Sunday, March 30, 2014

1994 Movie Bracket:



It has been a long time, but Table 71, like the phoenix, has risen again.  Since we are all about finishing what we started, we have flipped the format a bit, but are continuing our journey through the movies, year by year, from 1990 to present day. 

Instead of basing the seeding on movie revenue as in years past, the members of this blog ranked their favorite 16 movies for 1994.  We averaged out the ratings, and the highest ranked movies made the final sixteen.

Format wise, it’s a conversation, between two of the writers, Joe, and Pat, debating the movies and coming to a consensus. Enjoy.

 (1) Shawshank Redemption vs (16) Natural Born Killers

Pat: I used to love Natural Born Killers, and I think that's because I felt like I was supposed to.  That's back when I loved everything Oliver Stone put out, Wall Street, Platoon, JFK, and Natural Born Killers. NBK was an uncomfortable viewing experience shot like an MTV music video, a Michael Bay movie on crack and beating your head into the ground with its message.  I get what Oliver Stone was doing, or trying to do with this movie and it’s an interesting take off from Tarantino's original script. Its attempts at moral relativity are intriguing; however, I prefer a little more subtlety in my movies.

The Shawshank Redemption is a complete movie. A movie I stumbled upon on TNT in the 90's and realized that this movie is two things, very good and very long.  It's about one of the simplest things in humanity, hope.  It would be easy for this movie to be sordid and dreary, instead it balances the dark moments with the fulfilling moments.  The beers on the roof, the building of the library, the rapport between friends and the scene where Andy snuck into the warden's office to play opera across the entire prison yard.  The ending is as gratifying and fulfilling as any movie I've seen. I could write about this movie for days, but we've got an entire bracket to get through.


Joe: Natural Born Killers was lucky to even make the list. Thanks to NCAA sanctions for drug abuse, insanity, possible bribes, and animal abuse, the Mighty Ducks 2 (further known as D2) was removed from the list. So after getting snubbed as a bubble team, NBK was able to make the tournament, take lots of photos, tournament programs, some free t-shirts and other tournament memorabilia, and of course, stories to tell their grandchildren. Not a bad take away for a movie which wasn't even supposed to be here. Good for them.

I think NBK definitely wins the award for "Just Happy To Be Here".

Winner: The Shawshank Redemption

(2) Forrest Gump vs (15) Ed Wood


Pat: How about Forrest Gump and Ed Wood?  I'll admit, I haven't seen Ed Wood since I found it scrolling through the stations one night, paused, said, "Hey, That's Johnny Depp." and moved on.  Forrest Gump is not only a film classic but an icon of pop culture.  It's incessantly quotable, appeals to all ages and features one of the greatest contemporary music soundtracks since American Graffiti.  It is a goofy movie, given all that transpires ("Invested in a fruit company") but the rare human moments, where Forrest isn't running across the country, are what makes the movie great. Forrest asking to see his son, Forrest taking care of his mother as she is dying and Forrest talking to Jenny's grave are three scenes that add some depth.  Does Ed Wood compare?


Joe: Precisely. I'd say the closest it gets to an upset is during the filming of "Bride of the Monster." We watch them steal a giant octopus from a movie studio, but Paul forgets to swipe the machine that moves its arms/tentacles. As they are about to film by the lake, Bela Lugosi come down with a minor bout of "daddy needs his medicine" and Ed leaves him alone to rest up in the car. Well, after a full needle of "rest," Bela shows up at the lake shore pumped, he quenches his thirst with some whiskey, and convincingly has a life and death struggle with a fake octupus whose arms/tentacles are unable to move by themselves. Wood says cut and stands in awe. The movie has just hit its purposeful brilliant low as it shows Ed Wood observing his early directing high.

Not to mention that I think it's this movie that lets Hollywood know just how good of an actor Johnny Depp can be. Sure, Depp's other Burton movie where he plays an Ed is great and everything, but it likely wasn't suuuuuper hard to play an emo man who has scissorhands. This Ed though, the consensus worst director of all time, is chippy and cheery. A crossdresser. A failure. He is an optimistic, yet constantly on edge because he fights for all that he gets. 

I tell you, Pat, if it wasn't for some early season losses that hurt its RPI, we would be seeing this movie with a bit better seeding and a chance for the second round.

Winner: Forrest Gump


(3) Pulp Fiction vs (14) Major League 2


Pat: Pulp Fiction is one of the most iconic films ever made.  Major League 2 is a shameless money grab with the dull storyline of "How people deal with success." which is far less interesting than "People trying to achieve success". Major League 2 still has some good moments; Jack Parkman, Rube Baker and Harry Doyle are all memorable characters.  But it’s a turn your brain off on a Saturday afternoon on the USA Network kind of movie. By the way, you remember when the USA Network used to try and be risqué? There was actually a show called Silk Stalking’s. America.


The dialog in Pulp Fiction, and the script itself, is so clever and tight, actors still get together to do live reads in front of audiences 20 years since the movie came out.  I also like that, unlike other Tarantino films, the camera observes, rather than creates. The dialog is the star here. Consider the long steady cam shot of Jules and Vincent’s "Merits of a foot massage" debate and the slow zoom of "Pumpkin's" robbing restaurants idea.  The soundtrack is this smooth amalgamation of 60's Dick Dale surfer tunes and 70's funk, and it fucking works.  In the heaving drudgery of mid 90's movies, Pulp Fiction was the Fab Five, a breath of non-conformist fresh air, running and gunning its way through to the next round.


