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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy and Why The Oscars Need To Add A Best Soundtrack Category

As amazing of a film as Pulp Fiction is and will always be, it was a big loser at the 1995 Oscars. Sure, Quentin Tarantino won Best Original Screenplay, but Pulp Fiction lost the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Lead Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. However, if the Oscars had come to their senses a while ago and had a Best Soundtrack category back then, maybe Pulp Fiction would have had added at least one more Oscar to their resume.

Music has always been prominent in Quentin Tarantino's films- Pulp Fiction in particular. From Dick Dale's Miserlou in the opening credits to John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing to Chuck Berry's You Never Can Tell to Urge Overkill's version of Neil Diamond's Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon, you can't think of Pulp Fiction without thinking about the music QT used in the film. Think about Tarantino's other films and you'll reminded of what a genius he is when it comes to blending music and movies. Rick Ross's 100 Black Coffins in Django Unchained, David Bowe's Cat People (Putting Out The Fire) in Inglorious BasterdsNancy Sinatra's Bang Bang and The 5, 6, 7, 8's Woo Hoo in Kill Bill Vol. 1, and that great opening credit scene in Reservoir Dogs where there's the slo mo of the gang walking away from the restaurant while Little Green Bag by George Baker Selection fills your ears. However, the most iconic musical moment in a Quentin Tarantino film comes from the aforementioned Reservoir Dogs when Michael Madsen is about to chop off the police officer's ear while he's dancing to Steelers Wheel's Stuck In The Middle With You. All of these incredible and indelible moments were made because of the use of pre-existing music. The fact that these songs (sans 100 Black Coffins) were made before Tarantino even wrote the script to his films is irrelevant to impact it had on the film itself and its influence within pop culture.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

10 Most Anticipated Fall Films of 2014

10) Gone Girl / Insterstellar
Release Dates(s): Oct 3rd / Nov 7th
Directed By: David Fincher / Christopher Nolan
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, NPH, & Tyler Perry / Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, & Jessica Chastain
Excitement Level: 5

MY THOUGHTS ON THESE FILMS: I grouped Gone Girl and Interstellar together because these films: are made by the two best filmmakers of my generation, led by actors who were complete jokes five years ago, and both look boring as shit. If you didn't tell me who directed these films and just showed me the trailers, these films wouldn't even make my list. But David Fincher and Christopher Nolan will 100% get the benefit of the doubt, and because these men are extremely talented, I'm sure the films will truly be great. Gone Girl is based upon a book by Gillian Flynn, and both my mother and wife tell me it's phenomenal. Great source material + David Fincher's direction should equal genius movie, but these trailers sure don't make it seem that way.

Interstellar is not based off of anything but the brilliant mind of Christopher Nolan. While he is coming off of the first creative dud of his career since Insomnia (The Dark Knight Rises), Nolan easily has the best start to any directorial career ever with Memento, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and Inception. Nolan has an excellent eye for big budget science fiction, but if the movie is anything like the trailer, then Insterstellar will be Matthew McConaughey waxing poetic for two and a half hours. And despite the McConaissance, McConaughey's projects themselves have been up and down. Mud was solid but not great, The Wolf of Wall Sreet was incredible (although he's barely in it), The Dallas Buyers Club was just OK but it's fault lay with its indie budget and limited worldview, and True Detective is gorgeous and well-acted, but boring as shit. I just hope I don't say Interstellar is gorgeous and well-acted, but boring as shit.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Former Prosecutor's Take on Domestic Violence and Ray Rice

Ray Rice’s domestic violence situation has dominated the news this past week. There are so many different aspects to this story, but the one I want to focus on today is the non-NFL, legal side of this case. In May of this year, Rice entered into a plea bargain with the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. Rice would enter into a diversionary program to help with his anger issues as well as he needs to stay out of trouble for a year and in exchange, the prosecutor would drop all charges if Rice successfully completed his end of the deal. This pleaagreement was heavily criticized. Seemingly, everyone agreed this penalty was too lenient, with many clamoring that Rice deserved jail time.  Due to public outrage, this past week the NewJersey State Senate opened up an investigation into the Atlantic County prosecutor’soffice for how they handled Ray Rice’s case. I’ve read a lot of articles regarding Ray Rice, and none really delve into the nuance of his legal proceeding or domestic violence legal proceedings in general. I wanted to do that today and share my experiences as a prosecutor handling domestic violence cases.

To give you some of my qualifications, I am a licensed attorney in the State of Illinois and have been since November of 2012. During my last semester of law school, I interned at the local State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) in the domestic violence division.  After law school, I spent about a year working as a prosecutor in a small Illinois county. While working at that SAO, my job was essentially to prosecute everything that was not a felony (a felony is a crime which, if sentenced, could land you more than a year in jail). I prosecuted everything from dog bite cases to DUIs to, yes, domestic battery cases. I have since left that SAO and I am now working as a private criminal defense attorney. Oh, and I’m a huge NFL fan.