Monday, January 31, 2011

Cinicnnati Bengals Fire Bob Bratkowski

Today, the Cincinnati Bengals fired "The Genius", offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. Look, I called for this in a previous post on how to fix the mess that is the Cincinnati Bengals. But two issues remain, Mike Brown as GM and the lack of scouts. And yes, you can forget about owner Mike Brown firing himself. But he could hire more scouts. Without more changes, it's hard to see how effective this is going to be.

To show you inept the Bengals are, they waited until Bratkowski went down to Mobile, Alabama to coach with the staff at the Senior Bowl. Wouldn't it be smarter, say to fire Bratkowski immediately after the season and then hire a replacement to go to the Senior Bowl, to check out the prospects? It's just more of the Bengals circus. So, here's Julius Fucik's "Entrance of the Gladiators" or the most famous circus march as soundtrack to a kitten chasing its tail. Yes, it's just like what the Bengals are doing. Chasing their own tail.

Best Film of the Year for 2010

I was a little worried. I thought there would not be any films that would deserve the award for the Basement Blog Best Film of the Year for 2010. Then a bunch of movies came out in the last six months of the year. And unlike the Academy's blatant appeal to make Oscar show more popular by expanding the category to ten movies, the Basement Blog still sticks to five films or less. Partly, because I don't see as many films as the Academy. :-) So here are the nominees for the Basement Blog Best Film of the Year for 2010: "Inception", "How to Train Your Dragon", "The Kids Are All Right", "The King's Speech", "The Social Network."

The winner is...

"The King's Speech."

The King's Speech is touching, funny and inspiring. It has an intelligent script. Sharp job of directing by Tom Hooper. And it has a great ensemble cast. It's a great film for the twenty first century.

Best Science Fiction Film of 2010

While 2009 was a better year for science fiction film, 2010 turned out some good ones. This year we had four movies for the award. So, let's get to the Basement Blog Best Science Fiction Film of 2010. The nominees are: "Despicable Me", "Inception", "Splice", and "Tron: Legacy."

The winner is......


Christopher Nolan's mind blowing film challenges your concept of reality. I plan to watch it this weekend and try to figure it out. : ) The great thing about this film is that it shows that intelligent science fiction can still bring in the big bucks. I hope Bad Robot is listening because they are going to make the Star Trek (2012) sequel. Let's hope they make the next Star Trek a smarter film.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stephen Colbert Interviews Brian Greene

Stephen Colbert interviews physicist-author Brian Greene on parallel universes. Stephen also makes a Star Trek reference from the original series episode "Mirror, Mirror." It's about a goatee, i.e. Spock in a goatee from that episode. Anyway, it's fascinating.

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Stephen Colbert On Time Traveling Porn

Stephen Colbert takes on a study where college students where able to predict the future, especially when it relates to erotic photos, i.e. porn. It's time traveling porn!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A meeting between Mike Brown and Art Rooney

Gary Burbank used to do a series called "All My Bengals" a radio skit making fun of the woeful Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately, he retired. But fear not. Bengals fans are filling the void. Some Bengals fan made this video of a fictional meeting between Bengals owner Mike Brown and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney. This is episode One. Hilarious.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Carson Palmer wants a trade

It's being reported that Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer wants a trade. He's under contract through 2014. He says if he's not traded he will retire. Quit in your prime rather than play for the worst professional sports franchise on the planet. So, what does that say about the Cincinnati Bengals when the leader of your team wants out? Couple that with an Cincinnati Enquirer story that many season ticket holders are jumping ship, you would think owner Mike Brown would finally hear the calls for change.

But this is Mike Brown. This is guy who beat the IRS. When Chad Occocinco tried this in 2008, he got nowhere. Yes, it's different with Palmer who is the de facto leader of your team. That's the job of the quarterback. But if Brown can beat the IRS, do you really think Palmer's threat will force him to trade him? And you can't set a precedent when a player does something this or everyone on the team will do the same thing. Believe it or not, Mike Brown wants to win. You can't win if your players are thinking about leaving once they get here. So you can forget the trade idea.

I find it funny though that player in his prime with about 50 million dollars left on his contract would rather quit than play for the Cincinnati Bengals. Palmer may be upset that fans booed him this year. Carson ought to realize that this town idolizes him. With the year he just had, if he were in Philadelphia or Chicago, he would be hanged in effigy. And by the way, Bengals analyst David Lapham and former Bengal Bob Trumpy have defended Palmer by saying receivers have cut off their routes. And watching games, I heard the same thing from the color men on broadcasts. Now it's not all receivers fault. And Carson did want prima donna Terrel Owens. But the Bengals are so bad that Palmer would rather quit than put up with this mess anymore.

