Babel | A-

director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Hassan, Rinko Kikuchi, Adriana Barraza, Boubker Ait El Caid

If you’re looking for a fun, light, and entertaining night out at the movies, go see something else. Babel caters more to the audience that would like a stiff drink and then a walk off a balcony after the end credits roll. I may be overstating it a bit, but Babel is the kind of movie you need to be in the right mindset to watch, much like a Schindler’s List. That being said, it is a film worth watching, as nearly all facets are superbly done–the acting, the direction, the cinematography, and the writing all make for an excellently-crafted film.

The acting is all great, but I’m not going to dwell on it–you’re sure to have seen and heard enough about it in the weeks leading up to Oscar night. Brad Pitt in particular shows he’s not just a Hollywood pretty-boy, but the entire cast is uniformly excellent. It’s hard not to be emotionally affected by each character’s plight and ultimate fate, because of the great performances. As much as the film could be construed as nothing more than an Oscar-pandering vanity project, it does carry with it an important message.

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Feb. 7 – Paul Gaustad severs a tendon in his ankle after being cut with an errant skate blade during the game against the Senators. Out for the remainder of the season.

Feb. 10 – Jaroslav Spacek breaks left hand; out 4-6 weeks.

Feb. 13 – Tim Connolly suffers a stress fracture in his leg. Out 2-3 weeks + more rehabbing from post-concussion syndrome suffered last season.

Feb. 15 – Maxim Afinogenov breaks left wrist; out 6 weeks.

Feb. 16 – Jiri Novotny – re-aggravates a nagging high ankle sprain. Out 3-6 weeks.

Feb. 16 – Ales Kotalik strains MCL in right knee. Out 4-6 weeks.

Feb. 20 – Daniel Paille breaks a finger. Out 3-4 weeks.

Despite the Buffalo Sabres now resembling an AHL team with all the call-ups from Rochester, they’ve gone 7-1-1 in February, thanks to some gritty play from the kids and some timely goal-scoring from the few veterans that have avoided the infirmary. After sleep-walking through most of January, putting in inconsistent and often half-assed effort night after night, it looks like the injuries turned a light on in the Sabres’ collective head and got them going. A little injection of hungry youth from their AHL affiliate hasn’t hurt. That being said, the team is sick and tired of the increasing roster of wounded players and that frustration finally boiled over Thursday night at home against Ottawa. The video (and Rick Jeanneret) speaks for itself.

What a game. The two teams play again on Saturday night, but I wouldn’t expect too many fireworks. Both teams will be warned by the league office and the refs that any “extra-curricular” activity will be dealt with severely. The league might not have to take that kind of position if they actually dealt with cheap shots and injuries when they happen. Alexander Ovechkin got off with a joke of a fine after running Daniel Briere into the boards from behind some months back. Some idiot took a cheap shot swing at Jaroslav Spacek from behind not long after that. Neither was severely punished, so what incentive is there for that kind of behavior to stop? You could ask the players to better police themselves, but with the increasing restrictions on fighting in the league, their hands are tied unless they’d like an automatic 10-game suspension courtesy of the instigator rule.

The league needs to get rid of the instigator rule and start punishing goons who take runs at defenseless players. If you give the players the ability to protect themselves through self-enforcement, you won’t see a cringe-worthy head injury every year, as has been the average the past decade. It’s enough.

All that being said, it’s nice to know that the Ottawa Senators are still a bunch of whiny weaklings whom we enjoy taking to the woodshed whenever we fell like it. I was impressed with goaltender Ray Emery, though. He seems to be the only Senator with a modicum of fortitude. He’s come a long way from last year’s playoffs to become a pretty decent goaltender. Good for him.

Oh, at press time, there’s now a report stating Drury is experiencing “concussion-like” symptoms today and will be out indefinitely. Hooray.


Apologies for the shortness of this entry; I’m tired and I wanna go to bed. I had a little drink about an hour ago and it went straight to my head. Plus, there’s not too much to analyze this episode, outside of some general thematic stuff. The major theme of tonight’s episode seemed to be one of belonging. The Others are a family–a dysfunctional one, to be sure–but a family nonetheless, led by a still firmly-in-control Ben. Each of the Others belongs to something larger–a singular purpose (which we have yet to discover). Sawyer and Kate. Jack and Juliet. Karl and Alex. All have grown closer to the other, each searching for someone they feel they belong with. The castaways that the Others kidnapped, in the brief glimpse we got of them, look to have become a part of the Others–and comfortably so. Perhaps they found that sense of belonging after being told the truth about what the Others are there on the Island for. Then again, maybe they had a few sessions in the brainwashing chamber.

Continue reading “Together”

Ghost Rider | C-

director: Mark Steven Johnson
starring: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Sam Elliott, Wes Bentley, Peter Fonda

Yet another example of everything Hollywood can do wrong. Take a promising, unique idea, send it through the Blockbuster Schlock Assembly Line, making it palatable for the widest possible audience, and in the process rip any semblance of originality and spirit from it. What could’ve been the foundation of a long-running, quality franchise instead shows up as a mediocre, half-assed, flaming turd that’ll be forgotten by audiences after a couple of box office weekends. Congrats, Tinseltown, you’ve done it again with Ghost Rider.

The film, based on the popular Marvel comic book, began its journey to the screen in the hands of screenwriter David Goyer (Blade, Batman Begins). Goyer’s script rightly depicted the character as a dark, vengeful anti-hero who carried out his duties as Satan’s bounty hunter while living the life of a daredevil stuntman, struggling mightily to reconcile the nightmarish acts of vengeance he commits nightly with his desire to live a normal life and have a family. The deal he made with the devil years ago, while giving him supernatural abilities with which to combat evil, also prevents him from having any real emotional ties to family or friends–his existence is pure, unending torture–a torture that will never cease as long as there are souls who need punishing. That’s a nice, juicy starting point to create a film.

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The Departed | A

director: Martin Scorsese
starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen

The DepartedMy initial reaction to seeing the trailer for The Departed last year consisted of both excitement for a new Scorsese picture and reluctant pessimism at the line-up of all-stars in the cast. Rarely do you see a Hollywood flick these days with an “all-star cast” that doesn’t end up disappointing. The unfortunate part about being a well-known, successful actor is that they become so well-known that it’s nearly impossible to see them as just a character. Case-in-point: Jack Nicholson. You catch one glimpse of him in the trailer with his patented eyebrow raise and you see him as the larger-than-life Hollywood icon instead of a Boston mob boss. The same goes for Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon, Leo DiCaprio and the rest of the cast. At first glance, it’s impossible to get the past that they’re huge Hollywood actors that signed up for the project to pad out their resumes. Thus, I haven’t seen the film, which came out October 6th, until just last night on DVD.

Shame on me for not recognizing the fact that the reason these guys are all successful, well-known icons is that they’re pretty damn good at what they do. The opening scene, with a Nicholson voiceover, goes from distracting to enveloping as it paints the broad strokes of the dark, gritty underbelly of South Boston–Nicholson’s Frank Costello as its’ thug-in-chief. We’re steadily introduced to the rest of our all-star cast of characters and their surprisingly convincing Bah-stan accents. Once you get past the intial adjustment period of seeing these stars with goofy accents, their talent takes over and you’re caught up in the story. After all, aren’t Boston accents goofy in reality, anyway? (Apologies to all Boston readers with goofy accents.)

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Course Corrections

Well, that episode sure isn’t going to silence any critics. If anything, it’ll add more fuel to the fire of those who want to know what the eff is going on and why the show’s not answering any of their questions. Patience, all who have ants in their pants; the answers will come in time, but not in this post.

Speaking of time, the last episode made sure viewers have become aware of its importance (MITTELOS=LOST TIME), and tonight’s ep takes it a step further by turning our perception of it on its head. What at first seems to be a traditional flashback to Desmond’s past turns out to be an altogether new look at the past…in present time. I feel like Doc Brown should be stepping in right about now to say something about flux capacitors. Let me get some bullet points out of the way so I can try and make some sense of all this with an all-encompassing, awe-inspiring conclusion.

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Top Ten Worst Things Ever

10Great TV shows not getting enough attention.
While America eats up dreck like Two and a Half Men, Deal or No Deal and American Idol, there are great things happening in the medium of television that no one knows about. Quality writing and acting that were once the sole domain of the silver screen can now be found on cable networks like HBO, SciFi, and Showtime. The problem is that no one’s watching. This leads to my placing it at #10, because if no one watches other than me and a few other hardy souls, these shows get canceled. Arrested Development, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, Line of Fire, Sleeper Cell, EZ Streets, Heat Vision and Jack…you’re all missing out if you didn’t watch these shows regularly. Okay, maybe Heat Vision and Jack shouldn’t be on the list. But for the love of God, stop rewarding network executives for catering to idiots!

Heat Vision & Jack

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Lost Time

And we’re back. While I surmise that many Lost fans are thrilled at the show’s return after a lengthy hiatus, I’m sure a large segment of those fans are approaching the relaunch of season three with some hesitancy, having not been satisfied with the (apparent) lack of “answers” found in the first six episodes. I disagree strongly, but it seems the general sentiment of the viewing public-at-large is that the show keeps raising myriad questions while answering a fraction of them. I beg to differ, as I think most every “question” raised in the first two seasons has been answered…except, of course, for the end-all, be-all, meaning of life question: “what is the ultimate purpose of the Island?” I think we’ve had more than enough questions answered thus far, from the Numbers to the Others to Dharma to Alvar Hanso and on and on. Save the big one for the series finale in (hopefully no more than) two more years.

Anyway, on to tonight’s show, our first to feature Other flashbacks back on the mainland, focusing on the beleaguered Dr. Juliet Burke, who we find out to be just as much a captive on the Island as Jack and the rest of the castaways. In fact, the events that led her to be such a captive are the main focus of the episode’s plot. The main event being her smarmy ex-husband getting hit by a bus–wouldn’t you know it?–a day or so after she wished the very same to Dr. Albert of the Mittelos Bioscience corporation. Mittelos. Kind of a strange name, eh? So is a name like Mittelwerk. Thomas Mittelwerk, the evil doctor who overthrew Alvar Hanso and took control of the Hanso Foundation, which–as we all know–funded the early incarnation of the Dharma Initiative on the Island. Mittelwerk seems like the sort of guy who could arrange a murder by bus. With me so far? I didn’t think so.

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More chimps in suits, please.

INDCHIPeyton Manning, he of the famous “Peyton Manning face,” finally found the validation he so desperately wanted by winning a Super Bowl. His Hall of Fame legacy now cemented, he can ride off into the sunset to do 68 more commercials about cutting meat and cheering on his accountant while wearing fake porn mustaches and drinking Gatorade.


Continue reading “More chimps in suits, please.”

Rebellion (Lies)

Sleeping is giving in,
no matter what the time is.
Sleeping is giving in,
so lift those heavy eyelids.

People say that you’ll die
faster than without water.
But we know it’s just a lie,
scare your son, scare your daughter.

People say that your dreams
are the only things that save ya.
Come on baby in our dreams,
we can live our misbehavior.

{Every time you close your eyes
Lies, lies!} [x4]
{Every time you close your eyes} [x4]

People try and hide the night
underneath the covers.
People try and hide the light
underneath the covers.

Come on hide your lovers
underneath the covers,
come on hide your lovers
underneath the covers.

Hidin’ from your brothers
underneath the covers,
come on hide your lovers
underneath the covers.

People say that you’ll die
faster than without water,
but we know it’s just a lie,
scare your son, scare your daughter,
Scare your son, scare your daughter.
Scare your son, scare your daughter.

{Now here’s the sun, it’s alright!
(Lies, lies!)} [x4]

{Every time you close your eyes
Lies, lies!} [x4]

Every time you close your eyes

Every time you close your eyes

(Lies, lies!)

Arcade Fire
Release: 2004
Lyrics: Arcade Fire
Music: Arcade Fire