Film Review: “Loopers: the Caddie’s Long Walk”

  • LOOPERS: THE CADDIE’S LONG WALK
  • Narrated by: Bill Murray
  • Directed by: Jason Baffa
  • Rated: PG
  • Running time: 1 hr 16 mins
  • Gravitas Ventures

One of my many jobs as a teenager in Tampa involved getting up early on Saturdays and walking the few blocks to the Palma Ceia Country Club. The earlier the better. There those of us that assembled would hang out around the clubhouse and ask arriving golfers if we could carry their bags. On a good morning, you could end up with $10 (including tip) for four hours work. That’s right, I’ll admit it. I was a looper.

Full of interesting golf history and some fun interviews, “Loopers: The Caddie’s Long Walk” is an interesting take on what was once seen as a menial job that has blossomed into a handsome way to make a living for some. The film looks at golf, and it’s caddies, in both Scotland (the birthplace of the game) and here in the states. We visit the world famous St. Andrews course, founded in 1552! That’s right, golf has been around for over 400-years. The history of the caddie is also explored, running from the three basic caddie rules (Show Up, Keep Up, Shut Up) to the origins of the name looper (a round of 18 holes was called a loop). We also get a glimpse at some of the more famous caddies to ever carry a bag, including the caddies that worked at Augusta National, home of the Masters. I found it ironic that these young men were so vital to a golfer’s success, yet theirs were the only black faces on the course until Lee Elder played there in 1975 (blacks were not allowed to join the club until 1991).

A particularly poignant sequence examines the relationship between golfer and caddie. Living as I do in Kansas City, I was happy to see local boy made good Tom Watson talk about the two-plus decades he spent with his caddie, Bruce Edwards. The men remained friends until Edwards passed away in 2004 from ALS. We also meet other well known caddies, like Steve Williams (Tiger Woods’ ex-caddie) and Carl Jackson, who caddied for Ben Crenshaw in almost 40 tournaments in their partnership.

The film is narrated by former looper Bill Murray, who immortalized the caddie as Carl Spackler in “Caddyshack.” Murray relates some of his own experiences as well as narrates, lending his particular sense of humor to the film.

With the beginning of summer upon us, before you head out to the course give “Loopers” a look. And watch out for those kids hanging out in front of the clubhouse!

Blu-ray Review “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”

Actors: Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Makenzie Leigh
Directors: Ang Lee
Rated: R
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Run Time: 113 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Ang Lee’s latest film, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” was one that came and went so fast, but no one even noticed. Especially with a supporting cast including Co-starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel and Steve Martin. I mean are you serious? This film was also the first 4K presentation of the film to be showed at 60 FPS…but watching it on Blu-ray you are missing most of the “experience”. The 4K Ultra HD (with 3D) is where this film would shine more…but we did not receive that version to feature. If you can get your hands on that edition, it is worth watching one. Not anything that I would see again but I did enjoy the performances.

Official Premise: The story is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing battle in Iraq and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through a sequence of flashbacks, the truth about what really happened is revealed – contrasting the realities of the war with America’s distorted perceptions of heroism.

The standard Blu-ray’s 1080p transfer with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track are still both impressive not faults there at all but when you look at the potential of this film it is like watching it on VHS tape. You missing a lot of the purposeful detail. The special features are not great either. There are a few deleted scenes and four featurettes included about the production. Again, the 4K Ultra HD disc has more content.

CD Review: Mastodon “Emperor of Sand”

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Film Review “A Walk Among the Tombstones”

Starring: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley
Directed By: Scott Frank
Rated: R
Running Time: 113 minutes
Universal Pictures

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Liam Neeson has traded in his concussion inducing fists, action film one liners and torture tactics — at least for the time being — for his latest role in “A Walk Among the Tombstones”. Many will be expecting another hit-man seeking revenge action flick, but Neeson shows some quiet restraint as Matthew, a former NYPD cop turned gumshoe. Instead of making grand leaps throughout Europe, Neeson strolls through the grim landscape of Brooklyn, that’s seemingly trapped in a perpetual state of rain. It definitely atches Matthew’s weathered face and grim outlook on life. These are the kind of roles I like Liam Neeson in.

Matthew lives a very minimalist life. It’s shows because he doesn’t have a computer or cell phone. But that’s OK, it’s 1999 in this movie, and there’s still pay phones littered all around the area and people are freaking out over Y2K. He’s recently been hired by Kenny (Stevens), a well to do drug dealer. He’s kind of like the upper middle class in the drug dealing ring. He loves clean modern furniture and doesn’t abuse his product. Kenny hopes Matthew can track down a duo of beasts, that kidnapped his wife, demanded a ransom, and then after receiving their pay day, delivered his wife back in multiple, small, neatly wrapped cocaine bags in the trunk of a car that you would suspect a drug dealer would drive.

