Month: August 2014

Sin City Offers Something Different


First off, I don’t care how much money this movie made at the box office. That is something the critic has to block out when reviewing a film. It can referenced in a small area but if I judged films on how much money they made over others, Daddy Day Care might find its way onto a top ten list somewhere. My review of the movie, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.

I will hand it to Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. They offer something no other movie can dare come close to with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. A hard boiled bloody sexy pulpy action blast that has the heart and soul of a comic book. If you can’t find another word for it, original is a plain enough description for their collaboration here.

Look, this isn’t high art, folks. The dialogue is heavy and the blood is graphic and brought to the screen with bright lime green or a dark brutal red. Characters speak in short quick bursts and it’s very dramatic. The good thing is the cast here buys into the madness and plays it the hand of cards hard instead of shortening their stroke. There is no room here for Oscar worthy performances. Only memorable death scenes. And that is completely fine because Sin City, Round 2 is all about expectations. Walk into the theater looking for something wild, crazy and you may get it.

Do you want to see Eva Green play badass and spend half the film naked with a gun in her hand? This movie is for you. She is the Dame to Kill For and doesn’t make you think twice about the notion. Green is a great actress and beautiful. She isn’t why cavemen chiseled on walls but I am sure a fair amount of men(and women) would fight for the French Queen. (more…)

ALS Challenge: A Lot More Than Ice Buckets and Videos

Yesterday, in broiling 100 degree heat in the Lou, I dragged my wife and kid outside to assist me in my Ice Bucket Challenge for the ALS Foundation.  I did this without being nominated to do it. I wanted to contribute in some way and felt a need to spread the word. I donated money and threw an ice bucket on my head. Before I get into it, I want to tell you a little about ALS.

The disease, in case anyone wants to know, is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The world knows it as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, because the famous Yankee has his life cut short due to the horrible and debilitating condition. It attacks the nerve cells that run to your brain and spinal chord. Everything that makes your body go and move strongly is attacked by this disease. The body degenerates, muscles weaken and in the end, the body is completely paralyzed by the disease. Motor neurons send signals to your muscles to make them perform a movement and when those motor neurons are damaged and attacked by ALS, other things start to shut down.

The disease was named after the famous baseball player but affects many people today. The disease is a variable one, meaning it moves in different courses with each patient. Someone may have a completely different experience than another person afflicted with the condition. There is a clinically approved drug to attack ALS and others are currently in trials.

This is important to remember when you buy the ice, get a bucket and are busy putting together videos. Remember the reason you are doing it. It is helping raise money and awareness for a disease that needs all the attention it can possibly get. When movie stars dump ice on their heads and nominate other movie stars and politicians, they are doing it for a reason. They don’t need any extra attention. They are doing it to raise awareness. Sure, they could have cut a check and be done with it. Then there is Vin Diesel in a tank top throwing down a steel barrel of ice water on his head and nominating Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama. Diesel is using his millions of followers and fans to join him in this fight.

When Steven Spielberg, Derek Jeter and other celebs do it, they are using the unbeatable power of their reputation and celebrity to teach people about this disease. Many people have no idea prior to this year what ALS is and only know it as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. They remember the famous speech Gehrig gave and that it was pretty cool. That’s about it. In taking this challenge, the idea is to learn about the disease, donate cash(whatever it is will help) and spread awareness with the video you share. People you know will see it and think that is great.

What people don’t know about Gehrig is how bad the disease took hold of his once athletic and baseball efficient body. The man was built to hit doubles, fire baseballs across the field and run like mad. In his final days, for a photo that showed him in his study, the disease had gotten so bad that someone had to hold his head up and put the pencil in his hand before the picture could be snapped. That is what The ALS Foundation is dealing with.

So I donated cash yesterday morning and went outside around 5 pm. It was hot. Real hot. My son Vincent got in on the action and eventually dumped a bucket of water on his head. I wanted to say all of this in the video but I didn’t want to wear anyone out with my face for more than a minute so I come here with the story and the video(posted below). I did this to do a good thing. In life, we get fleeting chances to do something a genuine good deed. You can open doors, help the elderly or flash a smile at someone who needs it, but the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a good deed. It’s a win-win situation. You get a bucket of ice water on your head to cool off, get to nominate a few people to do it and donate cash to a good cause.

Do me a favor. If you decide to do the challenge, go to the ALS Foundation website and find out why you are doing it. The ice thing is cool and fun, but the real deed is knowing why you are doing it. Don’t let it be a hollow activity. Make it mean something. So far, the donations have reached 80 million dollars.

