France vs. Portugal: UEFA Euro 2016 Final Review

I’m just going to get this off my chest right now: As a French national team supporter, I’m gutted that they didn’t win this match. This was, on paper, meant to be a one-way dance, with France dominating everything from possession to the number of moths that inhabited the pitch at Parc des Princes in Paris. I’m also a Chelsea FC supporter, so the colour blue basically runs in my blood.

FIRST HALF:

Much of what I saw in the first half of this game was France dominating Portugal’s defence, with some impressive trickery like nutmegs and Cruyff turns running amok. There were also lots of opportunities for France to hit the back of the net (Griezmann’s missed header the first that came to mind), but didn’t convert. It was a lot of possession-based football, which, unless your name is Louis van Gaal, is something that would bore anybody and their dog. Portugal did have some chances, but, like their opposition, found themselves unable to materialize and make the most of their opportunities. Oh, and Ronaldo got injured and had a moth on his face for the majority of the time he was down.

SECOND HALF:

This was, in my opinion, the part of the match where the goalkeepers were the MVPs. Rui Patricio (Portugal) and Hugo Lloris (France) produced world-class saves that guys like Gigi Buffon and David de Gea would be proud of. But, like the first half, there really wasn’t much action.

EXTRA TIME:

I’ll never forget this part of the match, for I was sitting among a sea of Portuguese fans in a sports bar when Eder, of all people, scored the decisive goal. Being one of few French supporters, the moment was a hard pill to swallow. Many years on, we’ll look back at this moment and realize that Eder is to the 2016 Euros what Mario Gotze was to the 2014 World Cup; clutch, decisive, and perhaps, a bit lucky.

If there’s one person I feel super bad for, it’s Antoine Griezmann. I think he’s one of the best strikers for club and country, but having lost the Champions League final AND the finals of the Euros to Ronaldo is about as good as seeing a teacher you hate both in school and chatting with your mom in a supermarket.

By all accounts, this was a boring game (dare I say, one of the worst finals at a major tournament), but fair play to Portugal for winning this tournament. Even if Ronaldo didn’t do anything…

Until next time folks,
Kelvin P

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

So fun fact: I’m a business student in university. The nature of my discipline involves being in teams to do projects, assignments, and things of the sort. Most times, these teams are incredible, but some teams I’ve been a part of were abysmal, to put it nicely. However, I take each bad team I’ve been a part of and analyze what made it that way to begin with. The conclusion is that bad teams stem from having conflicting viewpoints on a subject or situation. This, my friends, is much of the plot that surrounds Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, one of 2016’s best movies.

FIRST ACT:

Much of the first act is dedicated towards two time periods: 1991 and 2016 (the year after Ultron’s demise at the hands of the Avengers). In 1991, we see Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who has been held captive at one of HYDRA’s bases in Siberia. He is granted a surprise release and is tasked with stopping a car full of super-soldier serum. In the present day, Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scar Jo), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) are in Lagos to find a Brock Rumlow and prevent him from stealing a precious bio-hazardous weapon. Unfortunately, the encounter ends in Brock committing suicide and Scarlet Witch killing innocent lives via her telekinesis.

What intrigued me was the duel between the Avengers and Brock. Being an avid fan of action films, I felt that scene took me back to Daniel Craig’s first James Bond film, Casino Royale, in 2006, during the chase in Madagascar. At the time, I couldn’t believe the superfluous action and heart-pounding parkour that encapsulated that scene. These same sentiments were echoed in this chase, and I got to credit Marvel and the Russo brothers for including that in the final cut of this film.

Senator Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) then shows up with the Sokovia Accords, detailing the presence of the UN in regulating the actions of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. This is where the whole dysfunctional team concept I alluded to previously comes into play. We see the viewpoint of Tony Stark/Iron-Man (RDJ), who believes that after his involvement in Ultron’s demise, feels that regulation is something that the team should take into consideration. Another viewpoint is that of Captain America’s, who doesn’t give a damn about the government’s pleas.

