Self High-Five: Hard Eight

bill bodkin takes that, rewinds it back…kinda like usher

The end of summer has come and the winds of autumn are just ’round the corner. I love this time of year — football is in full swing (despite my fantasy football team being epicly tragic again), the new movie season is delivering new favorites (see: The Town), there’s decent TV on again (see Modern Family) and the beaches are peaceful, calm and beautiful.

Movies: So I Finally Got Through My Netflix Movies
Summer is always a ridiculously busy time of year for me. The Jersey Shore is alive with business and I must tend to it. This usually means that by mid-summer my Netflix account goes into a lull and I have two discs collecting ample amounts of dust (I also don’t get to clean much in the summer either). The two movies in question for summer 2010 were The Green Zone and The Book of Eli — two action/dramas that I had really wanted to see in theaters. Luckily I saved my money and got them on DVD instead as these were two movies with a lot of potential but deadly serious execution made them very middle of the road films.

Eli, the latest Hughes Brothers film, stars Denzel Washington as a bible-toting, bible-quoting, sword-yielding badass named Eli. He takes no prisoners, he speaks softly and is not afraid to engage in a rousing game of “lemme chop your head off.” Eli carries with him a book, a rare commodity in this post-apocalyptic USA, specifically — the bible. Yes, this bible, the only one left in the country, is the key to civilization’s rebirth. Some (Eli) want to see it into the right hands, spreading its message for the greater good while others (the always psychotic Gary Oldman) want to use it to further their own personal power over the illiterate and simple populace. Sadly, what could’ve been an interesting actioneer with some religious subtext, gets turned into an antiseptic and somewhat unbelievable plot. Every action sequence is so pristine, so choreographed, so surgical that it almost doesn’t belong in a land that’s been patched together with tar and duct tape. It’s a little too smooth, a little too slick and frankly, a little too boring for an audience to get into. Eli is worth a rent on a rainy day if you’re into distopian films or blood-soaked dramas.

The Green Zone suffers from a severe lack of bad timing. The film’s entire plot revolves around the “beaten to death” subject of “was there WMD in Iraq?” Had this film been released in the earlier part of the last decade, say anywhere from 2004-2006, it would’ve been a real hot button “message” movie. Instead years after this subject has been run into the ground by every political pundit and at every watercooler known to man, we get a movie about it with a heavy-handed “the US is bad” theme. Seriously, we don’t need a rehash of this subject. It’s over, it’s done. The WMD plotline is so heavy-handed that it seems that the writers are shoving it down our throats. This heavy-handedness negates any room for us to find out anything about the films characters — all of whom are portrayed by terrific actors like Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleason and Amy Ryan. The only thing we know about them is that they have a goal and are blindly going to accomplish it. We know little of their motivations, thoughts, emotions, etc. The only saving grace for Green Zone is solid action sequences orchestrated by Bourne film director Paul Greengrass. In conclusion, if you’re looking for a good movie about the Iraq war — rent The Kingdom.

Music: “Laredo” by Band of Horses
This song has been on my list of “I gotta write about this” since early summer, I just haven’t had the
chance. Now, here it is. I don’t know much about Band of Horses except that a lot of New York hipsters, who I honestly believe the hate has gone too far on (I steal another phrase from ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Podcast), really, really dig them. And it makes sense — they have beards, wear hip clothes, are on the skinny side and oh yeah — they write a good tune. “Laredo” is a song that has really grown on me. It’s a got certain laid back sensibility, almost harkening to a 70s style of say like a ligther version of The Eagles. Yet, it still has really good rock ‘n’ roll chops. The guitar work is much better than most hipster acts, forgoing a jangly guitar, for solid riffage. Lead singer Ben Bidwell has some really distinct pipes — definitely looking forward to their other work.

Food: Cafeteria NYC
It’s been a while since we last spoke of food on this blog. And I’m very happy to profile the excellent Cafeteria restaurant in New York. Located in the Chelsea area of NYC, Cafeteria is the perfect hybrid of city chic and down home cooking. This is a new trend that I’m really digging in the culinary world — high-end comfort food or the gastro pub movement as it’s called in some circles. It’s a fantastic concept — take the great food that people love and prepare it in a unique or high-end way. This way you’re satisfying your clientele that wants to hip and cutting edge when dining in the city and those people (read: me) who just want a burger in a cool setting. On this evening I ordered a bacon, egg and swiss burger that was an absolute dynamite burger. Five napkin worthy and completely delicious, I was so happy to eat this bad boy. As for my dinnermates, how does pulled pork tacos, chicken and waffles and meatloaf sound? Sound like something you’d get at a dinner in Jersey at 2am? Sure it is — if it was cooked by a top notch chef and not a fry order cook. And I must also recommend their “Mac Attack” which is Mac n Cheese three ways — with smoked gouda and bacon, with truffle oil and with cheddar cheese. OUTSTANDING I TELL YOU. End your night with fried oreos and ladies and gents you’ve found my new favorite spot in the city!

Television: Yeah…so…I Like LOST now
I tried avoiding this. I promised myself I wouldn’t get sucked in. I wanted to be different, the guy who wouldn’t buy the hype. But after years of bombardment from my closest friend Victor Reyes, I finally gave in and watched a few episodes of LOST. I figured, since my Netflix Instant was finally set-up (thanks to my friend and another LOST-ite Pat Brady), I would check out one episode. Well, one quickly turned into five. I cannot get enough of this series. It’s such a well-written piece of art. Notice I didn’t say television — this is art. It’s one of the most well-constructed shows I’ve ever seen. It’s compelling, funny, mysterious and full of action. I’ve never watched a show where I got goosebumps or jumped out of my seat before. And I’ve only seen FIVE EPISODES. Sadly Netflix Instant is taking the series down due to the release of Season 6. Hopefully this will change so I can become one of the many people who have deemed LOST one of the best shows ever to grace the screen.

The Web: The Blog Turns One!
Yes, the B&B Entertainment Blog is officially turning one year old on Tuesday September 28. This week is very special as we’ll be rolling out a new column, debuting a new blogger from the West Coast and we’ll be seeing a major return to writing from Brent Johnson. We’ll also be doing some retrospectives on the past year on the blog as well. But let me take this space to thank everyone (including the 20 of you who actually read this column!) for making our blog so successful. From our guest bloggers to our subscribes to the people who love downloading that Carrie Underwood photo from our Decade & Reality TV blog from January — you’ve helped us become something more than side a project. You’ve helped turn this small idea into something that one day might end up as a full-time job. Thanks for your support and we look forward to the next year!

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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