Joe: Pulp Fiction was the movie equivalent of having an all freshman starting line-up who wore shorts down to their knees. Kind of knocked the wind out of Hollywood. I mean, who saw this movie coming?! Now-a-days you take this movie for granted. It's still elite, but there is an entire genre now looking to emulate this movie's flair. Before Pulp, there were movies just as violent, but everything else about the movie was groundbreaking. The flow of the movie was cool and crisp, the dialogue and action toyed with the movie-goer. It was like a killer whale playing with a seal pup long after it had died. Pulp could have gone any direction it wanted to at countless times throughout the movie, but what I loved is that it always went the way it wanted to go. Pulp Fiction was the... wait, why am I still pumping up Pulp? Screw Major League 2... this is a 65 point blowout victory for Pulp. This is Wichita State taking care of Cal Poly. At least Ed Wood showed up to play.

Winner: Pulp Fiction


(4) The Professional vs (13) Red


Pat:  This matchup is sponsored by the country of France. I haven't seen Red, but I've seen The Professional. The Professional is one of those movies that could easily become just a grisly bloodbath if they didn't execute the human interest story so well.  Usually if a movie pitched the "recluse hitman takes care of orphaned girl" storyline, I'd think it sounds like one of those screwball action comedies that are good for the whole family.  Instead, Jean Reno plays Leon with such subtleness that he never makes false steps acting.  His performance is nuanced and is the perfect foil for Gary Oldman's iconic over the top, Mozart listening mass murdering government agent.  Oh, and the action scenes kick ass, "Call everybody" "What do you me-" "EVERYBODY!" The Professional is like one of those Bobby Knight Indiana squads, run the motion offense well, excellent effort, and cuts you apart with a bevy of screens and mid-range jumpers.  Sell me on Red, I think it might be another Sarunas Marciulionis.  Acclaimed, introduces the Euro-Step, but not a next level player.

 Joe: Red could be the Cinderella team of this tournament. In all circles of critics, it is rated higher than its brethren White. I just happen to personally like White more.

It has been "certified fresh" by rotten tomatoes with a modest score of 100%. Like it's counterparts in "The Three Colors Trilogy," the movies tell a story. It's more than that, though. Like when a respectful person says they want to talk with you, rather than talk to you. As Roger Ebert tells it, "They are metaphysical through example, not theory: Kieslowski tells the parable but doesn't preach the lesson."

All three movies made Ebert's "Great Movie" list, a list that consists of only around 300 movies from the beginning of time to his death.

Red follows Valentine, a young model who accidentally runs over a dog on her way home. After some vet attention, she returns the dog to its owner who is a retired judge. The judge, we find out, intercepts the private phone calls of his neighbors. Oppositely of his former career, he observes without judgment. In his retirement, he seems thrilled to know the facts behind each case. He is content to see the whole truth rather than pass a verdict based on biased evidence from two sides. He is also a scorned lover, something he shares with Valentine and another young lawyer who has an apartment across the street from Valentines. The judge accurately predicts the dismal outcome for both of their personal affairs. Of course, it is alluded to that, if not for age, Valentine and the judge could have been lovers themselves. Something the story gently alludes to as Valentine and the young lawyer almost cross paths a few times through the film. 

Since Roger Ebert loved Kryzysztov Kieslowski so well, and understood him best, I'll end with this quote, "All his films ask why, since God gave us free will, movie directors go to such trouble to take it away."

Pat: Ah ha, I can tell by your lack of instant concession that you want to fight me on this.  Should I ding you for using the great Roger Ebert to prop up your argument? Also, using the great Roger Ebert is like saying "You should watch this rom com, Nora Ephron wrote it", instantly you have my attention.  Ebert was at his highest level of film snobbery in the 90's, when his ego and educated meshed to create a film critic who scorned anything that wasn't deemed "High art".  In later years, after many trials and tribulations, his reviews became softer, more open minded.  Red was the right movie at the right time to crack Ebert's list, does that add or diminish the honor?

If I'm a complete film nerd, I'd acquiesce, but we are about more than just well shot scenes and deeper meanings. How many times have you watched Red? I've seen The Professional multiple times. And yes, Red may have you asking deep questions, but The Professional appeals to less subterranean emotion, corruption, revenge, and friendship.

It's interesting that the core of both these movies is a relationship with an age gap that inhibits a more romantic relationship from fostering. I would argue that Leon's growth, from the morally ambiguous arbiter of cash driven justice, is greater than the Judge in Red. Movies often overstate emotional growth, The Professional knows it is a slow, hesitant process, and displays it as such. 

Your Serve.


Joe: When I heard about The Professional freshman year of college, it seemed like a gift. You know, the sort of movie that actually nails a genre and should be appreciated for the feat it accomplished, because you're not sure the next time a movie studio will nail a concept or succeed at putting a twist on an already great niche. Natalie Portman was hot that year. She had made the guilty pleasure that is "Garden State," and was an established Queen in the Star Wars universe. Then I find out there is this awesome movie where she is an orphan assassin intern. Awesome! And I enjoyed it a ton, hit all the right spots. Solid Movie.

The reason I can't look past Red is because The Professional reminds me of those girls that you were lucky to hook up with and don't regret for doing it. It just does not hit me as a movie you especially need to go back to after the first time or two. I don't need to watch it again because it won't surprise me. It had a great first run through, but the pace of the movie and rational story arc makes a repeat viewing come off as a chore. Quite introvert meets extrovert orphan child and they form a symbiotic relationship. 