At a conference in Vienna to make these rules official, a bombing occurs. Inside the building was Romanoff, T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), and his father, King T’Chaka. T’Chaka unfortunately succumbs to his death and puts T’Challa on a pursuit to hunt down the killer. He suspects Bucky is the killer, and another chase reminiscent of Batman and Joker’s chase in The Dark Knight ensues. The timely intervention of Captain America and Falcon ensured that nobody was hurt; however, the quartet are arrested, become unlikely companions, and eventually turn into renegades that challenge Iron Man in the Third Act of this film.

In this scene, I feel the spoils should go to the severely underrated performance of William Hurt. Despite limited screen time, his acting was by no mean forced and I was thoroughly impressed with his line delivery. Maybe a career as a rapper can be something in the works for you, Mr. Hurt 🙂

SECOND ACT:

In this act, we are introduced to Helmut Zemo (runner-up to T’Chaka for best name ever), a person hell-bent on taking down the Avengers. In order for him to get to the Avengers, he found a Hydra soldier that kept records on words that triggered Bucky’s brainwashing. However, another timely intervention from Chris Evans sees the pair leave unharmed. After regaining his senses, Bucky tells the story of how he was framed by Zemo for the bombing, and that the true conspirator behind the attack was none other than Zemo himself.

I really admired the direction of the Russos in humanizing Bucky. We were so accustomed to his cold and calculated motives as a soldier, but we don’t realize that underneath lies a person capable of love and companionship. I was really happy with how the whole relationship between him and Cap started to get better, and I could really tell that it’s really genuine.

THIRD ACT:

The battle we’ve been waiting to see. Civil war finally ensues. Here are the teams: Captain America’s (Cap, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Bucky, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye) and Iron Man’s (Stark, Black Widow, Black Panther, War Machine, Vision, and Spidey). They meet in Leipzig, and they duke it out. Team Iron Man wins and the renegades are captured.

Upon stumbling on evidence suggesting the involvement of Zemo in the bombing, Stark goes and finds the Bucky-Rogers partnership in Siberia. He notices that others like Bucky were killed by Zemo.

I mentioned that this movie has its fair share of moments occurring in 1991. The pinnacle moment was the mysterious death of Starks’ parents. The orchestrator behind that: Bucky Barnes. Not only did this provoke Stark, but it was also revealed that Cap knew about this secret. An enraged Stark blasts off Barnes’ robotic arm and leaves with Cap.

So TL;DR: Zemo’s happy that he distorted the Avengers. Stark has at least some closure for his parents’ murder. And T’Challa is at peace knowing that he knows his father’s killer and has brought him in to the police alive after previously wanting to commit suicide.

MY TAKEAWAYS:

Marvel always does a great job with their suspension of disbelief, and I don’t see that stopping for as long as their in business. FYI, really good suspension of disbelief basically means that the movie people successfully engages you into the film world and makes you believe that what you’re seeing is real.

Biggest surprise goes to Chadwick Boseman for his portrayal of T’Challa. He seemed so fitting for the role and to be honest, I don’t think there’ll be another person that can make this character his own. Unless your name is Idris Elba…

Most underrated performer goes to William Hurt, for reasons I have already described.

Best reboot of a character obviously goes to Spidey. Tom Holland reminds me of a mix of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, and I’m looking to Spidey films with him in the future. Also, easter egg alert, but when Stark went into his house, he was wearing a pizza t-shirt. #SpiderMan2

Final score (out of 100): 95.

Until next time folks,
Kelvin P

 

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: My Predictions

Every year around this time, we have a grand spectacle in the form of the NCAA Men’s Division I basketball tournament, or March Madness. 68 colleges both big and small compete for college basketball’s biggest honour. Here are my predictions for each of the regions. DISCLAIMER: I have all of my 11 seeds moving past to at least the round of 32.

SOUTH: Kansas eliminated in the Sweet 16 (much like last year with a team that included Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins), Wichita State (a First Four team) going to the Elite Eight, Villanova being eliminated early on (as has been the case for the past five years), Maryland (a number five seed) going all the way to the National Championship Game.

WEST: Duke being eliminated in the Round of 32, Northern Iowa (11 seed) beating Texas (6 seed), Texas A&M in the Final Four, Oregon being knocked out in the Sweet 16, VCU going to the Sweet Sixteen.

