I’m going to break with the traditional setup and provide the new releases first. What follows the movies portion is a rant on something that happened over the weekend. It does not pertain to films so I felt the need for a little separation. In the meantime, enjoy what’s new in theaters.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS
The detective from 221B Baker Street is back in a new adventure from the director of “Snatch”, Guy Richie (Snatch). Robert Downey Jr. (Natural Born Killers) and Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes) return to the franchise as Mr. Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson. They are taking on their fiercest rival, Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris, “Natural Born Killers”). Tagging along for the ride are the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes).
Guy Ritchie broke out of his Madonna funk with his first telling of the Sherlock mythos. The steam punk styled original was a break from the usual Sherlock Holmes films and it was a breath of fresh air. Hopefully he is able to continue the quality that was shown before. Having Robert Downey Jr. return is also a big plus. It is a sequel that I have been looking forward to. I‘ll rate it as 4 Baker Street Irregulars out of 5. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material.
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIP-WRECKED
The second sequel on the docket is the return of the loveable singing scamps; the Chipmunks. The third iteration of the Chipmunk franchise finds Alvin (Justin Long, “Raising Genius”), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler, “RV”) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney, “Pizza”) going overboard and getting stranded in a tropical paradise. They soon find out their paradise is not as deserted as it first seemed.
It’s broken record time. This film isn’t made for me. I may have grown up with the Chipmunks and their Christmas escapades but these recent films have done nothing but repulse me. Outside of Jason Lee’s (Enemy of the State) and David Cross’s (Destiny Turns on the Radio) participation, there is nothing that interests me about this formulaic return. I’ll grant this 1 Hula-hoop out of 5. “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked” is rated G.
The creative forces behind “Juno” team up once again in this comedy starring Charlize Theron (Reindeer Games). The life of the girl who everybody hated in high school is falling apart. After her recent divorce, she gets the bright idea to return to her small Minnesota town to try and win back her old boyfriend. The only problem is he is happily married with kids. Why let these minor setbacks get in the way?
Director Jason Reitman’s (Juno) and writer Diablo Cody’s (Juno) previous time together won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for several more. While the dialogue of “Juno” may have been a little too witty for its own taste, it was still a very good and funny movie. I am expecting that this film will be just as good. Jason Reitman, the son of Ivan Retiman, has made a name for himself with a string of well-made films, with the most recent being Kentucky native George Clooney’s “Up in the Air.” I’m looking forward to this. I’m rating it as 4 Nipple Confusions (name of band in movie) out of 5. “Young Adult” is rated R for language and some sexual content.
I spent this past weekend basking in the hospitality of the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, partaking in their Christmas festivities. With the Merry Madagascar Ice exhibit, the Rockettes and everything in between, I loved every aspect of my trip. I had a great time chilling with my family. If you can afford it, I would readily recommend the drive down to Nashville.
Not everything about this past weekend was magical, however. The sport teams I follow did not have stellar outings. Both Kentucky and the Bengals found themselves on the wrong end of a buzzer beater. The Cats loss was disappointing but it’s early in the season. They will be fine as the true season doesn’t begin until March. With the loss to the Texans, the Bengals have made it all but impossible to get to the playoffs. There is still an outside chance, but a lot of things need to fall into place for it to happen. Not that it matters, but the attendance for the games have been abysmal. I hate having all the home games (minus the Steelers) blacked out.
There is another Cincinnati team that I follow. I graduated from Xavier University a few years ago and I have always been proud of the institution. It is a place that I hold to the highest esteem. It is the recipient of numerous awards, touting its excellent Business school and Masters Program.
As for its athletics, it has always had an uphill battle for esteem. Because of their Atlantic 10 conference affiliation, there is a perceived notion that Xavier is a lesser school. Despite 2 Elite Eight appearances and 4 Sweet Sixteen’s since 2004, there is a noticeable lack of respect among the big 6 conferences. This was evident in the comments of UC’s Sean Kilpatrick. According to Mr. Kilpatrick, Xavier’s Player of the Year candidate Tu Holloway wouldn’t even be in Cincinnati’s starting 5. The comment may have been made by a fierce rival, but it is still systematic of the position most hold Xavier to; that they are a mid-major.
To combat this, Xavier has developed an “us against the world” mentality. It’s the Xavier swagger. They don’t back down when they find themselves in a corner. Look at the comeback against Purdue for evidence of this. Down 19 in the second half, Xavier storms back and takes the win in the final minutes. They also have a tendency to trash talk to try and get under their opponents skin.
Unfortunately, the swagger came back and bit them hard this past Saturday. For those not in the know, Xavier and Cincinnati had a massive fight in the closing seconds of their game at the Cintas Center, leading to 8 players being suspended for multiple games. Now, one can argue whether or not the punishments fit the crimes. The one thing I know is that I have never felt more embarrassed to be associated with Xavier. I’m sitting at the Opryland sports bar, decked in my Xavier gear and the only thing being repeated on the over 100 plus televisions surrounding me, was the fight. It was a day where the top two teams in college basketball were upset, and the lead story on Sportscenter that night was the fight. Someone has recently approached me and asked how my fighting Xavier’s were doing. All I could do was shake my head.
This fight has been a long time coming. The Xavier-UC rivalry is among the harshest in all of sports. People point to Duke-UNC or even Kentucky-Louisville as the better rivalry. I have seen UK-UL and, in my opinion, it doesn’t come close to the animosity that exists between these two universities. It’s a rare occurrence if the game is played without a single incident. Usually, it’s a few players butting heads and trash talking, knocking up a few technical on the way. What happened this past Saturday was by far the worst. The image of Kenny Frease bloodied from a punch by Yancy Gates will forever tarnish the Crosstown Shootout.
The reactions of the two universities have disappointed me most of all. Mick Cronin, the head coach for UC, came out at the press conference, firing off about how upset he was for the entire affair. He said that he ripped the jerseys off of his players. He even insinuated that some may not be on the team anymore. When it came time to level the suspensions, Gates and Cheikh Mbodj, who stomped on Frease while he was on the ground, received 6 games. Those games are 5 cupcake teams and one Big East contest. Cincinnati will be at full strength for the bulk of the Big East.
Xavier didn’t fare much better. Somebody has to be held accountable for allowing Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons to even talk to the media shortly after the ruckus. Tu talked about being a gangster and never backing down. I may understand the context of what Tu meant, but that doesn’t mean I condone it. You two are representatives of my alma mater. This is not what Xavier represents. In the end, Tu, who was trash talking the UC bench, gets one game and Lyons two. For both teams, those suspensions aren’t nearly enough. Instead, both universities backed down when they should have been tough.
I have spent the past few days thinking this over and the only thing I can think of is there needs to be a suspension of the series. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Crosstown Shootout. When I see the schedules have been released, it’s the first game I locate. Some may view this as a knee jerk reaction to a once in a lifetime blemish. My thinking is that this won’t be just once if the game continues as is. Something needs to change. All involved must change their priorities. I strongly feel that suspending the game for a few years will be for the best. Then again, what do I know.
That will do for this week. Tune in next time for the holiday extravaganza as there are many (and I do mean many) new releases, including 2 from a single director. Until next time, let there be peace on Earth (and the Cintas Center).