Archive for November, 2010

Affleck hones his chops in “The Town”

With his sophomore directorial effort “The Town,” actor/director Ben Affleck proves that his debut, 2007’s critically acclaimed “Gone Baby gone,” was no fluke. Well, that and he’s really good at making movies featuring “angry Bahston punks”.

“The Town” in question is Charlestown, Mass. a Boston neighborhood that, according to the film, is the birthing ground to more bank robbers than you can keep track of; and it, like has come to be expected in Affleck films, makes an appropriately gritty setting for a triumphant ode to the heist films of old (“Heat,” “Point Break,” etc.).

The film follows Doug Macray (Affleck), a prototypical tortured-soul, criminal protagonist and his crew of bank robbers, including loose-cannon sidekick Jim “Gem” Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) as they commit an increasingly difficult string of robberies for the manipulative neighborhood boss, Fergus “The Florist” Colm (Pete Postlethwaite).

On the other side of the law, the FBI, lead by Special Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) and his sidekick, Charlestown traitor Dino Ciampa (Titus Welliver) closes In on Macray and company as the story builds to the inevitable big job/ standoff between cops and robbers.

A budding romance between robbery number victim and yuppie-bank employee Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) and Macray, and another with Coughlin’s troubled sister Krista (Blake Lively), adds depth and sexual tension.

That mixed with some inter-crew strife between Macray and Coughlin, and Macray’s rapidly increasing desire to leave the crime world (and Boston in general) in the rear-view, as well as a slow reveal of the mystery surrounding Macray’s mother all contribute to giving the film the depth needed to help it rise above the drab cesspool of hack action/crime stories.

Affleck certainly has a deep appreciation for, and understanding of the greater Boston area, and that combined with his knowledge and passion for film-making is seen throughout from costume design to character accents and mannerisms as well as a bevy of aerial and panoramic shots the really showcase the essence of the Boston cityscape and its working class population.

Particularly interesting and engaging is the symbolism of Macray’s two romantic attachments. Robbery victim Keesey, is a representation of where Macray wants to head in the future. She is friendly, clean, she volunteers at the local youth center and community garden, at times it seems as though she might be too good to be true, or at least too good to be possible for a guy like Macray. She represents nearly all of his good qualities.

Blake Lively’s portrayal of Krista Coughlin, arguably the most well-played in the film, as the often doped up, single mother of a toddler who may or may not be Macray’s, represents everything about his life up to this point, everything he wants to leave behind. And while she is definitely full of flaws, she is desperately loyal, which is symbolic of Charlestown culture in general.

Blake Lively plays Krista Coughlin in "The Town"

 

Of all the characters in the film, including Macray, it is Krista Coughlin who, in a roundabout way, is the most human and endearing of them all.

Overall I think that “The Town,” is definitely worth the price of admission and is the type of movie that resonates well on the big screen.

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Big 12 Power Rankings: 11/16/2010

Red Hot Texas A&M won a tough won at Baylor.  Colorado bounced back from an embarrassing loss and the firing of their head coach, blowing out Iowa State at home. Missouri pulled away from a turnover riddled Kansas State in a match-up of then BCS top 25 teams. The rest of the Big 12 favorites held serve.   While week 11 saw little change at the top Texas A&M continues to rise and Texas continues in the opposite direction.

1. Nebraska ≡ – Quarterback Taylor Martinez returned and with their young star still a bit gimpy the Cornhuskers rode their talented defense to a 20-3 home-win over Kansas.  The Blackshirt defense was stifling, holding KU to just 87 total yards of offense.  The BCS No. 8 Cornhuskers, now 9-1 (5-1), head to College Station for what now looks to be an extremely competitive game against BCS No. 19 Texas A&M.

