Monday Morning Critic – 3.2

On tap this week:
— I insult someone: redux
— Swords and sandals need to go away.
— Hitting the indy scene with Guy Pearce
And slightly much more!

As some of you may know, I grew up with a soccer ball at my feet. Since the age of five I have played, save for about a decade from 19 ‘til about a year ago, and it’s always been a good way to meet people. Team sports will do that. If you play for any length of time you can know people from all the teams you play against. I’ve been a goalkeeper for quite some time, and a pretty solid one too I think, so I always get offers to sub for teams.

A good goalie is hard to find, apparently, and my willingness to “have gloves, will travel” endears me to other teams because I’m usually willing to hop between the sticks for anyone who needs it. One of those teams I subbed for is on Friday nights with a group of people I play with and against. I play with a couple on my Monday league and with the rest on my Tuesday league and a bunch from the Tuesday league play on another team on Mondays. And we’re all in the same division, which makes it real fun.

We’re the kind of team that usually will go out for a pint afterwards at one of the local establishments. So last Friday I got a call to come on up, play a game, and afterwards a couple of us go out for an after-game drink. The plan was to head on over to one of the local dance clubs and join some friends, but when the game ended there was a general malaise about it. So a couple of us opt to head out, which is kind of funny considering when I first started playing against these guys a year ago with another team there was some bad blood. But after a while you do a testosterone dump, have a beer and realize we’re all there to get some exercise and have fun.

When you play against guys for a while, you eventually you get to know their names. Until that point, you have nicknames for them. My buddy Rob we always called “the Korean kid” because we assumed he was Korean, duh, even though he is Filipino. I readily admit my ability to tell people of different ethnicities apart are not the greatest when compared to most people. His brother Ron was “the other Korean kid.”

Real original, I know. I may be many things but when it comes to nicknames I don’t

Ravinder we called “Johnny British” because he’s originally from Liverpool, duh. He’s a British Indian, technically, but the accent is unmistakable. We play with Rav’s brother, as well, and they’re a couple of cool guys.

So the four of us are out for a beer at this real nasty bar which was like right by the soccer place; timing is everything, I suppose. They hadn’t been there in a while and it was well kept, I readily admit, it’s just the bar was filled with people who would be too trashy to get into a NASCAR event. We walked in there after 50 minutes of soccer, still in pretty much the same clothes, and somehow managed to make the place a little classier. Anytime you have a DJ who has to figure out the words to use between the profanities BEFORE the cops show up to break up a parking lot fight you know you’re in for a fun time I’ll tell you what.

Rob and Ron had said it was a great place to go from personal experience and finding another bar at midnight wasn’t going to be conducive. It was that point where you think “We’re here, let’s make the best of it” kind of time. And there was another perk: we got the hottest waitress in the place. Tall, leggy brunette in tight jeans who looked that much better compared to the other, uglier women there. I’ll suffer through a trashy bar if there’s a hot waitress serving you. And she was nice, genuinely nice; you can tell if a waitress is just being nice because it’s their job or if it’s because they’re a nice person. She seemed nice, but then again I’ve been known to think strippers like me too so who knows.

So Rav is telling us about how his brother is searching for a wife in their native India, and of course I come up with perhaps one of my great lines. I prefer to think of it as a “shock and awe” treatment to comedy, except without the 40 days and nights of 500 pound bombs. It’s a shock that someone would say something like it but you’re awed at the sheer comedic power of it. At least that’s my excuse.

“What, can’t he just go out and buy one?”

Rob and Ron are roaring, Rav is half offended and half laughing.

“Oh I’m sorry. I forgot to introduce myself. Scott Sawitz, UN Ambassador on Race Relations.”

Lines like that are probably the reasons I’ll never be able to hold public office.

Random Thoughts of the Week

Browsing the web the other day, I found an early script review of the relaunch of the Conan franchise to potentially be helmed by Brett Ratner. While I’m a bit reticent based on Ratner alone, as he’s a solid director but the guy I would pick to helm a Conan film, but that’s not what bothers me.

What bothers me is that they’re resurrecting the franchise, period.

There are some film genres that just need to go away for a while. This is one of them. The big fantasy genre boom has come and went and should stay away. Swords and sandals hasn’t been the plethora of big hits it used to be. Troy, 300, Gladiator and the Lord of the Rings trilogy were the only major hits from the genre that had an insane amount of misses. Besides those half dozen films, look at what else has come out in the genre:

Alexander – Awful film that made less than $35 million in the states and nearly ruined Colin Farrell’s career.

Kingdom of Heaven – As released in theatres, a huge mess that bombed. It did redeem itself with like a five hour extended cut which was something to behold, however, which does make it not nearly so bad a failure.

The Last Legion – Colin Firth as a Roman legionnaire? Can you say massive failure?

King Arthur – A big battle epic with a PG-13 rating? Clive Owen, you deserve better.

Apocalypto – Just because it’s weird, and in a foreign language, doesn’t mean it was any good.

What can we expect from a new film featuring Conan? Probably a PG-13 film masquerading as a hard R, kind of like what happened to Beowulf. Throw in some muscle head with no shred of acting ability and zero charisma, mix in Chris Tucker as his whacky sidekick (you know that’s coming) and some A-list actor slumming it (probably Ben Kingsley) and it’ll be $150 million thrown away.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s Film – First Snow


Ever since L.A Confidential I’ve been a big fan of Guy Pearce. As much as I liked Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey in that flick, I thought Pearce outshone both and is my pick for the best working actor in Hollywood right now. He’s at least in the team picture between Christian Bale, Crowe, Nic Cage and Matt Damon.

But unlike those guys, he’s taken the off beat course and been the guy that cruises the independent circuit like no other. He pops into mainstream cinema every now and again, but he’s the rare actor that will go for the independent film that is a better role than the studio film with the big check.

First Snow has him as Jimmy, a flooring salesman who seemingly has the perfect setup. He’s about to hit the jackpot on a score of jukeboxes he’s trying to unload when he stumbles into a fortune teller with a genuine gift. Given time to get his affairs in order, he has until the first snow of the year.

It’s an interesting film as Jimmy knows his fate and goes through the classic stages of denial until he’s accepting of his fate.

For Pearce it’s another great performance that went unnoticed, as few people saw this film before it hit on DVD. And it’s a shame as it’s a great film that definitely deserves viewing.

Strongly recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and Northwestern University Co-Eds with low standards at the Rhythm Room

Watchmen – Alan Moore’s celebrated graphic novel comes to life.

See It – Perhaps an early candidate for best film of the year, which in alone should be worth to see it. It is a hard R rating from a director known for pushing that boundary between R and NC-17. It’s received nothing but good early reviews from people who’ve read the graphic novel. My theorem is that the fanboy is often the toughest guy to please and if guys like Harry from Ain’t it Cool love the flick, it’s probably pretty good.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds..