Tag Archives: movies

The SportsAlcohol.com podcast: The Hunger Games

Rob is one of the founders of SportsAlcohol.com. He is a recent first time home buyer and it's all he talks about. Said home is in his hometown in Upstate New York. He never moved away and works a job to pay for his mortgage and crippling chicken wing addiction. He is not what you would call a go-getter. This may explain the general tone of SportsAlcohol.com.
Rob

All of the sportsalcohol.com founders were not only upstate for the holidays, we’ve also read all of the Hunger Games books and seen all of the movies. On the heels of the release of Mockingjay, Part 2, we talked about it all: the plague of breaking up books into multiple movies, the chemistry of Jennifer Lawrence and her co-stars, multiple directors, and Josh Hutcherson’s sweet skateboarding moves.

How To Listen

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Spotlight on the Social Issue Drama: David Gordon Green and Thomas McCarthy take their shots

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

When David Gordon Green broke away from his indie roots to make the mainstream stoner comedy Pineapple Express, followed by the idiosyncratic (and less financially successful) but still mainstream Your Highness and The Sitter, much was made of this unexpected career left turn. Green has since swung back into indie territory with a trio of lower-key dramas (Prince Avalanche; Joe; Manglehorn), albeit with bigger stars than anyone who appeared in All the Real Girls or Snow Angels, and his fluid, prolific toggling between genres makes clear both his talent and his personal stamp. Though not everyone recognized it, his loopy broad comedies are not so far removed from his loopy, less broad character studies or Malick-ish dreamscapes; the scrappy chase narrative of Undertow shares a certain kinship with Pineapple Express, and the aimlessness of Pacino’s Manglehorn and Jonah Hill’s feckless babysitter have a certain, subtle rhyme scheme.

It turns out, if you really want David Gordon Green to stretch, assign him to do a George Clooney/Grant Heslov/Participant Media social-issue drama. Producing partners Clooney and Heslov aren’t formally involved with Participant, but they have a taste for the kinds of high-minded material the company seeks out; though Participant has worked on plenty of films, some of their most notable have won Clooney an acting Oscar (Syriana), announced his seriousness as a writer/director (Good Night, and Good Luck), and supported Clooney’s frequent collaborator Steven Soderbergh (The Informant!; Contagion). Now Participant has produced Our Brand Is Crisis, a fiction-film version of the same-named documentary, once earmarked for a Clooney directorial project. At some point, Clooney (who still produced with Heslov) passed the project to Green, having gained a star in Sandra Bullock, who signed on after screenwriter Peter Straughan (who also worked on the non-Participant but Participant-ish The Men Who Stare at Goats, co-starring Clooney) agreed to flip the protagonist’s gender to female.
Continue reading Spotlight on the Social Issue Drama: David Gordon Green and Thomas McCarthy take their shots

90s Music Goes to the Movies

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

We intentionally dedicated last week to ’90s songs, rather than albums or movies or TV shows; the decade is too big to cover in great depth in a single week. But as Rob alluded to in his essential Soundtracks with Elastica Songs piece, a lot of great ’90s tunes turned up in a lot of great (and not-so-great) ’90s movies, for reasons both artistic and mercenary. So here we’re taking a look at how some of our Top 90 Songs of the ’90s fared in movies that actually came out during the ’90s, with a big assist from film fan and music enthusiast Sara Batkie. A lot of them involve Scenes of Teen Partying.

90s Music at the (90s) Movies

“Fake Plastic Trees” (#61) in Clueless (1995)
“Wah wah wah.” This is how Cher Horowitz reacts to Radiohead in Clueless, with the band standing in for all complaint rock that typically plays on college radio or at least does in Cher’s version of California. I didn’t realize until looking the soundtrack up that it’s actually an acoustic version of the song as its appearance in the film itself is brief and pretty muffled. It is notable, however, for backing the scene that introduces Josh, Cher’s ex-stepbrother and eventual love interest, a plaid-and-Amnesty-International tee-shirt-wearing foil to Cher’s candy-colored Beverly Hills princess. Like Thom Yorke’s sweetly abrasive crooning on the soundtrack, which is otherwise a mix of peppy pop rock numbers by Supergrass and Smoking Popes and sunny covers of Mott the Hoople and Kim Wilde, Josh doesn’t fit his surroundings at first glance. But Clueless remains a classic of its genre for its inclusiveness, from Di and Murray to stoner Travis, even teachers like Ms. Geist and Mr. Hall. In the end, just like Josh and Cher, “Fake Plastic Trees” works with the film because of its differences, not in spite of them. – Sara Batkie

Continue reading 90s Music Goes to the Movies

HALFTIME REPORT: Attack the Block (2011)

SportsAlcohol.com cofounder Nathaniel moved to Brooklyn, as you do. His hobbies include cutting up rhubarb and laying down. His favorite things are the band Moon Hooch and custard from Shake Shack. Old ladies love his hair.
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With Halftime Report, your good friends at SportsAlcohol.com revisit some of their favorite films from the first half of this decade.