Maybe by demanding a trade, he's sending a message to ownership to change. Perhaps that makes Carson Palmer the greatest Bengal of all time. Are the Bengals listening? Maybe. Was that why head coach Marvin Lewis had dinner with Brad Childress? New offensive coordinator? And if things do change then Palmer has done his job. He has lead the team, hopefully out of the abyss.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The King's Speech Review

The primary source of communication between human beings is speech. And it matters not whether one is a commoner, a rich man, a poor man or the King of England. If we're not using sign language, we use vocal speech to talk to one another.

Based on a true story The King's Speech is about England's Prince Albert, later to be King George VI (Colin Firth), and his struggle with his speech impediment. That handicap? He stammers. When official therapists fail to cure him, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks the help of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist. Logue refuses to be patronized when he tries to treat Prince Albert whom he calls "Bertie" the royal family nickname for Prince Albert. During an exercise at the first session, Lionel has the Prince read Shakespeare while listening to music through headphones. Believing he can't help, the Prince leaves but keeps a recording of his reading. The recording is a clean reading without the stammer and Prince Albert goes back to Lionel for help. But this film is more than a story about a handicap. It's a historical snapshot of a time before World War II, the abdication of King Edward, the rise of the Nazis and the need for a voice to comfort the nation.

Any great movie must start with the screenplay. American David Seidler (Tucker: A Man and his Dream, 1988) has crafted a screenplay that exudes humor and warmth. It explores the man who would be king and the forces that made him. So great is his writing, I predict there will be many scenes that will be run over and over in film schools. Tom Hopper's (John Adams) direction is masterful. Every musical cue, and shot is skillfully and carefully placed. Take for instance Logue's office and the walls of multi-color paint. They form an abstract piece of artwork, making the view wonder what does it all mean. What is being communicated here? He also gets wonderful performances from the cast.

And the cast is sublime. How good is the cast? Three Harry Potter actors are in supporting roles. You won't recognize any of them. Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) plays Albert's stern father, King George V. Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lastrange) is Albert's faithful wife, Queen Elizabeth. And you'll never guess who plays Winston Churchill. It's Timothy Spall. (Wormtail) It's a far cry from being a rat man to one of the greatest leaders of the twentieth century. Colin Firth is believable as the future king. I never noticed he was acting. Geoffry Rush's Lionel is at times mischievous, courageous, and loving. Yes, Rush shows his love for his student many times in this film.

The King's Speech is sheer film poetry. It's funny and touching . It is one of the finest films of the twenty first century. I saw the movie in Cincinnati, Ohio. The house was packed and the audience applauded at the end. That's rare. The grade is A +.

Here' s a funny clip.

Stephen Colbert Takes On Rush Limbaugh's Racist Asian Speak

I've accused Rush Limbaugh of being a racist before. But as an Asian American, he crossed the line with his faux Asian speak. He used this to describe Chinese President Hu Jintao's speech. Why is this offensive? Rush is now making fun of a race. A race of people who don't speak English. If you were to walk with me, one of the common racial insults thrown my way is the fake Asian speak. It's designed to make me feel different and inferior. So I thank Stephen Colbert for taking on this fat racist.

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Farwell Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann announced his resignation from MSNBC. That's too bad for MSNBC since he was the best thing on the network. And it's bad for the country too. Keith was shining light for doing what was right in this country. He made it cool to care about people. And he stood up for those without power. Here the story. And below is his farewell. Take care, Keith. Hope to see you again.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2001 or How I learned to stop worrying and love 3D films.

First, this is not a plea to convert Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. (1968) to 3D. But I was watching it on Blu-Ray with a HDTV. And by the way if you get the chance to do that, you should. It' looks amazing. Anyway I was again admiring how great the film was. The slow and methodical pacing that asks you to use your brain to keep you interested. I admire the intelligence of the film. And of course the visuals in which each shot is like a painting.

The visuals led me to this thought. What if Kubrick could have made 2001 in 3-D? Think about the shots from the movie you know. I'll go over a few of them. And you'll find that 2001 if it was shot in 3-D would be an even more mind blowing experience than it is now. Lets' reimagine some of these shots in 3D.

1. The plains of Africa.
2. The Monolith. Now imagine what Kubrick could do in 3D. He could have it pop out so you the audience could touch it.
3. The ape throwing the bone in the air. Kubrick could film it as it twists.
4. The lunar lander going to the moon.
5. Astronaut David Bowman jogging around the centrifuge.
6. Shots of the Discovery.
7. Shots of the space pod. At times the arms pop out towards you.
8. Bowman taking HAL offline and the memory cards sliding out.
9. The Monolith in space.
10. Bowman's journey and evolution into the Star Child. Think what Kubrick could do with today's special effects and 3-D images.

