Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Oscar 2011 picks

I'm not going to lie, I get invested into the Oscars. Movies are my thing and this is one big movie party. Oscars rarely ever get it right (Rocky beating out Network, Kramer vs. Kramer beating out Apocalypse Now and Driving Miss Daisy beating out Do the Right Thing) but there is still the fun in the debate. I thought Crash was a horrible movie. I thought it was pretentious, heavy handed and gimmicky. Yet somehow it beat Brokeback Mountain; Good Night, and Good Luck and Munich (Capote was more an actors movie and probably wasn't going to win anyway).

I find the debate leading up to and after the awards to be fun. But with that being said, I realize that all this debate means nothing. It's all conjecture. But I don't care, here is my opinions on who will win the awards. My next post will be a wrap up about how right they got it.

Best Picture: Social Network

This is really the movie of a generation. It defines the new social media age through the perspective of the man that created it. To be honest, I'm not sure if it will win. I can see people looking back at Social Network's lost the same way they look at Goodfellas' loss to Dancing With Wolves. Going by past Academy action, The Kings Speech will probably win. But hopefully they will decide to break from their own cliche and pick a relevant movie for once instead of a retread to the past.

Best Director: Darren Aronofsky

To be honest I'd be fine with anybody winning this category. I love all the directors, yes even David O. Russel for all his past douche-baggery. I was probably one of the few that enjoyed I Heart Huckabees. The Coens already won their Oscar and Fincher, while a talent director, didn't leave his mark as much on Social Network. Black Swan was Aronofsky's baby and there is no way it would of been made the way it was without him at the helm. With Christopher Nolan getting snubbed it leaves only Aronofsky.

Best Actor: Colin Firth

This one comes down to politics. Colin Firth has been nominated before, plays a royal and his character overcomes an impediment. That, to be, is an Academy Award trifecta. Jeff Bridges already won his and Jesse Eisenberg is too young. Young actors only win supporting role Oscars and only when they are extra precocious (Tatum O'Neal and Anna Paquin). James Franco plays the hell out of his role in 127 Hours but, let's look at the past. In 2001 Tom Hanks lost the best actor nomination for Castaway, his movie about a lone survivor. Am I mad that Hanks lost to Russel Crowe in Gladiator? Hell no. But the point remains that Franco has the deck stacked against him. Plus he is young, he has plenty of movies left in him.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman

Jennifer Lawrence just came onto the scene and Nicole Kidman didn't do anything spectacular. Annette Benning shouldn't get the nomination even because she plays the same ice-queen that she plays in every other movie. The only difference this time is that she happens to be a lesbian. These kind of nominations annoy me because I feel like it's a step back. Then again maybe I'm still mad about Sean Penn beating out Mickey Rourke in 2008. No, this year comes down to Michelle Williams and Natalie Portman. And since Portman made the greater transition in her character, I feel she will be the winner. Portman has been in the business since her pre-teens and here she really shows how much she has to offer.

Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush

I know Geoffrey Rush already won for Shine in 1996 but I am a Rush fan so I don't care. Also, Kings Speech is really an actor's film when you get down to it, so I don't see why it shouldn't win the actor awards. John Hawkes is just a token indie nominee. While I do think that Jeremy Renner is a phenomenal actor, I don't think this role is going to win him the statue. His character in The Town is the same character we've seen in every heist movie ever made. Yes he makes it his own but it's still not enough. And Christian Bale goes to such drastic extremes in every role he's ever been in that it's just not surprising anymore. And as for Mark Ruffalo, he seems to everyman for me. Maybe it's the chest hair but I don't know about him winning.

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo

Melissa Leo is the only one that stands out. The Academy seems to have a thing for bulldog matriarchs anyway.

Best Writing - Original Screenplay: Inception

Inception is probably going to win all the technical awards but it is my hope of hopes that it wins this award. Inception took a high-concept gimmick (I mean that the best way possible) and crafted a masterful story around it. All the other films seem pedestrian to that. If Inception doesn't win then I can see The Fighter winning (especially with Kings Speech maybe winning Best Picture). The Oscars love underdog boxing flicks.