Alright, I’m climbing down off my horse and walking away for a bit. Thanks for reading.



Let’s Put A Smile on That Face

Hey folks,

Allow me to step in here and shed some light on a bunch of issues that will thankfully have NOTHING to do with Ferguson. What is happening to my northern city limit doesn’t need my fingerprints on it. I will only say this. Protesting is a LOT different than rioting and this isn’t the way to do it. Governor Nixon put on kid gloves when he called in the State Troopers. When The National Guard marches in, the fun will really begin. That’s all I got. Politics and wild maniac activity is for alderman and paid media to deal with. Not this bald South City Lou resident. So let’s begin. The following words may not put a smile on your face but they will brighten your Monday morning with thought, naughty language and a few brazen ideas. This list has no sense of real order so watch out.

  • Baseball season is nearly a month from completing its regular season. Where the hell did this season go? It’s more like where the hell did my fingertips go? Quarterbacks take their offensive lineman out to dinner. I will be treating my keyboard to a vacation when the Cardinals conclude their action this fall. Being a baseball fan is hard enough. Being a writer for the sports adds gray to the face.
  • I watched some preseason football on Saturday with the Rams and will admit it held my interest for exactly 30 minutes. Preseason football is more exciting than spring training because there are more spots available on the starting roster on a football team. Young kids fresh out of college bashing skulls with a few minutes of playing time to impress the coaches and make the team. Sam Bradford looked good. Michael Sam made a few good stops. Overall, the defense looked rough around the edges and the offense mustered 7 points. Isaiah Pead tore his ACL but I don’t think he had much of a chance to begin with so see you in 2015 young man. Bradford escaped without hurting himself. That’s 2 games down and 18 to go to keep Sam on his feet.
  • The Knick on Cinemax is exactly the kind of hospital show I desired. It saves you all the melodrama and relationship bullshit that is dished out on Grey’s Anatomy and other kid glove medical dramas. Director Steven Soderbergh and star Clive Owen are trying to teach us something about the revolution of surgery and the breakthroughs it made right around the start of the 19th century. In 1900, set in New York and with a story centered around Owen’s brilliant surgeon John Thackery. The opening scene places our protagonist in a brothel where the fumes of opium fill the nostrils of its clients. Owen is so good here, carrying the black wavy mane of hair and a mustache that could make Wyatt Earp look in the mirror. Thackery gets in a carriage, asks for the long way and calmly shoots cocaine into the middle of his toes because what is a brilliant surgeon without some drugs flowing through his body. As he tells a young nurse later on, “there are our lives inside the hospital and our lives outside the hospital. Those two should never intercede.” Owen is so damn good at playing this role of the anti-hero. He can act with his eyes alone but his words penetrate with every line of dialogue. The supporting cast is noticeable and good but don’t be fooled, this is Owen’s show. Cinemax started slow with Strikeback(sloppily edited war action drama) and Hunted(decent if forgettable spy flick) and blasted onto the scene with breathtaking ballsack swagger with Banshee. The Knick kicks it up a notch.
  • I have a legit man crush on Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. He looks like a king and swings a bat like Thor. He hits baseballs a long way and looks like he is having fun doing it. He should have been in handcuffs tonight because he murdered a baseball today.
  • I love Twitter and you all know that. Tonight, I got a nice tweet from the director of HOURS, the Paul Walker flick I reviewed on here last week. He said he appreciated my review and may be up for an interview. His name is Eric Heisserer. Surely it isn’t Scorsese but I appreciate any interaction with a filmmaker. Especially one who churned a performance as powerful as the one Eric got out of Walker in his final days. Twitter is a safe haven for people looking to connect. Professionals go there. Writers go there. People live there. I am a Twitter addict. Proud. Facebook is the place I call go to for a booty call once in a while. Twitter is work and play. Facebook is all robotic work.
  • Joe Kelly got roughed up in his Fenway debut. He gave up 7 earned runs and didn’t last 5 innings against Houston. The young man will soon find out that it’s not as sunny to pitch in a hitter’s ballpark. Matthew McConaughey was at the game. He would wise to advise Kelly to simply keep on living.
  • I get people who still don’t like the trade. Once again, I will break it down simply yet finely. John Lackey is a big time veteran pitcher who has closed out two World Series runs. He is cut from the same breed as Chris Carpenter. Lackey broke up with his pregnant wife. He is a bastard. He hates bullshit. He is a Texan strike throwing machine. He fits right in here with all the nice people and A.J. Pierzynski. Kelly may be good in the long run or he may get ripped apart in Boston. Allen Craig is a 30 year hitter who may recover from a foot injury or he may be destined to .260, 12 HR, 65 RBI seasons until he collapses in right field. Lackey is a finisher and the Cards get him(no way out of it for Lackey) in 2015 for the fair wage of 500,000. Lackey, his agent and John Mozeliak shook to that before the deal was signed. Wainwright, Wacha, Lackey, Lynn, Miller/Martinez/Garcia in 2015. DAMNNNN! The only people who truly whine about the Kelly trade are women, kids, and fans of people who wear glasses and play sports. Get over it.
  • Lebron James did the ice bucket challenge. So did Mike Matheny and Kermit the Frog. I like that it raises money for people but it’s ice people. Not hot coals.