Maybe 3D film isn't all that bad. At least when it's shot in native 3D.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Green Hornet Movie Review

Sometimes creative casting could draw howls of protest. Remember Michael Keaton as Batman? The fans thought Tim Burton was making a campy version of Batman. And they hated the idea of the comical Michael Keaton as Batman. Well, they were wrong. Keaton turned out to be a great Batman with his intense performance. Now, Seth Rogen known more for his comedies, plays a superhero in The Green Hornet, a movie version of the radio, film serial and TV show. Will lightning strike twice? That all depends on the execution.

The Green Hornet is about Britt Reid (Seth Rogen), a hard partying rich kid, who's he son of James Reid (Tom Wilkinson), publisher of a Los Angeles newspaper called "The Sentinel." The elder Reid dies from a bee sting because of an allergy. Britt inherits the paper and his father's fortune. After firing the staff, Britt rehires Kato (Jay Chou) because he can make a great cup of coffee. (I'm not making this stuff up.) Not only can Kato make a great cup of coffee, he's a superior mechanic, inventor, and martial arts expert.

Both disliked the elder Reid. They decide to cut off the head of his statue. After they commit this act of vandalism, they stumble upon a robbery. They stop it due to Kato's fantastic martial arts skills. When they return home, Britt convinces Kato to become vigilantes. They would be known as criminals but they would be warring on criminals. As they attack crime, they discover the most of the crime is being run by Chudnofsky. (Christoph Waltz) The two decide to take him down.

First, I'm going to discuss the 3-D. Surprised. It's not bad. The picture is still too dark. This is made worse by the amount of night scenes. And I do understand why they had so many night scenes. These guys were vigilantes. Most of the time crime takes place in the dark. Still, the 3D adds nothing to the film. If you see this movie, see it in 2D.

But what about the movie? It's a mess. Let's start with the casting. Seth Rogen is all wrong for the role of the Green Hornet. His portrayal is smarmy. Yes, I get the joke. And that's the problem. Rogen and his buddy Evan Goldberg (Superbad) wrote the screenplay. Clearly, they were going to take the superhero genre in another direction. It would be sarcastic and comical. Yet, they wanted to make an action movie with reverence to the TV show as evidenced by Kato's sketch of Bruce Lee and the car, Black Beauty which is a dead ringer for the old car. But you can't have it both ways. Either you make a comedy or a serious action picture. Yes you can make an action movie with humor, see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (1969) It's difficult to make a comedy with legitimate action because you can't take the action seriously. And that's what happens here. I didn't care what happened when it was serious. Add to that, the movie wasn't all that funny.

As for the direction and the performances, the tone of the picture overwhelms any good work here. Director Michael Gondry has skills but so what? I hated the sarcastic tone. Rogen comes off as kind of a punk. Jay Chou is wasted in some contrived romantic triangle with Reid's secretary. (Cameron Diaz) She's okay but I would have love it if her character decked Rogen when he made an insulting remark about her age. Christoph Waltz who was fantastic in Inglorious Basterds (2009) should get a second opinion on his scripts. If he thought this would be the comedy to break him out of the bad guy roles, he needs a better agent.

The Green Hornet is a bloated, and unfunny movie. The 3D conversion won't save this turkey. If you want a different take on the superhero genre, rent Kick-Ass. (2010) The difference? Kick-Ass took its material seriously then put in the humor. The grade for "The Green Hornet" is C-.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Keith Olbermann on the toxic political atmosphere and Congresswoman Giffords shooting

Below is Keith Olbermann's commentary on the political vitriol that is enveloping our nation. Remember that Sarah Palin on her PAC website had a bullseye on Giffords district. And her Tea Party backed Republican opponent, Jesse Kelly, had campaign event where you were invited to a M16. According to Talking Points Memo, the website touting the event said this, "Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly." Here's the TPM story.

The consequence for all this hatred? You saw it on Saturday. And there's one party to blame for all this. It's the Republicans. Because they're the ones that are spreading it.

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Elmer Bernstein's Magnificent Score for True Grit (1969)

I've criticized the new True Grit's score because it was so dour that it drags down the movie. No such problems for the 1969 version. Elmer Bernstein's (The Great Escape, 1963)rousing and inspiring score gives the older version emotional impact. Here's the Utah Symphony Orchestra performing a suite of the score for the 1969 movie.

True Grit (2010) Review

The Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan) have earned great respect in the world of film. Their movies Fargo (1996) and No Country for Old Men (2007) are masterpieces. Producer Steven Spielberg needs no introduction as his works are legendary. So when the Coen Brothers decided to direct and make a film based on "True Grit", a novel by Charles Portis with Spielberg producing, one would think nothing could go wrong. And it's not like the Coen Brothers have never done a western. No Country for Old Men is western noir. But like Ted Williams even the Coen Brothers are allowed to strike out on occasion. They have one big problem in making this film, the John Wayne 1969 version.