Best Writing - Adapted Screenplay: 127 Hours

Toy Story 3 is winning Best Animated so I don't count it and Social Network has enough controversy surrounding its veracity that I don't see it winning. No, 127 Hours is my pick. The filmmakers took an overblown Reader's Digest story and turned into a harrowing piece of cinema. Just the title alone shows how much an improvement the film is over the book. 127 Hours is a much better title than Between a Rock and a Hard Place. I'm not knocking Aron Ralston, he is much braver than I am. I'm just saying that Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy elevated the work from an article in People Magazine and that deserves recognition.

So there are my picks. Do I think I'm going to be right? No. But again it's the conjecture and debate that I love about award shows. Later in the week I'll probably follow up on the Oscar wrap up. Agree or disagree? Be sure to let me know.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Movies don't need correct accents to be good

This post is two years too late, I know, but bear with me. Yes, movies need to have some sort of artistic integrity in order to be taken seriously. However, there is one aspect of the film that people harp too much on. It has to do with the accents. The most recent occurrence of this I can think of is back in 2008 when Valkyrie came out. In theory it should have been an awesome movie. You had Bryan Singer, a very capable director, an interesting concept and a talented cast (that includes Tom Cruise). People just wouldn't shut the hell up about the damn accents though.

The poster was pretty badass too.

While the film wasn't as good as I hoped, it was still solid. If I had to make a shortlist of mistakes accents would not be one of them. Yet all the reviewers at the time consistently made the point to mention the fact that nobody had a German accent. Really, the gripe that everyone doesn't sound German is absurd. Having Cruise and Eddie Izzard attempt to sound like Col. Klink would just be outrageous and difficult to take seriously.

"I know nothing!"

And the thing of it is, the movie actually recognizes the fact that the characters should be speaking German within the first five minutes. It starts with Cruise writing a journal in German and then, using the magic that only cinema can, it becomes English. This is a perfectly acceptable cinematic device. It doesn't cheat the viewer so why all the hullabaloo? (hullabaloo is in spell check by the way) Writing in the movie is still in German, they just allow the actors to speak their native accents to make it easier for the actors and the audience. It all follows its own internal logic. Detractors might as well argue about Cruise not really losing his hand in the movie. People just want a reason to bitch about him in a film.

He did make for an easy target.

The film that really made me want to write this is Amadeus. Flipping through channels yesterday I came across Amadeus on Turner Classic Movies (love that channel). I've been so busy I forgot about TCM's 31 Days of Oscars, which is the time they play their best movies during award season. Seeing Tom Hulce and his Mozart laugh immediately made me quit my channel surfing. To be honest, I forgot how good a film Amadeus is.

Thank you TCM for reminding me, I love you.

Historical accuracy be damned, sometimes the truth just gets in the way of a good story. An epic parable about jealousy, deceit, revenge and genius; Amadeus tells the story of composer Antonio Salieri's rivalry with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Anybody who tells you that Amadeus isn't a masterfully crafted film doesn't know anything about movies. The story is rich, the filming is crisp and the acting is top-notch. But for being a movie about 18th century Europeans, everyone's accents are very American. Not just English mind you, like many historical films try and do but American. Hulce himself, who plays Mozart, was born in Detroit. The only other movie of note he's been in is Animal House. How does one go from being a National Lampoon pledge to the title character of a film that won eight Oscars? Who knows. I doubt Hulce himself knows.

His character was the one that had sex with a 13-year-old.

Amadeus won eight Oscars and is still considered a "banging ass film" according to this reviewer (this reviewer would be me). The fact that they didn't even try to attempt and recreate accents means nothing to me or the viewers of the film. The fact that Amadeus was far superior in quality than Valkyrie may have something to do with that. The point remains though that accents count for nothing. Only pretentious people or fools complain about that stuff. They should just learn to enjoy the movie.

