Archive for Category: "Culture"

Should You Watch It: Argo and Skyfall November 12, 2012 3:39 pm

Should You Watch It: Argo and Skyfall

By Matt Ford

It’s an exciting time to be a moviegoer.

Here’s why: movies like Skyfall are rebooting the action genre, which of course includes the James Bond series. Bond movies will no longer be formulaic flicks with pithy pick-up lines, vapid women and happy endings; the new Bond is flawed, injured, cynical, self-loathing, and even — occasionally — out-matched.

Bond is one thing, but it will not be contending for Oscars next March. (Although co-star Javier Bardem might.) The movie it topped at the box office this weekend — Ben Affleck’s Argo — most certainly will.

It’s hard to explain what’s so great about Argo until you see it. In brief, Argo is brilliantly paced — the plot covers a lot of ground quickly — well-acted, unpredictable, occasionally hilarious, and confidently understated. After the movie was over, I quickly hoisted it into the “Best Movies I’ve Ever Watched” category. I know — bold.

So, on one hand, we have an action movie trying to be more complex; on the other, a spy movie trying to keep it simple.

Does it work for both films?

Should You Watch It: Seven Psychopaths October 16, 2012 2:36 pm

Should You Watch It: Seven Psychopaths

By Matt Ford

How to describe Seven Psychopaths:

Take a dash of goofy/gritty crime classic Snatch, throw in a Coen Brothers twist of nihilism, and sprinkle the disjointed (but purposeful) vignetting of Pulp Fiction. Then add a hearty helping of Christopher Walken, and you have Seven Psychopaths.

Shorter: It’s like a better version of Smoking Aces.

Seven Psychopaths is about a Los Angeles screenwriter, played by a (surprisingly?) capable Colin Farrell, whose writer’s block is mended by his homicidal homeboy (Sam Rockwell). The two end up teaming with a dog kidnapper (Walken) who steals Woody Harrelson’s shih tzu and has to suffer the consequences.

From the get-go, this movie is wildly entertaining. The humor is biting, the storytelling is suspenseful, and the character development is well-executed.

Here are five reasons why you should see Seven Psychopaths:

Forecasting The Five Most Interesting Emmy Races of 2012 September 22, 2012 5:58 pm

Forecasting The Five Most Interesting Emmy Races of 2012

By Matt Ford

How can you say TV isn’t better than ever when you see the list of the nominees for best drama series? When shows like Girls invigorate cross-cultural discussions? And when actors like Bryan Cranston, Claire Danes and Glenn Close are getting nominated not for Oscars, but for Emmys?

Front-Runner: Mad Men has won four years in a row. I know, just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not amazing.

Dark Horse: Homeland, which won the Golden Globe for Best Drama (though neither Breaking Bad nor Mad Men were nominated due to their shows’ timing). In my opinion, the second-best show of this list.

Perfect World: Breaking Bad. The opposite of Mad Men, it picks up the acting awards every year, but not the series awards. Season Four of Breaking Bad was the best season yet. Right, Hector?

Matt’s Pick: Breaking Bad. Simple: It’s unpredictable, brilliantly acted, and has already forever changed viewers’ expectations of the dramas they watch on television. Then again, perhaps the best TV show in history never won this Emmy either.

Party Town Throwdown After Back-to-Back Weekends: Atlantic City vs. Las Vegas September 7, 2012 11:17 am

Party Town Throwdown After Back-to-Back Weekends: Atlantic City vs. Las Vegas

By Justin Elliott

To evaluate these adult playgrounds I used the following criteria:

1. Drinking
2. Gambling
3. Walking around
4. Weather
5. “Scenery”
6. Wild Card/Shenanigans

I ranked each city 1-10 in each of the categories. In the spirit of gambling, I’m setting the line: Vegas -11.5.

Should You See Dark Knight Rises?, Plus Summer Movie Power Rankings July 23, 2012 1:18 pm

Should You See Dark Knight Rises?, Plus Summer Movie Power Rankings

By Matt Ford

The Good:

Rebounding from Maggie Gyllenhall, who wouldn’t sleep with you DESPITE KNOWING FULL WELL YOU ARE FUCKING BATMAN, to Anne Hathaway in full-body spandex. Let’s hope the girl who first played Rachel Dawes achieves a similar narrative.

Marion Cotillard. Quietly putting together one of the best resumes in Hollywood since 2009 — Inception, Midnight in Paris, Dark Knight Rises, Contagion, Public Enemies — Mademoiselle Cotillard is nailing down the “Not Bat-Shit Crazy Female Actress Who Is Not Just Hot But Can Also Act” niche previously occupied by Natalie Portman and never once occupied by Megan Fox.

Riding the wave of the Occupy movement. DKR manages to at least pay homage to the most significant cultural protest in half a century.

The Bad:

A truly ridiculous appearance by The Scarecrow, which caused the crowd in my theater to actually LOL the moment he appeared on screen. The only explanation I have for scenes with The Scarecrow are that Dark Knight Rises had to adhere to the International Law stating Cillian Murphy has to be in every Christopher Nolan movie.

