Monday Morning Critic – 4.5.2010- Of sports wives (and girlfriends), some American Beauty, the art of repetition and slightly much more!

On tap this week: Of sports wives (and girlfriends), some American Beauty, a thought or two on multiple viewings and slightly much more!

If you’d have asked me at 19 what athletic activity I’d be doing outside of football (soccer to my American readers), the last thing I’d have thought of would be golf. At 19 I figured I’d be more into power-lifting and doing crazy strongman stunts once I got really bored with just working out and playing footy. And the last thing I ever thought I’d get into would be golf.

Up until I actually starting playing it, the one time I spent on the driving range with my brother left me thinking golf was the stupidest game possible. Here I was, about to embark on a short-lived college soccer career, unable to hit a ball further then 100 yards. Yet the guy next to us on the range, with a beer gut that probably weighed more than I did at the time, was driving it three times that. And that’s what frustrated me: how does some guy who looked like the only athletic bone in his body would be there only if Michael Jordan anally raped him be able to do something athletically that I couldn’t?

Thus about a decade or so of making fun of anyone (read: my brother) who played the game as an old man with no fashion sense. And then a funny thing happened: the company I worked for at the time decided to have a golf invitational and I decided to give the game another chance. And it was an opportunity to suck up to the head of the company, as well as there was the rumor of free drinks on the course, so I decided that perhaps the game ought to get a second chance.

Weirdly enough I fell in “like” with the game immediately thereafter. I say like, not love, because you only can really love one sport. And that was footy, which will always be my first love and my sports wife. I say wife because that’s what a sport you love really becomes; and any secondary sport you enjoy almost as well can never really replace that first love in the sporting world.

At first it was just an excuse to “drink beer and hit stuff” as I once eloquently put, but the more I played the more it became something I could enjoy on a different level then weight-lifting and the beauty of association football. But I don’t think I will ever be able to enjoy it on the same level as footy because of one thing; it never was my first sports love. It’s a lot like marriage, I think, in that you can only really love one sport. You can play many, you can be successful at several, but you can only really have a crazy passion for one. It explains why Lebron James gave up football in high school to concentrate solely on basketball; with his gifts he could be a starting wideout in the NFL (and he probably could switch sports and be extraordinarily successful, I have no doubt of that) but something about hoops drove him to try to become the greatest basketball player ever. It’s why Michael Jordan never really succeeded as a baseball player after retiring from the NBA; crazy dedication to one sport can’t translate like the craziness of your first love doesn’t translate to the second.

Switching sports is akin to flirtation as you can flirt with other sports like you flirt with a woman, obviously. America seemingly flirts with curling every Winter Olympics and gymnastics every Summer Olympics, but it never lasts. It’s a grand flirtation; like when you’re dating a girl you’re not really into, but would still like to maintain the regular sex life, but you’re not quite above flirting with other girls to see if you can upgrade to someone you could potentially be into more than your current partner.

Golf’s been like that for me; more like a sports mistress then an attempt at a second sports life. It’s a nice sports mistress, and it is a guilt-free handy the few days of the week I’m not playing organized soccer, but it’s not quite the thrill of the first love of my life. But then again, thoughts like these kept me out of the good colleges.

Random Thoughts of the Week

There’s an age old argument between my father and I about movies. We generally tend to agree on most things, as I get most of my cinematic sensibilities from him, but we’ve always disagreed on one thing: watching movies multiple times. It’s not on the value of comedy vs. action, on the reasons why Johnny Depp sucks, the merit of foreign cinema and/or the ability of Shakira’s video “She-Wolf” to be remarkably awful at the whole “entertainment” thing while simultaneously giving me a boner. We have deep discussions about stuff like this, thus justifying my continued existence in his basement as his rhetorical foil.

I’ve always been one to say that you can watch a movie multiple times and have; part of the joy of cinema is being able to share and relive those moments again and again. There are some films I know by heart, some I don’t, and yet my thinking has always been that every good film needs to be seen more than once. To me, it’s always the sign of a good film if you think “I have to see this again” because it’s the sign of any good art.

I tend to think of film like music lovers think of a good song; you can hear that song multiple times and it’s still great. It’s why classic rock stations still exist, and will always exist. To me, the only film that you only need to see once is one that you really didn’t need to see in the first place. Everything else demands and deserves to be seen multiple times; it’s why I own a massive DVD collection as opposed to watching it once and being done with it.

A lot of it comes from the fact that I don’t want to feel like cinema is just a product to consume; it’s something you experience. It’s why noxiously bad cinema bothers me more than most. I’m not pretentious in that I expect a masterpiece every time out, but I don’t want my intelligence insulted either. Which is why experiencing the same film again matters to me; cinema is a form of art, perhaps one of the tougher to pull off, and as such when I plunk my cash and my time down I expect a certain amount out of that experience in the same manner one expects a video game to be challenging and fun, a music album to be worth the listen and a ball game to be entertaining.

I think that’s why we’ve always disagreed on the subject. My father would rather watch a film once and be done, like it’s disposable. It’s amusing since he’s the guy who got me into film when I was younger as he took us to all sorts of films, and when we got cable (back when cable was a cornucopia of televised awesomeness) let us watch all sorts of films on HBO, et al. I’d like to think that a film-maker can’t view their finished product in the same way, as something disposable. There’s too much time, and too much money, for a film to just be a one-off product like a bad reality show. Call me an idealist, but I’d like to think that a movie is more than that.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – American Beauty

Lester (Kevin Spacey) is disillusioned with his suburban life. In his 40s, working at a job he hates in a loveless marriage with a daughter he no longer understands, he finds some sort of meaning trying to relive his youth: when he had nothing to care for and smoked a lot of pot. And somehow this film managed to capture an Oscar, several in fact, once upon a time.

American Beauty is an interesting film that follows life in suburbia for Lester and his rather screwy family life. His wife (Annette Bening) openly loathes him and bosses him around like a child, trying to build a real estate career and keeps failing spectacularly. The film follows their interestingly loveless look at Lester’s life in chains, so to speak, as the film has a focus that Mendes would continue to look at throughout his career afterwards. So it’s never a bad thing to take a look back to where it all started.

Every director has a certain type of story they like to tell; Mendes seems to be intent on looking at how ordinary life kind of chains us to the path less settled and keeps us there. It’s an interesting one but it’s a real depressing one, however. And American Beauty is two hours of just pure, depressing looks at the imprisonment of life once we reach a certain age. Lester sees everything as a sort of taunt to where his life should’ve been, as opposed to where it has taken him.

Mild recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Date Night – Steve Carrell and Tina Fey go out on their date night and get involved in shenanigans. Mark Wahlberg’s chiseled physique makes a cameo.

See It – A good action comedy is hard to find, and having these two together seems like it’d be a fun combination.

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.

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