Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Category: Entertainment (Page 1 of 4)

Best kids shows of the 2000s: A semi-comprehensive list


So, this post is years in the making and should provide you with seconds of enjoyment.

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Bringing back the Miracle
on Ice — and on VCRs

Well, this was a good time — and really fun to play out on Twitter over the course of the weekend. In case you missed it there, I’m bringing it here. Keep scrolling …

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Wrapping up the films of 2016 on Oscar Sunday

Loving

By Jon Weisman

It was a full sprint at the finish line, but even in a busy year in which I only saw a baker’s dozen of live-action movies, I did manage to get to all nine Oscar nominees for best picture. That’s the first time that’s happened since I left Variety.

I’m glad I did. Usually, there’s at least one nominee in the bunch that I find inexplicable, if not horrible. But I had positive feelings about every nominee, all the way to Hacksaw Ridge, which I had been avoiding until it became the final unseen nominee on my list. The initial plotting in Hacksaw is somewhat by the numbers, but it’s a powerful story and it more than does its job of making you feel both the horrors and heroism of war.

Still, my favorite movie of the year is La La Land, and I’m not dissuaded by the backlash that complained about its supposed superficiality or the quality of the singing. The film resonates with me today, months after having seen it, and is more complex than many of its critics give it credit for. I don’t buy the argument that you have to have Broadway voices to make a musical sing. In many people’s eyes, the best picture race has come down to La La Land vs. Moonlight, and I don’t begrudge those hoping Moonlight takes the big prize. But as much as I appreciated the latter, La La Land is triumphant for me. Of course, I’m someone who was also happy with The Artist and The King’s Speech, which from every story that I’ve read about them over the past few years, you’re not allowed to like at all.

The most underrated movie of the year for me is Loving, whose omission from the Oscar picture nominations is hardest for me to understand. It’s an important story, the execution of that story is essentially flawless, and it’s the kind of story that should fit into the Academy’s wheelhouse. In a year of big stories told intimately, Loving was the best of any that I saw. Jeff Nichols, who also wrote and directed Mud and Take Shelter, deserved better. The Lobster is another movie that was worthy of best picture consideration, though it’s far easier to understand why it didn’t get a foothold with the Academy beyond an original screenplay nomination.

Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 2.08.30 PM

If I were limited to a top five, it would be La La Land, Loving, Moonlight, Lion and Arrival. Lion was a satisfying movie experience from start to finish. Arrival began slowly for me but finished strong, leaving a deep impression.

Heading into Manchester by the Sea, I expected I was about to see the year’s best picture winner. And while it was well done — with Michelle Williams’ performance stealing the show — it was a movie that I was done with about as soon as I walked out of the theater. At the time, I was watching the final season of AMC’s Rectify, which had the quiet lead character with a troubled past like Manchester but was doing it much more compellingly, week after week, and Manchester suffered by comparison. It deserves its best picture nomination, but not the Oscar.

I have no complaints about the film adaptation of Fences other than what happens with Denzel Washington, my pick to win best actor, in the final stretch. I know that’s part of the point of the story (and it gives supporting-actress favorite Viola Davis one last moment to show she wasn’t a supporting actress), but it just seemed to leave a hole in the production where a punch should have been. Hell or High Water was strong — a Bonnie and Clyde for the post-recession era — and with Manchester, Lobster, Fences and Hacksaw, it takes a spot in my top 10 ahead of Hidden Figures, which also has a great story but presents it in a clumsier fashion than some of the others. In particular, the story of Octavia Spencer’s character, who is treated as a glorified administrator for virtually the entire film when she was so much more, really seems to get short shrift.

The two other live-action movies I saw were also completely entertaining. Florence Foster Jenkins was a good watch — as old hat as it is for Meryl Streep to get an Oscar nomination, it doesn’t come by accident. Meanwhile, Simon Helberg and Hugh Grant are also really terrific and help make the film a winner. And I’ll also throw some positive support behind Eddie the Eagle, which we saw on something of a lark early in 2016. The movie knows what it is — it doesn’t try to make itself into something grand, but it also isn’t stupid. If you catch this one on the small screen, I’ll bet you enjoy it.