For monster fans, creature design in the 21st century has been something of a mixed bag. Digital animation has freed designers from the shackles of the human form, limitations in terms of textures and fur, and even the bounds of physics altogether. In order to provide a grounding in reality for all these pixels, designers and animators often talk about looking to real animals for physiognomic principles and behavior. Reality is the goal, and much effort is expended in simulating the way joints interact or how skin stretches across muscles. This is maybe best exemplified by Neville Page’s muscly multi-limbed creatures for movies like Cloverfield, Super 8, Avatar, and Star Trek. But these impressively realistic creatures often place an emphasis on the Real over the Iconic. It seems silly to use a word like mundane when discussing such weird and impressive creations, but these creatures (with the feelings of sameness they can sometimes inspire) can miss that special charge that a truly iconic monster design can carry. Obviously, creating an iconic monster is much easier said than done, but it’s still worth celebrating when somebody pulls it off. And the aliens in Attack the Block, with their uncanny movements and simple-but-clever silhouette-and-glowy-bits aesthetic, stand out as the best of the decade so far. Using an inspired blend of suit acting (with invaluable work by movement coach and performer Terry Notary) and animation (both to enhance the puppetry and to create the aliens’ inky black, almost two dimensional look), Attack the Block‘s monsters are still so great they’re nearly enough to make it one of the best films of the 2010s on their own.

But watching the film in 2015 America reveals greater relevance than even a few years ago. The film is set in south London and directly addresses the specific cultural ways that young, mostly black, kids who live in council estate tower blocks (Americans, think housing projects) are vilified, and the societal issues at play are startlingly universal. After the opening, a mugging that wouldn’t be out of place in any reactionary genre movie from decades past, with a gang of black kids menacing a pretty white woman, it’d be easy to imagine the version of the movie that kills off these thugs in a pre-title sequence to establish the threat. Instead, when Moses and his gang run into the building where they’ve cornered a mysterious creature, they aren’t just slaughtered off-screen but instead emerge victorious, establishing a very different dynamic for the rest of the film. Instead of just following the story of the gang’s victim, Jodie Whittaker’s Samantha (a nurse who lives in the same tower block as the kids), the kids emerge as the heroes of the film. Cornish and his actors do a wonderful job of humanizing these characters, making them funny and hugely lovable without ignoring or excusing their worst behavior. This simple extension of empathy and respect feels almost radical when viewed in an America where we’ve had a truly horrible number of opportunities to witness the awful spectacle of the American news media greeting each new police shooting of an unarmed black guy with attempts to determine just how much the deceased had it coming based on their thuggish appearance or potential criminal background. The understanding and mutual respect that develops between Samantha and Moses is even more moving in this context, as is the conversation the kids have speculating about the government having “bred those things to kill black boys.” It’s not the case, but getting to know these kids we can see why it would feel like a possibility to them.

While it feels a little frustrating watching Attack the Block now knowing that Joe Cornish hasn’t yet directed another feature, there’s some solace in seeing ads for Star Wars: The Force Awakens that feature John Boyega front and center. His performance as Moses, which has that movie star thing of combining real acting and seemingly effortless charisma even when he spends so much of the film not saying much, marked him as a young actor to watch for anybody who saw Attack the Block in 2011, so it’s gratifying to know that a much bigger audience is about to see what he’s got.

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Tom Cruise and Mission: Impossible

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Tom Cruise has managed to maintain a career for over three decades while appearing in just one set of sequels (so far): the Mission: Impossible series, which began in 1996 and have become, against odds including but not limited to Mission: Impossible II, his signature movie-star films. In the latest installment of the SportsAlcohol.com podcast, Marisa, Jesse, Nathaniel, and Sara (making her podcast debut!) got together after a viewing of the new Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nationn to discuss the film, as well as the overall career of Tom Cruise. We discuss:

  • How Rogue Nation stacks up to its predecessors and how it brings to mind series nadir Mission: Impossible II
  • How Sara, not an action movie fan, reacted to Rogue Nation
  • Favorite Tom Cruise movies
  • Cruise’s early “being the best at pointless skills” trilogy
  • Far and Away, The Color of Money, Knight and Day, and other moments in Cruise history!
  • Whether Cruise’s offscreen antics inform how we watch his films

AND MORE!