2. Oklahoma State ≡ – The Cowboys went to work early against Texas, cruising to a 26-3 halftime lead against the free-falling Longhorns.  OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for 409 yards and the Cowboys racked up 532 yards of total offense in their 33-16 win over UT in Austin.  The BCS No. 10 Cowboys, now 9-1 (5-1) head to Kansas before finishing up with the Bedlam Series match-up with BCS No. 14 Oklahoma.  The OSU vs. OU contest could very well decide the South champion.

3. Oklahoma – The Sooners were back to looking like a well oiled machine in their 45-7 home-win over Texas Tech.  OU quarterback Landry Jones threw for five TDs against the Red Raiders, three of them going to wide out Ryan Broyles.  The Sooners have now won 36 straight in Norman, the longest active home winning streak in the country.  The BCS No. 14 Sooners, now 8-2 (4-2), head to Waco, Texas for a tricky road game against Baylor in week 12.  A giant trip to Stillwater looms in the season finale and the Sooners don’t want to get caught looking ahead.

4. Missouri ≡ – The Tigers were able to beat then BCS No. 24 Kansas State in week 11 largely because the Wildcats made a habit of turning the ball over.  Midway through the third quarter, with KSU driving, MU’s Aldon Smith sacked KSU QB Carson Coffman, knocking the ball loose, Mizzou’s Jacquies Smith picked it up and ran 53 yards for a touchdown on the play to make the score 27-14.  The Tigers forced four total turnovers in the 38-28 home-win.  The BCS No. 15 Tigers, now 8-2 (4-2) head to Ames, Iowa for a tilt with Iowa State and then finish off the regular season against Kansas in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.

5. Texas A&M – The Aggies enjoyed continued success after Mike Sherman decided on a mid-season change at quarterback.  A&M is now 3-0 when quarterback Ryan Tannehill is the starter after an impressive 42-30 win at Baylor.  The Aggie defense stiffened in the second half, as A&M outscored the Bears 21-0 in the second half.  The BCS No. 19 Aggies, now 7-3 (4-2), host BCS No. 8 Nebraska in week 12 before finishing the regular season in Austin against the hated Longhorns.

6. Kansas State ≡ – The Wildcats had their chances against Missouri but ill-timed turnovers cost them any opportunity they might have had at upsetting the BCS No. 15 Tigers in Columbia.  Quarter back Carson Coffman had 2 fumbles, including one at the Mizzou goal-line, and threw an interception.  Back-up running back John Hubert fumbled the ball on an attempted “statue of liberty” play in the Wildcats 38-28 defeat.  Emerging quarterback Colin Klein rushed for 141 yards and threw for another 65 and a TD in the loss.  The Wildcats, now 6-4 (3-4) travel to Colorado before closing out the regular season at non-conference foe North Texas.

7. Baylor ≡ – For the second straight week the Bears failed in an opportunity to climb higher in a season that has already been a relative success for their program.  Baylor was outscored 21-0 in the second half of their week 11 home game against Texas A&M.  If the Bears, now 7-4 (4-3) hope to keep pace in their Big 12 finale with BCS No. 14 Oklahoma, their defense will have to improve.  The Bears are giving up 34 points a game in conference play.

8. Texas Tech – The Red Raiders finished their 2010 Big 12 campaign with an embarrassing 45-7 loss at Oklahoma.  Coach Tommy Tuberville’s squad scored on their opening drive, but the once feared Tech offense fizzled the rest of the way.  The Red Raiders, now 5-5 (3-5), hope to earn bowl eligibility with non-conference home-games against Weber St. and Houston remaining.

9. Iowa State – The Cyclones were throttled in week 11 by a formerly reeling Colorado team that was previously winless in the Big 12.  Senior quarterback Austin Arnaud was sacked five times and is out for the season after leaving the game in the fourth quarter due to injury.  Iowa State, now 5-6 (3-4) , hosts BCS No. 15 Missouri in the season finale.  The game is a must-win if the Cyclones have any shot of going bowling this season.

