The Buffa Bullet Round

These are my favorite kind of Doses.  In the past year, I have tried to give more structure to this blog and not fire out random bullet rounds every time.  I scatter them around now and put together more direct one topic posts.

I am growing as a writer and while that is a scary concept to some I try to engage it as often as I can.  This morning, I come to you with both hands loaded and ready to fire out an old school random shot bullet round.  Unfiltered and blunt.

Here we go.  I am going to try and stop at 1,500 words but I make no promises.

  • Look at those St. Louis Cardinals.   Within a month, John Mozelaik turned the defensive liability birds into a fine group of defenders.   He added speed to the lineup and a master class center fielder in Peter Bourjos.  He can track anything and doesn’t have a Jon Jay noodle arm.   Mark Ellis is your veteran better hitting Daniel Descalso.  He can play 2B and 3B and offer the veteran leadership out of the clubhouse as well as serve as a bench bat.  Mo added pop to shortstop by bringing in Jhonny Peralta, whose defensive abilities aren’t as bad as some suspect.   Sure, we lost Beltran, but we gained a hulk in Matt Adams playing more at first base with Allen Craig moving to right field until Oscar Taveras is officially ready.   We improved at 2 defensive positions and added firepower to another.  All before Thanksgiving.  Happy New Year Cardinals.  No spring training hot deals this time.
  • While I like Shane Robinson more as a bench player than Jay, he is essentially the same type of player(less) than Bourjos.  Jay is a LH bat so he will stay.  If this is indeed the end, thanks Sugar Shane for being the scrappiest bitch on the lot.
  • The St. Louis Blues are showing some real heart near the end of 2013.  Without their top scorer in Alex Steen and their big tough guy/4th line grinder Ryan Reaves as well as other parts, The Blues pulled off impressive wins over the Blackhawks and Stars this weekend.   Each game was up in the air and the Blues came back from a 3-1 deficit against Chicago and recovered from blowing a 2-0 lead in Dallas.  This is a big reason why I think we may not fuck this up come playoff time.  This team has serious resilience.
  • I talked enough about the Rams yesterday but once again, 2014 looks exciting.  You’ve heard it before but don’t forget to notice the improvement.  14 wins in past 2 after 15 wins in the previous 5 seasons.    A fresh and healthy Sam Bradford, who has been on fire since Week 9 of the 2012 season.   A real deal running back in Zac Stacy.   Chris Givens and Brian Quick in their 3rd seasons.  Tavon Austin in his 2nd.  Alec Ogletree in his 2nd.  Jake Long and Roger Saffold are back.  Robert Quinn and Chris Long terrorizing opposing linemen, tight ends and quarterbacks.   Next year could be fun.
  • The Wolf of Wall Street is very much worth your time.  It is a cinemac Quaalude and one wild experience.  And it’s true.  People are attacking the film for turning real life rise and fall stock broker Jordan Belfort(who made Gekko look like a patron Saint) into a not so horrible person for 3 hours.   HEY PEOPLE, it’s the fucking movies.  Get with it.  Stop thinking so much.   This is the same crowd who nitpicks other movies.  It’s a cinematic experience.  No one wanted to see a boring dreary stock broker flick.  We wanted Scorsese draped in dark humor and got it.  WHAMO!
  • Don’t rent We’re The Millers on DVD.  Look up nude pictures of Jennifer Aniston instead.    Same pleasure.   That flick isn’t funny.
  • Rent Elysium but don’t expect District 9.  Neil Blomkamp directed both films and creates more action adventure escapism here.  The Matt Damon as a bald badass science fiction flick isn’t first class filmmaking but involves some heavy duty action sequences and a decent ending.   I wasn’t floored by it but recommend it.
  • Skip R.I.P.D. and keep in mind I didn’t even see it but the cover of the flick screams, “Bridges and Reynolds really want you to watch their turd of a film”.  It’s cinematic charity.   DON’T and say you didn’t.
  • Rent Prisoners.  The film is on my top 10 list easy but beware.  This child kidnapping flick will drain you and stick with you for days.   Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal are phenomenal and deserve award recognition but the film is 2.5 hours and weary.   Great films take a loan out on your soul for a matter of days before returning you back to 100 percent.  Prisoners is one of those movies.  Spellbinding filmmaking.
  • Rent Fast & Furious 6 if you want an exhilarating experience at the movies.   Turn off your realism levels and enjoy this smash mouth car flick and one of Paul Walker’s final rides. Enjoy The Rock and Diesel turning muscle heads into gods.  Enjoy Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez engage in the best girl fight of the past 10 years.  And stick around for the credits to see a tease of Fast 7 and here’s a hint.  It’s got one of my favorite action heroes going bad.
  • Rent Drinking Buddies because it’s the most honest romantic comedy in years and features great work from a game cast in Olivia Wilde(more than a sexy face), Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston.   90 minutes and heartfelt.
  • 24/7 on HBO is so good.  Hockey or boxing, it’s all good.  Don’t deny it.  Right now, it’s the NHL Winter Classic buildup between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.  The series that started as a boxing match only series is now doing hockey and forced Showtime into doing their own baseball series with The Franchise.  With Liev Schreiber narrating, this series takes you behind the scenes of players lives.
  • Coincidentally, 24/7 Hockey is where I discovered my current music crush, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.   Three years ago, when the Caps were taking on the Penguins at Heinz Field, I heard BRMC perform “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo” and “Weapon Of Choice” and was mesmerized by this bluesy style of rock.   I now own a ton of their tunes and add to the collection weekly.  Great band.  I will be writing a music spotlight on them for New Year’s Day.
  • By the way, that could be one of my final pieces for at least a week.   Trying to do a cleanse(except for breaking news and occasional film-addict repost) of social media and overall writing for at least for a week.   Need to clear the head, read a book or two and focus on starting a new job hopefully.  So after I post about the BRMC on Wednesday,  I am probably stepping down for a week.  Closing the pharmacy for a mental reload.
  • Stay at home dad work isn’t good, bad or ugly.  It’s tiring and satisfying in more ways than one.   While being out of work sucks, hanging with my little man has a ton of virtue.  Then there is just the overall routine of the day.   Cleaning, laundry, chaos, writing, applying for jobs and lots of coffee and working out.
  • I have two films to see before I craft my top 10 movie list for 2013.  The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Her.
  • Also, HBO Sports uses the absolute BEST music.  Diverse mix of tunes.  Check out their site for more selections.
  • Banshee starts in 11 days.  I posted a spotlight on it on FA and will throw it up here Friday.  That does qualify as a REPOST.
  • By the way, watch that show.  Like now.  10 hours.  One season.  GO!
  • I am still part of the crowd that wants to see Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight.  Sure, both promoters get in the way and each fighter has changed(Pac declined a little) but for fight fans this is still game.  Pac hasn’t lost a lot and has only changed.   He easily beat Brandon Rios and if he avenges Timothy Bradley in 2014, a Floyd fight makes sense.   You can disagree but these two fighter’s resumes look incomplete if they don’t clash.
  • Miguel Cotto should leave Sergio Martinez alone and take that 10 million and go fight Canelo Alvarez in NYC.  Cotto is coming off a quick knockout, has a new trainer and looks fresh.   Sergio is game but I think Canelo is the better fight.
  • More boxing notes.  Ruslan Provodnikov will kill Rios if that fight happens.  The Siberian Rocky is badass.   Think of Ivan Drago and Rocky Balboa put together and you have Ruslan Provodnikov.
  • The job hunt isn’t bad until you get offered 10 dollar per hour jobs 40 minutes away from you home.  Then you start looking towards going back to certain places you didn’t want to return to.  That’s life.  As Frank Sinatra famously sang, when you are shot down in April and knocked down in May, you just got to change the tune.
  • As I always do, I will root for Peyton Manning to get that 2nd ring this January.  He is my favorite player and a guy I think is 1 ring away from being the best QB of all time if not top 3.  If he wins, he’s there.   2 rings, 2 teams,  4 neck surgeries in between and a regular season resume that is electric.  Look at his work this year on one leg.  54 touchdown passes.  Suck it Brady.  Oh yeah, and Manning will do it clean.  No spygate.  Still, Peyton will have his work cut out for him.   NFL playoffs turn into a gladiator sport.  Go Broncos!
  • Speaking of Denver, Ex-Bronco Tim Tebow is joining ESPN as an SEC analyst during the bowl games.  Good for him.  He has a lot to offer the sport as a voice alone and can keep his NFL dream alive while staying close to the game.  He is an easy guy to root for.
  • What else?  Happy New Year!  Please don’t drink and drive.   Car insurance agencies are offering free tows and a ride home.  If you don’t have car insurance, some friend does.  Take it.  Don’t put your life at risk for a meaningless party because it’s a New Year.  It’s just another day.  Trust me.  Your own anniversary is your birthday.  Take it easy.  Have some fun.  Be safe.  You will need your upcoming doses to stay sane.