These pair of monsters that Matthew is tracking down would make Hannibal Lecter drool with delight, but unlike Lecter, they lack charisma and charm. One appears to derive pleasure from sexual violence and watching his victims squirm while the other assailant simply appears to be in it for the money; sampling the pieces of his partner’s blood lust. They’re a real disgusting pair to watch at work. We come to find out they’re hitting up drug dealers to satisfy both of their appetites and have a decent sized portfolio of potential victims. As the movie goes, so does their descent into darker wants and needs.

“Tombstones” is one of the best made thrillers in recent memory, leaving the motivations and deepest levels of depravity of the villains up in the air, creating a nauseating sense of suspense in the viewer’s gut. The film takes a couple of moments to breathe with the introduction of TJ (Bradley), a homeless African-American child that looks up to Matthew. TJ feels like a speed bump in the pace when he’s first introduced, but it becomes clear towards the latter half that his introduction was to provide Matthew with an outlet to voice his inner demons and find that sliver of hope in his personal pit of despair.

It’s interesting watching the supposed good guy of the film quickly shrug off the protagonist role. While Matthew might not be personally invested in the crime, he’s attached his own path of soulful enlightenment by how he reacts to each step towards solving the mystery and its eventual outcome. Neeson has no problem handling the weighty emotions of Matthew and if these are the kind of roles we can expect from Neeson in the future, count me in.

 

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Film Review “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”

Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris
Directed by: Justin Chadwick
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributed by The Weinstein Company
Runtime: 146 Minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is an inspiring, powerful and thought provoking film about the life of Nelson Mandela. Beginning with his boyhood in the fields in South Africa, to his rise as a lawyer in Johannesburg, his 27 years in prison on Robben Island and culminating in his release to become the first black president of South America.

Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) was born in 1918 and after growing up and reaching manhood, he left his village in South Africa and became educated and a lawyer. His job was to protect the citizens of Johannesburg. Because of the city and, really, the country’s huge racial boundaries, very similar to America’s at that time he felt a greater need not just to protect the citizens in court but before either of them ever made it to court. As one man he is little; he cannot accomplish anything. But, with a group of followers that started small but became many, he was strong. Along with his wife Winnie (Naomie Harris) they orchestrate demonstrations throughout the city, again similar to the ones brought about during the U.S racial wars. They refused to ride segregated buses and would ride the trains for whites only. Rather than use fire hoses, as their American counterparts, as a means to restrain the demonstrations the government-run police would use bullets, killing men, women and children at will. When the government became violent the demonstrations became violent, with bombings and looting.

Eventually Mandela and his men are caught and prosecuted as terrorists against the government and given the penalty of death. Mandela’s last words to the court were that racial equality was a dream he believed in — and one he would die for. To make a point the judge instead sentences Mandela and his compatriots to life in prison on Robben Island, South Africa’s version of Alcatraz. Even here, without a newspaper or television, he fights for the rights of the prisoners. He works to get the prisoners pants (they currently wear shorts). Mandela knows that little wins will earn you respect no matter where you are. He is completely oblivious to the outside world, which for the first 15-20 years of his imprisonment are filled with more race wars, bombings and killings. His wife Winnie, the leader of the ANC (African National Congress — this wasn’t really a political party it was more of a guerilla party for the rights of all men) has given up on trying to win the war for equality but is merely acting out in violence and hate.

Unaware of the changing climate in the outside world Mandela has no idea that a worldwide equal rights movement is happening… with him as the centerpiece for equality and freedom. When his daughter turns 16 it’s the first time he has ever met her. She comes to visit him in prison and brings him a “Free Mandela” button. She explains to him that though they never met and he never met the millions around the world he is still looked to as a leader.

The rest of the movie is pretty much what we all know from our history lessons. Mandela was given a pardon by the newly appointed president of South Africa, FW De Klerk; before this he was “imprisoned” in a house with his family while he worked with De Klerk on human rights. Upon his release he was elected president, the first black president of South Africa and the rest is all history.

Though the film seems to be a little on the long side I only found a few scenes where it dragged. The message is so inspirational that I didn’t really care that much that it dragged on. It’s a great story of hope and the performances are fantastic. I saw Elba in “Pacific Rim” this summer and this performance made me completely forget about that movie. He does such a great job from his tone of voice to capturing Mandela’s gait, nailing the performance.

Award voting season is coming upon us, and I expect Elba, Harris and the film to receive recognition for the great portrayal of the Mandela family and for educating the many people who see this as the behind the scenes story of Nelson Mandela and his walk to freedom.

 

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CD Review: Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals “Walk Through the Exits”

Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals
“Walk Through the Exits”
HouseCore Records
Producer: Philip Anselmo/Michael Thompson
Tracks: 8

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Pantera/Down/Super Joint Ritual front man Phil Anselmo is back with his first ever solo project “Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals. The group’s debut CD titled “Walk Through the Exits” was just released via HouseCore Records and features 8 tracks produced by Anselmo and Michael Thomson.