Red on the other hand is an engrossing movie, if it were mainstream enough to be shown on cable, I would most assuredly get distracted by it. Kieslowvski writes a sensational story that is entirely plausible. There are never any plotholes in any of his movies. It's absolutely brilliant the way it seems that he stumbled in the an incredibly interesting story and just filmed it for the way it played out. Whereas The Professional is a movie where you can tell a writer made up and imagined what would happen if this cool thing did that cool thing with that other cool thing and then puts together a story from there. Like what if cars, planes, and other machines could become giant robots? And then they imagine all the wicked stuff that would happen. In Red, you're compelled by a story that is in every way plausible since Kieslowski seems unconcerned with having inventing scenes to help with what has to happen. He seems to have a supercomputer that can play out situations. The passion each character shows in their situation leaves you stunned by the beauty of free will and human interaction. 

Winner: (13) Red


(5) The Lion King vs (12) Hoop Dreams

Pat: I went my entire childhood without watching The Lion King. That was a fact that dismayed and shocked many people my age. By the time Lion King came out, I had ascended to watching PG-13 movies, so when I saw Lion King for the first time three or four years ago, it was without the childhood Disney blinders at all.  So, it is without a childhood bias that I can proclaim that The Lion King was one of the greatest Disney movies ever made.  The Lion King joins Rocky 3 and The Godfather with having one of the best beginnings in all of cinema.  The plot, of course, is standard among Disney movies.  After the death of their father, the young protagonist begins a journey encountering colorful characters, life lessons and personal growth before achieving their potential and vanquishing their adversary.  Rarely is it so well executed as The Lion King.  Scar, voiced by Jeremy Irons, remains one of the best cartoon villains.  Also, if you want to see what it would be like for Scar to run an international investment firm, watch Jeremy Irons in Margin Call.  And the music, "Circle of Life" "I can't wait to be king" "Can you feel the love tonight?" and my personal favorite, "Be Prepared", complete with goose-stepping hyenas.  To me, this is one of the titanic Disney movies, and I am not a Disney nerd like a lot of people.

I've always found Hoop Dreams depressing, I think because it was meant to be.  It definitely is an eye opening view of the journey inner city kids go through to achieve their basketball dreams.  I've watched Hoop Dreams a couple of times and it never really popped to me.  Maybe because I knew that neither kid made it to the NBA and that their families never fully escaped the violence of their neighborhoods.  However, Hoop Dreams is an important movie as it showed the 99% of high school athletes that don't end up playing professionally.  For every Blind Side, there are thousands of tales like Hoop Dreams.  Both are good movies, tough call.


Joe: Hoop Dreams is an important movie. In this tournament, it is the bizarro Shawshank. The whole movie is about hope, everlasting hope, hope that just teases you until it uses you and leaves you washed up and alone. Granted, a couple of the kids actually used their college ticket and elevated their lives. But, the fact I need to write that sentence shouldn't be a statement sentence, ideally. "Oh wow, the black kid actually made something of himself. Good for him. I can sleep better tonight." Once more, Hoop Dreams is an important movie. It shows us how bleak these inner city families live their life. Their offspring are living lottery tickets, in the very real sense that, yes, maybe they'll make it big time. More often than not, though, they are duds and you'll be lucky enough to earn back what you paid through a community college scholarship.

The horrible truth about this movie, along with the recent documentary Blackfish, is that nothing is going to change. This is Jurassic Park's Dennis Nedry meeting up with blatant, unavoidable problems, and then yelling out, "we've got problems, we've got problems here! See... nobody cares." 

The Lion King on the other hand is one of those special keepsakes from my childhood that immediately earned full tenure and a penthouse suite in my brain. This movie is like the song, 'Oh I just can't wait to be' ...watching this movie again! Unlike other 1994 hits, this movie hasn't aged at all. You could Men in Black style erase everyone's memory, release this Disney movie next year opposite an original Pixar and it would take home the academy award for best animated film. This movie plays like a team, the way basketball movies are supposed to play. You have Mr. Bean playing Zazu. An old, black Rafiki doling out wisdom. Ferris Bueller plays a lion. And Jonathon Taylor Thomas methods acts young Simba (I honestly thought JTT was going to be my mentor in life. He was a couple years older, wiser. He's show me how to woo a women. Alas, he fell off the planet. No hard feelings, JTT). I haven't even written my 1,000 words on the Mufasa/Scar relationship. Which reminds me, Scar is one of the best villains of all time. Simba got lucky in that last fight scene, let's be honest. If Scar hadn't called that TO when his team didn't have any, he might have continued to rule and finished fucking up Pride Rock. 

The Lion King easily won this round, they should have sat the starters a lot earlier. Timon, Pumba and Rafiki's Bruce Lee impersonation could have easily sealed this match up.

Winner: (5) Lion King


(6) Dumb and Dumber vs (11) Blue Chips

Pat: I've seen Dumb and Dumber over a hundred times, maybe even 200. It has finally worn out its rewatchability.  Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunn are stupid, and it’s funny.  It's dumb humor, but it works.  Dumb and Dumber appeals to our most basic of humor, physical comedy, stupidity and bathroom humor.  This was the first Farrelly Brothers movie that involved a couple of losers going on a road trip to track down a girl named Mary and certainly wasn't the last.  I'd argue this was Jim Carrey's best and most timeless movie of 1994. Ace Ventura was wackier, The Mask was more polished, but Dumb and Dumber was a perfect combination.  I could literally quote Dumb and Dumber and their butchering of common phrases all day, and that's what makes good comedies work, by giving us a place to laugh consistently, if predictably.  Also, Jeff Daniels saying "Flush you bastard" with his pants around his ankles will never get old.