Just look at Brad Pitt in Troy. Pitt, who can be a very good actor (12 Monkeys, Fight Club, Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) decided to use a weird accent that made no sense. It was really an accent for accent's sake. Maybe he thought a movie of that magnitude deserved a different voice but really all it did was detract from his role. Eric Bana sure as hell didn't need a weird accent and he turned out to be the best thing in Troy.

Who didn't fall in love with Bana watching this movie?

The reason why there shouldn't be accents is the same reason why the majority of planets in Star Wars speak English. It's just easier. A little suspension of disbelief is necessary so the audience can have an easier movie to watch. In a perfect world, movies like this would be international affairs like Third Man (my favorite film), No Man's Land (2001 Bosnian film) or Inglorious Basterds (another Pitt film). Now, I hate Quentin Tarantino but I will forgive him for anything he has done simply for creating the character of Hans Landa. There isn't a more intimidating or fun character than Christoph Waltz's "Jew Hunter." You want to hate him but he is just so awesome that you can't.

Bad. Ass.

While Valkyrie tried to be historically accurate and ended up losing cultural accuracy, Inglorious Basterds took the opposite route. While intentionally and wildly inaccurate, it is a fun film and a commendable one. Tarantino tricked people into watching a foreign film by sticking Pitt on the front of the poster. In a perfect world all movies like this would be international affairs, but audiences can't handle this normally and studies probably won't pay for it. Until then we'll have to settle for gimmicks that make up for it being in English. But you know what? Those gimmicks work good enough. So even though Tom Cruise speaks in his normal voice, he can still play Col. Von Stauffenberg. So I hope you, dear reader, never whines about that sort of thing again.

p.s. Rock Me Amadeus

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective shouldn't exist

During my lazy Saturday morning I find myself flipping through the channels, looking for something to catch my eye as I refuse to get out of bed. As I sit and eat my absent roommate's honey wheat pretzels I spot the usual filler. A Law & Order episode, the new Power Rangers and Pirates of the Caribbean on USA. In my lazy surfing I spot an odd kid with an even odder haircut. To my horror I find out I'm watching a 2007, direct-to-video sequel to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and it stars his son.

All-righty then?

To me, the need to stick junior at the end of things is just a marketing ploy to sell kids a watered-down version of an existing product. And for anybody that's been forced to drink Keystone, they know that all you get out of it is an ass-tasting beverage. Monopoly Junior was never fun to me, I just wanted to play the original. I wanted to be a racecar and start off with $1,500 not the measly $35 you got in the junior version.

Me and Rich Uncle Pennybags make mad stacks on the corners.

The movie is basically one kid doing his best Jim Carrey impression for 90 minutes. It's like he just found an old VHS of Ace Ventura at a yard-sale and went to town. In an effort to save his mom (who is not Courteney Cox) from being blamed for a panda-napping. Now this crime is especially heinous, because I love me some pandas. Luckily, Ace Jr finds the real criminal, one bad catchphrase at a time. And for some reason the ghost of Babe Ruth plays a wildlife agent. I know it's suppose to be a kid's movie and I am too old for it, but that's not the point. The point is this movie shouldn't exist.

"Heroes are remembered but legends never die..."

The thing of it is, this movie is ten years too late. There was already one kid-friendly sequel in 1995 and a cartoon series from 1995-1997. That was the time to make this abomination. Back when Ace Ventura was still relevant. Back when people actually remembered the movie and I would talk to my mom with my butt, in a crude attempt at humor. The movie literally bastardizes the original by having Ace have a son. What is left is a movie whose whole purpose is to stick all the annoying catchphrases from the mid-nineties into one kid. It'll be like making a Austin Powers Jr: International Man of Mystery sequel. It just doesn't work.

Goldmember sucked enough.