10. Texas ≡ – The Longhorns continued their plummet with a 33-16 loss to Oklahoma State in Austin.   The Cowboys raced out to a 26-3 halftime lead against Mack Browns club before shutting down the gas.  The Longhorns, now must both defeat Florida Atlantic and win their finale against red-hot BCS No. 19 Texas A&M if they hope to avoid their first losing season since 1997.

11. Colorado ≡ – The Buffaloes rallied around 28 year assistant coach Brian Cabral for a surprising 34-14 win over Iowa State in Boulder.  Cabral is now the interim head coach after Dan Hawkins was fired midweek.  Hawkins was in the stadium, to watch his son Cody throw for 266 yards and three touchdowns in the win.  The Buffaloes, now 4-6 (1-5) host Kansas State before finishing the season at BCS No. 8 Nebraska.

12. Kansas ≡ – The Jayhawks defense played relatively well holding Nebraska to just 20 points and under 400 yards of total offense in week 11.  Unfortunately for head coach Turner Gill, his homecoming was soured by an anemic offensive performance that saw the Jayhawks amass just 87 yards of total offense in the 20-3 loss.  Kansas, now 3-7 (1-5), finishes up the season hosting BCS No. 10 Oklahoma State before heading to Kansas City to face the hated BCS No. 15 Missouri Tigers.

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The Worlds most infamous moustaches

The Butcher

The boys at “The Art of Manliness” have released a list of histories most infamous moustaches.  <—-click here.

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Big 12 Power Rankings: 11/11/2010

Week 10 saw former number ones — Oklahoma and Missouri — both suffer their second Big 12 loss of the season.  Baylor failed in its attempt to solidify itself as a Big 12 power-player, losing big to Oklahoma State.  Texas looks to have gone completely into the tank, after getting drubbed by Kansas State. But it might have been Kansas who provided the most excitement of anyone during week ten, in a dramatic comeback win over Colorado.  When the dust settled, Nebraska took its place atop the Big 12 mountain.

1. Nebraska – The Cornhuskers were the only Big 12 team able to pull off a road win during week 10 and they did so with QBs Taylor Martinez and Zac Lee watching from the sidelines.  Though the Husker offense was limited to just over 300 yards of total offense but the defense held Iowa St. in check long enough for a dramatic 31-30 overtime win.  NU faithful must really be shaking their heads at the Huskers loss to Texas earlier in the season.  That loss, to a Longhorn team that is now just 4-5 (2-4), is all that is separating Bo Pelini’s squad from a possible BCS title berth.

2. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys took a previously red-hot Baylor team behind the woodshed during week 10.  OSU amassed 725 yards of total offense in the 55-28 rout of the then BCS No. 21 Bears.  Head Coach Mike Gundy has had success at OSU but he has yet to beat either Oklahoma or Texas, and the Cowboys have yet to appear in the Big 12 title game.  It looks like the stars are aligning for that all to go down if the Cowboys can take care of business.

4a. Oklahoma – The Sooners fell to a resurgent Texas A&M team 33-18 in College station during week ten.  OU was held scoreless by the Aggies during the first half before coming back to cut the defecit to 19-17 late in the 3rd quarter.  they never managed to get over the hump though as A&M fulled away in the fourth quarter.  The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the BCS No. 16 Sooners.  Texas Tech team fresh off of an upset win over Missouri heads to Norman in week 11, before OU head to both Baylor and BCS No. 10 Oklahoma State for what is sure to be a raucous crowd in Stillwater to finish the regular season.

4b. Missouri – It seemed as though the Tigers had finally gotten over the hump.  Gary Pinkel’s team was fresh off of a win over then BCS No. 1 Oklahoma, and it looked like this might be the year for Mizzou to make it to the BCS, there was even talks of a title appearance.  MU couldn’t sustain the momentum though and the Tigers have now lost two in a row following a surprising 24-17 loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock.  The Tigers seemed to have the game in control, leading 17-10 at halftime but they were shut-out by the Red Raiders in the second half.  QB Blaine Gabbert completed just 12 of 30 passes in the loss.