I was so jacked up when Blue Chips was coming out.  I rented on my birthday, stoked to see Shaq and Anfernee Hardaway, two of my favorite NBA players, in a movie.  When the movie ended, my 10 year old self was confused.  I thought the movie was good, but I was a little lost, the movie went way over my head and I think was deeper than what people expected.  This was around the same time as The Program came out as well as Sports Illustrated calling for Miami to close down their football program, the ills of college sports was a hot topic.  

Btw, Independence Day is on, "Release me!" "Get him out of there!"

I've never seen a sports movie with as good of basketball sequences as Blue Chips.  They had actual athletes, actual pro players and actual coaches.  Of course, it led to some wooden and terrible acting and Nick Nolte's performance was like Jordan on the 86 Bulls.  I liked the point of the movie though, a legendary coach in a struggling program fighting with the reality that he would have to cheat to get back on top.  His last speech, where he comes clean after beating Bobby Knight and Indiana, is excellent as it addresses the urgency to win and the impatience of college sports.  Overall though, Blue Chips didn't click as it came off as overly edited.  The movie didn't flow and it felt like important scenes were cut completely out which hurt the plausibility of the movie.  


Joe: I always felt lucky to have never really seen Dumb and Dumber until my early 20s. I had seen it, but only in segments. The first run through, it was obvious how brilliant the movie was. It took genius to be that dumb. I cannot wait to see Dumb and Dumber 2. Come on, Carrey! Come on, you stupid son of a bitch! Live! LIVE! LIIIIIIIVVE! Speaking of which, it is absolutely fantabulous that Carrey has worked 20 years off of 3 movies he made in one year. He is in the Adam Sandler (see you next year) hall of fame. The distinguished halls where you hold full A-list tenure even though looking back, you only made a few good movie in a year or two and then just shelled out shit on all your fans. Only they don't realize they are getting shit on. They leave the theater thinking they had fun, but really, they feel numb. It's the sort of numb you get after being violated, only your central nervous system blocks it out as a self-defense mechanism. Jesus, I just went full circle. Being excited about D&D 2, to admitting my abuse. Fuck it, another Carrey movie is another chance at the brilliance of 94'! Let's roll the dice!

I've never seen Blue Chips, but I know that any movie that features Shaq can't be that good. Also, it seems awfully suspicious since it seems like one of the last films before Nick Nolte became Nick Nolte.


Pat: Carrey hasn't completely struck out since 94.  Liar Liar is hilarious, The Truman show was excellent and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a brilliant movie.  Jim Carrey's naturally a dark person, most comedians are. I first saw him in Doing Time at Maple Drive when he was a brooding youngster.  His career choices have vacillated between goofy and grim. 

Winner: (6) Dumb and Dumber

(10) True Lies vs (7) Speed


Pat: True Lies is a funny, clever action movie.  It succeeds where others have failed.  It’s hard to find brutish action heroes with comedic timing, but Arnold pulls it off.  Tom Arnold is the requisite funny man, but Arnold plays his role with a wry swagger, almost breaking through the fourth wall.  His wife, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, plays the role of the audience, as a naïve and blank canvass looking for some excitement. Ok, enough trying to add depth to this flick. Bill Paxton is cheesy and hilarious and I find myself actually believing his character, which I don't often do with Bill Paxton's performances.  True Lies is a fun movie that you can jump into at any moment and go along for a ride. Oh, and it introduced me to The Tango.

Speed is a fucking action movie. Its gripping, intense, and adds just enough levity with Sandra Bullock and the other colorful characters on the bus.  The premise is simple, a terrorist has rigged an LA city bus with a bomb that will go off if the bus drops below 55 mph.  Enter: Keanu Rivers, action hero.  Keanu is perfect in Speed, he doesn't have a lot of dialogue, doesn't have to convey many emotions and just stands there and looks out the bus window while intermittently swearing while is partner (Jeff Daniels everybody!) tries to put together the clues to catch the terrorist.  Of course the villain is Dennis Hopper, who has a history not just with Keanu Reeves character but with the LAPD resulting in a clunky ending (after their mental duel on the bus, here comes a first fight on a speeding subway!). 

Speed is a good movie filled with bit actors, Cameron from Ferris Bueller and Dyson from T2 to name a couple that add to the movie but don't make it feel too busy. Also, I refuse to let Speed 2: Cruise Control dampen the greatness of the original. That was a complete dumpster fire.


Joe: Liar Liar was all right. Truman Show and Sunshine do not count. That's like comparing Baseball Deon Sanders to Football Deion Sanders.


Pat: Weak comparison. It’s not a different sport, he was just playing the game a different way. Kind of like when Brett Favre reinvented himself from a flame throwing gunslinger who made poor decisions to a sage veteran that outthought defenses...wait a second, that never happened. Speed has to win here.

 Joe: Haha. I agree Speed advances. It just has to. That said, this is why True Lies should have won.

Like the great pyramids of food, I'll start with the tasty morsel that sells everything and move down the solid base of why this movie continues to be lauded and has an annual run in theaters across the country that sells out in seconds. 

Tippy Tip Top: The villain dies be being fired whilst dangling from missile of a harrier jet. That.. is... AWESOME! The harrier jet is the most useless masturbation the military ever pulled off. It's aerodynamically useless. It has one party trick that gets old quick. But exactly how quick though... maybe I was wrong about this trick getting old. I was definitely wrong, it's an awesome trick. It can just hang in the air like a bumble bee, I mean hummingbird. 

Next Level: All the secrets in the movie. It was spying the way spying was meant to be spied. First the husband hides things from the wife, and then the wife has to hide things from the husband. Is your head hurting? No? Get some Advil. Got it? Good. She was hiding things from her husband so she could go work for a secret person, who turned out to be... her husband! Then both wife and husband have to hide things from the daughter. And I'm pretty sure the daughter was doing drugs or getting too far with her boyfriend, so she was hiding something too. 

