2013 Year End Movie Review: David Medsker

medsker

It is not gross hyperbole to suggest that, box office be damned, the last couple of years have not been Hollywood’s finest. With all due respect to “The Artist” and “Argo,” the previous two Best Picture winners and fine movies, neither of them would have won had they been released in 2010. In fact, “The Artist” wouldn’t have even made my Top 10 list that year, while “Argo” would have slotted slightly ahead of “The King’s Speech” (that year’s Best Picture winner, by the way), which means it would have ranked as the sixth best movie that year. Yes, 2010 was that good, and everything since has been, as far as I’m concerned, a great disappointment.

Enter 2013, and the first time since 2010 that a movie truly excited me, to the point where I wanted to stay and watch it again the second it ended. Then I felt sad because Roger Ebert hadn’t lived long enough to see it. I’m really going to miss him. He was a damned fine writer.

Sadly, I still don’t have enough movies to make a top ten list. This is a combination of two things: missing some daytime screenings (stupid day job), and being rather underwhelmed by some movies with big time buzz, including the one that will likely win Best Picture. That won’t be a travesty along the lines of “Crash” taking the trophy in 2005, but unworthy of the honor just the same.

My Favorite Movies of 2013

1. “GRAVITY

Only one movie comes even close to this one. I was thrilled when Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film “Children of Men” won my local film critics group’s award for Movie of the Year, and what he does here dwarves that in terms of technical achievement, while Sandra Bullock delivers as raw a performance as she’s ever given in her life. Even better, the movie is a mere 91 minutes long. Showing people something they’ve never seen before, while showing respect for the audience’s time: now that is my idea of a modern-day filmmaker.

gravity-med

2. “AMERICAN HUSTLE

This is one of those ‘little moments’ movies, where the story is thoroughly engaging, but it’s the little bits that will stick in your head, and each of the leads has one. Bradley Cooper impersonating Louis C.K. towards the end. Christian Bale letting it all hang out at the party while listening to Duke Ellington. Jennifer Lawrence and the “science oven.” (Lawrence actually has two, if you include her lip sync of “Live and Let Die.”) Jeremy Renner explaining all of the different things you can heat in a science oven (all Italian foods). Amy Adams introducing Lady Greensly. “American Hustle” has a gonzo spirit, but it’s a smoke screen to distract you from the fact that at least one of the characters at any point in time is already thinking two moves ahead. Brilliant stuff.

3. “HER

If “American Hustle” is a ‘little moments’ movie, “Her” is the one that will lead people to have book club-type conversations after seeing it. If the idea of someone developing feelings for an operating system seems odd on the surface, it won’t once you see Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) give up people for Samantha (Scarlett Johannson), who satisfies him in ways that real women can’t. Johannson will probably be overlooked by the Academy for the same reasons that motion capture master Andy Serkis has been shunned (only her voice appears in the movie), but she delivers a heartbreaking and utterly believable performance as the zeroes-and-ones Samantha.

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Weidman vs. Silva – The Rematch

Even sports fans who weren’t big UFC fans knew that the Chris Weidman upset of Anderson Silva earlier this year was a big deal. Now the two of them are set for a rematch this weekend in UFC 168 in a battle that should draw tons of viewers. Weidman (10-0) defends his new title against Silva (33-5) in Las Vegas, and the fight card is stacked with other great fights as well.

But all of the attention will be on these two. Silva is a favorite to win back his title following that stunning upset, but many experts are pointing out that Weidman is a matchup nightmare for Silva with his grappling skills. Others point to the fact that Silva was dropping his hands and acting like a diva in the last fight. Now he will take Weidman seriously. This is the perfect kind of rematch that boxing promoters loved to stage for years, and some have argued that it almost worked out too perfectly for the UFC. Regardless, this bout should be talked about for a long time.

There are tons of stuff to bet on these days, but like in the old days with boxing a big fight is the kind of event everyone likes to get in on. Of course if you’re in Vegas you’ll be playing the table games. In London everybody knows that online poker means 888. When it comes to horse racing everyone likes to bet the Kentucky Derby. While the UFC has grown dramatically in popularity it still hasn’t quite approached the glory days of boxing with fights like Ali – Frazier. But with the Weidman – Silva rematch you start to get the kind of excitement needed to propel a sport to the next level.

It will be interesting to see just how much buzz this fight creates. It could set viewership records, particularly as it’s happening over a holiday weekend. If the fight lives up to the hype, then the UFC will take another step in becoming must-see TV.

  

New Year’s Cocktails — Another Drink of the Week Holiday Special

Last week‘s special selection of Christmas drink suggestions were all united by one special ingredient: fat!

While such yuletide standbys as eggnog and hot buttered rum also make excellent New Year’s party favors, it’s possible you’ve had enough rich food during the last several days for a lifetime. So, let’s focus on drinks that might rough up your liver a little but which will leave you arteries alone. And, for our special star ingredient, I’m thinking that we’ll go with that most festive, bubbliest, and Auld Lang Syny-est of cocktail ingredients: champagne, or it’s more or less identical twin, sparkling white wine.

Though a great many old school and more recent craft concoctions feature bubbly, by far the most popular and venerable champagne infused cocktail is the French 75. Conceived in 1915 at Harry’s Bar and quaffed by many of the Lost Generation writers who might have encountered the original and far more deadly French 75 on the battlefield, this drink is a classic in every sense of the word. It’s classy, fun, and — if you drink them in Hemingway/Fitzgerald proportions — will blow you sweetly to kingdom come.
French 75.