Thanks for reading and have a good day.

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Dan Buffa is the co-creator, administrator and writer for the movie website, film-addict.com. He also writes for the local blog United Cardinal Bloggers in addition to Arch City Sports and also writes for his personal blog, http://www.doseofbuffa.com.   He is a STL born and raised writer with a need to inform and the ability to pound out 1,000-1,500 word pieces with ease.  When he isn’t writing or drinking coffee, he is spending time with his wife and son in South City.  Follow him at @buffa82 on Twitter and reach him for thoughts, comments and general feedback at buffa82@gmail.com.

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The Rams Raw Talent Defines 2013

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Another year in the books and another year of watching another team not named the Rams in the playoffs.  It is perfectly civil to be disappointed with the Rams for finishing 7-9 and at least in record alone, finishing worst than last season.   Just do me a favor and don’t be ashamed or disgusted.   Sure, these Rams are young, dumb and full of attitude and aggression.  That spilled out over Sunday’s finale in Seattle, as the NFC champ Seahawks took our little dudes to school in a place where very few opposing teams leave with head held high.  The Rams got whopped 27-9 and got a lesson in where they are at in the current rebuilding mode.   I’ll break down what I saw and what happens going forward.

Listening around Twitter and other internet sites, certain minds would have it that the Rams were supposed to play the upset card and win the NFC West this season.   I personally picked them to go 9-7 and when Sam Bradford went down, I would have bet on a 5-11 finish.   In the end, Kellen Clemens stepped in, Jeff Fisher and Brian Schottenheimer revamped the offensive game plan and Zac Stacy solidified the Rams rushing attack enough to steal games from the Colts, Bears and Saints to win 7 games.

In a disappointing season, look at the bright sides.  The Rams were 3-4 when Bradford went down in towards the end of week 7, and we went 4-3 down the stretch instead of tanking completely.  Clemens played well and should return as the backup if another team doesn’t scoop him up.  Stacy rushed as good as any RB in the league over the last 9 games and defensive end Robert Quinn well, he basically dismantled opposing linemen and made them look like Pop Warner victims.   7-9 is nothing to celebrate but it is highly important that Rams fans put that record into perspective.

When Fisher took over for the Rams before the 2012 season, the home team had gone 15-65 in the previous 5 seasons.  We were horrible, except for the miraculous soft scheduled 2010 where we went 7-9 and nearly made it into the playoffs.   When Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney left Rams Park, the building may as well been on fire.  Fisher and new general manager Les Snead took custody of an NFL franchise corpse.  After 15 wins in 5 seasons, Fisher has led this team to 14 wins in 2 seasons.  Please, pretty please with sugar on top, don’t forget about that as you drown yourself in depression this week as the New Year brings the well known phrase “maybe next year” to our minds.