I’m not nearly as positive on the animated films from 2016 I saw this year. While not as good as top animated films of past years, Moana is the best of this year’s bunch, by several degrees, and yet the broad consensus is that it will lose best animated feature to Zootopia, which was forgettable. Kubo and the Two Strings had a good story, but the anglicized voice acting significantly undermined it. Finding Dory, Trolls and The Angry Birds Movie did little more for me than pass the time with my kids.

Quick thoughts on ‘Pitch’ after two episodes

Hastily compiled … and spoilers follow …

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Video: Orel Hershiser meets Carl Reiner

[mlbvideo id=”1093535383″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Carl Reiner doesn’t throw 94, but he is 94 — and he’s a legend. So even though he had to cancel his plans to throw the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, it was still great to see another legend, Orel Hershiser, meet him at his home for some pitching tips and a conversation about their careers.

Reiner wrote more than 50 episodes of his creation, “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and directed such movies as “The Jerk,” “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” and “All of Me.”

— Jon Weisman

‘Top Gun,’ ‘Ferris Bueller’ featured in Dodger Stadium Movie Series

DSMS

FBTGBy Jon Weisman

From the year that brought you a career-high 20 complete games from Fernando Valenzuela and 210 hits from Steve Sax, Dodger Stadium is bringing back “Top Gun” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

The two blockbusters, each celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, will be the postgame features this summer in the Dodger Stadium Movie Series, presented by Fandango.

“Top” will play on the DodgerVision screens 15 minutes after the 4:15 p.m. Dodgers-Padres game ends on July 9, while “Ferris” will be shown following the 1:05 p.m. August 13 game between the Dodgers and the Pirates.

For more information, visit dodgers.com/movies or call (866) Dodgers.

Beyoncé coming to Dodger Stadium on September 14

LNLA-Beyonce-1024x512-LADodger

Dodger Stadium will host Beyoncé’s “The Formation World Tour” on September 14. Tickets go on sale to the general public May 13, but Dodger fans can jump ahead with a presale that runs from 10 a.m. May 11 to 5 p.m. May 12 by visiting dodgers.com/beyonce.

The Dodgers are playing an afternoon game at Yankee Stadium that day, part of a 10-game road trip September 9-18 to Miami, New York and Arizona that is their longest of the season.

— Jon Weisman

Guns N’ Roses adds second Dodger Stadium show August 19

GunsNRoses_640x360
Guns N’ Roses has added a second show at Dodger Stadium for its “Not in This Lifetime” tour, produced by Live Nation.

Tickets for the added August 19 show will be available on a 48-hour pre-sale for Citi cardmembers beginning Tuesday at 10 a.m., followed by a Dodger pre-sale Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets for the general public go on sale beginning Friday.

The Dodgers will be in the middle of a seven-game road trip to Philadelphia and Cincinnati, returning home to play the Giants from August 23-25, followed by the Cubs from August 26-28.

— Jon Weisman

Guns N’ Roses to play Dodger Stadium on August 18

GunsNRoses_1200x627

Guns N’ Roses will bring its “Not in This Lifetime” tour, produced by Live Nation, to Dodger Stadium for one night, August 18. A 48-hour pre-sale for Citi cardmembers begins Tuesday at 10 a.m., with tickets for the general public going on sale beginning Friday.

The Dodgers will be in the middle of a seven-game road trip to Philadelphia and Cincinnati, returning home to play the Giants from August 23-25, followed by the Cubs from August 26-28.

— Jon Weisman

Root Beer reviews: AJ Stephans

IMG_2519While many root beers strive to make a bold statement, sometimes to the point of being the blue-tuxedoed uncle at your best friend’s wedding, AJ Stephans is daring only in its restraint. It dials back the sweetness and doesn’t linger, living extremely in the moment, not like a brash teenage snowboarder but rather a delicate piccolo artist inhaling each note, otherwise rapidly forgotten. Lack of edge prevents it from reaching the top tier, but unpretentiousness prevents it from sinking to the bottom.

