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Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 Bad Quarterback League Update: Week Twelve

1) Adam

Total Points: 985
Points This Week: 58

Miami: -7
St. Louis: 12
Kansas City: 37
Minnesota: 16

2) Cahal

Total Points: 981
Points This Week: 69

New York Jets: 4
Tennessee: 10
Chicago: 21
Philadelphia: 34

3) Colleen

Total Points: 721
Points This Week: 57

Cleveland: 31
Oakland: 22
Buffalo: 11
Baltimore: -7

4) Ben

Total Points: 707
Points This Week: 32

Jacksonville: 5
Pittsburgh: 43
San Diego: 0
Carolina: -16

5) Bryan

Total Points: 685
Points This Week: 78

Arizona: 80
Seattle: 0
Dallas: -7
San Francisco: 5

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2012 Bad Quarterback League Update: Week Eleven

1) Adam

Total Points: 927
Points This Week: 99

Miami: 32
St. Louis: 16
Kansas City: 56
Cincinnati: -5*

2) Cahal

Total Points: 912
Points This Week: 103

New York Jets: 8
Tennessee: ---
Chicago: 58
Philadelphia: 37

3) Ben

Total Points: 675
Points This Week: 22

Jacksonville: -9
Pittsburgh: ---**
San Diego: 31
Carolina: 0

4) Colleen

Total Points: 664
Points This Week: 73

Cleveland: 5
Oakland: 24
Buffalo: 26
Baltimore: 18

5) Bryan

Total Points: 607
Points This Week: 99

Arizona: 100
Seattle: ---
Dallas: -1
San Francisco: 0

* NOTE TO THE LEAGUE: I am dropping Cincy for Minnesota
**Ben dropped MIN and TB to pick up PIT and SD this week. However, since MIN had their bye this week and because PIT scored less points than SD this week, PIT acts like MIN pursuant to league rules.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Open Apology To Ben Affleck

Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite movies of all time. On my old site we collectively ranked it as the 10th best film of the past 25 years. I think it's brilliant and it's a shame it came out the same year as the extremely overrated Titanic because I think in most other years it would have swept the Oscars. But one Oscar it did win was Best Original Screenplay. Writers and stars of the film Matt Damon and Ben Affleck each won their only Golden Statute of their careers for writing Good Will Hunting. Yet in the decade plus after the release of Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's careers seem to have taken two different paths. Matt Damon became a bona fide A list celebrity whereas Ben Affleck became Hollywood's punching bag. As a result of the films that both Damon and Affleck were releasing, it became a popular joke to claim that Matt Damon alone wrote Good Will Hunting.

Could you blame us though? It was not only easy to pick on Affleck but it seemed justified considering the movie choices he made. Between Good Will Hunting in 1997 and Gone Baby Gone in 2007, Ben Affleck starred or was the co-lead in 16 films. Out of those 16 films only THREE of them were Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes: Dogma, Changing Lanes, and Hollywoodland. Of those three, Affleck co-starred with Damon in Dogma (thus it's hard to argue Affleck was good on his own) and Hollywoodland came out in 2006 (and at this point it seemed America had already made up their mind about about Affleck). The average Rotten Tomatoes score out of those 16 films is just a measly 40.8%. During this decade time frame Affleck released garbage like Daredevil, Reindeer Games, and Gigli.

However, in that same time frame, Matt Damon starred or was the co-lead in 17 films. Out of those 17, TWELVE were Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The average Rotten Tomatoes rating of Damon's movies came in at a whopping 65.5%- which is Certified Fresh. Damon was also at the helm of a franchise that was both a commercial and critical success (The Bourne movies) and was one of the three co-leads of another franchise that also had critical and commercial success (The Ocean movies). Even if you don't count the Ocean films as Damon's (and there is a valid argument to that), then Damon starred in 14 films and his average Rotten Tomatoes score jumps up to 76.1%.

Damon never had a film get under 32% on Rotten Tomatoes. Affleck had four. Affleck never starred in a film that got over 69%. Damon starred in seven- including The Departed (93%) and The Bourne Ultimatum (94%).

The point is is that because of the movie choices that Damon made and the movie choices that Affleck made (PLUS Affleck's tabloid debacle with Jennifer Lopez), it seemed that Ben Affleck was a hack and Matt Damon was the true star of the duo. However, in the past five years, Ben Affleck has proven not only how erroneous our thoughts were that he didn't co-write Good Will Hunting but just how talented he is as a writer and filmmaker.