The Rams aren’t built to win divisions or Super Bowls right now.  We are built to improve.   Get better.   Reach higher every season.   After going 2-14 two years ago, trust me, I am not asking the Rams to overtake the 49ers and Seahawks(who faced off for the NFC championship in January) any time soon.   It was dismal to see our team play 1-5 against the division this year, but keep in mind those last three games came without our starting QB and on the road.    When we faced San Francisco the first time, the offense was mired in a pass heavy attack without a real running back at the helm.   The one win we managed, against Arizona at home, came directly from our defense’s ability to break down Carson Palmer and that slowly forming Cardinals attack.

Sports is hard to follow without putting things into perspective.  One Rams fan told me last night I sounded like a Cubs fan when defending the Rams season.   I could have quickly uttered the word “Titanic” and put done with it but I broke it down again instead.   The Rams are rebuilding under Jeff Fisher.  That is a fact and can’t be forgotten.  His regime is exiting just its second season with this rebuilt vehicle.

The stupid penalties in the first 8 games and especially on Sunday in Seattle, come from a raw young talented team.   There is no excuse to make a tackle after the opposing player gets 15 yards on you and pump your chest because you made a good tackle and prevented him from  getting the other 55 yards and a score.  Those things will be smoothed out or the players involved will be reassigned to practice squads in Earth City where if you beat your chest, comparisons to gamblers at Ameristar Casino are made.

This is Sam Bradford’s team.  Let me say that loud and clear.   Clemens was fine and did his job but let’s not coin him the answer.  He won 4 games with the Rams and Bradford won 3 but that is where the pros end.  Clemens benefited from a new system and a fresh legged running back.  Schotty and Fisher had Bradford throwing the ball 38, 55, 48 and 41 times in the first 4 weeks of the season.   Clemens threw the ball over 35 times once in his 9 starts and that came against SF on the road in a blowout.  Bradford didn’t have Stacy for most of the first 6 weeks.  He had Darryl Richardson and barely an attack to give him any chance on the passing attack.   Bradford threw 14 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions with opposing defense aiming in on him.  3 of the 4 INT were tipped.  Sam played very well in the second half of last season after the playbook was switched up and the Red Zone efficiency magically improved.   He continued that assault this season, moving an offense that wasn’t ready to thrive yet.  Imagine if Sam is around when Tavon Austin is fully utilized and mobile with Stacy on the ground as well?  That’s 2014 looking at you.

Be mad.  Go ahead.  It’s appropriate.   Say you won’t show up to games next year.  Beg the team to use their #2 or #3 draft pick on college quarterback Jameis Winston.  All is relative these days to the usual outcry of fans and neither statement is stupid.   The Rams finishing 7-9 isn’t eye popping great but put into perspective of their rebuilding mode and looking at the loss of Bradford nearly halfway through, the season wasn’t a total loss and nearly could have better.

Imagine if we don’t flop the entire first quarter in Atlanta and get a win there.   What if we don’t cough up that game to Seattle at home with the win a yard away with seconds left?  What if we don’t give that game to the Titans at home?   Same as last year, where we lost close games to Tampa and Detroit and let a win in San Francisco get away.   The Rams revamped their offense halfway into last season, just like this year, so hopefully there is one solidified plan that can go throughout 2014.

Sure, the division play won’t get any easier.  Arizona played well enough for a playoff spot but got denied and the 49ers and Seahawks will chase The Lombardi trophy again.  The Rams will have to earn every single win they get in the West, but they will be better tasked to do so next year.  After a draft where the Rams could trade down and double their top picks and free agency, the Rams will start 2014 with a set offense and hopefully an improved secondary.    Some of the youthful arrogance will wear off the younger players.   Alec Ogletree will only get better.   Chris Long will continue to manhandle quarterbacks.   Brian Quick, Austin, Chris Givens, Stedman Bailey and Jared Cook will settle in.  The Rams double boot combo of Greg Zuerlein and Johnny Hecker will be back.  Stacy and Cunningham will be ready to shoulder the running load and may mix in some hyper speed with Richardson in the mix.  “Earth, Wind and Fire” Part 2?

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Oh, I didn’t forget Robert Quinn.  That would be like forgetting about Zeus in the talk of immortal Gods.  With apologies to Stacy, the player to watch all season was this mad dog defensive end who won’t leave the mind of every tackle who had to bend their fingers back and twist their wrists trying to stop him.  Quinn got 19 sacks on the season and that came with getting held, strangled and double teamed by every single team.   If he had gotten a couple more calls, you could have easily seen 20 if not 25 sacks from Quinn, the parting gift #13 pick from Spags and Devaney before they left.  Quinn forced 7 fumbles and recovered 2.   He was adept at stopping the run.   He disrupted offenses every play.   He has played all but 1 game in his first three seasons, gathering up 34.5 sacks.  The North Carolina man child is doing very well and deserves the Defensive Player of the Year.  Need proof?  Ask quarterbacks and/or offensive linemen if they’d rather deal with throwing towards Richard Sherman or holding off Quinn.   That answer should be easy.

All in all, I am proud of what the Rams accomplished in 2013, when looked at over all 16 games and when taking into account the setbacks.  It wasn’t always pretty and could have been better, but having seen what the fanbase dealt with from 2007-2011, I will take it.   And I am especially excited for what should come in 2014 and beyond.

Photo Credits(Respectively)-fansided.com, bleacherreport.com
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Dan Buffa is the co-creator, administrator and writer for the movie website, http://www.film-addict.com. He also writes for the local blog United Cardinal Bloggers in addition to Arch City Sports.  He also writes for his personal blog, http://www.doseofbuffa.com.   He is a STL born and raised writer with a need to inform and the ability to pound out 1,000-1,500 word pieces with ease.  When he isn’t writing or drinking coffee, he is spending time with his wife and two year old son in South City.  Follow him at @buffa82 on Twitter and reach him for thoughts, comments and general feedback at buffa82@gmail.com.

The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese At His Best

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Since a colleague of mine wrote an official review for the film on my site, film-addict.com, I get to come here and dish my take on the film.   There will be no rating, info or trailer.  Just the plot and my take on a new film.  A Dose of Buffa movie special if you will.   My review of The Wolf of Wall Street.