It's kind of funny that a few years before, another kid-friendly sequel was made of a Carrey movie. This one being Son of the Mask, which didn't get very good reviews. When Carrey himself outgrew those characters, isn't it time we did too? Carrey doesn't even appear anywhere in the movie, written off as being lost in the Bermuda Triangle. I guess that way he seems more like a hero and less like an absent father. Also the mom character was a publicist for the Miami Dolphons in the first movie. Now she's a zoo-keeper. Talk about a paycut.

Go Dolphins!

In my futile channel surfing I also found Truman Show on at the same time Ace Jr. was. To me, I take that as a sign. One of his first serious films being aired along the same time as a shallow imitation of his comedy past. I chose to watch Truman Show, only stopping by Ace Ventura Jr. during commercials. That's not to say I don't appreciate Ace Ventura comedy. To this day I still say "Like a glove" whenever I make a good park job. I just feel that even the original Ace Ventura should be respected, and not taken advantage of like an autistic brother playing blackjack.

Coming soon: Rain Man Jr.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

So sick of being tired and oh so tired of being sick

According to Webster's dictionary, sick is defined as being not in good health, ill, nauseated or disgusted. What Websters needs to do is update its entry to include sick as in awesome or sick as in "sick nasty." Either way, using the conventional definition, I have come to a conclusion. Ladies and germs, I am sick. So sick that I am not really in the mood to write (hence the nauseating opening I wrote. I promise I don't support such writing). In an effort to fill my blog-day quota and whine to you all, I present the following word vomit while I fight the urge to vomit. This will be one of my frustrated, rushed posts that I will never bother to re-read.

Even vomiting can be artistic when it's painted.

As a hypochondriac I am shocked to be feeling so under the weather. Any chance of having germs I rush to the sink and start scrubbing. Thanks to my crazy hand washing habits I rarely get sick. When I am under the weather, I try not to let it get in the way of work and chores though. I only have my mother to thank for my indelible work ethic. She passed this on to me by refusing to ever let me call out of school. Thanks to her I was awarded perfect attendance in 8th grade and cannot bring myself to ever call out of work. I rarely get sick, but when I do it is sufficient to say that I turn into a big baby.

Big, big, big baby.

Normally when people are sick around me I have the same advice for them every time. Now that I myself am sick, I am forced to eat my own words and follow my own crappy advice.

Orange Juice: Every jackass on Facebook likes to mention vitamin C whenever someone is sick. I hate to say it but it does work. Even if it's purely psychosomatic, buy a whole gallon of orange juice and start chugging. Note: Sunny D and Orange Soda is not a proper substitute.

Who loves orange soda?

Medicine: Too expensive. Yes, some Nyquil works wonders but I don't have this money. So I'll have to do without it or at least try and steal from my roommate. I'm sure he won't mind. My parents grew up in houses where the only medicine was Robitussin and Vick's vapor rub. So guess what I have to smear on my chest whenever I'm congested.

Soup: Never been a soup fan, but chicken noodle is pretty irresistible. Note: you can never have too many crackers.

Tea: I'm a tea drinker, I won't lie. Probably one of the happiest moments of my past few months was when my friend got a tea infuser. Lame? Perhaps but it's cool as hell. I always find that tea helps relax the throat and adds some nice warmth to the body. Also I remember a past co-worker swore by green tea and honey when you have a sore throat. So ever since then I've been a tea nut. Biscuits are optional.

Staying hydrated: Really all I end up doing is having to refill my roommate's Brita pitcher. Also, I remember that the only good part of being sick was getting to drink ginger ale while lying in bed. So why not throw some ginger ale in there too?

Sleep: No time for sleep.

So there is my potboiler post. I hope you enjoyed it. At the very least I hope I didn't turn off any readers for such a crappy post. Tune in next time when I actually have something important to say. Just don't ask me what next post will be about, I haven't thought that far ahead.