5. Texas A&M – It has been better late than never for the Aggies as they have now reeled off three straight victories following an impressive 33-18 win over then BCS No. 8 Oklahoma.  Mike Sherman and Co. were much maligned after three straight earlier losses against tough opponents Oklahoma State, Arkansas, and Missouri, but the negativity looks to have been unwarranted two of those games were very close and the Aggies have bounced back nicely.  The Aggies finish the season with another tough three game stretch heading to Baylor, then back home against Nebraska, and the season finale in Austin against the hated Longhorns.

6. ≡ Kansas State – Maybe Kansas State really does “own Texas?”  Or maybe the Longhorns just aren’t a very good football team.  It is probably a bit of both.  Still the Wildcats ran out to a 31-0 lead against UT before the Wildcats even completed a pass.  They extended that lead to 39-0 before Texas scored two   late in the game.  Bill Snyder’s squad is now looking 8-4 (4-4) squarely in the face.  If they can upset a reeling Mizzou team this week in Columbia KSU could have its first 9 win season in 7 years.

7. Baylor – The Bears were blown out by a quality opponent for the second time in week 10.  The 55-28 defeat at the hands of Oklahoma State showed that while vastly improved the Bears still haven’t quite reached that next level, especially on defense.  The Bears gave up 435 yards passing, and 290 yards rushing against the BCS No. 10 Cowboys.  The schedule doesn’t get any easier as Baylor hosts the resurgent, BCS No. 25 Texas A&M Aggies, before ending the season with a road-trip to BCS No. 16 Oklahoma.

8. Iowa State – The Cyclones lost a heart-breaker to BCS No. 8 Nebraska in week 10, but Paul Rhoads’ squad played with their characteristic heart and toughness in the 31-30 overtime defeat.  The Cyclones went for the win on a fake extra point, but the pass from holder Daniel Kuehl was intercepted by the Huskers to secure the NU win.  The Cyclones hope to earn bowl eligibility this week at Colorado, before hosting Missouri in the regular season finale.

9. Texas Tech – The Red Raiders pulled of an impressive come-from-behind upset over Missouri in week ten, shutting out the then BCS No. 12 Tigers in the second half of the 24-17 win.  First year head Coach Tommy Tuberville looks to have the Red Raiders 5-5 (3-4) going bowling with remaining games against Furman and Houston, but a win at BCS No. 16 Oklahoma will be required to avoid a losing Big 12 record.

10. ≡ Texas – The Longhorns have mailed it in.  Mack Brown would probably tell you otherwise but how else can you explain the absolute collapse of the UT football team this year.  We all know the Longhorns now 4-5 (2-4) are loaded with talent, and they did beat BCS No. 8 Nebraska in Lincoln earlier this year, home-losses to the likes of UCLA and Iowa State along with a 39-14 drubbing at the hands of Kansas State has the Longhorns on the outside looking in at bowl eligibility.  UT rounds out the season with BCS No. 10 Oklahoma State, Florida Atlantic and the finale against BCS No. 25 Texas A&M.

11. Kansas – Who would have thought Kansas would move out of the Big 12 cellar, especially when the Jayhawks trailed Colorado 45-17 early in the fourth quarter Saturday in Lawrence.  It looked like another blowout loss to the few fans remaining in Memorial Stadium, but Turner Gill’s team came back for an improbable 52-45 win.  The loss broke an 11 game Big 12 winless streak for the Jayhawks and led to the firing of former CU head coach Dan Hawkins.

12. Colorado – CU head coach was fired this week after the Buffaloes 52-45 loss at Kansas.  It doesn’t get any easier for the Buffaloes 3-6 (0-5) who host a tough Iowa State team, and BCS No. 25 Kansas State before ending a long-standing rivalry with BCS No. 8 Nebraska in Lincoln.