Sampling date: December 1, 2015

Ingredients: Pure carbonated water, cane sugar, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, citric acid, sodium benzoate

Nutritional information: 12-ounce serving, 175 calories, 0 grams fat, 44 grams sugar, 30 milligrams sodium, 0 grams protein

Headquarters: Orange, Massachusetts

Rankings to date:
1) Route 66 Root Beer
2) Bulldog Root Beer
3) Capt’n Eli’s Root Beer
4) Sparky’s Root Beer
5) AJ Stephans Root Beer
6) River City Root Beer
7) Cool Mountain Root Beer
8) Rat Bastard Root Beer 

‘A League of Their Own’ affects a generation

a-league-of-their-ownBy Claire Miller

The first organized sport my parents signed me up for was Little League softball. I still remember my first game playing for the Reds with a proud No. 7 on my back. At my first at-bat, my coach tossed a rainbow slow-pitch from roughly 10 feet away, and I blasted it down the third base line for a stand-up triple. Instantly, I was hooked.

Later in the season, I went over to a teammate’s house for a playdate. Given we weren’t typical “girly girls,” playing with dolls was not our idea of fun. Instead, she popped in her favorite movie on girls playing baseball, “A League of Their Own.” Instantly, I was hooked.

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Paul McCartney to perform August 10 at Dodger Stadium

564x564By Jon Weisman

Paul McCartney will bring his “Out There” tour to Dodger Stadium for an August 10 concert.

This will be McCartney’s first performance at Chavez Ravine since the Beatles’ penultimate live gig on August 28, 1966, and first in Los Angeles since two nights at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010.

The tour features music from McCartney’s entire career, as a solo artist (including his most recent studio album “New”), member of Wings and as a Beatle. The set list will also include material from Paul’s most recent studio album NEW, a global hit upon its release last year.

Tickets for the newly announced dates will be on sale May 5. American Express card members can purchase tickets before the general public beginning May 1. Check out paulmccartney.com or dodgers.com/mccartney.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5pV-sgapPg&w=550&h=309]

Lupe Fiasco to perform Sunday at Dodger Stadium

Fiasco

By Jon Weisman

Grammy-winning musician Lupe Fiasco will perform at Dodger Stadium before the Dodgers’ 5 p.m. game Sunday against the San Francisco Giants.

The performance is free to fans with a ticket to the game, and comes a day after Robin Thicke takes the Dodger Stadium stage, all part of the Dodgers’ Opening Weekend, presented by Bank of America.

Known for his sharp and dynamic lyrics, Fiasco had a breakout hit in 2006 with “Kick Push” and followed that with Billboard No. 1 “Lasers.” Next for Fiasco is the album “Tetsuo & Youth.”

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My favorite films of 2013

Well, this puts a period on the sentence that was my last big paragraph of filmgoing for a while.

Now that I’m working for the Dodgers, my years of going to movies by the bushel will take a break. I saw nearly 60 of 2013’s films, but that number is going to come crashing down in 2014.

So for perhaps the last time for a while, here is my annual ranking of the films, using the system I designed long ago.

As I’ve said before, it’s a system that is decidedly personal, because film is decidedly personal.  I don’t think there’s any such thing as a “best” film, but only a “favorite” film, because what we bring to a film and what we desire from it is so idiosyncratic.  Here’s the boilerplate explanation:

Ambition (1-7): How much the film is taking on, in subject matter and in filming challenges?

Quality (1-10): As objective as I can be, how well do I think the film succeeds in achieving its ambitions?

Emotional resonance (1-13): How much did the film affect me personally. This category gets the most weight because it’s the most important – I’d rather see a flawed film that touches me than a technically perfect but emotionally stultifying picture.

Two last quick points: I wouldn’t get caught up in single-point distinctions – those don’t amount to a significant difference between films. I could tinker with the grades every time I revisit the list.

If you want to look back, here are four past charts: my favorite films of 201220112010 and 2006.