P.S. Congrats Arcade Fire on getting Album of the Year

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Guitar Hero sh*tting the bed

It may be better to burn out then fade away, but few have burned out as spectacularly as Guitar Hero. The five-year-old video game series called it quits after years of success. Twenty games in five years is nothing to complain about, but it is just this saturation that doomed the brand. And since nobody forced Guitar Hero to sell out, it is only their greed that is to blame. Think like Aesop's fable where the dog tries to get another dog's bone, but it turns out to be his reflection in a river and he loses both bones. Just like with Aesop's dog, Guitar Hero wanted it all and now it's left with nothing (and instead of a bone it's a plastic guitar).

A guitar is a lot more badass.

It all started in 2005 with the first Guitar Hero game. Nobody had any faith in the game. The songs in the first game weren't even the original versions. Instead they were sound alike covers. RedOctane, the game publisher, didn't invent the rhythm game (I can never spell the word rhythm) but they did popularize the idiot proof peripheral that allowed frat boys to make fools of themselves at parties. We get it, it's like you're playing an instrument. That doesn't make you any less white, it in fact makes you lamer. Wearing a sweatband while playing is doubly lame.

Sup brah?

It was an immediate success, creating a bonafide phenomenon. Guitar Hero had everybody's hearts and minds. They did with it what anyone would expect them to do, exploit the hell out of it. The very next year a sequel was released. Now, Guitar Hero 2 wasn't bad at all and showed actual innovation when compared to Guitar Hero 1. Guitar Hero 3 was basically a tricked out expansion pack. You see, Guitar Hero 3 was the start of Neversoft's involvement in development. This is worth mentioning because Neversoft is the developer behind the Tony Hawk series. Tony Hawk also started out as an innovative game series. But, like Guitar Hero, its constant yearly releases doomed it to irrelevance. With no real innovation or point, the games just became hollow shells of themselves. This over-saturation leads to it's downfall. To wit, while everyone has heard of Tony Hawk Pro Skater (unless you lived under a rock or with the Amish), few realize his games are still being made.

Released 2010.

Just how Tony Hawk got edged out of the market by Skate (the more innovative game), Rock Band came on to the scene and stole Guitar Hero's thunder. Rock Band was even made by Harmonix, who helped make the first two Guitar Heros. So, Harmonix comes back with a vengeance and ends up destroying its monopoly on music based games. All because Rock Band thought out of the box and added cheap plastic drums to the party. It's no coincidence that a year after Rock Band came out, Guitar Hero released World Tour, adding it's own microphone and drums. While the argument could of been made that Rock Band was the knockoff, it showed enough innovation and ingenuity to prove itself as its own brand, forcing Guitar Hero to copy off it.

Guitar Hero answers this problem by furthering saturating the market with band themed versions. I love Aerosmith but I'm not trying to pretend to be Joe Perry for the whole game. I doubt Joe Perry even wants to be Joe Perry. Instead of trying to salvage their brand and reclaim credibility, they instead went for the cash grab. They may have made the short money but at the price of retaining a brand that once showed promise.

Is this the fulfillment of the promise?

I'm not anti-Hero. Guitar Hero is a fun and challenging game. Through the Fire and Flames has never gotten nerds attention until they mastered the multicolored fret buttons. And without Guitar Hero, the philistines of my generation may have never known some of the greats of rock. Yes, I'm sure that a rock star is spinning in his grave every time a kid says "I heard that in Guitar Hero," but it's still keeping the music alive.

I'm sure Iggy Pop's future ghost is pissed every time he hears, "I heard him in Guitar Hero."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Groundhog Day: A perfect film

Holiday movies are lame. They rarely evolve past kiddie movies or movies about visiting in-laws for dinner. You see, the problem lies in the writing. Most people try too hard to make a movie with a holiday theme, leaving a soulless, empty shell of cinema. The storyline is an afterthought to the holiday concept. By following the cliches we're all used to, picking a date on a map and choosing a genre a mediocre movie gets made to get some quick money.

Valentine's Day plus horror equals this mess.