Expendables 3 Brings Back Action Hero Glory

the-expendables-3-castIt’s easy to love and admire what Sylvester Stallone and company are doing with the yearly dose of throwback action. These old school remedies are exactly what movie fans need in the late hot summer dry air of summer entertainment because they remind you how it was done before the bullshit started in Hollywood.

Ronda Rousey tells Stallone in the film, “That plan would work if it was 1985,” and while the wink of the eye humor is perfectly placed, the line has deeper meaning. Sly isn’t letting the old days die and these Expendables films keep getting better and better. Appreciating these films means one must go into the film without preconceived notions that extend past guilty pleasure fun. I grew up on these guys kicking ass and taking names, so I am an easy target. No offense to the weird mind game glee of Luc Besson’s LUCY or The Rock in HERCULES, but Expendables 3 is the kind of dose this film addict requires.

Selling this flick is like telling you to salivate over a cheeseburger that you know is money every time you order it. In one film, all these famous characters collide. Rocky/Rambo, The Terminator, Ivan Drago, Indiana Jones, Martin Riggs/Mad Max, Blade, and The Transporter. All of them.One film. The attraction is irresistible.

For the first time, Stallone and the boys have a real bad guy with some story and teeth behind him. Mel Gibson plays an old member of the gang who has taken a few steps over into the dark side and now squares off with Sly, Arnold, Statham, Couture, and the rest of the dirty bruisers. Add in UFC lady Rousey, the 72 year old still able Ford, Kelsey Grammar, and Antonio Banderas and the roster is overloaded with favorites.


Robin Williams Has Left The Building

Robin_WilliamsI know what you are thinking. Here goes Buffa on a remembrance prose sprint for a deceased actor. I get that but it won’t stop me. Every time an actor dies that I grew up watching, I feel saddened by it. Why go against how you feel if it may make others annoyed? That wasn’t the way I was raised or would like to think of myself in the writing world.  I remember seeing Good Will Hunting with my dad and being moved to tears by it. Other films, like Hook, Jumanji, Dead Poets Society, and Good Morning Vietnam, were also memorable and enlightening. Mrs. Doubtfire was a one man show. When he wasn’t performing on screen or stage, Williams had a different battle. He fought depression his whole life. It was a fight he lost on Monday. In case you missed it, here is an article I wrote Tuesday night on Williams.

Robin Williams had a gift as an actor and performer. He could make you laugh one moment and cry the next. He won an Oscar for playing a therapist in Good Will Hunting. He warmed hearts in comedies like Mrs. Doubtfire. He put on edge with his work in One Hour Photo and Insomnia, where he played demented killers or men detached from reality. In Good Morning Vietnam and Dead Poets Society, Williams combined his abilities of heartbreak, despair and energy to bolster two memorable films to legendary status.

On Monday right around noon, authorities in Marin County, California, found Williams dead in his home. He hung himself with a belt and died via asphyxiation. Williams battled severe depression for many years and had it contained for the last 20. In July, he suffered a relapse and went into rehab to hamper the pain. Apparently, his efforts weren’t enough and the disease got the best of him today. Depression is a hard affliction to explain. The warning signs are hard to detect and the severity can elevate for any given person. Comedian Richard Jeni committed suicide a few years ago. Williams was 63 years old. He truly connected with audiences throughout his career and this passing hit a lot of people hard, including myself. (more…)

The Leftovers: A Hypnotic Blend of TV

415744_PA_Leftovers_Poster_v5The Leftovers is a modern take on the Twilight Zone with the curve ball spin put on it by the creator of Lost. It’s odd and intriguing at the same time, and your eyes can’t be taken away from the television screen. Like Banshee, it feels like cinematic television. The proceedings are beyond odd and create an uneasy feeling.