Middle Level: This supports all the juicy secrets, and it is none other than the spying itself! You see Arnold dancing with beautiful exotic women, using cool gadgets. Talking to himself.. wait.. nope! He is talking to Mr. Arnold. Speaking of which, the layers of Arnold in this movie almost deserves its own category. But seriously, Arnold S. kicks all sorts of ass. Which brings me to..

Almost most important layer: All the action. Action upon action. Skiing action. Fancy mansion action. Harrier action, as has been previously mentioned. Middle East/East Africa terrorist action. Hot mom action. Which brings me to...

The most important layer: All the sexy sexiness. Damn, Jaime. First she is this wife who you could see an average guy marrying and not totally regretting it, even though his eye probably wonders many times a day. Then all of sudden she is brought into the spying fold (see above) and we see her do a striptease! And she's great at it? And looks great while doing it? And then she's this whole other woman the rest of the way. She nails the lead singer role. Then, since the paying audience might not have had enough, they throw in all these super smoking hot back up sexy ladies. Evil villain sexy ladies. Throw away scene stealing sexy ladies. In my opinion, and this could be the 8-year-old, and probably more accurate, 10-12-year-old who got to see this finally, all the awesome sexiness is what I remember from the movie. This movie taught me about sex, but in a comforting way. Not in a scary way. Not in a corrupting way. It was jolting enough to really open while eyes, while innocent enough to assure me everything would be O.K. 

God Bless this perfect movie. 


Pat: See this is why we do this.  For arguments like that.  The officials are conferring at the scorer’s table and reviewing the videotape.  The decision has been reversed, True Lies wins.

Winner: (10) True Lies

 (8) The Mask vs (9) White

Pat: The Mask is one of those movies made for the underdog.  You have the weak willed, fragile, cowardly Stanley Ipkiss. The great thing about Stanley, is he knows his life sucks, and he wants to change it, he's just a complete chickenshit.  One day, he finds a mask that turns him into a zoot suit wearing goon with all the confidence in the world.  Jim Carrey's character, like his character in Liar Liar, is given an avenue to not have a filter.  Absurdly discarding society’s conventions is the root of most comedy, and it’s the heart of most of Carrey's comedic work. The Mask robs a bank, settles a score with crooked mechanics, performs a fantastic song and dance number and gets the girl.  Without The Mask on, Ipkiss, knowing he's capable of such action begins to grow a backbone and wages a romantic duel with himself over the love of the beautiful Cameron Diaz.  Cameron Diaz cut her hair after this movie and has never looked even 1/10 as good as in The Mask. The villains are funny in their own right as they seem to know they aren't even that high on the criminal totem pole.  This, combined with their stupidity gives them a humorous vulnerability. 


This movie isn't as good as Dumb and Dumber, but it’s still fun to watch. 



Joe: Ah, the mask. What a fun movie. Weak ass villains, though. In fact, I'm still mad about the fact The Mask was chosen over the regular season champion Ace Ventura. But, that's why we have conference tournaments.

Mask has one great transformation scene, more than few "isn't this Diaz girl the hottest thing you've ever seen?" scenes, and a weak ending. To expound a bit about the ending, every time I watch the ending, it hooks me in, I think things are really going to go to hell. That evil guy is just a dick mobster type, but then he gets the mask on and you're scared. I was, and still am terrified when I think of the bad guy when he gets the mask. The problem is that it really isn't that big of a deal. Honestly, before you know it, the dog or maybe a lost orphan gets the mask and then the situation is pretty well averted. Overall, the movie only has a few highs. Great ones, but it is a campaign built around a couple big games. 

Now White, let me tell you about White. It is the second of the Blue, White, and Red trilogy by Kierslowski. My roommate got me into it and I had to start off on Blue. What did I think of Blue? Fuck, Blue. That's what I thought of Blue. It's this uptight bitch who lost her family, can't cry about it, and mopes around Paris doing nothing but being a mopey bitch. God, I really hated Blue. Still hate it, but I reverse the right to change my mind when I rewatch it in few years. Anyway, I was thoroughly downtrodden about my moral obligation to continue the trilogy and watch White. My obligation paid off in huge dividends, though! Within the first few minutes, you find out that the main character is an award winning polish hairdresser who is in divorce court because he can't hold an erection to consummate his marriage with his incredibly beautiful French wife. I mean, she is gorgeous. Not in a vain, whore-ish way, either. In a natural beauty, someone you would gaze at and get lost in sort of way. She turns out to be quite a huge bitch, the kind whose ego is hurt by this normal dude who can't fulfill her the way she needs to be fulfilled. She leaves the dude homeless and with a warrant out for his arrest, he has to be smuggled back to Poland in an embarrassing fashion. Once there, and I'm skipping over a lot, but once there, he overcomes depression and turns himself into a millionaire to win her back. And win her back he does, but it's not the happy ending you'd expect. It's a pretty great ending. Imagine wanting to impress someone, and eventually you succeed to the point they are obsessed with you. You don't abuse them at that point, but during this process you gained confidence and still have confidence as they are now fawning over you. It's one of the best stories I've ever seen watched in my life. Among the trilogy, it is the 'comedy,' and I think that might be why I admire it so much. It's brutally honest, but shows a driven man succeeding through realistic cunning measures.