So listen carefully and with great intensity! Just know that this podcast is full of spoilers for every Tom Cruise movie possible! Or impossible!

How To Listen

    We are now up to five different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

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  • You can download the mp3 of this episode directly here.
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TV on the Silver Screen

SportsAlcohol.com cofounder Nathaniel moved to Brooklyn, as you do. His hobbies include cutting up rhubarb and laying down. His favorite things are the band Moon Hooch and custard from Shake Shack. Old ladies love his hair.
Nathaniel
Latest posts by Nathaniel (see all)

With Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation arriving in theaters this weekend to great buzz, let’s talk about the best film adaptations of TV shows.

Continue reading TV on the Silver Screen

HALFTIME REPORT: Margaret (2011)

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.
Sara

Strictly speaking, Margaret was never supposed to be a film of this decade. Principal photography began back in 2005 but ballooning budgets, disagreements between the studio and director Kenneth Lonergan over cuts, and multiple lawsuits had many wondering if it would ever see the light of day at all. By the time it received an extremely limited theatrical release in 2011, lead Anna Paquin was three seasons into her True Blood reinvention as an actual adult, and what was intended as a more immediate exploration of the emotions roiled up by the tragedy of 9/11 became a cinematic curio, sampled by critics and rubberneckers alike and mostly discarded as the year drew to its close, apart from a few “#TeamMargaret” diehards on Movie Twitter. While the critics may have been looking for a masterpiece and the rubberneckers hoping for a disaster, Margaret didn’t quite turn out to be either. What it is is messy, in the best possible sense — and the cult around the film, in particular the director’s cut that adds a half hour to the already bloated 150-minute runtime, has grown.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: there is nobody named Margaret in the movie. The title is a reference to the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem “Spring and Fall” which opens with the line “Margaret, are you grieving?” and is read in the film by Matthew Broderick, who plays the teacher of the lead character, Lisa, a high schooler on the Upper West Side who is the inadvertent cause of a bus accident that kills a pedestrian. The poem and the film are about youth’s first reckoning with death and a realization of the world’s existence beyond themselves; when Lonergan wrote and conceived of the film, emotions over 9/11 were raw and even many years on it has a nervy energy, a sense that at any minute it might run off the rails. It unfolds in an operatic register in a way that risks turning off many viewers. But this is true to the film’s characters who may be “small” people but don’t live small lives, at least not to them. This is reflected in the film’s sound design, which is Altman-esque: the conversations of passersby are constantly muddying the main soundtrack, imbuing the city with a sense of liveliness that many other films would take as a given. And like Altman at his best, this is a generous film (perhaps to a fault), allowing every character, even the most minor ones, a voice and depth. The camera is constantly lingering on the New York City skyline, panning across gleaming buildings and slow motion citizens, as if to capture it all before any of the rest disappears. There’s something oddly refreshing about watching Lonergan spread his cinematic paint everywhere, even if it isn’t always conventionally satisfying.

It’s also refreshing to see a film grapple so fully with a young woman’s tumultuous coming of age. Lisa is a melodramatic, selfish person in the way most teenagers are melodramatic and selfish, and the realism of her character may be unpleasantly confrontational for some viewers; it can be difficult at times to watch how she manipulates and tortures those around her. The film’s true trajectory reveals itself as Lisa’s simultaneous wish to become a good person and realization of how often the world makes that challenging for adults. We never hear Lisa’s thoughts on the Hopkins poem; the camera cuts right after Broderick speaks her name. And anyway, how she feels about it will likely evolve. It’s part of growing up. Margaret, which experienced its own pains to get to the screen, knows that above all and is all the more rewarding for it.