For more movie news, reviews and sophisticated take on the world of cinema, head over to my site, film-addict.com.  I hope you enjoyed this Dose of Buffa special movie review.

“Multimillionaire by 26.  Convict by 36.”

SETUP-Name any legendary Scorsese flick and it features a narration that creates the spine of the film.  The Wolf of Wall Street follows that to the tee here with Leonardo DiCaprio providing the life lesson of stock broker shark maniac Jordan Belfort, a real life tycoon who bleed money from regular folk and corporations for years before going up in a puff of macho smoke.   Here, I provide my take on a movie that I carried great expectations to, and left feeling transported.

MY TAKE-Scorsese’s latest is a wildly intoxicating true story that gains relevance due to the involvement of Belfort with the film and to the truly electric performances from the cast.  One of the least mentioned strengths of Marty’s movies are the veins of brutally funny comedy that run through them.  He hasn’t fully explored it since his earlier work, but in the Wolf, he puts it on the center stage for us to admire and get lost in.   This is a 3 hour drug induced bender that you will get swallowed up by.   While it isn’t for the faint of heart, Wolf takes you on a thrill ride that has humor, balls, guts, and brains.   In order to clearly break the brilliance of this film down level by level, I will provide you with a list of reasons why this film is worth seeing over other worthy contenders such as American Hustle, Out of the Furnace and Inside Llewyn Davis.  

1.)The performance of leading man Leonardo DiCaprio.   There isn’t a smarter actor working in the business at the moment.   Since 2002, the man hasn’t missed a beat and by his side the entire time has been Scorsese.   The duo are a match made in storytelling heaven, and this marks their finest collaboration.   It beats The Departed based solely on the true story behind the madness.  And DiCaprio takes the filthy role and runs with it.  As great as the entire cast is, the film belongs to DiCaprio at all times. This character isn’t unlike some of his previous work, but has signature blends of crazy all to his own.   Leo’s magic is sitting there on screen without any prosthetic or supreme weight loss and becoming these characters in front of our eyes nearly by osmosis.  It’s a spectacular performance and one that should garner an Oscar nomination.   He has given nothing but amazing performances since the first Scorsese film he did(Gangs of New York) and the risk, stakes and expectations keep climbing and it’s almost as if DiCaprio has to keep doing this to make it worthwhile.  Belfort is a decrepit law breaking drug addict bastard, but DiCaprio keeps your attention with the depth at which he travels to bring the man’s world wind life back to the big stage.  He also handles narrating duties as good as if not better than Ray Liotta did in Goodfellas.  You never know where he is going next or how he will get there, but the actor has us hooked, like the drugs Belfort spends 85 percent of the film snorting up his nose or tossing down his throat.  It’s ballsy, go for broke and completely insane.  And it’s awesome.

2.)Scorsese and his magic.  If it isn’t the mad as hell stock broker depiction, it’s the majestic confidence that he works with from behind the camera.   An attention to detail filmmaking freak, you can feel and hear Marty all over this flick.  Watching the broker scenes, it’s like watching lions fighting over raw meat in a den.  If Mad Men turned regular ad men into rock stars of the 1960’s, Scorsese paints these brokers as the kings of the 1980’s and 90’s.    He picks the right music, stages the scene just right, and isn’t afraid to be a little more outrageous than the source material.   He is a legend because he directs like one and doesn’t waste our time.

3.)Jonah Hill will be nominated for his work here as Belfort’s second in command and clinically insane Donnie Azoff.   A well known comedy guy, Hill is an underrated actor, even after nabbing a nomination for Moneyball.  His work here involves a darker brand of comedy than he has ever done and he handles it like a pro.  Wearing fake teeth, working a NYC accent and walking with the abbreviated confidence of an awkwardly built made man, Hill fully inhabits the troubled Azoff, who was also on set to help with the prep for the character.

4.)Terrence Winter deserves the Oscar for adapted screenplay.   There are so many sequences that are award worthy.   From the speeches of Belfort, to a Quaalude induced scene of hilarity involving DiCaprio and Hill that will get anybody laughing to a tense faceoff between DiCaprio and co-star Kyle Chandler.  Winter, head writer on The Sopranos and creator/writer of Boardwalk Empire, knows this territory very well.   Bad men doing evil deeds and painting their lives with the riches they steal and covet.  It’s a mad world and Winter is made to write about it.   He and Scorsese worked hard to bring Boardwalk back to life, and they soak themselves in Belfort’s tale to get it right.  Winter’s script is fantastic and deserves attention.

5.)Matthew McConaughey keeps his unbeatable streak alive here with a brief yet pivotal and completely hilarious part as Belfort’s mentor and Darth Vader father like escort to the dark side, Mark Hanna.  In three scenes, McConaughey makes a strong attempt at stealing the film but he takes all of his scenes, including one atop a skyscraper where he lays down the jungle like tactics of brokerage to the wet behind the ears yet ambitious Jordan.   McConaughey has become so adept at tweaking his Southern charm just enough to give his characters a little more of an edge.  If he is nominated for this and Dallas Buyers Club, I won’t dispute it because of what he is able to accomplish in such little screen time.  DiCaprio and Hill are amazing but have the entire 3 hours to roll around in it.   MM spends about 8 minutes here and floors you.  Well done, and just keep on working there Lone Star.

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6.)Jon Bernthal deserves more work.  His supporting work here as a key pawn in the Belfort enterprise is funny, terrifying, real, and most of all, memorable.  Kudos to him for pulling it off.   He did his best to pick up dead weight material in this month’s Grudge Match and helped enliven the tale of Los Angeles gangsters on TNT’s Mob City, but here he is in his comfort zone playing a man whose testosterone count was only outran by his loyalty.

7.)The soundtrack is electric, with the multiple genres being worked into the film but blues and rock as the usual dominating sounds in a Scorsese film.  Only Quentin Tarantino laces his film with more fitting music.

