Begin Again Captures The Heart

Posted in Film-Addict Pieces with tags , , , on November 24, 2014 by dbuff82

Music and movies can make a great couple when the right filmmaker is at the controls. Music can elevate scenes inside a flick and take them to another place while transforming the film from a visual pleasure into something with feeling and emotion. John Carney provided audiences with a taste of this wicked combination with Once, a film about two Irish singers who fall in love during the production of an album. It was also about two lost souls coming together and using every ounce of ability they had in order to recapture their lives. Carney takes that easy going formula and broadens the horizons with Begin Again, a tremendously heartfelt film starring Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. He switches the locale from London to New York and inserts real life musicians Adam Levine and Ceelo Green into the fold.

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The plot is simple. Dan Mulligan(Ruffalo) is a down on his luck music producer and he is on the edge of dropping everything when he stumbles into a bar and hears Greta(Knightley) spinning an acoustic to a clearly uninterested bar of young souls. Carney is a genius here, as he shows Dan coming to the center of the room, drunk and staggering yet clearly inspired and feeling rejuvenated. Greta is simply sitting on a stool singing while producing some light rhythm with the guitar, but Dan sees the drums kicking up in his head and he pictures a cello and violin getting involved into the process. Right before our eyes, Carney is showing us how a simple page of lyrics and a voice can be the beginning of something special. As he tells Greta later, this is where greatness happens and one can see clearly. When you are your lowest point, drunk and seemingly out of options. Dan sees something in Greta and together, they do something nobody has done before. Create a live album around New York City. Everything else is icing on the cake.

The dialogue produced by Carney is spot on. It’s brutal, real and doesn’t ignore the cutthroat mindset that many people run into when working in the music industry. The cast handles it extremely well, with Hailee Steinfield, Catherine Keener, and Mos Def contributing solid supporting work along with Levine in a role that may not turn him into a movie star but reveals that there is more to him than Maroon 5. James Corden provides the epic comic relief as Greta’s friend from London who makes NYC seem a little less serious. Corden is a Tony Award winning performer and brings an array of abilities to the table.

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Journalistic Integrity Lives Here

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2014 by dbuff82

Last weekend, I woke up to a text from a friend. She said there was some commotion relating to a website I wrote for, Arch City Sports, and I needed to look into it. Once I saw the Twitter feed and the two fellow St. Louis Cardinals writers and friends talking about a certain article on ACS, I knew exactly what happened and what I had to do.

In this day and age, where a war wages on between print and digital journalism, page views are the new drug for websites. Page views above all else. I wrote for ACS for over a year and liked the flow of traffic my articles got. I liked the interaction I got on Facebook and the comments that grew from the reads. The page views weren’t bad either. However, last weekend, the question rose straight out of the ground. What is more important? Journalistic integrity or page views? If the answer takes more than one moment of thought to an honest and ambitious writer, stay away from keyboards and computers. When in doubt, my fellow hungry and unpaid reporters and prose dispensers, maintain a high amount of integrity.

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10 Reasons To See John Wick

Posted in Film-Addict Pieces on October 28, 2014 by dbuff82

Long live the unfiltered action film designed just for the junkies of the genre. I grew up on Stallone, Arnold and Van Damme policing my cinematic streets. I was 17 years old when Keanu Reeves starred in the Matrix, and the rumor is true. That film changed the way movie fans looked at and critiqued action films. Reeves and his stunt double from the Matrix trilogy, Chad Stahelski, have come together to make John Wick, a furiously fun action film that qualifies as the best knock em sock em exercise I have seen in 2014 and possibly the past few years. Directed with a reckless abandon and a need to resist the urge to be realistic, John Wick’s tale is simple. Wick is a retired hitman who is living peacefully away from a world that once knew him as being the most deadly killer around. When a group of thugs(morons) come into his life and take something very dear to him, he makes a comeback. That’s it.

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“John Wick isn’t the boogeyman. He is the man you send to kill the fucking boogeyman.”

Here are 10 reasons why you should see John Wick in theaters.

10) The film is 97 minutes long. A lean, mean and completely electrifying experience that doesn’t ask for too much of your time and doesn’t make you check your phone once. It’s like Wick himself. It gets to the point rather quickly and keeps moving like one of his bullets do as they are fired from his Smith and Weston handgun. This thing has one thing on its mind and that’s kicking ass. Long speeches and boring love stories have no place in this film except if it is a flashback.