EAST: Kentucky being out in the Elite Eight, Michigan (11 seed) beating Notre Dame (6 seed), West Virginia University going to the Final Four, Wisconsin not going to the Final Four for the first time in two years.

MIDWEST: My most conservative bracket, with the number one and two seeds (Virginia and Michigan State) going to the Elite Eight, and Michigan State going to the Final Four and National Championship Game. Only surprise here is my inclusion of heavily under-seeded Gonzaga (11 seed) beating surprise six seed Seton Hall, but that’s not really saying much considering how impressive ‘Zaga’s been in the tournament.

WINNER: Michigan State over Maryland.

I know I’m shooting for the moon in some of these predictions, but hey, that’s what March Madness is all about, right? It could be worse you know. I could be betting on this shit and losing money like no tomorrow (no disrespect to those betting), which I’m not. Happy tournament selections everyone!!

Until next time folks,
Kelvin P

Prisoners – Movie Review

Suspense: it’s everywhere. In movies, it’s the feeling when a serial killer in a horror flick is close to killing someone. In sports, it’s having your team beat the opposition on a last-ditch effort. For undergraduate students, it’s walking into a room for a job interview. For singers, it’s performing live before a crowd of people at a big venue. The point in each of these isolated cases is that there’s a blur in terms of what you think happens and what actually happens.

Prisoners falls exactly into this category. In most films today, the premise is that it’s predictable and that you do not have to watch the entire thing to know what it is about. That is not the case with this film. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (who also made movies such as Les Incendies and Sicario), and starring Wolverine, Donnie Darko, and Amanda Waller (to name a few) this is a fine example of waiting until the very last shot to truly grasp what the hell is going on. Honourable mentions goes to Roger Deakins for making the jaw-dropping cinematography and for Melissa Leo’s portrayal as Holly Jones.

At first glance, the movie is your standard, run-of-the-mill missing persons case. There’s an investigator whose aim is to find whoever abducted these people. And there’s also the family’s grief and despair. But what makes this film so great is how layered it is. Characterized as a crime/mystery/drama triumvirate, Villeneuve takes the best tropes from each of these genres and blends them seamlessly into a film that really makes you think. When you watch it for the first time, you keep thinking to yourself “Oh this must be the person,” or “Aha! This is it… After this scene is finished, the movie’s done!”

I’ll dedicate the next paragraph to the plot twist, so if you hate spoilers, then look away. You’ve been warned…

 

Alex Jones and Bob Taylor are the two people we suspect are the abductors of the two families’ little girls. Alex drove the RV, the last time we physically saw the two girls, and Taylor had articles of clothing that looked to be fitting for the age of the two families’ daughters. We find out that while both abetted in the crime, the true suspect and mastermind behind the madness was in fact Holly Jones, the “aunt” of Alex Jones. Turns out, they aren’t related; Holly abducted Alex as a child, and reasons for why he has a bit of a mental problem is because of trauma he faced when her late husband kept pet snakes in the house. Taylor, another victim of Holly’s, killed himself in the police station after revealing he abducted the two girls.When asked the logic behind the abductions, Mrs. Jones stated that this was the ingenious idea she and her husband cooked up as part of their “war against God” after their son’s death.

The situation gets even worse when Jones imprisons Keller in a pit hidden beneath a 1950s style car, the same pit that she put both girls in. The very last shot that we see is Loki going back to the crime scene, and hearing faint sounds of Dover in the pit through the whistle his daughter had. This ultimately refines the prisoners theme that occurs throughout the film: everyone involved in the movie has personal demons that come head-on, making them all subtly “imprisoned.” Keller is a prisoner within his own family as well as a literal one when abducted by Holly. Detective Loki’s inability to get anywhere positive with the case before turning up at Holly’s house signifies his imprisonment within the scope of his own work. The emotional toil that both families feel make them feel like they are in prison because they cannot enjoy the ideal family life that a typical family would have.

If you are fascinated with the idea of a constant on-your-edge-of-your-seat performance, and also like unique twists on clichéd tropes, then I implore you to give Prisoners a watch.