8.)As noted, the involvement of Belfort and others here helps the plot and makes sure the book doesn’t get lost in the film.   There’s real teeth to this story because of the time period Belfort dominated and the effect he had on the world of stock after his fall.   I strongly suggest picking up the book this film is taken from and giving it a few reads.   Love or hate the guy, but respect the fact that he is a self made man and successfully(at least to certain degree) beat the system until his own greed swallowed him whole.

9.)The breakout star here is the lovely Margot Robbie, an Australian actress who rocks a Brooklyn accent and steals a few scenes of her own on tenacity and looks alone.  Scorsese always installs his films with a strong female character and playing Belfort’s main lady here, Robbie burns a hole in your memory with her oatmeal skin and painful beauty and impresses you with her ability to hold her own opposite DiCaprio at the top of his game.  A scene near the end of the film where everything starts to come loose sees the actress go through the entire range of human emotion and it’s sight to see.  Her work isn’t Oscar worthy, but it’s worth remembering.

10.)The film isn’t without a few flaws.  The length does wear on you at times and a few cuts could have been made.  The excess of the drug usage was probably real but it also gets kind of old by the 2 hour mark.  These little kinks don’t leave a dent in this Wolf’s armor.  There aren’t a lot of characters to feel fond of in this flick but if there is one it is Chandler’s FBI agent, who gets a nice ode in the last couple of scenes.  Scorsese doesn’t pull any punches here and it doesn’t always work.  However, the film is still a brilliant must watch thrill ride that will have you laughing at the depravity of these characters and thinking about it afterwards because it really did happen and the end of the film circles right back to the beginning in fine fashion.

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Photo Credit-(collider.com)

The Wolf of Wall Street is filmmaking at a grand level, and I expect all involved to be nominated.   Whatever flaws it carries are outdone by the fearless work of Scorsese, DiCaprio, Hill, MM, and Winter.  This filmmaking at a high level and the rare 3 hour film that can be enjoyed on multiple trips to the theater.    Some stories are tailored towards a certain filmmaker and crew.    Wolf reminds you why even movies about the most criminally flawed and depraved people can still create magic if they fall into the right hands.  With Scorsese and DiCaprio on board, The Wolf of Wall Street is a wild trip worth taking.

For more Film-Addict movie reviews, go this page.  http://film-addict.com/news-and-reviews/a-dose-of-buffa

For Landon Burris’ take on Wolf, check it out here.  http://film-addict.com/news-and-reviews/a-dose-of-buffa/item/2299-the-wolf-of-wall-street

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Dan Buffa is the co-creator, administrator and writer for the movie website, film-addict.com. He also writes for the local blog United Cardinal Bloggers in addition to Arch City Sports and also writes for his personal blog, http://www.doseofbuffa.com.   He is a STL born and raised writer with a need to inform and the ability to pound out 1,000-1,500 word pieces with ease.  When he isn’t writing or drinking coffee, he is spending time with his wife and son in South City.  Follow him at @buffa82 on Twitter and reach him for thoughts, comments and general feedback at buffa82@gmail.com.

2013 St. Louis Cardinals: Top 5 Stories

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There comes that time of the year where you need to look back on a season and count the topical story lines that resonated with you.   Big or small, personal or professional, it is one’s job to put their own spin on a story and how it surprised them or brought them closer to the sport.   This season, the St. Louis Cardinals made it to the World Series and came within 2 wins of their 12th World Championship.

This is a season where we saw unlikely players turn into star performers.  Before the new year came into focus, the Cards were hoping on Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia to be key starters, for Jason Motte to be their closer and for Rafael Furcal to make a miraculous comeback from an elbow injury to play shortstop.   In short, that didn’t happen.  None of that happened.  With the exception of Garcia making a few starts, those players ended up contributing nothing.   This is where miracle workers came into play.

Nearly two months after the sting of that near victorious run ended, I look back at the top 5 stories, in no particular order, from 2013.

1.)The Emergence of Matt Carpenter

With Furcal gone, Matt Carpenter turned in one of the most historically prominent seasons by a second baseman, made all the more legendary with it coming from a first time lead off man and second baseman.   Carpenter ranked in the top 5 in the league in hits, doubles, on base percentage, and runs scored.  With his 55 doubles, 199 hits and 126 runs scored, Carpenter did more fill a role and spot in the lineup.  He took ownership of it.  Before the season, Carpenter had been a fine bench player in 2012 but no one expected him to become the league wide threat he was in 2013.  This is another great find, sign and put to use piece of talent by the Cardinals coaches and front office.  While incoming talent like Kolten Wong and Peter Bourjos might make fine leadoff men, it will be hard to push Carpenter from that spot in 2014.

2.)Edward Mujica Rescues the Closer Role

Sure he flamed out in September, but let’s not forget what Edward Mujica did for the Cardinals.   When the fire alarm sounded in April with Motte’s Tommy John Surgery and Mitchell Boggs’ implosion, the Cards had a serious problem.   They didn’t have a closer and saw limited options in house.  Instead of making a desperate premature move on the market, the Cards looked to a guy they signed to be their 7th inning guy in 2012 and had never closed before.   All Eddie did was convert 37 of 41 saves while only walking 5 hitters in 64.2 innings.   Sure, he wasn’t as effective in September when a few injuries and harder contact from the hitters doomed his season and saw a change happen in the final week of the season.  However, far too many Cards fans forget to mention what this guy did for the team in a dire time.  While Trevor Rosenthal was the imminent revelation, what Mujica did took everyone by surprise.   All hail the Chief and good luck to him in Cleveland.

3.)Waino Finds His Way Back

After a tumultuous return from Tommy John Surgery in 2012, where he went 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA and was inconsistent, the staff ace found his way back to the circle of domination in 2013.  He went 19-9, made 34 starts, pitched 241. innings(not including the playoffs) and tallied 5 complete games with 2 shutouts.   He returned to being the dynamic rotation horse we have come to know him as.  After signing a huge contract extension, Waino didn’t cool off and become ordinary.  He went back to being extraordinary for a St. Louis Cardinals team that lost two prominent starters before the All Star Break.   After a rough early September start against the Reds, Waino finished the final month 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA.  In 2013, the Cards got their ace back.