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Big 12 Power Rankings: 3rd Edition 11/3/2010

Missouri’s perch atop of the Big 12 mountain was short-lived as the Tigers spotted Nebraska a 24 point lead before falling to the Huskers 31-17 in Lincoln; Baylor dismissed more doubters, beating Texas (whose critics are getting louder) for the first time in 13 years; Oklahoma State managed to top Kansas State in Manhattan despite being without  WR Justin Blackmon.  Amidst it all OU cruised to an easy 43-10 home-win over Colorado, landing them back atop the rankings after a short hiatus.

1. Oklahoma – The Sooners are back on top, and in a league without a truly dominant team OU has posted the best resume to date.  It would be hard to pick any Big 12 team over the Sooners on a neutral field.  Their week nine win over Colorado wasn’t noteworthy, but their passing performance was.  The Sooners passed for 488 yards as a team, QB Landry Jones was 32-46 for 453 yards and 4 TDs.  His top target was WR Ryan Broyles who hauled in 9 passes for 208 yards and 3 TDs.  Broyles performance broke the OU school-record for most receiving yards in a game; Jones passed for the second most yards in a single game by an OU QB.

2. Nebraska – The Cornhuskers can’t beat Texas, but they are really, really good against everybody else.  After bouncing back from their loss to the Longhorns with a 51-41 road win against Oklahoma State, NU handled formerly unbeaten, then BCS No. 6, Missouri 31-17 in Lincoln.  The Huskers jumped out to a 24-0 first quarter lead and rode RB Roy Helu’s 307 rushing yards the rest of the way to put themselves in position to win the North and play for the Big 12 title in their final year in the league before jumping to the Big Ten next season.

3. Missouri – In typical Missouri fashion, just when the Tigers sniff success it all comes tumbling down.  Well, it isn’t that bad the MU is still a really good team and their defense is improved but true top ten teams do not give up 328 yards to anyone.  Mizzou competed gallantly after the first quarter debacle gutting the Nebraska lead to 24-14 with 7:30 remaining in the 3rd quarter, and the Tigers are still a dangerous team with an improved defense but they failed to take that next step with the loss in Lincoln.

4. ≡ Oklahoma State – Cowboys coach Mike Gundy is still a man and he expects his players to be men as well.  Accordingly Gundy decided to sit high-profile WR Justin Blackmon for OSU’s week 9 road trip to Kansas State after Blackmon spent the previous Monday in Dallas attending the Dallas Cowboy’s Monday night game and getting a DUI.  OSU relied heavily on it’s running game, chewing up clock and amassing 213 yards rushing in their 24-14 win over K-State.  OSU’s lone loss on the season was a 51-41 shootout against Nebraska in Stillwater. Blackmon will be back Saturday, and the Cowboys will need him as Robert Griffin and Baylor’s high-powered offense invade Still water in week 10.

5. ≡ Baylor – The Bears pulled of another banner win by beating Texas 30-22 in Austin and Art Briles has his team positioned to make a serious run at the south title.  Robert Griffin leads the Bears into a probable shootout against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, win that one and the could be playing for a shot at the Big 12 title game when they host Oklahoma on November 20.  That would be a monumental accomplishment for a program that hasn’t been to a bowl game in 16 years. Interesting side note: If BU can manage to make it to and/or win the Big 12 title game this year it could be a huge boon to TCU’s national title hopes.

6. ≡ Texas – Mack Brown’s team has lost more home-games this year (3) as Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops has lost in his entire career (2), that is the kind of thing that will make the folks in Texas stir in their spurs.  The Longhorns travel to Manhattan to face a Kansas State team who always seems to find a way to give UT fits, and at 2-3 in the Big 12 the Longhorns can’t afford many more losses if they hope to achieve a winning conference record.  Though K-State has beaten UCLA and ISU, two teams that UT has lost to it is tough to put the Wildcats above the Longhorns with UT’s win over Nebraska a team that KSU is completely incapable of playing with.