The first film on the Ben Affleck redemption tour is Gone Baby Gone (2007). This was Ben Affleck's directorial debut and a film that he wrote by himself. Personally, I thought Gone Baby Gone was excellent and thought it was the best film of 2007. Affleck was able to pull amazing performances out of his brother Casey Affleck as well as Amy Ryan (who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in GBG) and he told a gripping and thrilling tale about a young man and his wife trying to solve a mystery surrounding a missing girl. The pace of the film is excellent, the acting is superb (except for Mrs. Brady Baby Momma Michelle Monaghan who is fucking atrocious in it) and the plot is riveting. The masses seemed to have liked it as well as it scored a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 72 on Metacritic.

Next came 2010's The Town. Affleck's second film and one that he co-wrote and starred in. While I personally did not like this movie all *that* much, the vast majority of people disagree with me. It received a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 74 on Metacritic. While its only Oscar nomination was for Jeremy Renner (Best Supporting Actor), it was one of the go-to movies that everyone complained the Academy snubbed. This is Affleck's first film where he cast himself as the lead which help change the perception on him and his acting abilities. Affleck was really good in the film and he showed us how good of an actor he can be.

Lastly, we have 2012's Argo- a film that Affleck stars in and directed. While 2012 seems like, and is, an incredibly deep year for great films, Argo is already the front runner to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Right now, I personally have Argo as my #3 film of the year (behind Looper and Wreck It Ralph) and the entire second half of the film is some of the best film making you'll see all year. Because it is a true story you know how it ultimately ends, but Affleck finds a way to keep you on the edge of your seat nonetheless. Critics love this film too as it has a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and it has an 86 on Metacritic. According to the HitFix blog "In Contention", they predict that not only will Argo be nominated for Best Picture at the 2012 Academy Awards, but that Affleck will finally be nominated for Best Director. While that has still yet to be determined, it is obvious Affleck made a great picture and that he is a damn good director.

Out of all the A-list and well known actors who have made movies in recent years (most notably Tom Hanks, Sean Penn, and George Clooney), Affleck is by far the best. All of Affleck's movies are perfectly paced, well acted, and Affleck does an amazing job at building and maintaining suspense (Just watch the scene in The Town when Jeremy Renner "runs into" Affleck and Rebecca Hall if you don't believe me). But above all else, Ben Affleck just makes good movies and he makes movies you want to see. At the end of the day that is all we as moviegoers really care about.

Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo are proof that 1) Ben Affleck is really talented, 2) Ben Affleck CAN act, and 3) Ben Affleck is a really good screenwriter.

So Ben Affleck, on behalf of myself and everyone in America: I'm sorry.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

With Or Without You: How The Bears Can Survive A Jay Cutler Injury

In 2011, through eleven games, the Chicago Bears were 7-3. They were on a roll and their schedule through the next 6 games was, for the most part, a cake walk. They were on pace to easily get the #5 seed in the NFC come playoff time. Then the injury bug struck them. They lost starting running back Matt Forte which was a bummer but could have been dealt with because the Bears had Marion Barber and Kahlil Bell. But then the killer injury happened- Jay Cutler broke his thumb during a 31-20 win over the Chargers. The cake schedule turned out to be a huge disaster as the Bears lost their next five games and finished the season 8-8.

In 2012, through ten games, the Chicago Bears are 7-2. They are on a roll, but their cake walk schedule is behind them. They face a really, really good San Francisco 49ers team this Monday Night and they still have the Packers left on their schedule (although it will be in Soldier Field) and three more divisional games. Jay Cutler is now injured again (I could write a whole other post about the play which gave Cutler his concussion  and the low fine that came from it, but I digress) but this will NOT be a disaster rest of the season like the Bears' 2011 season was.

Let me give you a player comparison:

PLAYER A: 60.1 completion percentage, 1.34 TD/INT, 4.6 TD%, 3.5 INT%, 7.2 YPA, 84.1 QB Rating

PLAYER B: 60.8 completion percentage, 1.45 TD/INT, 3.4 TD%, 2.3 INT%, 6.7 YPA, 82.8 QB Rating

You can probably already guess who these players are. Player A is Jay Cutler and Player B is Jason Campbell. Those are the career numbers of these two men. If you look at those numbers they are extremely similar. Jay Cutler can get more yards per play and is much more likely to throw a touchdown, but Campbell makes up for his ability to not throw a touchdown by turning the ball over less. There is no doubt that Jay Cutler is a better quarterback than Jason Campbell, but Jason Campbell is a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. I think, right now, he is a better quarterback than Mark Sanchez, Ryan Tannenhill, Blaine Gabbert, Matt Cassel, and Kevin Kolb.