Verdict: Tough to nitpick at a great movie — overall, DKR gets at least a 9 on the scale of 1-to-Dark Knight.

Matt Sees a Hipster Band in Brooklyn; Realizes Hipsters are Bringing Down New York City July 11, 2012 10:30 am

Matt Sees a Hipster Band in Brooklyn; Realizes Hipsters are Bringing Down New York City

By Matt Ford

One of the criticisms of the HBO hit show Girls is that it does not accurately portray the population of New York.

I wish I could have done Girls creator Lena Dunham a favor and dropped her critics into the middle of the Dirty Projectors crowd at Prospect Park on Tuesday night.

Trying to define hipsters is fairly difficult. It’s kind of like the square/rectangle definition. Not every square is a rectangle, but every rectangle is a square; not every hipster is a pretentious, flamboyantly dressed, androgynous, unemployed asshole… but all those people are hipsters. Make sense?

Back to the Dirty Projectors. The band’s harmonies, when heard in person, are literally chilling. The Dirty Projectors have three female vocalists (although they all play other instruments too) who can pretty much nail any sound in the rock vocabulary: soothing doo-wop “ooo’s,” cackling Robert Plant “AHHH’s,” not to mention complex harmonies and polyrhythms.

Overall, I’d give the Dirty Projectors about an 8 out of 10 last night — and would certainly recommend seeing them, if you’re into them.

Don’t Listen to Matt: You Should Watch ‘The Newsroom’ July 10, 2012 10:15 am

Don’t Listen to Matt: You Should Watch ‘The Newsroom’

By Chris Badders

As a person who is bound to be tied to a newsroom for the better part of the next 50+ years, these characters, their interactions, and the portrayal of the somewhat calm/mostly chaotic family of a newsroom all play on my emotions and life experiences. In short — I get off on that kind of environment, and Sorkin writes it very well.

The price being paid by American citizens is the ability for the common person to be delivered straight, unfiltered, uncensored, unbiased facts. And we are being robbed of a conscious and healthy public national discourse.

That’s the reason The Newsroom works. It points out flaws in the system, and no one else can — or no one else is willing. I’m not saying it achieves its lofty goals without its own biases. But at least it can boldly say there are many things wrong with television news, and hopefully someone out there is watching.

Hung Over From July Fourth: Completely Arbitrary Power Rankings July 7, 2012 11:49 am

Hung Over From July Fourth: Completely Arbitrary Power Rankings

By Matt Ford

Five days off, unprecedented heat, way too many American-flag Budweisers and several NBA blockbuster trades are the fodder of Matt’s latest Completely Arbitrary Power Rankings.

2) My company for giving us the entire week off after July Fourth.

3) Roger Federer. Now, he’s on his way to a record eighth Wimbledon final. But a few weeks ago, many thought Roger Federer would be forever doomed to pointlessly chase the dominant Novak Djokovic and ubiquitous Rafael Nadal, like he was Quagmire chasing Lois.

8) Whoever Katie Holmes rebounds with. I like Channing Tatum for this role (the first role for which anyone has ever liked Tatum).

15) The Newsroom. Did anyone watch the second week? Literally, have you heard anyone talking about it since Week One?

Should I Watch It?: To Rome With Love July 2, 2012 9:30 am

Should I Watch It?: To Rome With Love

By Matt Ford

Artists find inspiration from many subjects. Monet chose landscapes, Kim Kardashian chose reality television (just kidding), and Woody Allen chooses women and cities.

Rome is a living, breathing city of stories in To Rome With Love — an almost magical venue for people to fall in love, make mistakes, and experiment with happiness. Woody Allen has made many cities into aphrodisiacs and he does it once more; he makes old, rusty, bustling Rome look damn sexy.

Is To Rome With Love an amazing movie? No. Is it as good as Midnight in Paris? No. Should you see it instead of Ted? Probably not, if you’re a reader of this website. But if you want to be inspired by great filmmaking, excellent acting and a timeless city, it’s worth it. Woody Allen almost always is.

Other News

  • Unnecessary Sports Podcast

    Unnecessary Sports Podcast Returns!

    Matt and Neal talk NBA free agency in the return of the pod! Listen to their recap of the Eastern conference here. Then check out their recap of the Western conference, plus a few random predictions here.

    Read more →
  • Featured Stories NFL Podcasts Sports HMGL Super Bowl Recap: Podcast/Hangout

    HMGL Super Bowl Recap: Podcast/Hangout

    Justin, Neal and Matt put the Super Bowl in context: How good are the Ravens compared to other SB winners? Is Joe Flacco a top-5 quarterback? What is the next step with PED testing in the NFL?

    Once again, sports fans were treated to a memorable Super Bowl. The Ravens were thinking blowout until the blackout — did that affect their momentum? — and then the 49ers came all the way back to ultimately fall just short.

    Meanwhile, reverberations of Ray Lewis’ alleged use of PED’s forced sports fans to consider their values — does PED use really matter to us?

