Friday, June 24, 2016

2008 Starz Denver International Film Festival Buzz Films

Once again, I ate way too much popcorn, drank too much cherry cola and definitely saw way too many movies – but I think I can muster up enough mental power to recap some of the top films from the 2008 Starz Denver Film Festival.

As usual, a heavy emphasis was placed on international and very small budget films this year, and as such many of these films will most likely not see wide distribution in the United States. You may have to wait until good ol’ Netflix gets them to see some of these films, but I assure you it will be worth it.

Top 2008 Starz Denver Films – Idiots and Angels

From the brilliant and twisted mind of cartoonist Bill Plympton, comes perhaps his darkest film to date. Lucky for me and to my surprise, Bill was at the opening night screening of his latest full length film. Despite his bizarre cartoons, he came across as very down to earth and very mild-mannered. He introduced the film as being more mature and darker than his previous work, which played out in the movie to an extent.

Idiots and Angels is the story of what happens when one of the world’s most despicable human beings suddenly sprouts angel-like wings. Bill noted that this movie, like all his cartoons, was entirely hand-drawn. And as with previous works, such as Hair High, the moments of humor and mind-boggledness (yes, that’s a word, I don’t care what you say) were balanced out with moments of extreme beauty and art. This was one of the top buzz films at this year’s Starz Denver Film Festival.

Top 2008 Starz Denver Films – Mermaid

This film has won several awards throughout the 2008 film festival season, including at Sundance and Berlin. Mermaid was easily one of my top 5 films at this years Starz Denver Film Festival. This film comes from Russia, and follows the story of a young girl who seems to be endowed with mystical powers. Mermaid is a sort of modern fairy tale, but it strays from traditional fairy tales in so many ways that description is hardly an accurate portrayal.

The acting throughout this film was brilliant, particularly by the principle, Masha Shalaeva. The cinematography is compelling, mixing the fairy-tale like quality of the story with dreary depictions of the bussling city of Moscow. This is one that may be in the conversation for Best Foreign Language Film (or whatever they’re calling that award these days, I mean seriously, a Clint Eastwood movie does not belong there!) come Oscar season.

Top 2008 Starz Denver Films – Pressure Cooker

Pressure Cooker is truly a great documentary that should have won the documentary award at the Denver film fest. Some other lame movie about the environment dying took home THAT coveted prize. Anyways, Pressure Cooker has been compared to Hoop Dreams in many ways, and while there is a basic similarity, the comparisons are in many ways short-sighted.

This documentary follows the lives (mainly) of four senior high school students in inner-cty Philadelphia competing in a culinary competition for college scholarships. The competition is sponsored by the Careers through Culinary Arts Program, which works with public schools across the country to give underserved high school students opporunities for careers in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

In the sense that this film follows the story of students in an inner-city school looking for a future in their field, it is similar to Hoop Dreams — but beyond that this film easily stands on its own two feet. The students are particularly pushed to excel by the culinary arts teacher, Wilma Stephenson. This film, as cheesy as it may sound, is truly inspirational. It shows us that it can take just one motivated teacher to give struggling students the opportunities they would otherwise never have.

Ok, this is getting long winded, and even I’m getting bored, so here’s a quick rundown of other movies to keep an eye out for from the 2008 Starz Denver Film Festival:

Yonkers Joe – A gambler and hustler learns how to love his special needs son. This should propel the director into bigger projects.

Moscow, Belgium – A mother relies on her wits and strength the raise her family and find new love in the midst of a divorce. This won the award for Best Foreign Film at Denver.

Surveillance – David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena) wrote and directed this psychological horror/thriller. Bill Pullman gives one of his best performances ever. This was great, but be warned — it’s frickin’ crazy!

Tags:2008 Starz Denver International Film Festival Buzz Films

2008 Week Three NFL Office Pool Fantasy Picks and Predictions

For Updated 2009 NFL Picks, please click here.

Thank goodness for a new week in NFL football. I needed it after week two. Before we even start to talk about week three, I have something to say. I am sorry. Week two was a nightmare week for my picks. I made the mistake of ignoring a couple of trends, and trying to second guess myself. The bottom line was week two was an absolute nightmare. In the world of predicting football games, everyone has bad weeks. I will still take you to glory if you hang with me. Last season I had a week where I went 6-9 and still ended up with one of the best percentages in the Country. On the season, I still have a decent record as it pertains to national averages. Still in the 79th percentile so hang in there folks!

Enough wallowing. I have forgotten week two, and now look to week three! Still feel free to put your email address in the comments below if you wish to get these picks each week. I will be glad to subscribe you.