I did a post back in May grading NFL's best off season moves and I gave the Campbell signing an A-. The only reason I didn't like it more was because of the money the Bears gave him. But that being said, that signing was great and every GM in the league (and myself) would have made that deal.

I thought the Bears were going to be fine in 2011 when Cutler went down because I liked the then Bears back up Caleb Hanie. When Cutler got injured during the 2010 NFC Championship game, Hanie came in and looked really good against a tough Packers team. However, that was the only thing I (and most other people) had to judge Hanie on. Boy was I wrong. Hanie was fucking atrocious and I can't believe he is not out of the league after the poor performances he showed while as a Bears starter. Jason Campbell is different. He was a starter for five and a half years and we have a really good sample size to judge what Campbell is. He is certainly no 1999 Kurt Warner but he is a solid NFL player and could legitimately lead this Bears squad for the rest of the year if he needed to.

Luckily, it looks like the Jay Cutler injury will only be a one week injury and even if Cutler was healthy, the Chicago Bears will probably lose to the 49ers in San Fran. However, Jason Campbell is a really good back up quarterback and people need to stop giving him crap.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2012 Bad Quarterback League Update: Week Ten

1) Adam

Total Points: 828
Points This Week: 91

Miami: 67
St. Louis: 2
Kansas City: 26
Cincinnati: -4

2) Cahal

Total Points: 809
Points This Week: 136

New York Jets: 37
Tennessee: 17
Chicago: 32
Philadelphia: 50

3) Ben

Total Points: 653
Points This Week: 91

Jacksonville: 59
Minnesota: 0
Tampa Bay: 0
Carolina: 32

4) Colleen

Total Points: 591
Points This Week: 29

Cleveland: ---
Oakland: 36
Buffalo: 4
Baltimore: -11

5) Bryan

Total Points: 508
Points This Week: 43

Arizona: ---
Seattle: 23
Dallas: 0
San Francisco: 20

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Movie Review: A Look Back At Daniel Craig's James Bond Trilogy

Before we begin let me preface by saying that I am not a huge James Bond fan. As a child born in the late 80's I, of course, grew up on Goldeneye and have seen all of Pierce Brosnan's and Daniel Craig's James Bond flicks. However, outside of that, I probably have only seen one or two other James Bond movies and have caught scenes from others while flipping through channels and landing on Spike (or whatever the Spike channel equivalent was in 1996 when I was 9). Therefore, I do not have the reverence for this movie franchise like many other people do. There are people who will argue the difference between Goldfinger vs. Her Majesty's Secret Service vs. Casino Royale. I am not one of those people. I enjoy James Bond films very much and when they're good, they're amazing, but I do not hold James Bond on a pedestal like many others do.

I approach James Bond flicks not from a historical perspective like the Bond fanatics do, but from a movie going perspective. I try to take each Bond movie as it's own and only like to compare Bond flicks as they relate to the actors who portray Bond. I don't like to judge a Daniel Craig Bond flick to a Roger Moore Bond flick (If I ever see a Moore movie). Each movie should stand on its own or stand comparatively to its other like-minded movies. Why should we compare a 2006 flick (Casino Royale) to a 1964 one (Goldfinger)? When have we ever compared movies from the 1960's to a movie from the 2000's? It doesn't happen because movies and movie tastes have evolved over time- especially action movies. Since Sean Connery stopped playing Bond we have had action movies like Star Wars, First Blood, Die Hard, Terminator II, The Bourne Identity, and The Dark Knight that have all changed the landscape of what we expect out of an action flick. I am a modernist when it comes to films and that's how I approach Daniel Craig's three Bond flicks: Casino Royale (2006), Quantum Of Solace (2008), and Skyfall (2012).

Casino Royale (2006)
Directed By: Martin Campbell
STARS: 4 out of 4
Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, and Judy Dench

Truthfully, if you want a better review of this film then what I am about to give you, then read Bond fanatic Bryan Hernandez's review of the film from my old site.