4.)Michael Wacha and Matt Adams Became Real Deals

These two players turned into big time contributors in a time of need in 2013 and provided only a sample size of the rookie renaissance that happened with this team.  Wacha came up for the second time in late August and entered the rotation for good in September.   What Wacha did will never be forgotten.  His brilliance lies in the ability he showed to shut down good team more than once in such a short period of time.  His work against the Pirates and Dodgers in the playoffs, which followed a near no hitter against Washington in September, is why people are calling him the hybrid of Waino and Chris Carpenter.  Wacha, who was selected with the pick from the Angels in exchange for their signing of Albert, went from big potential to the real deal in less than a season.  Expect big things from him in 2014 and beyond.

Adams took over at first base for an injured Allen Craig in early September after providing bench pop and gave the lineup a real boost.   Adams took flight in the same game he relieved Craig, on September 4th in Cincinnati.  He launched a pair of 2 run home runs, each in extra innings and the second of which won the game in the 16th frame.  In 296 at bats in 2013, Adams hit 17 home runs and drove in 56 with a slugging percentage of .503.   He also proved to be quite nimble at first base.  With him in line for starting time come 2014, Adams gives the Cards potentially one of the best RH-LH combos at a position in a long time.  However it pans out, Matt Adams became a legit threat in 2013 after teasing us mildly in 2012.

5.)Thank You Carlos Beltran

When he was signed in the winter of 2011(or mere days after Albert signed with LA), Cardinal fans didn’t know what to expect out of Beltran.   Sure, he was the former Houston Astros outfielder who torched us in 2004-05 with big hits but this guy looked like he was breaking down and the chances of him staying healthy were sketchy at best.   What happened was too good of a story to believe at first glance, as Beltran ripped 56 home runs, drove in 181 runners, and hit .282 over the two seasons.  Most importantly, he played in 296 of a possible 324 games.  He answered the call of duty and then some in his time in St. Louis.   In the playoffs in each season, Beltran was the Cards top hitter.  While he had months where he slumped, Beltran always came back with a vengeance and gave the Cards one of the most feared arms in the outfield.   “Saved By the Beltran” became a coin phrase in the latter moments of 2013 as he gunned down runners at the plate and hit timely home runs.   He was a great presence in the community and also a strong presence in the clubhouse.  He will be missed in 2014 but I wish him luck in his endeavors and thank him for making the departure of Albert Pujols look seamless.

That’s all I got.  Sure, there were other great stories, but those 5 stood out to me.   Those 5 things were so important to us getting there.  Yadi Molina was amazing again and MVP worthy.  Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness and Rosenthal became bullpen bulldogs.  Matt Holliday provided another solid season.   Craig was amazing before his injury and played on one leg in the playoffs as he contributed a few big hits.   Mike Matheny juggled injuries, problems, raw talent and ever changing circumstances as good as any manager in the league.   A lot of things happened this season that were important and good.  The 5 stories I listed above were the best in my mind.  Take it for what it is.

Photo Credit-www.newsday.com 

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Dan Buffa is the co-creator, administrator and writer for the movie website, film-addict.com. He also writes for the local blog United Cardinal Bloggers in addition to Arch City Sports and also writes for his personal blog, http://www.doseofbuffa.com.   He is a STL born and raised writer with a need to inform and the ability to pound out 1,000-1,500 word pieces with ease.  When he isn’t writing or drinking coffee, he is spending time with his wife and son in South City.  Follow him at @buffa82 on Twitter and reach him for thoughts, comments and general feedback at buffa82@gmail.com.

Music Spotlight: PAINT ME LUCID

imageedit_1_8852415356When it comes to good old fashioned music that involves a heartfelt dose of storytelling soul, it is best to keep things simple.   Three guys take the stage, pour their heart out on it and leave it there for the fans to soak up and lift their own evening up.   In a day and age where excess can bog down good music and Miley Cyrus is busy licking poles or Lady Gaga is transforming into her 15th alter ego, simple songwriting and guitar play wrapped around lead vocals is a much needed dose for the music loving crowd.

Enter Paint Me Lucid, a Boston, Massachusetts group that was originally comprised of two men, Thomas Moore and Joe Jones.   On their Facebook page, the description of their music is quite simple and defines their intentions.   “Two guitars, two sweet voices, making music, I think we are a band.”  You might notice you didn’t hear any complications or advanced stage work in that description.  Just rust, bone and old school tunes.

In a style that mixes elements of MGMT, Alt-J, and Dr. Dog, Moore and Jones deliver acoustic gems that slowly inhabit your mind and stick around for a while.   Checking out their home page on Reverb, where album covers, pictures and singles exist for your pleasure, you get the sense that this is a independent production financed completely on raw ambition and not due to instruction.  These two guys decided to be musicians and didn’t just enlist for it.  That’s the great thing about music.  You don’t just play it.  You have to create it first.

Clicking on the track, To The Moon, and the first 35 seconds of the song basically covers a slow building acoustic guitar followed by a melody that brings to mind Blind Melon or early Pearl Jam Unplugged.  Whatever the opposite of phony and fake is, Moore and company are chasing it here.  “Down In The Valley”, “Sounds” and “Good month’s sleep” follow the same method of tipping your attention just enough to hook you in with the comfortable melodies of their music.

Check it out for yourself at http://www.reverbnation.com/paintmelucid

Find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PaintMeLucid

Hear their music right here at https://www.youtube.com/paintmelucid

They are prepping the release of their second album for 2014, and have tracks “Death” available to listen to from the EP they released in June, named Water Color.  They have since added a third member to the band by the name of Malcolm Samuel.   Moore and Jones each handle guitar/vocals depending on the song and Samuel will be bringing something new to their sound on 2014’s album.  New singles like “100th time today” are on the album and  will be released in the coming weeks.

This is a band with big time intentions in the world of music and a group that will depend on its following and new listeners to give them that proper push to the promised land.