Winner: (9) White


Second Round is coming soon. Matchups are:



2nd Round:

(1) Shawshank Redemption vs (9) White

(2) Forrest Gump vs (10) True Lies

(3) Pulp Fiction vs (6) Dumb and Dumber

(5) Lion King vs (13) Red

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A NCAA Tourney Guide for Drinkers and Novices

We could write an in depth dissertation breaking down the NCAA Tournament in full fledged basketball glory. But, that would take a lot of time and cost millions of lives.

Instead, we decided to write something for the people that only follow college basketball for three weeks in late March.  If you are one of those people, and have stumbled upon this blog because you heard someone at work talking about a bracket pool, we are here for you. 

We recognize that March Madness is at its best when you have attach yourself to a team randomly and ride out that brief, lust filled fandom until that team meets their demise. 

So, below, you will find a reason to root for every time in the tournament.  As well as a drink that seems to fit each team.  Take the time to find the team, and the drink, that is right for you, and enjoy the Madness.

North Carolina:
Reason:You like the powder blue and heard the star of Space Jam went here.
Drink: Pornstar

Reason: The best way to throw people off your scent that you have no idea what is going on is to support one of the best teams. Also throw around terms like "Teamwork" and "Playing basketball the right way". Wear sweaters.
Drink: Mike's Hard Lemonade

Reason: You've seen #NerdNation thing pop up on twitter and want to fit in, you watch Big Bang Theory and read Tolstoy, or at least pretend to.
Drink: Cabernet Sauvignon

Reason: You like the underdog and think Wofford would make a great name for a fat dog.
Drink: Black Velvet Whiskey

Michigan State:
Reason: You love the movie 300, and think Spartans are awesome.
Drink: Dry Martini

New Mexico:
Reason: Breaking Bad was set in New Mexico, and that's reason enough for you.
Drink: Corona

Reason: You want to sing "Rocky Mountain High!!! Colorado!" after every basket and everyone to hate you.
Drink: Coors

Reason: You need a reason to wear all your "Agent of Chaos" gear you bought after The Dark Knight.
Drink: 151, Up.

Reason: You want to seem smarter than you really are. You also like to spin the yarn about Harvard "playing basketball the way that it was meant to be played".
Drink: Riesling

Wichita State: You jumped on the Shockers bandwagon last year, which makes you a certifiable diehard and you are going to act like it. Make sure to bemoan the heartbreak of the Final Four loss last year, newer fans simply don't understand the pain.
Drink: The Four Horsemen

Reason: You love Oregon's football uniforms.
Drink: PBR

Kansas: You are a total front runner and only want to support the best. You've been jumping on the Kansas bandwagon since Paul Pierce and Jacque Vaughn were there. Rock Chalk..what's the rest?
Drink: Jameson.

Reason: You like Jay Wright's suits.
Drink: Fireball

Reason: You're fucking American and you are going to act like the patriot you are. Make sure to call anyone rooting against them un-American, suggest they move to Canada.
Drink: Jack and Coke

Arizona State:
Reason: You, like the rest of the country, wishes that you actually had gone to ASU.
Drink: Hot Totty

Iowa State:
Reason: You heard that they call Iowa State's head coach the Mayor, you were a mayor on FourSquare, you feel kinship.
Drink: Starburst Shooter

Stephen F. Austin:
Reason: Their mascot is the Lumberjacks, you like the idea of a team with flannel jerseys and red beards in the tournament.
Drink: Tequila Sunrise

Coastal Carolina:
Reason: Their mascot is the Chanticleers and you have two things going for you that most people don't. 1. You read Chaucer. 2. You remember Chaucer. You want to talk about the demise of fair Chanticleer while watching the demise of the Chanticleers.
Drink: A Hurricane

George Washington:
Reason: You're a history nerd and want to be able to work into conversation the sand it took for old GW to cross the Delaware.
Drink: A warm ale

Reason: Its impossible to root against The Fighting Blue Hens

Reason: You don't know much, but you know "Hail To The Victors" is the greatest fight song ever.
Drink: Mimosa

Reason: They are playing Duke, that's reason enough for anybody.
Drink: This years Florida Gulf Coast Award: Pensacola Bushwacker

Reason: You like blues music and missed free throws.
Drink: Whiskey Sour

Reason: You like to drink Manhattan's.
Drink: Really? A Manhattan.

Reason: You've partied and Madison once and won at Hammerschlagen. These are the things memories are made of.
Drink: Miller Genuine Draft

Reason: You like the idea of a team full of fat friars in robes winning at basketball.
Drink: Communion Wine

Reason: You've been out of the game a few years, but remember when Umass had those sick squads with Marcus Camby.
Drink: Sam Adam's Boston Lager

Reason: You like beer.
Drink: Milwaukee's Best

Reason: Red and black always make nice uniforms.
Drink: Cincinnati Cocktail

St. Louis:
Reason: You know what a Billiken is. You also want to hear Jim Nance squeal," St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, is now the Gateway to the Best!"
Drink: Busch.

Ohio State:
Reason: Same reason as St. Louis, you know what a Buckeye is.
Drink: Red Death

Reason: You are a humanitarian sort, and you think its nice that Dayton has been hosting these play in games all these years.
Drink: Tom Collins

Reason: You like dogs, especially Great Danes.
Drink: Adios Motherfucker

Louisville: Because their pace of pay is like six bumps of cocaine.
Reason: Vodka Red Bull

Reason: Danny Manning is their coach!
Drink: Hurricane

Reason: You will never having to worry about misspelling their name.
Drink: Peach Belini

Reason: Their mascot is a giant piece of fruit.
Drink: Screwdriver

Reason: Its always cute when football schools play basketball.
Drink: Bourbon Fizz

Eastern Kentucky: Directional schools normally don't do well, and you like the underdog.
Drink: Jim Beam, Up.