In my mind, over the past 25 years or so there have been two approaches to actions films. First, a view prevalent throughout the 90's and the beginning of the 2000's was the Michael Bay approach. There were lots of explosions and car chases for no reason and lots of shit guys love- but a thin plot and no characters whatsoever. If you ever hear a guy say "I love Con Air" or "The Rock" then they are a huge fan of this style of action movies. For me personally, I abhor them. But as the 2000's progressed, we started to see a shift in this paradigm. Actions movies started getting more character driven and less plot driven. It started in 2002 with Sam Raimi's Spiderman, polished in 2004 with Raimi's Spiderman 2, and it came to it's pinnacle in 2008 with Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. I believe The Dark Knight is the perfect example for what action movies have become and what they should be. A major stepping stone for TDK was Campell's 2006 great Casino Royale.

We live in an age of comedy-less comedy (see: the T.V. show Louie) and action-less action. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Everything now revolves around characters first and the raw human emotions and the drama that ensues second. I think Casino Royale is a great example of action-less action. While it does have some cool actions scenes (most notably the Parkour chase scene in Africa at the beginning of the picture) most of the tension comes through the big poker game in the middle of the film and the tension that surrounds the drama of Bond vs. Le Chiffre.

Casino Royale is amazing because it came out during a time when modern day action movies were not yet formed. It took a grittier approach to action flicks and a grittier approach to the Bond franchise as a whole which was daring for both. We see James Bond before he was the suave, debonair, precise secret agent that he was known in the past and Casino Royale pulls it off flawlessly.

Quantum Of Solace (2008)
Directed By: Marc Forster
STARS: 3 out of 4
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, and Judy Dench

As little as 48 hours ago I was trashing this movie on Facebook saying that it was a piece of garbage and I didn't know why anyone would want to see it. That is how I felt when I came out of the theater when QOS was first released. But then I saw Quantum Of Solace again and I saw it immediately after I had re-watched Casino Royale. I have now done a complete 180 and enjoy this film.

Listen, it's not perfect. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But what it is is an enjoyable sequel to Casino Royale. In Casino Royale, MI6 is targeting Le Chffre- an accountant and banker for a worldwide terrorist organization. Quantum Of Solace picks up right where Casino Royale left off as James Bond is on the hunt of this mysterious terrorist organization- which we later find out is called Quantum.

I approach QOS as a sequel to an action movie and as a stand alone action flick in general. While it does nothing revolutionary, it still keeps up the gritty tone set by Casino Royale and its action movie predecessors, it takes things very seriously (not like the campy crap of its previous 20 forefathers), it has some cool fights, cool car chases, a nifty boat chase scene and explosions. It also has great character development as Bond struggles with the loss of Vespyr throughout the entire film. Now some of the criticism of this film is justified. The plot does get way too muddled and in the end, all Bond is doing is chasing an organization who wants to buy and control the water supply in a random South American country that nobody cares about. But that being said, I enjoyed it a lot and think it gets a bum rap because the name "James Bond" is plastered all over it.

I think my indifference for the Bond franchise and my love of modern day action movies is why I enjoyed this movie so much and why very few people agree with me. Roger Ebert absolutely hates this movie but hates it for the most inane reasons. He's upset that the Bong Girl (Kurylenko) has an average name like Camille and not a classic Bond name like Pussy Galore. Plus, she doesn't even sleep with Bond! (BTW, He completely ignores the MI6 redhead Strawberry Fields who does fuck Bond). He's upset the villain (Amalric) also has a pedestrian name like Dominic Greene and who doesn't have a secret lair. I'm sure he's also upset nobody goes on a huge monologue that reveals their entire evil plan while they figure out the slowest possible way to kill James Bond. Roger Ebert must believe that Austin Powers is a serious drama, huh? Ebert makes asinine arguments and Bond purists need to relax and enjoy Quantum Of Solace for what it is. If you compare QOS to other Bond flicks I guess it sucks but if you compare it to The Bourne trilogy or the Mission: Impossible trilogy then it is very enjoyable.

Skyfall (2012)
Directed By: Sam Mendes
STARS: 3.5 out of 4
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judy Dench, Ralph Fiennes, and Javier Bardem

This review is being posted only 2 days after the release of Skyfall and I personally don't see where the amazing love of it is coming from. I mean, this is ESPN jerking off Derek Jeter level of love for Skyfall which I don't understand. Although, I also didn't get where the love of The Avengers (which was released earlier this year) came from so maybe I'm just a cynic in general. But I did thoroughly enjoy this third installment.