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Dan Buffa is the co-creator, administrator and writer for the movie website, film-addict.com. He also writes for the local blog United Cardinal Bloggers in addition to Arch City Sports and also writes for his personal blog, http://www.doseofbuffa.com.   He is a STL born and raised writer with a need to inform and the ability to pound out 1,000-1,500 word pieces with ease.  When he isn’t writing or drinking coffee, he is spending time with his wife and son in South City.  Follow him at @buffa82 on Twitter and reach him for thoughts, comments and general feedback at buffa82@gmail.com.

A Bittersweet Christmas Eve

166613_10150118536067534_7607710_nChristmas is my favorite time of the year.  Gifts are shared, snow hits the ground, temps drop down, grass is officially dead and best of all, the family gets together.   I love it and always will.  However, on December 24th, 2011, my wonderful grandmother, Henrieta Bulus, passed away.   We all called her “Meme” because in my family, that is what we did since we were kids.

The death sprung a horrible trap inside my family, with the loss taking a serious toll on my mom.   Meme was my mom’s best friend.   Sure, a daughter can be worn down by countless questions about my brother or what I am doing  or how work is, but my mother loved Meme right down to her bones.   My wife and my dad were stunned for sure, but the impact on my mother rings two years later louder than ever.

I had a personal connection with Meme.  She taught me things that are hard to be put into words.  She was the sweetest soul on earth and nurtured strangers on a daily basis.  If she was at a party, her night wasn’t fulfilled until she talked to everybody in the place and in depth.   She was a people’s person who loved to talk, drink wine and connect.   That’s what Meme did.  She connected with anybody.  As bad as Osama Bin Laden was, I used to tell my friends I could put 100 on my grandmother holding a conversation with the guy in some form of Arabic or similar language for at least 5 minutes before she realized who she was talking to.    She could do it all.

She was in her early 80’s when she passed away two years ago today.   She went out in typical Meme fashion.  At a party, talking to people, breathing and inhaling different cultures and sipping wine all night.    Working with a hip replacement she received in December 2010 she made an attempt to go down a flight of stairs to talk to more people.   She probably had half the place down but still had around 5 different groups of people to attack with that energy of hers.  She lost her balance somewhere in her trip on the stairs.  She fell down 9 stairs and smacked her head on the concrete at the bottom.  The fall wasn’t the worst part.  It was the final thud onto the ground.   Meme spent nearly 2 weeks in intensive care and passed away on Christmas Eve.  Coincidentally, it was the same day she was married decades before.  Simply bittersweet.

I remember the time of day and everything on that morning 2 years ago.   We got the call early in the morning and it came after my son entered the room and we did this extended picture flurry that is common in the Buffa household.   There is even a picture of my wife and son that was taken right before the phone rung.  It was my dad and he told us Meme had passed.  I hadn’t heard that tone of his voice since I listened to him find out on the phone in 1989 that Meme’s husband, Larry(from which I got my middle name) had passed away of a heart attack.  Imagine a gruff John Wayne and a wounded animal and that is my dad when emotion is starting to flood his systems.   It’s weird for a son to hear his dad cry.   If you have had the pleasure of meeting my old man, you quickly notice the 6 foot 4 frame and monstrous size and build.   Imagining that breaking down over a phone call and what doesn’t seem right at first clicks later.   He really loved his mother and father in law.

When he first met my mom, Larry gave my dad a hard time.   My mom’s parents were Lebanese and my dad was half Italian.  You can guess there was some friction at first.  My dad had to earn their respect and then some.  It took years for him to get the trust of my grandfather.   He had to take a hammer to that tough thick layer of ice for a long time before it was a done deal that he was marrying my mom.   That kind of trial and tribulation either separates a man from his in-law’s or it binds them together forever.   My dad grew very close to Meme and Pepe(our version of grandpa).

So when I heard his voice on the phone, I knew what happened.  I didn’t cry or even crack a tear.  My wife immediately broke down and my poor son(3 months old and 10 days) didn’t have any expression to offer.   It was silent before we both decided to get off the damn phone.    A time of death was given to me but my ears basically went deaf after the finality hit.   We went to the hospital and we all broke down in the room.  Looking at Meme, who was still in the room, it was sort of a final moment thing.  Those are never easy to work with emotionally.  You can almost hear a timer ticking before someone starts to cry.  You don’t have the words or emotional depth to conjure up a good sendoff.  So you cry and try to dull the pain away.

Death is a son of a bitch.   It’s finality is only outran by its blunt force trauma strike to normalcy.    You don’t get to say when or where.  You take it in and let it destroy you and slowly you get back up.   Some people told me they would be happy to make it to their 80’s.   Sure, we all would like to.   George Carlin got there and he did every drug known to mankind in his life.  He passed away on his own watch.

Meme’s death proves the theory that death is unfair.  She was old but she had so much more life to give.   She had an energy that couldn’t be taught.  She was infectious in a crowd.   You couldn’t get mad at her and if you did, you felt like rotten shit later.  Meme was one of a kind and needed to stay a while.   She needed to watch my son grow into a beastly 2 year old and eventually take his first bus ride to school.  Maybe even go on his first date.   Every time I look at him I think of her reaction to him spouting off some gibberish about trains or running around the house.    I get sad and then regroup.  This happens nearly every day.

I’d like to mention my grandmother around my mom more often but it would be like pouring salt in an open wound.   My mom still misses her like hell and we all know it.  My dad’s mom mentioned her at my wife’s birthday two months ago and it’s like we all looked at her with crazy eyes.  Then again, it’s easy to talk about Meme and smile.   She was great.   Angelic and tough.   Her forearms were a third of the size of my own but when she grabbed my arm I confused her grip for Lou Ferrigno’s.   She kept me in line and asked me questions every time I saw her.  I miss those questions I once found to be mind grating.    What am I doing?  Why am I doing it?  When will I ask my popular friend Bill for a job with the Cards?   When will I go back to school?   I would love to answer those today.  I would even answer them repeatedly.