Rating: 9/10

Until next time folks,
Kelvin Pau

 

Spoiler-Free Movie Review: Spotlight

Movies have quite a history. From 1895 – 1927, we witnessed silent films, and stars like John Barrymore, Bela Lugosi, and Charlie Chaplin giving us some of the era’s best performances sans sound. The talkies era, beginning with Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer in ’27, was seen as a fad by most, but has developed into the standard method for productions on the silver screen.

I’ve only really been into movies and analyzing them for a year or so, but within that year, I’ve watched lots of films and picked up on quite a lot. Examples: Adam Sandler is shit and way past his prime, Roger Deakins is one of the best cinematographers of all time, and Spotlight.

Spotlight is without a doubt one of the best movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Starring an ensemble cast (Batman, Howard Stark, Allie Hamilton, Sabretooth, and a slew of others), this movie is based on true events about the Spotlight team, the oldest active newspaper investigative unit in Boston, breaking the news about a group of Roman Catholic priests sexually abusing children. Now on first glance, one would think “Why would anyone be interested in a newspaper company? Specifically, why should I care about a company that still follows the print format when today’s world is all about reading news online?” Let me clarify some things here: The article was published in early 2002. 9/11 attacks happened the year prior. The originals who reported this got The Boston Globe a fucking Pulitzer Prize in 2003. Oh, and if music’s your thing, the guy who scored the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Howard Shore) wrote the score for this one. You’re welcome

I’ll be straight up here: I do not watch trailers for most movies. While some exceptions to the rule apply here (e.g. X-Men Apocalypse and Suicide Squad, which I may end up regretting), I just do not like the idea of seeing something that will perfectly foreshadow what the entire film is about in two minutes. Also, whenever I watch films for a second time, I do not focus on the plot, the acting, or the characters; rather, I focus on the cinematography. This gives me a chance to understand what the director’s stance is on the suspension of disbelief. In layman’s terms, suspension of disbelief is when you are convinced that the film world (Diegesis) the director portrays is real.

Spotlight is a unique film that only comes once-in-a-while. I say that because the story is not the main selling point; rather, it’s the journalist. To me, I saw this film as a hero’s tale in that The Globe was the first to broadcast this news story to the masses. The transformation from raw data to finished article for the Spotlight team was very well written and edited, due in no small part to the genius of Tom director/screenwriter McCarthy. The atmosphere felt realistic and tense, creating that sense that you were a part of the team. All the actors/actresses didn’t force their performances, which is a huge relief from most of the movies I saw this year (Norm of the North being one that comes to mind). That being said, it does require a couple of viewings, so if you are a fan of one-viewing movies, this might not be for you. But for those who have the patience, this is an exhilarating experience on a touchy subject, and is definitely in my top five movies of the 2015-2016 year.

Rating: 8.5/10

Until next time folks,
Kelvin P

Grand Slam Review: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers (June 28, 2015) and Other Highlights

Three strikes and you’re out: That was the feeling I received after watching the last batter whiff at a pitcher’s, um, pitch in ninth inning of the Jays Rangers game yesterday. Here, I will review the game in three stages through the viewpoint of a pitcher: the starting pitcher, the setup men, and the reliever/closer. Also, I’ll be telling you some other highlights throughout the jam-packed day I had.

The starting pitcher for the Jays was Drew Hutchison, the ace of the Jays. His stellar 7-1 win-loss (W-L) record coming into this game has been marred a bit by his earned runs average (ERA), but nonetheless, he was solid in this game, giving up four hits, three walks, an unearned run, and eight strikeouts for his fifth straight win. He also oversaw a 3-0 lead from the American League’s most dynamic offense. Most of the time, I was thoroughly impressed by his accuracy with his pitches, putting a Mark Buehrle-esque game with strikes in areas that pitchers would love to whiff at, but can’t because of the last-minute turns. If he keeps this up, we can definitely move past the horror that was the Ricky Romero era, especially towards his last years in the Jays leading up to his demotion in the minor leagues. Welcome to the Jays, folks!!