This is where the film Groundhog Day comes in. It's not a holiday movie, it's a movie that happens to take place during a holiday. Not only is there a tangible plot to be told, but it's original in its telling. The reason why Groundhog Day is so beloved is because it doesn't settle on being a mediocre holiday movie. Then again, it helps that nobody really cares about Groundhog's Day to begin with. Aside from some dudes in top hats that live in Pennsylvania, it's one of the most meaningless, esoteric holidays there is. Not being hampered by the massive iconography that bogs down Christmas movies, Groundhog Day was allowed to become its own film.

I'd buy a Bill Murray themed clock.

The premise is both simple and genius. A prickly weatherman is inexplicably forced to repeat the same day ad nauseam, and by living this hellish day over and over he becomes a better person. The movie is more than its greeting card message though, all thanks to the inherent likability of Bill Murray. Yes, he is a bastard but he is our lovable bastard. He may say horrible things but we know he doesn't mean it. Which is good that Murray is so awesome because the whole movie hinges on his performance. Bouncing between joy, desperation, depression and finally acceptance; Murray shows a man doomed to listen to Sonny and Cher every morning.

The problem with the premise is the danger of the film being as repetitive as the days Murray is stuck it. Harold Ramis expertly frames the story and puts us on the journey with Murray. We are with him when he first realizes his fate, when he tries to take advantage of it, and finally when he desperately tries and escape it. Kudos must also go to the supporting cast, including Stephen Tobolowsky (you don't recognize the name just look him up. he's probably in a movie you've seen before), Chris Elliott and Andie Macdowell's curly hair.

So damn curly.

Groundhog Day is a lot of things. It's a comedy in the same vein as Murray's early work, but it also has the deeper meaning of his later work. Between the gags we have a desperate man in need of some change in his life. While this is the dramatic example of living the same day repeatedly, I am sure many people can identify with the monotony. Just because the calendar day changes doesn't make the day any different. It's a feel good movie that doesn't cater towards melodrama. It's a movie that takes a gimmick and makes it into something more, something real. This is why I consider Groundhog Day a new classic. There are not many movies I would identify as new classics, but Groundhog Day just has so much damn charm it's irresistible. Whenever you see it on TBS you can't help but smile, even though you know as well as Murray's character does where the pothole is. Even after seeing it 20 times you still watch it because it's so damn good.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

First Signs Special Report: Wings

One Sunday a year, people gather together on their couches to watch the pinnacle of pigskin, Super Bowl. The majority of the nation gather with their favorite drinking buddies and watch grown men pummel each other for a few inches of progress. To quote Grand Theft Auto III, "Football now that's an American sport! It teaches you good wholesome American values man, like stealing other peoples land by force and wearing tight pants while you do it!"

Super Bowl was always special to me for two reasons. For one thing, it got me out of Sunday School. Yes, even though I never went to church I had to go to CCD every Sunday evening. There was one day a year we got off the hook, Super Bowl Sunday. This, to me, proves once and for all who really owns Sunday. Sorry Jesus, but football takes precedence.

Jesus still decides who wins though.

Secondly, it was the buffalo wings. I don't know how wings became synonymous with Super Bowl parties but I like it. Maybe it's Pizza Hut's fault. Either way, it's only during the game that I don't feel like a slob having a plate full of wings in front of me. With buffalo sauce smeared across my mouth and a plethora of soiled paper towels to my side, I am thankful for social norms being abolished for one evening. All because of Super Bowl.

Eating wings during the Puppy Bowl isn't as socially acceptable.

Here is the thing, eating wings is not about the sustenance. Nobody goes into it expecting to have a full tummy by the end. In essence, it's all about the work it requires. It's the act of having to rip apart the cartilage and tearing the tendons. It's cheap, trashy food but it's oh so satisfying. The greatest payoff, for any true wing lover, is the bones piled up in the corner of the plate. The accumulation, piling up to the point where you need an auxiliary plate solely for the bones itself. This is why real men don't buy boneless. It's too easy. It's the sissy way to go about your munching.

Boneless is like eating pizza with a fork and knife.

