Tag Archives: Calvin Johnson

“12 Years A Slave” a devastating movie experience. The Carolina Panthers? And other NFL thoughts. And a video for Veterans Day


There’s only been once in my life where I walked out of the movie theater after seeing a flick and said “Man, that was fantastic. But I don’t think I could ever see it again.”

That one movie was “Schindler’s List,” and I’m sure you can imagine why I never wanted to see it again. Too horrifying, too devastating, too just … emotionally draining.

Last Friday, I had that experience for the second time, after seeing the most remarkable film I’ve seen in many a year: “12 Years A Slave.”

Surely you’ve heard about it now, the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free African-American man living in New York in 1841 who was kidnapped and forced into slavery for 12 years, before finally being freed.

It is not a movie for everyone, because some people will find the violence and abuse repugnant. But it’s the most honest and searing portrayal of slavery I’ve ever seen in any form of media (kind of amazing that a British director, Steve McQueen) made it.

Even though you know what will happen to Northrup as the film goes on (and the lead actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor is fantastic in showing his different emotions, from anger and disbelief, to resignation), every scene has power. Michael Fassbender is brilliant as Northrup (his name gets changed to Platt early on in the movie)’s slave owner.
The other actors are terrific, too, including Patsy, a young slave Fassbender’s character becomes obsessed with. But it’s the story and the script that are so moving, and so at times difficult to watch. You see the cruelty, yes, but you also see the surprising tenderness, the shocking indifference to that cruelty, and how powerful the human spirit can be.

This is such an important movie, and I hope it stands the test of time as the definitive look at the shameful period in America’s past where half the country thought it was OK to own slaves.

Go see “12 Years A Slave;” it ought to be required viewing for all Americans. And I have a feeling it’s going to win a boatload of Oscars.

**Today is, of course, Veterans Day, a day many of us get off from work and then barely give a second thought. I wanted to put a video symbolizing the day up here, but didn’t want to find a cliche “soldiers in battle” thing. So I thought this was cool: A series called “Heroes Hangouts.” These online discussions bring together veterans, civilians, active duty and military families face to face around the world to discuss everything from P.T.S.D. to fundraisers for veterans causes.

Very cool group.


**Finally, Sunday was the Jets’ bye week, which means it’s my most stress-free Sunday of the fall. The day was even better thanks to Tennessee and San Diego both losing, as (and I can’t believe I’m saying this this season) it helps the Jets with the wild-card race.
As usual, some crazy finishes in the NFL Sunday, including…

— Where the heck did the Carolina Panthers come from? Five straight wins, including a 10-9 slugfest over the 49ers Sunday. Man oh man, that Carolina D is ferocious. They’re a legit threat now, if Cam Newton can make a few plays per game.

— I can’t believe that these Hail Mary plays still work, but thanks to the Baltimore Ravens falling asleep, the Bengals got to send their game to OT with a last-second TD catch by A.J. Green. The Ravens won, but man, after giving up this play, they really didn’t deserve to.
— Watched a lot of the Giants-Raiders game. Terrelle Pryor may be an NFL quarterback one day, but he’s really far away right now.
— I thought for sure the Jaguars would go 0-16, but nope, they actually beat somebody. Good for them; no one deserves to lose every time out.
— It deserves to be said every week: Calvin Johnson is not human. Just an incredible physical specimen. If he and Serena Williams ever had kids, they would move our species forward a few notches, don’t you think?

Cameron Crowe and Pearl Jam team up for an awesome movie. And Bills and Lions and Packers, oh my: another loony NFL day

Love Cameron Crowe movies. Just about all of ’em.
Really like Pearl Jam, though have never been a hard-core fan.
So I was reasonably certain that I was going to really like “Pearl Jam Twenty”, the new documentary Crowe made to commemorate 20 years of the band.
I saw the flick Friday night in New York City (its only playing in selected cities, but will be out on DVD soon and is airing on PBS stations on Oct. 21) and really, really came away impressed.
Crowe didn’t really come off as a “fan-boy” director making a movie about his heroes. I thought the interviews with Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and of course Eddie Vedder were really interesting (who knew that the hit song “Daughter” was originally called “Brother?” That’s the kind of stuff you find out in this flick).

Vedder, in particular, seems like a fascinating guy. He seemed as a young man not to care about success, but then admitted how excited he was to finally meet Pete Townsend, an idol of his.
Crowe got some fantastic footage from the 20 years of the band’s history; two favorites of mine were the montage of clips of Vedder, repeatedly, leaping off 20-foot-high scaffolding into the crowd (it’s a miracle he didn’t kill himself), and the band backstage doing an impromptu version of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”
I came away from the movie truly impressed with the dedication and musical talent of Pearl Jam. Are they an iconic band of this generation? Absolutely.
If you get a chance to see the movie, I definitely recommend it. Especially for the Kurt Cobain interview outtakes, which I won’t spoil but were awesome.

Here’s the trailer for the movie; it ought to get you hooked…

**As always on autumn Mondays here at WWOS, I have some Jets thoughts and some NFL thoughts.
— The less said about my Gang Green’s sad performance at Oakland in a 34-24 loss, the better. The Jets’ defense was atrocious. I know Darren McFadden is good and everything, but the tackling from the Jets was terrible. The pass coverage was spotty, and once again there was no pass rush. Two out of three games this year, the defense has stunk. Color me officially worried.
— Offensively Mark Sanchez made his usual “one or two horrible throws a game”, but he wasn’t the problem Sunday. The O-line collapsed in the second half, and Antonio Cromartie, well, he couldn’t have possibly played worse. His fumble on the kickoff, after the Raiders scored to take a 24-17 lead, was an absolute crusher of a mistake. So glad Cro is getting $8 million a year.
My boys are 2-1, with road games at Baltimore and at New England the next 2 weeks. Two and three looks likely. Oy.

–I think I’m going to make Buffalo Bills games must-see TV. They played yet another thriller Sunday, beating the Pats (thank you, Buffalo, from all Jets fans) after rallying from 21-0 down. And their quarterback went to Harvard! Love this Bills team.
— And of course the Detroit Lions are 3-0 now, coming back from 20-0 down to beat the Vikings and their walking corpse of a quarterback, Donovan McNabb. All who had Detroit and Buffalo both 3-0 at this point, raise your hands. (Very nice column by the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay on Bills and Lions here)
— I ain’t seeing a Super Bowl hangover from the Packers. Damn they are good.
— Drew Brees is looking like the guy from two years ago. Which is scary for everyone else.
— Finally, got a give a shout-out to the Giants. Big-time win at Philly. Eli Manning is such a maddening player to watch; he can play terrible for months at a time, then play as well as he did Sunday.