With the game now 3-0, Hutchison’s penchant for strikes and his overall presence began to dwindle, and so began the process of calling up on the bullpen to help maintain the lead. The first pitcher John Gibbons (our manager) calls up? Aaron Loup, who is far and away our worst setup man in the bullpen. How bad you ask? He didn’t even last the inning he was called up for, and gave up two runs which made Texas down one. But more than that, however, is that because he didn’t pitch a full inning, there is a chance he’ll be pitching in the next series against the woeful Red Sox. Take that in, Jays fans. We’re gonna get used to the Ricky Romero in the bullpen for at least another game. Fortunately, we got a good performance from Steve Delabar, who you might remember pitched an immaculate inning (nine pitches, three strikeouts) a couple of years ago. Despite a couple of duds on his part that game, Anthopoulos really found a diamond in the rough with him, and I’m really looking forward to his progression as a future lead setup man.

The unequivocal star in yesterday’s game was Roberto Osuna, our closer/reliever. He really showed his worth to the team, getting out power hitters like Mitch Moreland and Shin-soo Choo out on strikeouts, with the former out leading to his second save and a Blue Jays win. Much like Delabar, I’m really looking forward to seeing his progress as the lead closer, a role currently occupied by a down-year Brett Cecil.

*takes a deep breath.* Okay, so on to the highlights of my day. Upon getting into Rogers Centre and getting our panel hats (because nothing smells giveaway day more than a panel hat day), I was very fortunate to get signatures from Jamie Campbell, the lead sports anchor on Rogers Sportsnet’s “Blue Jays Central” and Gregg Zaun, a former Blue Jay who plied his trade as a catcher. After the game, a couple of my friends decided to go eat somewhere, with our first stop being at a Casey’s at Simcoe and University. After learning how packed it was, we walked for a bit and stopped at John and Adelaide; yes guys, I ended up going to a Hooters for the first time. My thoughts? Boobs, and lots of them. No but seriously though, the food wasn’t too bad, and it wasn’t poorly priced given that it was downtown. 10/10 would go again, and not for the reason you’re thinking 😉

Until next time folks,
Kelvin P

Benefits of Taking French All Throughout High School

So here I am watching an episode of Friends, where Phoebe teaches Joey, the struggling actor, French for his play. Phoebe recites the words “Je m’appelle Claude,” or “My name is Claude.” The former’s accent is natural and the latter’s sounds like the lad at the local pub who gets drunk for the first time. His audition is coming up the next day. To remedy his woes, he enlists the help of an educational CD, with the person telling him the numbers from one through five in French; he responds by saying words like floo, flay, bloo, and blah. The audition starts, and suddenly I see a man looking eerily similar to James Earl Jones (AKA Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy), Joey, and his co-star acting out their respective roles. Given what we know about Joey’s command of the French language, it was certain he wasn’t going to get the role. In comes Phoebe, who tells the James Earl Jones look-a-like that he’s (and I quote) “mentally retarded.” Jones then relays the message forward to Joey saying that his French was really good, but that he wouldn’t get chosen for the part.

What I got from that episode was how awesome it’d be to have French be a part of your language arsenal. My next thought was why most Canadian high schools don’t emphasize the importance of this language in their curriculum. Here are some reasons why schools should consider implementing a four-year high school French curriculum.

Picture this: You are in high school, and you are taking a French course in Grade Nine. Then, because you aren’t in a French program, you decide to not pursue this course for your next three years. We’ve been so accustomed to learning about the English language and all its nooks and crannies, yet whenever we learn French, people avoid it like the plague. It’s important to remember that French is an official language for Canadians, especially when it comes to finding jobs and travelling to others parts of the world. Most employers see languages as a plus, and having even intermediate competency will definitely bring a smile on their faces. Also, if you travel to other areas where French is spoken, the cost of having to buy a dictionary or investing time and effort in finding a translator can be eliminated, thereby making your experience that much more worthwhile.

Let’s say that you, a male, stumble upon some drop dead gorgeous female, who knows only how to speak French. You’ve been waiting your entire life to finally see if your pick up game’s good or nah. What better language to do it then French, a Romance language. Provided you can do a good job and not mess up things like which words are masculine or feminine, you’re gonna be picking up more chicks than ever before. Heck, you might even be famous if she happens to be the talk of the town. Let’s all hope we don’t end up like Joey and bloo de la bloo de la bloo bloo blay our way into a conversation.

Until next time folks,
Kelvin P ^____^