Reason: You liked the movie Far and Away and just saw a youtube of Blake Griffin dunking in college.
Drink: Red Ale

Creighton: Doug McDermott sounds like a lawyer, but he's actually one of the best scorers in the history of college basketball
Drink: Rob Roy

New Mexico State:
Reason: They have a guy who is 7'5".
Drink: Tequila Sunset

North Dakota State:
Reason: There isn't a lot in North Dakota, you want to make sure the 12 people that live there don't feel lonely.
Drink: Harvey Wallbanger

Reason: It says "Sic em Bears" on the back of their uniforms. That's pretty awesome.
Drink: Bloody Mary

NC State:
Reason: They are the guy at the party nobody knows and everyone keeps asking, "How did he get in here?"
Drink: Jello Shot

Reason: Gumbo.
Drink: Sazerac

San Diego State: You feel sorry for people that subject themselves to such perfect weather.
Drink: Margherita

St. Joe's:
Reason: Their coach looks like the dad from everybody loves Raymond.
Drink: Brass Tacks Buck

Reason: Yuengling is one of your favorite beers and you love French fries smothered in cheddar cheese.
Drink: Yuengling

Reason: Their best player is named Shabazz.
Drink: Elephant Flip

Reason: You like Macaroni and Cheese, their road uniforms look like macaroni and cheese. This makes you hungry.
Drink: Jack Daniels

Reason: You saw a sentimental news report on their coach and it tugged on their heartstrings.
Drink: Iowa Sunrise

N.C. Central:
Reason: Because two days ago you didn't know this school existed. They could be this years Florida Gulf Coast, except less interesting.
Drink: Automatic Midnight

Reason: You always chat with the Mormons when they knock on your door.
Drink: Milk.

Reason: You like sunshine and Cacti.
Drink: Death on two legs

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

NCAA Conference Tournament Primer

It’s March! With the big tournament right around the corner it’s time to start paying attention a little bit closer so you can fill out a bracket that will crush your competition.  With the conference tournaments starting today for the major conferences we thought we would take a look and tell you a little bit about the conference, who is most likely to win, as well as give you as a dark horse team to cut down the nets.  Since we like to imbibe in the occasional alcoholic beverage, we've also included a drink of choice for each conference tournament.

American Conference-

This conference has been a lot of fun to watch.  You got Cincinnati, Louisville, and Memphis running all over the court and turning the game into a track meet.  The top 5 teams in the conference have beat the hell out of each other, and I expect the Conference Tournament to be no different.

Team to beat: Even though this tournament is played in Memphis and Cincinnati is the #1 seed I think the team to beat is Louisville.  The Cardinals are coming in hot, having won 9 of their last 10, and they have the experience from winning the whole thing last year.  Look for the Cardinals to cut down the net. 

Dark Horse: I am looking at you Connecticut.  The Huskies are the fourth seed in this tournament, but they don’t have to play 5 games in 5 days like they did in winning the Big East tournament in 2010.  They only have to win 3.  They split their season series with #1 seed Cincinnati (who they would play in the Semifinals), and even though Louisville has given them fits this season I believe it would be a good game between the 2.  I think that Connecticut will beat Cincinnati and will face the Cardinals in the Championship game. 

Drink of choice:  With the frenetic pace that the top teams in this conference play with it gets your heart pumping.  Exactly like a Vodka Redbull would do for you.  Pound them down and try not to run around the building.


Atlantic Coast Conference –

Surprise Surprise.  The regular season champ isn’t Duke or North Carolina.  It isn’t newcomer Syracuse either.  In what quite possibly could be the most unheralded conference championship ever Virginia is the team that is the #1 seed going into Greensboro.  Didn’t see that one coming.  So are they the favorite to cut down the nets? Well, no.

Team to beat: Because of an unbalanced schedule Virginia only had to play Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse once.  Two of those games were at home.  The one that was on the road was the one they lost.  While Virginia is a very good team I don’t think they can beat the top competition consistently enough to get the job done.  That is why my favorite to win the ACC tournament is Duke.  This team is battle tested, having played 2 great games against Syracuse and going up and down with North Carolina as well.  Plus, since this tournament is in Greensboro Duke will probably get some 50-50 calls going their way (which never happens).  I think the Blue Devils win this tournament, beating North Carolina in the championship game.

Dark Horse: I wouldn’t call any of the top 4 seeds in this tournament a dark horse.  So I am going to the fifth seed.  Pittsburgh.  In their first year in the ACC the Panthers did well, finishing 11-7.  They went toe to toe with Syracuse twice and gave Virginia all they could handle.  With the up and down nature of North Carolina this year, Pittsburgh beating them wouldn’t be a shock.  After that they could match-up with both Virginia and Syracuse.  Those would be great games.

Drink of choice: A nice southern Bourbon is the drink of choice here.  Something that is smooth to sip but with a bite.  That is why we are going with Makers Mark here.  Pour yourself a glass straight or with a little bit of ice, kick up your feet and enjoy. 


Big 12-

This has been an interesting year from the Big 12.  You have the rise, fall, and then little rise again of Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State.  Texas has saved Rick Barnes job (I wonder how many times that sentence has been written the past few years), and Oklahoma and Iowa State have been huge successes thanks to their coaches.  Even Kansas has had some drama this year.  With the uber-talented Joel Embiid not playing in the Big 12 tournament they are vulnerable.  This is going to be a fascinating conference tournament where 7 teams have a legitimate shot to win. 

Team to beat: The more things change the more they stay the same.  Even with the injury to Embiid the Jayhawks are the favorites.  This is a well-coached athletic team that played one of the toughest schedules in the country and still won the conference for the 11th straight year.  Even with 8 losses this team is in the running for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and if they win it here in Kansas City don’t be surprised if they get it.