7. = Kansas State – The Wildcats are still sitting on 5 wins and still on the outside looking in at bowl eligibility for the first time since 2006.  KSU was unable to take advantage of a defensive effort that held high-powered Oklahoma State to 17 offensive points as in turnovers and miscues in the kicking game cost the Wildcats a chance at a readily winnable game last week in Manhattan.  A snake-bitten Texas team comes to town this week as both teams hope to rebound in what some have dubbed the “Chisholm Trail Rivalry.”

8.  Texas A&M – Maybe it was just the quality of their opponents.  Mike Sherman’s Aggies handled Texas Tech 45-27 in College Station.  A&M, who lead by as many as 25 points in the contest rode former back-up QB Ryan Tannahill’s school-record 449 passing yards to the blowout victory.  The Aggies have now won two in a row to improve their record to 5-3 (2-2), but see their schedule become very difficult once again as they finish out the season with BCS No. 8 Oklahoma, @ BCS No. 21 Baylor, BCS No. 7 Nebraska, and the season finale at Texas in Austin.

9.  Iowa State – The Cyclones looked to be on the brink of disaster as they trailed Kansas 9-7 heading into halftime last week in Ames.  Paul Rhoads’ team regrouped and outscored the hapless Jayhawks 21-7 in the second half to claim the 28-16 win.  The Cyclones now sit at 5-4 (3-2) and can claim bowl eligibility with just one more win.  Their most likely opportunity will be a road trip to Boulder to face a reeling Colorado team.  That game is sandwiched in between two home games against BCS No. 7 Nebraska this week and the finally against BCS No. 12 Missouri.

10. ≡ Texas Tech – Year one has not gone as planned for Tommy Tuberville and the Red Raiders.  Tech was trounced by Texas A&M 45-27 in College Station and is looking squarely at finishing with a 2-6 Big 12 record.  The Raiders host BCS No. 12 Missouri in week 10 before traveling to Norman for a date with BCS No. 8 Oklahoma.  Fortunately for Tech’s bowl hopes the Raiders scheduled two non-conference home-dates against Weber State and Houston to close out the season.  The seat could be getting hot for Tuberville even if TT is able to finish the regular season at 6-6.

11. ≡ Colorado – The Buffaloes are bad.  They are really bad.  Fortunately, their schedule is about to get a lot easier.  CU heads to Lawrence for a match-up with the equally horrid Jayhawks, before hosting Kansas State and Iowa State.  It is unlikely that the Buffs will find their sixth win but Coach Dan Hawkins’ boys might be able to muster out a win or two in their final season in the Big 12.

12. ≡ Kansas – Turner Gill’s squad showed fight in a 28-16 loss at Iowa State in week 9, but it wasn’t enough as KU had to rely on 3rd string QB Quinn Mecham. It was the Jayhawks 11th straight conference loss dating back to last year.  If they are unable to beat Colorado in Lawrence on Saturday the streak will likely balloon to 15 games and carry over to next season.

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Forgoing Novembeard. Embracing the more charitable Movember.

A couple of weeks ago I posted that I was planning on participating in Novembeard 2010.  Well, that plan took a left turn because after running across the website for MOVEMBER I decided that I couldn’t — in good conscious — knowingly refuse to participate in the Movember movement.

Movember is a month long event designed to bring awareness and monetary contributions to the never-ending fight against men’s health ailments, specifically Testicular and prostate Cancer.  Moes (men w/ moustaches) and Mo Sistas (the women who support them) all over the world will spend the month of November growing out the best staches(the men only) that nature allows them.  As the moustaches grow out they will inevitably promt questions from friends, family, co-workers etc.   It is those questions that provide the Mo with the opportunity to talk about the men’s health issues and to, hopefully, obtain a donation to the cause from people who inquire about his moustache.

Off to work for this Mo.

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