestine today, but that wasn't enough to overcome the 2-0 deficit of the first leg. Palestine will face Thailand next.

Vietnam trounced all over Macau again, this time 7-1. They will play Qatar.

Finally, it looked like Myanmar and Mongolia were headed to extra time when Myanmar added one more in the 85th minute to earn a date with Oman in round two.

Movie Review: Desperado

Let's play.
Some cinema experiences remain permanently etched in my memory. One of those is Robert Rodríguez’s Desperado, the sequel to his 1992 breakout indie hit El mariachi. I was 17 years old when a large group of us went to see Desperado at our local second-run cinema (when they still existed). We sat up in the balcony and laughed and cheered our way through ridiculous action sequences, a hilarious opening action sequence with monologue accompaniment by Steve Buscemi and two gorgeous leads in Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek.

We recognized at the time that what we were witnessing was not your typical studio action extravaganza, but a very sharp send-up of such action rubbish. In the process, Rodríguez also crafted a pretty decent action flick in its own right.

The Road to Brazil 2014... going to be nearly impossible for Turks and Caicos after their 0-4 loss at home to Bahamas yesterday. 2nd leg to be played on Saturday. Exciting!

Lots of First Round Asian matches today.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

East Timor First Team Eliminated from 2014 World Cup

The second leg of the Nepal - Timor-Leste matchup was held today. Nepal won 5-0 making the aggregate 7-1.

Nepal advance to the second round of Asian qualifying where they will face Jordan later this month.

More first round Asian action tomorrow.