Dark Horse: This was the single toughest pick to make.  So many teams could win it.  I ended up going with Oklahoma State for the obvious reasons.  This is a top 10 team when they play well.  If they win their first round game against Texas Tech they play Kansas, a team they have already beaten once this year.  Yes they would have to win four games in four days but there is not a team in this tournament they can’t beat.  Watch out for the Cowboys in the next four days. 

Drink of choice: The same thing wins every year.  The drink of choice is something that has won a major award.  That's right,  Papst Blue American Ribbon!! Enjoy

Big East-

Oh what might have been.  If Louisville, Connecticut, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh were still in the Big East this would be so much fun.  Alas, they are not and this conference loses so much of its shine.  It is still going to be a good tournament but if these 4 teams were still playing it would be one of the best ever. I hate realignment.

Team to beat: Do me a quick favor and go to the Bracketology page of and look and see who the fourth #1 seed is.  You got Arizona, Wichita St and Florida which are easy picks.  The fourth one is a crap shoot.  Right now it is the Villanova Wildcats.  Villanova is 28-3! When did that happen?  Villanova is a team that doesn’t beat themselves.  They have quality wins against Kansas and Iowa, as well as running through the conference.  They only lost 2 conference games, and both were against Creighton.  Even with saying that I think that Villanova is the team to beat and not Creighton.  Doug McDermott is a great scorer and the Blue Jays could win as well, but it is super hard to beat a team three times in one season and I think the Wildcats will beat them this time around.

Dark Horse: The dark horse here is Xavier.  They split with Creighton in the regular season and will get a rubber match if they beat Marquette.  Xavier is always a tough out in every tournament they are in and the Big East tourney is no different.  Also, since it is their first year in the Big East they want to make a splash and prove they belong with the big boys. 

Drink of Choice: They are playing at the famed Madison Square Garden.  College basketball at the garden is a beautiful thing to watch.  So sit down with a nice micro-brew of your choice and imagine all the games that have been played on that storied court.  Go ahead and reminisce.  We don’t mind waiting.

Big Ten-

The Big 10 hasn’t won a National Title since 2000, and yet every year people say they are the best conference in basketball.  Just goes to show you that being the best conference doesn’t mean you produce the best team.  This year is no different.  It is the deepest conference in basketball again and that is going to make for one hell of a conference tournament. 

Team to beat:  I believe that the team to beat has the best coach in the league and is finally getting healthy.  That would be the Michigan St Spartans.  I know that Michigan made the NCAA title game last year and is the #1 seed in the conference but I am still going with Sparty.  I know better than to bet against Izzo in any sort of tournament and I also know that this team was #1 in the country when healthy, which they are becoming again.  Maybe I have more faith in Michigan St than most people, but I believe they are going to win it. 

Dark Horse: Speaking of teams with lofty rankings the Ohio State Buckeyes were #3 in the country on January 7.  After losing a tough overtime game to Michigan St the wheels fell off a little bit and they finished only 10-8 in league.   They have beaten Wisconsin and gotten revenge against the Spartans.  Could Ohio St get hot and win 4 games in 4 days and cut down the nets in Indy.  Absolutely.  Don’t count out the fighting Thads just yet. 

Drink of choice: The drink has to be something that slows you down, just like the style most Big 10 teams play.  So because of that and St Patricks day we are going with a Guiness.  Enjoy.

Pac 12-

The quality of play the last few years from the Pac 12 has been awful.  In all honesty this year hasn’t been that much better but the play of one team has risen the conference up.  This year you had 2 teams on the top, 2 teams on the bottom, and 8 teams jumbled up in the middle fighting for mediocrity.  I guess that is an improvement. 

Team to beat: Arizona.  This team is head and shoulders above everyone.  It will be a shock to me if they don’t win it.  Arizona is deep, talented, and wants a #1 seed.  This is one of the best defensive teams in the country even without the injured Brandon Ashley.  They could win the whole thing, so winning an average Pac 12 shouldn’t be tough for them.

Dark Horse: Any teams 3-10?  I’m going to go with the #6 seed Stanford Cardinal.  If they get by their first round game against #11 Washington State they will play Arizona State and then presumably UCLA, 2 teams they have beaten.  This is a senior laden team and they need to make the tournament to save their coaches job, so I think that they will be playing with extra fire and passion.  Do I think they will win? No.  But they can.  And that is the beautiful thing about March.

Drink of choice: A drink that has the potential to be great but usually falls flat on its face.  That describes the Pac  12 this year and that also describes a Mojito.  So that is what we are going with.

Southeastern Conference-

This is where the best team in the country resides.  I have been on the Florida bandwagon since December (I can provide witnesses if I must) and the SEC has not shown me that anyone can compete with them.  The Florida Gators have made 3 straight Elite 8’s and just ran through the conference undefeated.  This team is scary good and can beat you in so many ways.  I just love the way they play. 

Team to beat: I guess I just wrote that didn’t I?  Florida is #1 for a reason.  They deserve it with the way they play and they will continue to play well.

Dark Horse: The Field.  Florida is such a prohibitive favorite in this one that anyone else would be a dark horse.  I am going to say Tennessee.  They have won four in a row going in and are in a similar situation to Stanford.  They have to play well if they want to save their coaches job.  I think they well.  I just don’t think they are beating Florida.

Drink of choice: Easiest pick.  Southern Comfort for Southern basketball.

There ya have it!  Now enjoy some college basketball and remember, for as much fun as you have this week, the real fun starts next week!