At first I was upset about Skyfall because there was no mention of "Quantum" whatsoever. I figured Craig's first two films were leading up to the destruction of Quantum or something. But Skyfall is its own stand alone story, complete with its own new villain (Bardem) and rich and deep characters.

Skyfall is all about the old vs. the new. There is a changing of the guard in Skyfall and the characters struggle to deal with this brave new world they live in. The classic Q character is not played by some veteran British actor like John Cleese, but rather a young kid who looks barely old enough to shave. But that's how it should be. Technology is advanced by youth and not generated by the "experienced". Q tells Bond when he first meets him that espionage can essentially be done in his pajamas at his computer and that he only needs guys like Bond because occasionally someone needs to pull the trigger.

Javier Bardem plays a fantastic and charismatic villain (like you knew he would) named Mr. Silva who is hell bent on revenge against M. He doesn't show up until halfway through the movie and he's really only in a handful of scenes so it's curious that he's second billed (I purposefully made him 4th billed) but he's great at causing destruction and mayhem in London. And contrary to what Q told Bond earlier, Silva does manage to "pull a trigger" from the comfort of his home.

Bond and M struggle to deal in this new world they live in. Bond is hurt psychically, emotionally, and psychologically to the point where there is a question if he is even able to go back into the field and M is questioned by the government to the point where a government official named Mallory (Fiennes) calls a public hearing to hold M and MI6 accountable for failing to adapt. Even the major plot point of the film- Bond vs. Silva- is a battle of old vs. new as it turns out Bond is Silva's replacement as M's go-to agent.

Skyfall itself is a battle of the old vs. the new when it comes to the Bond franchise as a whole. While I think Ebert's reaction to Quantum of Solace was childish and overblown, his opinion was with the majority of moviegoers. In Skyfall, Bond finally orders a martini shaken not stirred as opposed to a Vespyr Martini (although it's not overtly stated like it is in Dr. No), we finally meet Q, and there's a great reveal at the end involving a female MI6 agent that all Bond fans can enjoy. But this is not your daddy's Bond film. Hell, this is barely my generations's Bond film. It still takes on the grittier and more sophisticated tone that we've come to expect from a Craig/Bond flick and a modern day action movie and it is not remotely campy. Skyfall's world is more set in reality and in today's geopolitical culture than in some Austin Powers-y world which shows up the absurdity of the previous Bond films. Bond traditionalists will still enjoy Skyfall as a classic Bond film while modern day movie snobs like me can still enjoy Skyfall for the modern marvel it is.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

2012 Bad Quarterback League Update: Week Nine

1) Adam

Total Points: 737
Points This Week: 73

Miami: 2
St. Louis: ---
Kansas City: 66
Cincinnati: 5

2) Cahal

Total Points: 673
Points This Week: 58

New York Jets: ---
Tennessee: 31
Chicago: 0
Philadelphia: 27

t-3) Colleen

Total Points: 562
Points This Week: 52

Cleveland: 26
Oakland: 5
Buffalo: 15
Baltimore: 6

t-3) Ben

Total Points: 562
Points This Week: 67

Jacksonville: 10
Minnesota: 50
Tampa Bay: 7
Carolina: 0

5) Bryan

Total Points: 465
Points This Week: 12

Arizona: -1
Seattle: 3
Washington: 10
San Francisco: ---

Sunday, November 4, 2012

2012 Bad Quarterback League Update: Week Eight

1) Adam

Total Points: 664
Points This Week: 88

Miami: 12
St. Louis: 47
Kansas City: 29
Cincinnati: ---

2) Cahal

Total Points: 615
Points This Week: 59

New York Jets: 20
Tennessee: 2
Chicago: 31
Philadelphia: 6

3) Colleen

Total Points: 510
Points This Week: 32

Cleveland: 27
Oakland: 5
Buffalo: ---
Baltimore: ---

4) Ben

Total Points: 495
Points This Week: 34

Jacksonville: -4
Minnesota: 5
Tampa Bay: -5
Carolina: 38

5) Bryan

Total Points: 453
Points This Week: 38

Arizona: 15
Seattle: 15
Washington: 13
San Francisco: -5