Why I Love Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

SportsAlcohol.com cofounder Nathaniel moved to Brooklyn, as you do. His hobbies include cutting up rhubarb and laying down. His favorite things are the band Moon Hooch and custard from Shake Shack. Old ladies love his hair.
Nathaniel
Latest posts by Nathaniel (see all)

Quick, name your favorite “part four” in a movie series. For every Conquest of the Planet of the Apes or Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol or Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, there’s a Jaws: The Revenge or Batman and Robin or Terminator Salvation. It’s a tricky thing to pull off (maybe trickier still after the Star Wars trilogy created a template for shaping your movie series in sets of three), but studios still try it out with some regularity. Just this year, moviegoers can run out to see George Miller’s foray back to the Wasteland (with Tom Hardy filling in as Max Rockatansky in lieu of Mad Mel Gibson), followed weeks later by a fourth trip to Jurassic Park, and – at the end of the year – a return to that Galaxy Far, Far Away (the seventh Star Wars film, but the fourth to feature our old friends Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo). With those high profile (and much anticipated in the old SportsAlcohol.com offices) fourth movies due out this year, what better time to make a case for a much maligned Part Four that I happen to really like. Continue reading Why I Love Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Best of 2014

SportsAlcohol.com cofounder Nathaniel moved to Brooklyn, as you do. His hobbies include cutting up rhubarb and laying down. His favorite things are the band Moon Hooch and custard from Shake Shack. Old ladies love his hair.
Nathaniel
Latest posts by Nathaniel (see all)

Here it is, you’re one stop place to see all of SportsAlcohol.com’s Best of 2014 posts!

MOVIES

We wrote about 14 of our very favorites here, including not-so-usual suspects like We Are the Best! and Obvious Child.

Our very favorite movie of the year, The Grand Budapest Hotel, deserved its own write-up.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies was never in contention for our Best Of list, but it does have the most variety in animals that are ridden, so we did a podcast about it.

TV

We counted down the top ten best TV shows. This year will be remembered as a year of comedy!

We provided alternatives for those who are so sick of hearing the rest of us gush about our No. 1 pic.

We noted that Comedy Central has really been living up to its name lately.

We lamented that no one else was watching Peaky Blinders (well, at least one of us complained about that).

We recorded a podcast about The Newsroom. How that show smarmed its way into a best-TV round-up is anyone’s guess.

MUSIC

We crowned St. Vincent’s St. Vincent as the best album of the year, doing a track-by-track analysis of her greatness (and also a quick study of her magnificent hair).

We also celebrated four other albums as the best of the yearTeeth Dreams by The Hold Steady, The Voyager by Jenny Lewis, Complete Surrender by Slow Club, and Lost in the Dream by The War on Drugs.

We called out the best-of-the-best, our very favorite songs from our very favorite albums, including “Blue Moon” by Beck,  “Goshen ’97” by Strand of Oaks, “Nothing but Trouble” by Phantogram, “Lazerray” by TV on the Radio, “Seasons (Waiting on You)” by Future Islands, “Your Love Is Killing Me” by Sharon Van Etten, and “Lights Out” by Angel Olsen.

We stumped for our favorite songs that didn’t come from our favorite albums, including “I’m Not Part of Me” by Cloud Nothings, “Bury Our Friends” by Sleater-Kinney, “Water Fountain” by tUnE-yArDs, “Mr. Tembo” by Damon Albarn, “Lariat” by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, “Bright Eyes” by Allo Darlin’, “Backseat Shake Off” by The Hood Internet, and “Scapegoat” by The Faint.

Is there a Spotify playlist for all this?” you ask. Of course there’s a Spotify playlist.

SPORTSALCOHOL.COM

Rob picked out the best of ourselves, with his favorite contributions from the gang here at SportsAlcohol.com.

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Avengers Age of Ultron

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is the latest megahit from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s full of fun stuff to nerd out about. Rob, Nathaniel, Jesse, and Marisa saw the movie together over the weekend and talked about their Avengers Age of Ultron experience, touching upon superhero special effects, character balancing, the qualities of a good robot villain, comic book origins, the future of nerdery, and frenzied suggestions for post-credit tags that should have been. The discussion has many spoilers for the film so it will probably be more fun if you see the movie before listening to it.

This also marks the one-year anniversary of our foray into podcasting, with an episode featuring the same four nerds who got into Amazing Spider-Man 2 this time last year. If you like our thoughts on Age of Ultron, check out our past year’s worth of podcasts on sci-fi movies, superheroes, rock and roll, TV shows we love and hate, and plenty more.

    We are up to five different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

  • You can subscribe to our podcast using the rss feed.
  • I’m not sure why they allowed it, but we are on iTunes! If you enjoy what you hear, a positive comment and a rating would be great.
  • I don’t really know what Stitcher is, but we are also on Stitcher.
  • You can download the mp3 of this episode directly here.
  • You can listen in the player below.