Several scenes involve zero music or a slow creeping painful violin being played. Characters give damaged a whole new identity and are unpredictable. There are no good or bad people, just lost souls being washed up on an island not fit for human interaction.

Novelist Tom Perrotta wrote the book for which the series is based on and the Lost creator, Damon Lindelof, took it and ran it over to director Peter Berg, who then walked into the office of HBO with an idea for TV addiction. All three minds put together the pilot and help produce the show about a modern world that suffered the most outrageous form of Natural Selection. The basic story line here is 2 percent of the population went missing, and the show picks up the events of a small Northeastern town three years later. Babies went missing. Mothers and fathers. Friends. As one guy puts it, “an asshole who nobody will miss”. All kinds of people, attached or aloof. There’s  no real explanation other than the fact that somebody from above decided to blindly trim the fat of the world we live in. The creator and storytellers wisely maintain the focus of the show on the aftermath and not what caused the disappearing act. Damon already wandered into trippy science fiction mania with the last 3 seasons of Lost.  Everything about the show stays far away from the norm and what you would expect.

There’s a cult called The Guilty Remnant, a group of wordless people who wear all white, smoke enough cigarettes that Don Draper may even take a bow and generally stalk anyone who hasn’t joined or needs to join the club. A priest can’t fill his church because after such an otherworldly event, a need to worship a higher power doesn’t exist. A mysterious woman carries a gun in her purse and has her car and house full of motherly artifacts but there are no kids in her home. Enter Justin Theroux’s guilt stricken fucked up beyond belief town sheriff and you have your moral center. He has no clue how to keep the puzzle pieces of the town together and has enough issues getting himself together for reasons that are explained in the first three hours of the series. His kids are true rebels, the daughter spying on strangers and coming within inches of teenage wastelands while the son has joined the services of an unorthodox sex maniac/spiritual healer named Wayne. (more…)

Violence Breeding More Violence

Michael Brown was an 18 year old kid getting ready to start college in two weeks. A lot of hope came to an early end.  He was shot by a police officer this past weekend and Sunday night, riots broke out in Ferguson, the neighborhood where Brown lived and died. A Quik Trip was raided and burned up. Taco Bell restaurants were also targeted and streets were full of looters and bandits. All of this happened because one man died in a manner that hasn’t been clarified yet. The National Guard and The FBI are getting involved as we speak, and nothing good comes from that folks. When officers and soldiers line the streets, more innocent people have a chance of dying. In the history of this world, the human species has always resorted to acts of violence as a source of revenge. Why do that? It’s our human instincts kicking in. A man who many probably didn’t know at all feel the sense to set fires to public places, beat up random people and run wild like it’s the Purge. Violence breeding more violence never ends well and happens far too often.

STLOUIS2-articleLargePeople will instantly attach this to St. Louis and its rocketing crime rate and status as a bad crime city. That’s not completely untrue but this reaction happens across the world and all over The United States. Rioting has taken place in many cities. St. Louis is just the latest location of madness. Savagery isn’t relegated to one zip code. It has no one location. It’s a common occurrence.

I have a friend who lives in Florissant, a town right next to Ferguson. I lived in Florissant for three years. Those aren’t the safest streets in the world but Sunday night, they got a lot more violent and unstable. In 1992, Los Angeles started one of the most deadliest riots when the four officers accused of beating Rodney King were acquitted. In 1980, a similar act happened in Miami. Edward L. Glaeser wrote in 2011 that “When riots can often overwhelm police forces, most modern governments have more than enough military might to repress any riot, if the army is willing to slaughter civilians.” (more…)

Paul Walker’s Shining Moment in HOURS

As my good friend and fellow Film Addict Chris McHugh put it, Paul Walker went out of this world “2 Fast, 2 Furious”. He was young, good looking and had a good film career going. Whether you like the insane child like energy of the Fast & Furious films, you had to appreciate their appeal and how they fit into the summer action genre. Walker was born into that franchise in 2000 with Vin Diesel. They became friends, brothers and grew up in the film business together. Before he died last November, Walker made a small independent film called Hours that flipped everything movie fans thought they knew about Walker. I had a chance to watch this movie recently. While my original review posted on film-addict, here it is.