I will say this – I’m less enchanted with my system than I have been in the past. I don’t tend to award much variance in ambition, and I’m having more trouble distinguishing between objective quality and emotional resonance. But this isn’t the time I’m going to change things up, so here we go …

2013 A O ER T Comment
Blue Is the Warmest Color 3.5 9.5 10.5 23.5 Loved the deep, patient exploration of the arc of a relationship – it at once had an intimate and epic feel.
Gravity* 5 8.5 10 23.5 No film mixes cinematic and spiritual ambition better this year. A thriller in more ways than one.
Short Term 12 4 9.5 10 23.5 Spot-on great storytelling of both a character and a place.
Much Ado About Nothing 4 8.5 10.5 23 A movie that I found easy to cherish – a loving and lovable homage with its own originality.
12 Years a Slave* 4.5 9 9 22.5 Unassailable in its worth and inner integrity. I can’t explain why at times I felt numb. “Roots” had more impact.
Her 4 8.5 10 22.5 Takes what could have been a sitcom story and turns it into something extraordinary and moving.
Saving Mr. Banks 4 8.5 10 22.5 Strong movie throughout, and the stuff about the flawed fathers got to me.
Captain Phillips 4 8.5 8.5 22 Intense. Hanks builds to some phenomenal moments. Somali parts well-played.
Dallas Buyers Club* 4 9 9 22 Legitimately strong story that should transcend qualms about who the protagonist is. Leto is amazing in it.
The Way Way Back 4 8.5 9 22 Touching and sincere.
August: Osage County* 4 8.5 9 21.5 Adeptly juggles numerous stories and got at the true contradictions of family life and love. Underrated at Toronto.
Mud 3.5 9 9 21.5 Really engrossing story, superbly acted by the kids. Troubled somewhat by the ending.
The Past 4 9 8.5 21.5 Another complex multi-person relationship drama. Tough but good.
The Place Beyond the Pines 3.5 9 8 21.5 Very strong, though Mendes’ character would have benefited from more development.
All Is Lost 4 8 9 21 Taut and nearly silent, but the main question was, why wasn’t their cursing in every minute?
Inside Llewyn Davis 4 8 9 21 A good personal journey movie, that maybe stops short of the knockout punch its ending should have.
Frozen 4 8 8.5 20.5 Definitely more depth than advertised, but also strong in humor and music. Didn’t quite get why secret had to be a secret.
The Wolf of Wall Street 4 8.5 8 20.5 As a comedy, very ambitious with some great moments, but also lagged for me in places.
What Maisie Wants 4 7.5 7.5 20.5 A rough story to tell but it works.
The Iceman 3 9 8 20 Rock solid, with Michael Shannon giving dominant performance.
Blue Jasmine 4 7.5 8 19.5 Hits some great notes – liked even if I didn’t love.
Despicable Me 2 3.5 8 8 19.5 Worked very well – I think I liked it more than the original.
Enough Said 3.5 7.5 8.5 19.5 Loved the exploration of a mature relationship, just wish big reveal hadn’t been so delayed and sitcommy. I miss Gandolfini.
Prisoners 4 8.5 7 19.5 Strong, gritty movie, a little slow-paced in first half but pays off.
Stories We Tell 3.5 8 8 19.5 A really interesting film if a bit rough around the edges.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby* 4 7 8.5 19.5 Liked the material overall and the two-part experiment, but not convinced it wouldn’t be better as one piece.
Fruitvale Station 3.5 7.5 8 19 Narrowly focused but important and heartbreaking.
How I Live Now* 4 7 8 19 The quest is a weird one, but it’s a beguiling fantasy.
Labor Day* 3.5 7.5 8 19 Liked this maybe more than I should – kind of a indie-spirit Hallmark movie.
The Armstrong Lie 3.5 8.5 7 19 The crazy denial comes to life.
The Short Game 3 8 8 19 Funny to see this at around the same time as “Bad Words.”
42 3 7.5 8 18.5 Liked the acting more than the script – mostly a paint-by-numbers telling of a great story.
Nebraska 3 8 7.5 18.5 Might be selling short its ambition, but though I enjoyed it, not sure what it adds up to.
Philomena 3 8 7.5 18.5 Pretty intimate and well-told story.