There are two camps of wing eaters: wings and drumsticks. For me, wings are better. Don't ask me why I cannot say. Equally important is the sauce. Forget about BBQ, it's all about hot buffalo sauce. The best sauce is borderline masochistic. The best sauce clears your sinuses and burns your mouth. If your lips don't burn from post-traumatic stress induced flashbacks about the devil sauce than it's not hot enough. My personal favorite hot sauce? Franks. Franks makes everything taste better.

Buy a gallon of it.

Appetizers are hors d'oeuvre's idiot cousin and wings are the king of the appetizers. With the Wing Bowl (starting every year since 1993) there is even a competition devoted solely to man's love of wings. Jonathan "Super" Squibb, winner of the past three Wing Bowls, is even a South Jersey resident. Appetizers could never constitute a whole meal, no matter how many you stick on a plate. But, wings are better than a meal, what wings are is heaven with a side of celery sticks.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super Bowl Edition: Sports watching for non-sports fans

I'm going to say this right off the bat, I'm not a sports guy. Growing up my brother filled that role so he took care of baseball and hurting his back in sports while I was allowed to enjoy things like books, movies and disappointing my dad. I don't even know if I ever had the capability of being a sports guy, but at this point it's too late. My brother and I both grew up with the same San Francisco Giants night-light, yet now he is the one sweating hockey and I'm the one with a pop culture blog.

Before there was hockey hair there was epic hockey mustaches.

Not being a sports fan did have its drawbacks though. When my family bonded with their annual 4th of July whiffleball match I felt out of place and when some of my friends would debate over wide receivers I was left in the dust. I didn't want to argue about Brett Favre and Daunte Culpepper, I wanted to argue over Han Solo and Greedo. So yes, in a way I did feel a little left out never following a team or having any skills whatsoever. It is this lifelong experience of being lame that has allowed me to perfect my ways in helping any nerd to enjoy sports.

Just in time for Super Bowl.

The most important thing is don't claim to like any teams. People have weird reasons to like teams. Maybe it's your local team or maybe you inherited the team from your father. Maybe it was the first game you saw or any other real reason there is to spend the rest of your life liking a team in Green Bay. In essence, you don't find your team, your team finds you. That's why you should watch what team you declare allegiance to. Real fans of the team will quiz you on the last 50 years of team history and anyone else will just scoff. Liking a team's colors is no reason to declare loyalty so don't even try.

Just because you like blue and white doesn't make you a Colts fan.

I personally don't have a favorite team. I'm not going to insult real fans by saying I'm a Penguins fan. I know that it would be a lie. So instead I just hate on teams, it's much easier to do than like a team. And all my friends know I don't know much about sports so they don't take me seriously. Now for the rest of the rules:

Know when not to hate on a team: The kid next to you could be the world's biggest Phillies fan. So before you start hating on a team know your surroundings. You don't want to be at the business end of a broken beer bottle.

Don't pretend to know the sport: It's a free throw not a three throw. Don't pretend to know the game because that's when you find out you don't even know what a flea flicker is. All you'll be able to contribute to the conversation is parroting back things you heard from real sports fans and ESPN (if it's ever on when you're in the same room) and you will never be able to do this parroting with enough conviction to make it sound like a real thought.

Know when to walk by the screen: This is the ultimate. At least learn the sport well enough to know not to walk past the screen at the worst time. You don't want everyone yelling at you just because you can't wait five seconds for the puck to stop.

Just watch the damn game: Save all the annoying questions to that one token girl on the couch. Even if you're not sure about something, figure it out yourself or look it up on Wikipedia later. Also don't be a commercial-whore. Yes they are special during the Super Bowl but don't buy into the advertiser's hype.

Learn to enjoy sitting around: Whether it's watching the television or riding the pine, learn to enjoy sitting.

Gamble: Gambling makes everything fun.