Running Time-97 minutes

Written and Directed by Eric Heisserer

Cast-Paul Walker and Genesis Rodriguez

Plot-Stuck in a hospital without power on the day Hurricane Katrina strikes, a father must do whatever it takes to keep his infant daughter alive.

My Take-Before his untimely death, Paul Walker was known as an action star who didn’t mind giving the bulk of the spotlight to his co-stars. Whether it was the Rock or Vin Diesel in The Fast & Furious films or Idris Elba in Takers, Walker didn’t mind the spotlight but he wasn’t keen on standing in the middle of it. In Hours, a film released two weeks after his passing last November, Walker carries the movie on his shoulders alone. Take away a few flashback scenes with Genesis Rodriguez, and the rest of the film is Walker struggling to keep his daughter alive as a massive storm hits New Orleans. Hours is an actor’s showcase, and a film that sits next to Castaway in the sense that it’s one actor for the entire running time trying to do one thing. Survive. Walker isn’t just good in this role. He shows you a completely different side of his acting repertoire and reopens that wound of sadness that an actor was lost way too soon. (more…)

Interstellar Trailer: The Perfect Tease

“We used to look up in the sky and wonder about our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”-Interstellar

interstellar__2014____alternate_poster_by_camw1n-d7ir19zChris Nolan makes awe inspiring movies. Every time. He doesn’t waste your time or steal your money with his cinematic features. He takes you on a ride that is guaranteed to fill your mind with rapturous movie love glee and get your thinking about how movies should be made. The third(and most likely final) trailer for his latest, Interstellar, is built the way all previews should be built. It offers a tease of the plot, great imagery, powerful dialogue playing over it and an instant need to watch it again and again.

Don’t spend too much time thinking about the plot. It’s 2001: Space Odyssey meets Apollo 13 meets The Abyss. The idea is that earth has become a dangerous place to live and climate control is destroying it. In a way, our planet is dying and a professor/scientist(Michael Caine) devises a plan for a group of scientists(Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway among others) to perform an exercise called “interstellar” in order to “save” it. It involves time travel and perhaps finding another planet that humans can survive on. Remember, there is a lot more going on and many characters in play. The plot is just the first bite of the steak on this delicious looking experience.

That’s what Nolan does every time. He creates a one of a kind experience. Something to watch again and again. Something to tell your kids about when they are ready to explore great films. Nolan’s films always involve plots that require a little leap of belief. A format that denies limitations in the depths of storytelling. He opens a pandora’s box in your soul with his trailers. Remember The Dark Knight trailer? The Inception tease? They had you at hello! That’s Nolan.

This is McConaughey at his best. His dramatic scenes in the trailer with Mackenzie Joy, playing his daughter in the film, are amazing. The line where McConaughey tells Hathaway after she asks him, “Couldn’t you have told her you were going to save the world?” is priceless and speaks for any good parent.

“No. When you have become a parent, one thing becomes pretty clear and that’s that you want your children to feel safe.”

That is the backbone of every Nolan production and story. Family and how it binds people to each other and makes them do dangerous things to protect the sanctity of it. Every film of his has something to do with the depths one will go to in order to get back to his family or protect others.  His stories are about troubled men and how their sacrifice sits close to mankind’s reward.

Dylan Thomas’ writings are read, Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck show up, and tons of astronaut activity occurs as well. Add it up and these 2 minutes and 33 seconds will just about store itself away in your cerebellum.


Nolan makes movies that are easy on the eyes and blow your mind.


Interstellar comes out on November 7th. That gives you a little over three months to salivate over this trailer.

Scarlett Muscles The Rock and more bits

thScarlett Johansson stands about 5 foot 3 inches and weighs around 120 pounds soaking wet(pure guess) yet was able to muscle The Rock and other box office challengers this past weekend. Why? Scarlett playing a character with little memory and full brain power capacity is too hard for men and women to resist. The Rock trained for 6 months, got ugly, wore a fake beard and makeup but was unable to beat the little smoking hot lady at the box office. Hercules got his ass kicked by Scarlett’s Lucy and that’s why the movies are great and unpredictable. You never know who is going to come out on top but in the end, boobs and brains will always beat muscle. That is, unless, Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett are both on the big screen in a movie like Avengers.

What else is there to talk about on a weekday? Let’s run down the list of stuff.  A collection of writing from Monday through Friday.