True Grit is the story of Mattie Ross, (Hailee Steinfeld) a 14 year old girl who is determined to avenge the murder of her father by Tom Chaney. (Josh Brolin) When informed of a list of bounty hunters who could chase and find Chaney, she chooses the one with meanest reputation, U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn. (Jeff Bridges) Along the way she meets LaBouef (Matt Damon) a Texas Ranger who is also looking to get Chaney.

The big problem with this film version of True Grit is that it's not cinematic. The Coen Brothers decided to be more faithful to the novel and that's the problem. Filming night action scenes are always a problem because the audience can't see clearly what's going on. The color in the film is drained or muted probably to give the movie an old feel. None of that is cinematic.

The music is huge problem for this version. The Coens have decided to go with Carter Burwell. Their strategy was to use nineteenth century hymns and folk tunes. The result? Perhaps more realistic but dramatically, it's a disaster. The music doesn't drive the movie, it hinders it by it's dour approach. This approach which is exactly the opposite from Elmer Bernstein's rousing score for the 1969 film. And it depresses the Coens' film.

As for the acting, Hailee Steinfeld is fantastic as the determined Mattie. Jeff Bridges is okay as Cogburn, except he mumbles his words to the point at times, I couldn't understand him. Matt Damon as LaBouef is as dry as Glen Campbell was in the 1969 version.

It's probably film heresy to give a Coen Brothers film a negative review. There's no doubt as to which movie version is the best. It's the the 1969 film starring John Wayne. This 2010 version gets the grade of C+.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bengals owner Mike Brown is a comedian

Tuesday, Cincinnati Bengals owner and defacto general manager made a surreal comment when addressing the scouting issue. "Over the last ten years, we ranked tenth for the number of games played by the players we drafted." And the Bengals record for the last ten years was 68-91-1. Huh? If success is measured by wins and losses then Mike you've drafted some bad players who led you to this losing record. You're twenty three games under five hudred. Just because your playing guys you drafted doesn't mean success in this world. The facts show the scouting is a failure. How can this be a success? Mike, that's just bizarre. Wait a minute, I get it. Mike Brown is a comedy genius. I mean it's so surreal, that it's funny.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bengals Rehire Marvin Lewis

Owner and GM of the Cincinnati Bengals, Mike Brown announced today that he has rehired head coach Marvin Lewis. During the news conference, both looked as happy as a guy who just got his prostate manually examined by his doctor. Mike also thinks the Bengals are very close to playoff football. He cites the performances of the young players. It's just that darn winning thing that gets in the way. If you need something to put you to sleep, watch the news conference. Posted here.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Why the Cincinnati Bengals Suck

Previously, I pointed out that the Cincinnati Bengals should follow the lead of the Indianapolis Colts. All I can say the reasons why the Bengals should change and be like the Colts are the same ones as to why they suck. So, what is causing the Bengals to stink?

1. Mike Brown- Owner Mike Brown is the defacto GM. And unfortunately he shows no movement to firing himself even though he's probably the worst general manager of a professional football team in the history of football. Let's name the disasters. Coach Dave Shula. QB Dave Klingler. QB Akili Smith. OT Andre Smith. WR Antonio Bryant. What about that record? According to Wikipedia, "Since Brown became owner, the team has had only 2 winning seasons out of 20 and have a winning percentage of .362 (115-203-1) in the regular season and .000 (0-2) in the playoffs."

WR Terrell Owens as he is known to do, threw the Bengals under the bus. He
said it starts from the top. And nobody complained. Why? TO is right.

2. Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski- Ten seasons of the "genius." I remember watching a Bengals game and the TV color guys were predicting the Bengals offensive plays. Creativity does not describe Bratkowski. Let me put it this way. I saw a college bowl game and there were two flea flickers. When was the last time the Bengals ran something even close to a flea flicker?

3. Lack of Scouts- I generously count five Bengals scouts. How many do the Colts have? Ten. Extra eyes could have stopped the signing of WR Antonio Bryant who didn't play a down for the Bengals.

4. Conclusion- If the Bengals change the three things that makes the team suck, they would change their fortunes. That requires hiring a GM, firing Bob Bratkowski and hiring a new offensive coordinator. It requires hiring more scouts.

Bengals Lose Last Game

Sigh. The Cincinnati Bengals lost today 13-7 to the Baltimore Ravens. Story of the game. Five Bengals turnovers. Two fumbles by Bengals WR Jerome Simpson. You know the guy with the good hands. QB Carson Palmer threw two interceptions. And then Carson fumbled the ball in the last few minutes to kill a rally. Game Over. Sigh.

Cute Kitten Relaxing in Tub

I am not going to start the new year with a post about another Bengals loss. So, here's a video of a cute kitten relaxing in a tub.