Having been a huge Pantera fan since the group’s first album I have always tried to keep up with Phil’s various side projects since the group disbanded in 2003 however that has proved to be somewhat of a full time job. From Super joint Ritual and Down to various other off shoots you never seem to know when the chameleon like front man will appear. Upon hearing that he would be released his first solo album I was quite interested in hearing what he had to offer. After my first run through of the 8 tracks that make up “Walk Through the Exits” I was left extremely confused and a bit disappointed. Every song seemed to lack direction and structure leaving nothing but a chaotic mess of noise. That’s not to say there were several riffs that started off great however those quickly disappeared in to the abyss of clutter. If I had to choose a favorite track off the album I would have to say that “Bedroom Destroyer” would be it. The song still was a bit of a cluster however I felt it had the most solid structure of the 8 tracks and was fairly accessible.

For those interested in something completely different and don’t mind music that is a little more free form then the debut release from Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals may be right up your alley.  But for those looking to find something in the vein of Phil’s previous work this might not be the best choice for you or someone looking for a new favorite group.

Track Listing:
1.) Music Media Is My Whore
2.) Battalion of Zero
3.) Betrayed
4.) Usurper’s Bastard Rant
5.) Walk Through the Exits
6.) Bedroom Destroyer
7.) Bedridden
8.) Irrelevant Walls and Computer Screens

 

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Malcolm Mcdowell to Be Honored with Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

MALCOLM MCDOWELL TO BE HONORED WITH STAR ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME

WHO: Malcolm McDowell
Emcee: Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, President/CEO Leron Gubler
Guests will include Gary Oldman and Rob Zombie, plus Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Reed Diamond and Garcelle Beauvais from TNT’s “Franklin & Bash” along with Mike Kaplan (director, Never Apologize)
WHAT: 2,465th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the Category of Motion Pictures
WHERE: 6714 Hollywood Boulevard , in front of The Pig n’ Whistle British Pub
WHEN: Friday, March 16, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.

COMMENTS: The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce will honor actor Malcolm McDowell appropriately in front of the Pig n’ Whistle British Pub at 6714 Hollywood Boulevard . He joins fellow British luminaries Emma Thompson and Colin Firth on the coveted Walk of Fame.

McDowell will shortly star in “The Monster Butler” to be produced by Dark House Films which will be released theatrically and then distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Additionally, on the evening of the star unveiling, and in honor of McDowell receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, The American Cinematheque is hosting an in-person tribute at the Egyptian Theatre showing his most iconic film, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (a beautifully restored presentation!), as well as Nicholas Meyer’s blend of sci-fi, literary history and modern pop culture, Time After Time, in which McDowell stars as Victorian author H.G. Wells. There will be a Q&A between films with McDowell and Mary Steenburgen.  The tribute continues through March 19 at the Aero Theater.  For tickets and more info: http://bit.ly/ylpfLw

A Clockwork Orange 40th Anniversary Edition, O Lucky Man!, Time After Time and McDowell’s Never Apologize are available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Home Video. For further info: http://bit.ly/whmVGw

MORE ABOUT MALCOLM McDOWELL

Malcolm McDowell is arguably among the most dynamic and inventive of world-class actors, yet also capable of immense charm, humor and poignancy. McDowell has created a gallery of iconic characters since catapulting to the screen as Mick Travis, the rebellious upperclassman in Lindsay Anderson’s prize-winning sensation, If

His place in movie history was subsequently secured when Stanley Kubrick cast the actor to play the gleefully amoral Alex in A Clockwork Orange; when McDowell himself conceived the idea for Mick Travis’ further adventures in Anderson’s Candide-like masterpiece, O Lucky Man!; and when he wooed Mary Steenburgen and defeated Jack the Ripper as the romantically-inquisitive H.G. Wells in Time After Time.

Those legendary roles have endured with legions of filmgoers while new fans have been won over by his tyrannical Soran (the destroyer of Capt. Kirk) in Star Trek: Generations; his Machiavellian Mr. Roarke in “Fantasy Island” and his comically-pompous professor Steve Pynchon in the critically-hailed CBS television series, “Pearl,” starring opposite Rhea Perlman.

Other of McDowell’s distinctive motion picture characterizations include Richard Lester’s Royal Flash, Paul Schrader’s Cat People, Rachel Talalay’s Tank Girl, Joseph Losey’s Figures in a Landscape, Bryan Forbes’ The Raging Moon and the Chaplinesque studio boss in Blake Edwards’ Sunset.

On television, McDowell had recurring appearances as Terence on the HBO hit series, “Entourage,” as Linderman on NBC’s “Heroes,” Darren Vogel on “CSI: Miami,” and Bret Stiles on the hit show, “The Mentalist.” Malcolm currently stars in TNT’s newest series, “Franklin & Bash”.