You don't need to overcompensate your love for sports, but there is still a lot to enjoy when you get into it. There is a reason why it is such a big part of our culture, there is genuine drama to be had in each pass or sack. You don't need to be the annoying girl who cheers on each Cowboys play like it's life or death (we get it, you're the "girl that likes sports"). Even on the simplest level, sitting on a couch and watching the game with the guys is nice male-bonding, especially when one super Giants fan is yelling his head off. Having something to watch makes the silence less awkward also.

It also gives you an excuse to eat buffalo wings. Just eat and shut up.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Everyone's a whore, aka friends with benefits

A big part of what I do with this blog is take different trends that I notice and point them out to you, dear reader. The latest trend that can be found in your neighborhood cineplex is young actors starring in romantic comedies centered around sex. While sex has always played a role in romantic comedies, these recent movies are all centered around it. The first in the recent trend was Love and Other Drugs.

We've come a long way from Pillow Talk.

A pharmaceutical rep and the future Catwoman actress start off their relationship casually, and soon realize how much they mean to each other. It was advertised as a modern look at dating and sex, starring two well-established young actors of our generation. While this story is nothing new to audiences, the prospect of seeing Anne Hathaway's boobs was enough for it to make $84 million in box office.

Next comes No Strings Attached, a look at casual sex starring Ashton Kutcher (who can do this role in his sleep by now) and, curiously enough, Natalie Portman. This is surprising because, unlike Kutcher, Portman always seemed to have artistic integrity. Either way somehow she found herself in an Ashton Kutcher romantic comedy. Like Love and Other Drugs, No Strings Attached has been awarded with mediocre reviews. That's forgiven though, because thanks to No Strings Attached we now have a poster of a post-sex Portman wearing only a dress shirt.

There is nothing better than a girl wearing only a dress shirt (or a Dolphins jersey).

Strangely enough, No Strings Attached use to be called Friends with Benefits until the studio realized a similar movie was being made with that title. The movie that was finally awarded the name has the same basic plot and stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Coincidences continue between the two projects. No Strings Attached was also the name of a album by Timberlake's band 'N Sync. On top of this, Kunis just got done starring with Portman in Black Swan and use to star in That 70s Show with Kutcher. Do these coincidences mean anything? No, but I just find them interesting.

Thankfully, we have a modern sex/relationship story that can be called a film. Blue Valentine, starring the talented Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams was released nation wide just last month. Gosling, who teenage girls everywhere love for The Notebook, now has a much more serious doomed love story to stick in his resume. A non-linear look at a couple's lives (think like 500 Days of Summer only not for laughs), Blue Valentine has already been condemned for its sexual scenes, almost forcing an edit in order to avoid an NC-17 rating. Ratings have been extremely favorable however, and it just goes to show that you can still make a film exploring relationships as well as sex.

I do wanna see this film.

Overall, I think these movies are a turning point in a generation's identity. Aside from sex these movies all have one thing in common, the young actors in it. Each generation has its Big Chill or When Harry Met Sally..., movies that encapsulates their view of sex and relationships. With the current young adult generation becoming full-fledged adults, the movies are going to start and represent that shift using its actors. Portman herself began acting as a preteen in Leon: The Professional. As we follow her career we can see the shift in that generation of actors towards more pedestrian romantic comedies. Just how Meg Ryan became the romcom staple of her generation, soon our generation will find it's own. It's all a part of growing up. Only this time the sex is much more casual.

If only it was as easy as the movies make it out to be.

Hollywood has discovered this idea of casual sex and are running with it. By combining the tension of relationships and the excitement of sex, producers feel that they have found the answer to the Ross and Rachel relationship model. Now, they can have their cake and eat it too in the most unoriginal way possible. No further proof is needed then the fact that two movies were made at the same time titled Friends with Benefits and to top it all off, an unrelated television show by the same name is being released on NBC (the creators of the Ross and Rachel dynamic). Producers know more than anyone that sex sells. And, just like Snorg T-shirts, they know that sticking boobs under a crappy product is enough to generate interest.

You're lying if you say the shirt was the first thing you looked at.