Kansas City at Atlanta
– Kansas City really blew it for me against the lowly Raiders last week. This will not happen again, especially against the Falcons. Michael Turner runs wild again.

Result: Falcons Win

Oakland at Buffalo – Buffalo absolutely convinced me that they are for real in week two. I was not previously on the band wagon. Against the Raiders I am singing the Buffalo praises for sure.

Result: Buffalo

Tampa Bay at Chicago – The Bears are a team that wins with defense and not screwing up on offense. So are the Bucs. After a crippling week two loss to the Panthers, I see the Bears struggling again in week three. Tampa is on fire after a huge week from Griese.

Result: Tampa Bay Win

Houston at Tennessee – Houston was wiped out by Ike last week, and now they get wiped out by Hurricane Collins. Kerry will lead the Titans to a week three blowout.

Titans Win

Carolina at Minnesota – This game features the return of Steve Smith to Carolina’s already volatile lineup. With Smith and the great running attack, the Vikings go to 0-3 on the season. Why can’t they find the end zone?

Result: Panthers Win

Miami at New England – The Patriots continue the mystique. (It is the Dolphins, right?)

Result: New England Win

Cincinnati at NY Giants
– The Giants. Cinci is toast in this one.

Result: Giants Win

Arizona at Washington – Now this game is quite interesting because it features a pair of offenses that might go either way on a given week. Arizona will surprise the Redskins.

Result: Arizona Win

Detroit at San Francisco – I did not expect to say this during the 08 NFL football season but, “Niners win! Niners win!”

Result: San Francisco Win

St. Louis at Seattle – This game may be closer than you think it will be. Though the Rams looked better than week one, they still stunk up the joint. The Seahawks did too, but at least they scored some points.

Result: Seahawks Win

New Orleans at Denver – This game is going to be a carnival atmosphere. Points flying all over the football field. This game is at Mile High Stadium. That is all you need to know.

Result: Denver Win

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia – The Steelers and the Eagles is one strange match up. Lots of people think that this might be a great game. With the Steeler defense, the Eagles will not fly as high as usual. It will still be enough to fly over the Steelers at home, however.

Result: Eagles Win

Jacksonville at Indianapolis
– Two teams that have been true disappointments during the NFL season so far will attempt to get better against one another. Indianapolis is much more likely to get better with all that offensive talent.

Result: Colts Win

Cleveland at Baltimore
– The Browns are still fighting to resemble the team from a year ago. The Ravens are renewed under rookie quarterback Joe Flacco and a great defense. I take home field defense every time.

Result: Ravens Win

Dallas at Green Bay – This game is an exciting early season match up between two of the NFC’s best teams. The young Aaron Rogers will finally trip up on the national stage of Sunday night football. To much Romo, and Owens, and Barber, and etc…….

Result: Dallas Win

MON, SEP 22

NY Jets at San Diego – Favre looked rather human on Sunday against the Pats and helped everyone realize that the Jets are not as good as we thought. This is Monday Night Football, however. This is Brett Favre, right? He does not lose on Monday Night Football, right? Wrong.

Result: Chargers Win (Finally)

Keep in mind that every pigskin prognasticator has tough weeks, and realize that it is just a bump in the road. This week will be much better! Sign up today!

Week Two Record: 8-7
Season Record: 19-12

Tags:2008 Week Three NFL Office Pool Fantasy Picks and Predictions

2008 State of the Union Address Predictions: What Will George Bush Talk About Tonight?

“I’m sure that the President tonight will, as he has for the previous seven years, say that the state of our union is strong.”

That’s not my State of the Union prediction–it’s Hillary Clinton’s. That’s what she said to a group of supporters at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut this morning.

Call me naive, but I’m hoping to see a kindler, gentler–maybe a little more honest–George W. Bush tonight. In recent interviews (such as with NBC’s David Gregory) Bush has come to terms with the fact that the Middle East–and, in fact, most of the world–sees him as a bringer of war and not a peacemaker. He’s even alluded to the fact that we may not be “winning” the war in Iraq. Whether simple terms like “winning” and “losing” are even applicable anymore is another discussion altogether.

Call me naive because I am naive. This honest-Bush fantasy is just that: a fantasy. Seeing an apologetic George Bush is about as likely as seeing an African American or a woman running for president. (Small joke.)

In six hours, I hope to see an honest and apologetic George Bush. I hope to see our fearless leader display an ounce or two of much-needed humility for once. But what I actually predict is more lies, delusions, and hollow rhetoric. The major difference is that tonight–in January of 2008–all of those empty words will mean even less than they have in the past; the speech will fall on even deafer ears than it has in the past seven years.

My prediction is that Hillary is right. That’s the safe and obvious prediction to make.

