I see so few films in theaters that my reviews here are usually of the pay-per-view variety, but taking a few days off from work last week allowed me to check three new(ish) movies off my list ...
Avatar featured mediocre acting, cheesy dialogue, and a derivative, predictable plot, but that mattered little because the damn thing was so amazing to look at. The special effects are miles beyond anything I've ever seen before and the 3-D viewing experience was much more worthwhile than I expected, even if you feel silly wearing glasses like this for three hours. The movie is a C-minus, but the movie-going experience was an A-plus, so ... Grade: B-plus.
I was so intrigued by the preview for Shutter Island that I bought the book and read all 360 pages in one sitting a few weeks before it came out, but ultimately that probably kept me from liking the movie more. Dennis Lehane's novel is excellent and for the most part the film follows it closely, but not going in with a clean slate takes something away from the intrigue and a few places where Martin Scorsese veered from the book bothered me. Grade: B-minus.
As a showcase for the always awesome Jeff Bridges and a spotlight onto his highly underrated career Crazy Heart succeeds and then some, but he can only carry an otherwise mediocre film so far. He was great and the music was actually pretty good considering I'm not a country fan, but the basic plot was done better by The Wrestler, which was less predictable with fewer film cliches and doesn't suffer from having Maggie Gyllenhaal in every other scene. Grade: B-minus.
Speaking of reviewing movies, among other things Will Leitch's story about the great Roger Ebert makes me think I should probably do a better job replying to e-mails.
Eric Hinske spent $5,000 and 45 hours getting his entire back tattooed, but he then canceled out the whole badass effect by wearing Banana Republic boxers in a photo showing off the ink.
Unfortunately for Ric Flair, his wife knows that "to be the man, you've got to beat the man." Wooo!
Next time you're reading a LaVelle E. Neal III article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, consider that he likely wrote it while sitting on the toilet.
Friend of AG.com and new ESPN play-by-play man Jon Sciambioffered some reasonable advice for how his fellow baseball announcers can incorporate new-school stats and analysis into broadcasts. In related news, Dick Bremer just asked someone what OPS stands for.
Without fail, this cracks me up every year: Rich Eisen from NFL Network running the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine:
There are several new developments on the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com front. First and foremost, after 20 months with the title Keeley Hazell has been bumped from the throne in favor of ... Mila Kunis. Kunis is a longtime OFGoAG.com candidate, finishing fourth in the balloting that gave Hazell the crown in mid-2008, and has really stepped her game up of late by both continuing to look fantastic and doing nice work in The Book of Eli. She's also the first Jewish titleholder, which should make my mom happy.Despite losing the crown Hazell will remain an OFGofAG.com candidate, because while her production has slipped she continues to play at an All-Star level and seems like a solid bounceback candidate in 2010. Unfortunately the same can't be said of former OFGoAG.com Elisha Cuthbert, who lost the title in late 2006 and has now been removed from the candidates list. It was one helluva run, but Cuthbert just isn't getting the job done any longer and it's time to move on.
Cuthbert's spot on the candidates list has been filled by actress/model Diora Baird, who you may have seen in Wedding Crashers and Two and a Half Men. She's also had smallish roles in a whole bunch of other movies and television shows, but her candidacy is primarily due to a) looking spectacular, and b) showing a good, quirky sense of humor on Twitter. Baird beat out Aubrey Plaza in part because having two candidates from NBC's block of Thursday night comedy seems like overkill even if they employ me.
On a related note the Star Tribunehas added the TwinsCentric quartet of John Bonnes, Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, and Parker Hagemanto their blogging lineup, which is pretty great in addition to making me kind of jealous. Congrats, guys.
Over at NBCSports.com, Circling the Bases has switched its name to Hardball Talk in a synergistic effort to better fit with Pro Football Talk and Pro Basketball Talk in the branding department. The actual content of the site hasn't changed any, so you can still find me, Craig Calcaterra, and Matthew Pouliot blogging all day, every day. Hardball Talk has a new Twitter feed too, so check that out for all the links to our stuff. And thanks for supporting CTB/HBT in our soon-to-be-completed first year of existence.
Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicledid a nice job describing why Men of a Certain Age on TNT was so good (and so underrated) in its recently completed debut season. Good acting with a solid mix of laughs and drama despite small-scale storylines, which is why it ranked second to only Modern Family as my favorite new show.
I'm amused by the notion of Christina Hendricks being something other than extraordinary looking at any point in world history. However, she's been declared ineligible for Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com status on account of being too much woman for anything with "girl" in the title.
Get the 22nd edition of the New York Times bestselling Baseball Prospectus Annual. Edited by Aaron Gleeman, it features a foreword from Twins pitcher Glen Perkins, a Twins team chapter written by Gleeman and Parker Hageman, and 600 pages of analysis, projections, essays, rankings, and in-depth coverage of all 30 teams.