The Battered Bastards

‘The Battered Bastards of Baseball’ Premieres on Netflix July 11th

The Battered Bastards of Baseball is one of baseball’s last great, unheralded true stories. In 1973, Hollywood veteran Bing Russell (best known for playing Deputy Clem on “Bonanza”) created the only independent baseball team in America at the time, the legendary Portland Mavericks. Bing operated without a Major League affiliation while playing in a city that was considered a wasteland for professional baseball. Tryouts for the Mavericks, which were open to the public, were filled with hopefuls who arrived in droves from every state in America, many of whom had been rejected by organized baseball. Skeptics agreed it would never work. But Bing’s Mavericks generated unprecedented success: they shattered attendance records, signed Kurt Russell – Bing’s son – as a player and team Vice President, produced the most successful batboy in baseball (filmmaker Todd Field), re-launched the controversial career of Jim Bouton, hired the first female general manager in Baseball, and inspired one of America’s beloved bubblegums – Big League Chew.

The Battered Bastards of Baseball is as much about the independent spirit as it is about baseball. The Mavericks’ in your face attitude was contagious to fans, and during their short reign, they – and Bing Russell – basically held up their middle finger to the sports establishment and said we’re playing this game on our terms, not yours. Continue reading


The Deadly Old Timers Are Back In ‘The Expendables 3′

Expect explosions, clichés, and unbelievable scenarios and you won’t be disappointed. Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Christmas (Jason Statham), and the gang find themselves battling Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a former co-founder of their team who has since gone to the dark side. Stonebanks had become a ruthless arms trader, whom Barney thought he had killed years ago. Now Stonebanks is not only alive, but wanting the ultimate revenge, and plans to take down The Expendables. Barney knows Stonebanks will be a formidable enemy, so he recruits old and new members in hopes of winning his most personal battle yet! The cast should be the best ever, with the addition of Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, and Mel Gibson…cue the explosions! Continue reading

Trailer for The Interview

James Franco and Seth Rogen take on Kim Jong-un in ‘The Interview’

In the action-comedy The Interview, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show “Skylark Tonight.” When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong-un. Continue reading

Orange Is the New Black - season 2

Guilty of loving ‘Orange Is the New Black’ season 2

Orange is the New Black - season 2

On a beautiful summer day, there are a million things we could all be doing, but some of us may choose to be in lockdown for the second season of Orange Is The New Black.  Sorry friends and family, but season one made me a junkie for this show, and Netflix just brought me my drug of choice! Continue reading

John Oliver - host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO

Looking forward to ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO

When I heard that Stephen Colbert would be taking over for David Letterman, I was both happy for him and completely devastated. I live for The Colbert Report. The nightly block of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report has become a staple for me. I can’t live with just one satirical news show! Thankfully, HBO handed us a little gift in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Continue reading

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 YEARS A SLAVE

For your consideration: 12 Years a Slave

Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 YEARS A SLAVE

12 Years A Slave will be a must-see film, not just in 2013, but for many years to come. You can expect this film to be shown in classes and universities from now on, not only for its historic value, but also for its excellence in the art of story telling and filmmaking. Is it brutal?  Yes, but much like Schindler’s List, it is a film that opens the uneasy door into history, and as they say, “you don’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’ve been.”  Consider this film essential viewing. Continue reading

Robert Reich in  Inequality for All

For your consideration: Inequality for All

Robert Reich in  Inequality for All

Inequality For All is a documentary, but it feels more like a college lecture. A lecture well worth sitting through! Do you remember back in college when you would have one professor whose lectures you looked forward to? A professor that would not only enlighten you, but empower you? Well if politics, labor, and the economy are of interest to you, then Robert Reich, may be your favorite professor. Continue reading

Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips

For your consideration: Captain Phillips

Barkhad Abdi shines in Captain Phillips

You know the old saying, “There are three sides to every story. Yours, theirs, and the truth.” Well, we may need to add one. Yours, theirs, the truth, and the Hollywood version.  There has been a lot of controversy over the portrayal of Captain Richard Phillips as a hero. Many of his actual crewmembers heavily dispute the depiction of Captain Phillips’ actions during the pirate take over of their vessel.  Sadly, all the variations of the story by the crew, or in the book by Phillips and Stephan Talty, ‘A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea’, take away from an otherwise brilliantly acted, action thriller, that has you glued to your seat, after the first few minutes.

Barkhad Abdi stands out in Captain Phillips

The action starts early on in this film, which I appreciated.  The pirates are approaching and there is little the crew can do once they board the ship. Now it is on the Captain and his crew to keep the situation from getting any worse. Captain Phillips has his radio on, so the crew can hear what is going on when the pirates enter the bridge. This allows the crew to hide and to disable the ship.  Phillips keeps calm while the pirates are trigger happy and full of adrenaline, but the lead pirate (Barkhad Abdi) remains calculating and clear in his objective. He doesn’t want the mere $30,000 Phillips offers him from the safe. He wants the bigger fish…$10 million ransom.

Tom Hanks is stellar in this role, and his acting abilities are taken to an even higher level during his final scene in the film.  Another stand out performance comes from Abdi, who makes his first film debut as Abduwali Muse, the pirate leader.  Abdi’s gives the “bad guy” character such depth.  We are able to understand why he does what he does. We see his desperation as well as his logic. Abdi’s performance blew me away and I believe it took Hanks’s acting to that next level.

Captain Phillips is full of action and suspense.  The film gives you a hero you cheer for as well as the unpredictable villain you fear.  So, if you can put all the truth controversy on the back burner and see this film as the action thriller it is, you will greatly appreciate this film.

Rating-4.5 stars

Forest Whitaker in the Butler

For your consideration: Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker in The Butler

Forest Whitaker stars as Cecil Gaines, who for 34 years served as a butler in the White House. The film is loosely based on the real life of Eugene Allen, who I’m sure was a much more interesting man than the character Cecil Gaines. Lee Daniels’ The Butler tries to cover entirely too much in the 132 minute run time and lacks the impact the film should have conveyed. Continue reading

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