Bush will talk about our swell never-ending war. He might downplay it a little bit this year–after all, he must be relieved that in a few short months, he’ll no longer have to take responsibility for it. Of course, I’m implying that he’s ever shown an accountability or responsibility for the disaster in the first place, which has never been the case. It’s Saddam’s fault; it’s Bin Laden’s fault; it’s Bill Clinton’s fault; it’s the media’s fault; it’s Mohammed’s fault. Nothing has ever been George W. Bush’s fault, and that delusional mindset won’t change tonight.

The speech should be inspiring for the fact that it will be Bush’s last State of the Union address. No matter what he decides to say, the speech will be symbolic of impending change. Yet I can’t help but feel that it’s going to be depressing instead. I don’t think anybody in this nation will be happier after listening to whatever innefective, rambling lies our President tells this year about Social Security, immigration, health care, whatever. None of it will matter, none of it–even in this last year–will be true, and none of it will be comforting.

He’ll talk about the upcoming election, but he’ll only be going through the motions. He won’t make any specific or implied endorsements. The bizarre Bush regime is dead to the mainstream GOP, and the feeling, I suppose, is mutual by now. Because of the across-the-board discontent he’s created, the best thing he could do for the any Republican Candidate is to officially endorse Hillary Clinton as his choice for successor. And that’s even less likely than hearing him speak a word or two of truth.

My last prediction is that George Bush will talk a lot about his strong faith tonight. He’ll go on a disjointed spiel about what a good Christian he is, and how all of the “tough decisions” he’s made in the past seven years have been “faith-based.” That segment will be as ironic as it ever was, but still not funny.

Please surprise me tonight, Mr. President. Make my hopes–not my predictions–come true. Hey, I also made the safe-but-wrong prediction when I said that my Green Bay Packers would be the NFC champs this year. So come, Mr. President, prove me wrong for the second time in a month. Tell the truth. Admit what a f***-up you’ve been. At least then we can all be on the same page as we wait out your last miserable year as President of the United States.

Tags:2008 State of the Union Address Predictions: What Will George Bush Talk About Tonight?

2008 was Not the Year to Be Elected President

In the last two days, the DOW has dropped over nine hundred points. Unemployment is over five percent. Recently I heard Donald Trump state that banks is not loaning money even with that gigantic bailout package. The U.S. automakers just visited Washington with their hands out looking for a twenty five billion dollar help package. This is not the year to be elected president.

There will be a democratic president. The house and the senate will be controlled by the Democrats. What happens in the next two years will be their responsibility. President Bush will not be around to bash and blame. The next two years will be directly on the Democrats shoulders. The days of accountability are here.

For the last eighteen months I hear that the way to stimulate the economy is to give ninety five percent of the taxpayers a tax cut and make the upper five percent pay more taxes. In the over forty years of my employment I never worked for a middle class employer. I do not understand this philosophy. I depended on the rich or a collection of investors who wanted a return on their investment to provide me with a job. Over tax the rich and they just may take their money out of the country and invest in a friendlier environment. This is a global economy and companies go where they get a good return on their investment, such as China. Oh, I forgot they will be taxed more if they send jobs out of the country. This is an empty threat in these times. This higher tax philosophy just may cost more jobs and money to relocate overseas.

I have heard that the capital gain taxes will be increased. I am retired and I live off of Social Security, a pension and capital gains. I am a small investor in the stock market and if the capital gains taxes increase I intend to pull out of the stock market and sit it out until the market becomes more inviting. How many investors are thinking about the same action? Maybe this is what happening to the stock market in the last two days? More money will not be available for American corporations which will probably mean more lost jobs.

I hear that the death tax may return. If that happens I will be sure that the government does not get a red dime of my estate. I worked all my life for me and my family, not to give my estate to the government in taxes after I am gone. I just may take a trip around the world if the death tax returns.

Where is the money coming for health insurance for everyone? Probably more taxes, for everyone. Another thing about universal healthcare is that the additional seventy-four million uninsured will swamp the current healthcare system. Have you ever wanted to see your doctor and you had to wait two or three days to get in? I am sure it did not make you very happy. Add another seventy-four million into the system and you just may have to wait two or three weeks for an appointment. How happy will you be then?

The clock begins to tick on January 20 2009. The Republicans had their chance and they blew it. Now the democrats have their chance to show that they have what it takes to make life better in the good old U.S.A. The next congressional election is 2010. If America is not any better off in 2010 the pendulum will begin to swing in the other direction and the balance of power will again shift to the Republicans. Will we be better off in 2010? Let the race begin!

Tags:2008 was Not the Year to Be Elected President

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