    And Joe Flacco emerged from a historic playoff run as an unquestioned franchise quarterback (what?).

    Hear our thoughts below, and enjoy Matt’s three solid minutes of embarrassing technical confusion at the beginning.

    Read more →
  • Featured Stories NFL Sports NFL Playoff Team fantasy draft: Justin, Matt and Neal’s standings

    NFL Playoff Team fantasy draft: Justin, Matt and Neal’s standings

    Note: This piece refers to the playoff draft on the last HMGL podcast. If you didn’t listen to it, check it out here.

    Wild Card Weekend Standings:

    (+1 point for advancing to the divisional round)

    Justin (3) — DEN +1, GB +1, BAL+1, IND 0
    Possible this week: 4 points (DEN/BAL, GB)
    Worst-case: 2 points (DEN/BAL) win, GB loses

    Matt (3) — NE +1, ATL+1, Hou+1, Cincy 0
    Possible this week: 4 points (NE/HOU, ATL)
    Worst-case: 2 points (NE/HOU) win, ATL loses

    Neal (2) — SF +1, SEA +1, WAS 0, MIN 0
    Possible this week: 4 points (SF, SEA both win)
    Worst-case: 0 points (SF, SEA both lose)

    Read more →
  • Featured Stories NFL Power Rankings Sports Ranking The NFL’s Hottest And Most Dangerous Teams: Playoffs 2012

    Ranking The NFL’s Hottest And Most Dangerous Teams: Playoffs 2012

    By Matt Ford

    Better to be lucky than good.

    Or, more like it, better dangerous than solid.

    So who is the most dangerous team entering the 2012 NFL Playoffs?

    Category One: The Psy “Gangnam Style” Award for “Congrats for Making It To The Big Time! But Now That You’re Here, You’re Going Away Quickly.”

    Category Two: The Kwame Brown Award for “Just Look At Them! They Have To Be Better Than They’re Playing”

    Category Three: The Looking At The Google Analytics Of HireMeGrantland.com Award for “Why Is No One Impressed By Us?”

    Category Four: The Mumford and Sons Award for “Everyone Thinks We’re Underrated, But We’re Actually Overrated”

    Category Five: The 2007 LeBron James Award for “We’re playing … him? Uh Oh.”

    Read more →
  • Featured Stories NFL Sports Hire Me Grantland Podcasts Are Up

    Hire Me Grantland Podcasts Are Up

    Without further ado: Matt and Justin’s discussion of the NFL playoff picture leading into the end of the regular season, with special guest Neal Suidan.

    All you have to do is click here and click “Listen” or “Download” once you get to our hosting site.

    Our first post is about the NFC Playoff picture leading into last week’s games. Listen to how wrong we were about San Francisco after last night’s result, Neal’s analysis of his hometown Bears (and Bulls), Matt’s pipe-dream of a Redskins playoff run and more.

    Our next pod is about the AFC, but includes a bonus round of which coaches should get fired (and Matt’s prediction of Chip Kelly to Carolina that he has been patting himself on the back for ever since), and Neal trying to Beautiful Mind his way through the muddy AFC North playoff picture. Justin’s breakdown of the Raiders, fortunately for you all, was omitted due to “microphone problems.”

    Shortly, these episodes will be available on the iTunes store (Apple has to screen them first before they unleash our idiocy on the unwashed masses).

    Read more →
  • Featured Stories NFL Sports Sports Betting Justin Elliott Would Not Win The Las Vegas Supercontest: Week 15 (Video)

    Justin Elliott Would Not Win The Las Vegas Supercontest: Week 15 (Video)

    (Nothing like a winless week to really make you want to show your face on camera.)

    Read more →
  • Featured Stories NFL Sports Sports Betting Justin Elliott Would Not Win The Las Vegas Supercontest: Week 14 (Video)

    Justin Elliott Would Not Win The Las Vegas Supercontest: Week 14 (Video)

    Justin Elliott’s Week 14 picks… on our NEW YouTube channel!!!

    Read more →
  • Featured Stories NFL Sports Is RGIII the Most Valuable Player… In Sports?

    Is RGIII the Most Valuable Player… In Sports?

    By Matt Ford

    Watching RGIII as a rookie is like the first time you heard OK Computer, or saw Louis CK’s standup a few years ago, or watched Barack Obama in the 2004 Democratic Convention. “Holy shit!” you think. “Do people know about this yet?”

    You form a special kind of relationship with an entertainer, athlete or politician after an experience like that — you realize: “Hey, this guy could be the real deal, and I think I just saw history.” Often, I find I become invested in people like that, rooting for history just to say in a few years, “I was there…”

    RGIII to the rescue. He is, by many accounts, the most exciting player in the league. He draws friendly fans to FedEx Field. His value to a shrinking fan base is unspeakable. It’s hard to root against him, even if your team is playing against him.

    Robert Griffin III has revitalized one of the most valuable franchises in the world. The value of hope is what Griffin brings to the table, in addition to all those other tangible assets.

    Read more →