Today, I remember Meme just like I have all year long.  She was special because she gave a shit a lot more than others.   She’d feed a homeless person only if they would watch 60 Minutes with her.   She would give you advice you didn’t want to hear but should have written down with a permanent marker.   She gave you pearls when you weren’t even asking.   I miss Meme and tonight I remember her.

I used to take her to movies at the Plaza Frontenac, which isn’t my favorite theater by any stretch.   It is tightly conceived, contains small theaters and an old fashioned look that can grow irritating.   However, she loved the place so I took her.  Independent films or French language films.    She ate more popcorn than anyone and spit it out of her mouth as she created a commentary inside the theater while the movie played.   One of the most quiet attributes of her was her confidence and denial of others thinking about what she was doing.  Every time I go there I think about Meme.

Well, I have overstayed my welcome here.   If you made it this far, thanks.   Meme was special and if anyone or anything deserves 1400 words, it’s my late grandmother.  If you had the honor of meeting her, you would understand.

Merry Christmas and goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa

Inside Llewyn Davis Film Review

Since a colleague of mine wrote an official review for the film on my site, film-addict.com, I get to come here and dish my take on the film.   There will be no rating, info or trailer.  Just the plot and my take on a new film.  A Dose of Buffa movie special if you will.   My review of Inside Llewyn Davis.

131204_MOV_InsideLlewynDavis.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge

QUICK SETUP-The film takes you through a week in the life of troubled folk singer Llewyn Davis in Greenwich Village and across the states as he attempts to make it big or at least hold onto what he holds sacred.  A guitar and a sad song.  Directed by the Coen Brothers and starring Oscar Issac.  This film carries Academy Award talk but is it really worth it?  Read on and find out.

MY TAKE-Listen up, the reason to see this film is Oscar Isaac and his amazing performance as Llewyn, a man torn apart by loss and a lack of confidence from the powers that be that decide on the music that gets boosted out into the mainstream.   Issac does all of his own singing, and doesn’t hide behind that ability alone.  He crawls inside the body of this character and lives in it for a couple hours.   This is one of those classic disappearing acts.   Part of the execution comes from the unknown status that still manages to follow Issac around the film world.  He has shared small roles in films like 10 Years, Drive and The Bourne Legacy but this ladies and gentlemen is his coming out party.  It’s a performance that is worthy of…wait for it…an Oscar nomination.

This isn’t an easy character to play, and I am not talking about the ability to sit in a chair on a stage and pour your heart through a folky tale.   Isaac transcends what is usually expected of an actor in a leading role with singing involved.   You become to know him as this character and his character follows you through a movie that has a few problems and isn’t Oscar worthy itself.  The biggest problem in the man’s life happens to be himself and his urgency to become somebody that doesn’t resemble a fleck of the person he once was.

Originally part of a duo that was cut short by tragedy, Llewyn struggles to get ahead, finds himself in constant trouble and carve a place for himself.  His manager feels so bad for him that he offers his own coat for Davis in the freezing coat and the singer refuses.  It’s almost like he is still performing but doing it while dead inside.  He drags a boat full of misery to each show.  It’s a tough act to play and Issac nails it.

That said, the Coen’s always find ways to make their entire film ultimately problematic for me.   I haven’t loved one of their films since Fargo or Miller’s Crossing.  Yes, I was one of the critics who didn’t adore True Grit or No Country for Old Men and only found O’ Brother Where Art Thou? occasionally humorous.   They write wonderful characters and dialogue that feels real but the way they wrap up their stories and the little nuances they add to the films never feels right.   The storytelling structure of this film has a little hitch to it that in my opinion wasn’t needed.  The story could have been told straight and it wasn’t and you can decide for yourself it was alright.

The supporting cast is stacked well but not as good as some make them out to be.  John Goodman’s crabby jazz guy is funny for a few minutes but comes off as a caricature.  Goodman is a pro but here I was annoyed by his character.  The lovers of his performance don’t need to worry because it will be nominated for an Oscar.  it’s the exact kind of scenery chewing role that they love once a year.  Garrett Hedlund and Justin Timberlake are capable supporting actors but are barely seen or heard from.   Carey Mulligan is effective with brutally blunt dialogue but is lost for half the film.   I wanted more of her story with Davis and I wasn’t pleased with her demotion in the second half of the film.   A mother type to Llewyn that may have slept with the guy and may be carrying his child, Mulligan’s authoritative and dakrly funny performance was brilliant.

The Coen’s direction and writing haven’t properly synced together in a film for me in a long time.  They either do one very well or falter somewhere.   I can never leave their film completely raving.  Miller’s Crossing had suspense, comedy, drama, romance and a flair that couldn’t be taught.  Same for Fargo, a dark comedic thriller with unforgettable performances with a punctuation at the end.   Those films had teeth.   This film has potential but doesn’t sizzle in the end.  Whether it is said or not, that is always the idea for an Oscar caliber film.  Thrill me or get out of my head.

Inside Llewyn Davis has a great soundtrack and a fantastic star making performance from Isaac but it left me feeling like I saw an incomplete film.   That may have been the Coen’s idea of a great movie, but it didn’t end up being mine.  I felt like something was missing and think they added an extra scene at the end just so they could pat themselves on the back.  For me, it doesn’t work and leaves a gaping hole in the center of a story that had potential.

The songs, as mentioned above, are killer.   Marcus Mumford(From Mumford and Sons) worked on the film and Mulligan and Timberlake perform songs as well.  The film could have been a broken hearted folk musical and maybe been better.  Hearing Isaac sing “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” and a solo version of Bob Dylan’s “Fare Thee Well(Dink’s Song) cuts right into the heart of what this song wanted to be about.  The two songs bookend the film and while they add a flavor most films crave, the overall finish of this film is lacking.

Inside Llewyn Davis is worth seeing for Isaac’s award worthy performance and the music but is denied greatness by the uneven and insufficient direction from the Coens.

*For more movie news, reviews and sophisticated take on the world of cinema, head over to my site, film-addict.com.  I hope you enjoyed this Dose of Buffa special movie review.

Bonus Material-Here is Isaac singing “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTirIqel_k4