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Gone Girl: Easier To Admire Than To Love

Posted in Film-Addict Pieces with tags , , , on October 23, 2014 by dbuff82
Review-Warning. You will leave Gone Girl mad as hell. It will get inside your head, crawl down into your nervous system and dance the jig around your heart and try to make it chilly inside.
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Gillian Flynn took her novel to the one director who could make this material sing and that was the brilliant David Fincher. The man doesn’t miss. He crafted classics with Seven, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network. He can do crime, dark comedy, uncomfortable sexual drama and elicit performances from actors few others can.
Gone Girl can’t be explained without giving away juicy plot details that need to be digested inside a theater and not on your IPhone at a bookstore. I can tell you this. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are perfectly cast as the greatest looking couple who carry a warehouse full of secrets that uncoil as the plot points and twists unfold on screen. They are Nick and Amy Dunne. A couple of New York writers who get rocked by the recession and drift apart when they move to Cape Girardeau. When she goes missing, he falls under the microscope of the local police, talk show hosts and the locals.
Affleck has always been a better actor than he has ever given credit for but he truly nails it here. He was born to play the well meaning yet weak in the knees Nick, who seems a little less worried about his missing wife than the usual husband. Nick is charming, speaks well, and doesn’t show harm but has a few secrets buried in his gut(pre-Batman Fleck body). Pike plays a number of personalities and this movie could be her coming out party as an actress or type cast her as the sweet blonde who rocked Fincher’s mystery. Carrie Coon is dynamite as Nick’s caring yet clingy sister. Tyler Perry puts the perfect shade of slick on the lawyer struggling to free Nick from potential doom. Kim Dickens is solid as the detective clearing the waters and Neil Patrick Harris is something entirely different than you’d expect playing a creepy dude from Amy’s past. The entire cast makes for a good ensemble and everybody gets their moments. In my eyes, Affleck nails his role the best but the cast as a whole is aces.
Trent Reznor’s score is perfectly gloomy and restrained, never overpowering the slow devil’s dance being transmitted by Fincher’s directing, Flynn’s writing and the cast’s flavor.
The only thing that kept me from loving this film was the ending. It will hit you in the gut and then the head. It pissed me off. Flynn stuck to her guns and kept the ending intact, but the result isn’t as golden as one would think. It just made me mad. I get the idea. When Law and Order is referenced and mocked early on in the film, I get the idea Fincher is going for. This plot won’t get tied up the way the audience wants it. Nice and tight? Nope. It’s going to be chilly and awkward, like a marriage slowly coming undone. That’s the effect and the goal. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

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How Do You Clean Your Head Out?

Posted in Uncategorized on October 19, 2014 by dbuff82

How exactly does one clear out the noise in their head?

I’ve asked this question since I started writing. I was 12 years old and wanted to write about baseball. I wasn’t a troubled kid but I had energy and a will to express myself that couldn’t work face to face. So I went to the page. I had terrible handwriting by the way. It was like reading coded letters from a guy with 2 fingers and floating in outer space. So I eventually found a keyboard and went to work. Life has never been the same since. I don’t just write to write because it’s fun starting at a computer screen. I write to clear the noise out of my head. There’s nothing more therapeutic for me than writing and drinking coffee. A hot cuppa joe and a way to exit the real world and just put something into words. But…it doesn’t always work.

Sometimes, the noise in your head is so loud that a physical activity is required. A run. A workout. A trip to the batting cages. Something to clear out the noise.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Let’s give it a try today because my head is so full that it could heat up a bag of corn.

The Cards are done and I am back to that normal feeling of having free time in the evening. A baseball schedule is gone. The everyday thought of where the game is and who is pitching and what will happen. With no offense to hockey or football, baseball players go at it daily. Hockey takes 3-5 off days and football is once a week. Pardon my letdown but it isn’t the same.

This is where movies come in though, right? Those 2 hour escapist exercises where you climb onto a tank with Brad Pitt or you stand between Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Durvall in a courtroom? Maybe you stay at home and go back to the 1930′s and hit up Boardwalk Empire or climb a ladder with Chicago Fire. Something right? Man those people look so clean and sharp even though they are supposed to be fighting fire, avoid gunfire or just waking up in bed. That can’t be real….

I know. I should go outside. Go to the park. Feel the fresh air on your face. Pick a pumpkin or apple. Take some pictures. Run around. Be cool and free. Take the kids. Be a family. Put up decorations. That might work too.

The existential crisis of all people is finding worth in every single day you are here. Some attach that to God. Some attach it to what happens on Earth(haven’t checked out Mars yet so I am sorry Mars people or things). What are we doing here? Are we doing it right? Once you have found something, how hard is it to keep it or do right by it? That is the noise in my head. Am I doing enough and am I doing it right?