The Spectacular Now 3.5 8 8 18.5 Touching. Liked that drinking was key element but not central. Shailene Woodley too adorable to be an outcast, though.
Admission 3.5 6.5 8 18 Underrated – didn’t all ring true, but hard not to notice the attempt.
Bad Words* 3 7 8 18 At times profane for the sake of it, but among the most fun films of the year.
Can a Song Save a Life* 4 7 7 18 The joy of making music. Even its darkness is kind of bright. Tremendously likeable.
Casting By 3 8 7 18 Nice piece of work on an area that deserves attention.
In a World … 3 8 7 18 Fun story and a nice showcase for Lake Bell.
Picture Day 3.5 7.5 7 18 Tatiana Maslany expectedly adorable, and it was an interesting (and slightly strange) ride.
The Invisible Woman 3 8 7 18 Solid period piece, with Fiennes beguiling as Dickens.
To the Wonder 3.5 6.5 8 18 Eloquent, beautiful love story sandbagged by inexplicable lack of attention to Affleck’s character.
Out of the Furnace 3.5 7 7 17.5 More true grit, a la Prisoners, which perhaps was better because its antagonist was better.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler 4 6 7 17 Worthy subject and occasionally moving but far too on the nose in places.
Night Moves* 3.5 7 6.5 17 Low, low-key film struggles toward the end after it all goes down.
Rush* 4 7 6 17 Beautifully shot with good lead performances, but fairly conventional storytelling for a sports film.
The Croods 3 7 7 17 Ends on a good note but kind of tedious in the midsection.
Turbo 3 7 7 17 No great leap but a likable enough tale.
American Hustle 3.5 7 6 16.5 I’m probably being harsh on it, but was not involved in the story until the final hour, and it didn’t stick with me after.
Austenland 3.5 6.5 6 16 Points for the ambiguity in the love story, points against for its clumsiness.
Oz the Great and Powerful 4 5.5 5 15.5 Uninvolving script and really questionable casting.
Monsters University 3 7 5 15 Harmless but pointless for me.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone 3 5 6 14 Gross miscalculations about Carell, Carrey and Wilde characters undermined what might’ve been a really good comedy.
Spring Breakers 3.5 5 5 13.5 Certainly not your typical Spring Break movie, certainly stylish, but did not make me care at all. This year’s emperor with no clothes.
Planes 3 5 4 13 A sorrowful rehash of past aspirational animations.
Before Midnight 3 5.5 4 12.5 Pretentious as ever in the first half, hardly groundbreaking in the big fight in the second. The love for these films remains mystifying.
Dom Hemingway* 3 4 3 10 Aside from a couple good moments, thought this was pretty much flatulent.
You Are Here* 3 3.5 3.5 10 Matthew Weiner’s feature was the biggest disappointment of the year.

*Seen at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

Farewell, Shirley Temple Black

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 8.24.47 AMBy Jon Weisman

Let’s just say this – I knew Shirley Temple before I knew any Dodgers. It wasn’t the same with my kids, but when I was a young kid in the early 1970s, the mighty mite was still a huge presence. Heck, I even was watching the grown Shirley in “Fort Apache” with John Wayne.

Shirley Temple Black passed away Monday at age 85. Click the following link to see video of Temple at a 1939 charity comedy-baseball game.

Temple was also featured – or the Temple name and impact, at least – in the Betty Bao Lord book, “In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson.”

Shirley Temple Wong sails from China to America with a heart full of dreams. Her new home is Brooklyn, New York. America is indeed a land full of wonders, but Shirley doesn’t know any English, so it’s hard to make friends. Then a miracle – baseball – happens. It is 1947, and Jackie Robinson, star of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is everyone’s hero. Jackie Robinson is proving that a black man, the grandson of a slave, can make a difference in America and for Shirley as well, on the ball field and off, America becomes the land of opportunity.

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