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Does Protesting Really Work?

Posted in Random Fire with tags , on October 10, 2014 by dbuff82

I was inspired by a fine rant on Facebook from Jason Hall(go on there and search for him) and it made me tear into this subject. What is it about protests that makes people think they are changing things for the better? Disagree all you want but has something happened at a protest that has produced positive results on a terrible situation? If so, please provide the name and date.

This all started when Michael Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a police officer on duty. Everyone instantly(before reading any real facts about the incident) jumped to their conclusions and joined their side of the race wars. What happened to Brown was tragic(depending on whose account you read) but the idea of rioting, looting and turning a city into a black hole on the United States map couldn’t have been the logical answer to the injustice. What did that say about our city that whenever something bad happens, people don’t attempt to stop the crimes yet only increase it. I want to know what happened to my city and how it got so dark.

Soon enough, baseball games had protesters outside in the streets because that’s right, people going to see America’s National Past time will love to see people shouting and getting in their way. That’s great. Or, let’s stand next to I-70 and try to block traffic because every single protester there knows EXACTLY what happened between Brown and Wilson. Let’s just say that Wilson did mess up and pull the trigger and was wrong; Does that really mean torch the city, shout at others and neglect the justice system? No. That isn’t the right way. People write their own rules when it comes to protesting or responding to tragedy.

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The Fight For Equality Continues

Posted in Uncategorized on October 5, 2014 by dbuff82

It seems to me that the fight for equality in this world is a war that wages on throughout our lives. Long ago, African Americans simply wanted to live the same way as whites and other genders as one world and nation. There are incidents in Ferguson that have raised hands on the racial tension that still thrives today. No matter how hard a certain group of activists fought long ago, the war is still there, breathing. For me, it isn’t the only unfortunate fight. There is the same sex marriage debate that wages on. There is another terrible injustice being waged at this very moment. Equality among genders. A solidarity if you will. It is a fight that Emma Watson is taking upon herself to make right.

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I know what you are thinking. Here is some actress trying to soak up some headlines and get some feel good time with the world. Hey, look at me, I am a good person. I call bullshit on those people. All this does is tighten the lens on Watson’s career. You see, she thrives on the attention of men in her movies, so this could be a risk. A lot of men won’t like her movement. Trust me, there are a lot of males still living in the Mad Men age, “Draping up” relationships and marriages. Hey, ladies, do this and do that or else I am gone. That still happens here in 2014.

I stand up in the name of feminism. I think women deserve equal rights, in the workplace or the home or wherever the setting needs to be laid out. I was raised by two great parents, but my mother is a saint. She lives for her kids and she takes care of sick kids at Children’s Hospital. She also cares for my brother. I grew up around strong women. My grandmother, Henrieta or “Meme” as I called her, was a strong voice in my life. She preached patience, goodness in the soul and made sure I was a nice and gentle person. She fought off the hate in people when she was around them. My wife, Rachel, works 60 hours a week and is also a great mother to my three year old son, Vincent.

There isn’t equality for women in the workplace. This is the tip of the iceberg for the campaign. Men still make more money. I don’t really have to break out the numbers and scales for you.  For a lot of men that I have been around, this seems to be the way they want it.  The men make the dough an the women stay home. Screw that. I don’t see it that way. My wife makes more money than me and there isn’t anything wrong with it. As long as my son is taken care of and a roof stands over our heads, I can keep breathing and walking. You don’t need to measure pride up against survival to get the point here.

I take a certain pride in knowing my wife can dominate a male driven market, and that is sales. Give it a name. Car sales. House sales. Computer sales. My wife sells tile and is making a name for herself in an industry dominated by men. I am proud of my wife. I don’t need to sleep comfy at night thinking my writing and warehouse work are just as strong. Why is it in life that men and women have to be measured in terms of who is better at something? Why not find the best person, male or female, for a job instead of judging it on gender? That’s still a problem.

Racism was a huge problem. Same sex marriage still has a problem winning over the religious folks because the invisible man they believe in told them it’s wrong. Gender Equality doesn’t seem too hard to understand but today, it is still an issue.

HeForShe doesn’t just speak about women in the workplace. It stands for all violence and abuse towards girls and women. There’s simply too much of it. You don’t have to know who Ray Rice is to know about domestic abuse towards women. It happens every hour of every day. What’s wrong here? Why is there still so much violence towards women? Don’t ask Stephen Smith about this.

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