The French 75

1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons superfine sugar or 1/2 ounce simple syrup
Champagne/sparkling white wine
1 lemon twist (garnish)

Combine the gin, juice, and sugar or syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake with vigor and strain into a champagne glass. Top off with roughly 2-3 ounces of the dry sparkling white wine of your choice along with the lemon twist.

This is a really sturdy drink that can take a little punishment. You certainly don’t need to use the finest champagne — a half-way acceptable dry sparkling white wine should do the trick. As for the gin, anything from Tanqueray, Beefeater, Bombay to value-priced Gordon’s should do the trick. Also, some bartenders substitute brandy or cognac, but I still haven’t gotten around to trying that myself.

Another alternative is to go with one of the simplest, yet oddly undersung of champagne cocktails, which is to say, the Champagne Cocktail. If you’ve heard it referred to in movies like “Casablanca,” you might imagine it’s a fancy concoction. In fact, it’s anything but and is actually considered a way to class up some slightly flat bubbly. You can read the orginal post, but making is just a matter of dropping a sugar cube into a champagne flute, whetting it with some Angostura/aromatic bitters, and pouring champagne over it.

On the other hand, let’s say you’re not up for any of the hard stuff, yet maybe you’d like a fizzy white wine cocktail that’s not just fizzy white wine. For that, I give you this alluring liquid lady.

The Italian Mistress.

The Italian Mistress

1/2 ounce Punt e Mes
1/4 ounce simple syrup or 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
Sparkling white wine/champagne
1 orange twist (garnish)

For those of you who may not be up on your fancy fortified wines, Punt e Mes is essentially a sweet vermouth with a stronger bitter edge that’s almost chocolately; I love it dearly.  Start your Italian Mistress by combining the Punt e Mes with the bitters and syrup/sugar in a champagne flute. If you’re using sugar, make sure it’s good and dissolved. Fill the rest of the glass with your sparkling white wine and add the orange twist. If you’re fluteless, a regular champagne glass might do, but be aware that they’re usually smaller so you might want to adjust your proportions.

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Of course, these drinks are only a few ideas out of thousands. One of the beauties of New Year’s Eve is that pretty much any mixed alcoholic beverage is in keeping with the night. It’s a great time to dust off such easy-to-make warhorses as the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Martini, or Margarita. Just make sure you make ‘em the right way — like I tell you to!

  

Winning poker in Las Vegas

hot babe playing poker

With the holiday season, places like Las Vegas and other casino hot spots are loaded with tourists and gamblers. Which makes it a great time to travel and have fun, bit also an opportunity to get some of those tourists dollars in your pocket at the poker tables. It’s also loaded with pros of course with the same idea, so the key is being on your A game. Recently a cabbie in Las Vegas found $300,000 in his cab, which were the winnings of a poker player who left the bag. The cabbie returned the money to the distraught poker player and all was well after he collected a reward. But that just gives you an idea of the money changing hands in places like Vegas in the poker rooms.

Many poker players these days hone their skills by playing online before venturing into the casinos. That’s a great stategy as you can learn a ton by practicing and searching the web to find the hottest tips from the williamhill poker blog and other poker resources. But then you have to take that practice into the real world where there’s a ton of money to be made.

But one thing you’ll have to learn is avoiding the distractions. Just look at the photo above and you’ll see one obvious pitfall. If you’re in Vegas to look at the eye candy or chase them around, then you’re better off avoiding the poker tables. If you’re there to make money and work the poker rooms, then babes and booze need to be off of your mind. It’s easy not to get distracted when you’re at home in front of your laptop, but games in the poker rooms are a different animal.

Then of course you can put your skills to the test in terms of pure poker play but also reading the table and your competition. With the holidays, it should be pretty easy to differentiate the serious gamblers and those on vacation, but that’s a skill you’ll need all of the time. Reading body language and guaging the strengths of other players is something you need to develope with real practice in real casinos.

So take advantage of the holiday surge and get out there.

  

Product Review: Duke Cannon Soap, Hair Wash & Shave Cream

duke-cannon-soap

Duke Cannon’s Big Ass Brick of Soap is back with an even bigger ass than before. Now, Duke’s Cannon comes in five varieties instead of just one: Victory (Seagrass), Productivity (Mint), Accomplishment (Pepper), Naval Supremacy (Ocean) and Heavy Duty Hand Soap (Citrus).

Duke also brought his homies 2-in-1 Hair Wash and Superior Grade Shave Cream to get all up in your shit, AKA your man cleaning ritual.

For those unfamiliar, let’s run through Duke like fresh salsa verde.

Duke Cannon is a MAN, not a kid on MTV with a hairless chest and perfect abdominals. Duke Cannon earned his chest hair by doing hard man work over the years and there’s no damn way he’s going to be conned into being embarrassed that he has it.

But what about the soap? Is it any good, or is it a POS product that survives only off great marketing, like the pet rock, Crystal Pepsi or Kim Kardashian before it?

In an era where men’s body wash gels have taken over, Duke Cannon’s Big Ass Brick of Soap is truly that; it’s a big piece of soap that has a big “D” (imprinted on it, you perv) and weighs three-quarters of a pound. It is three times the size of other mainstream soaps on the market. As Steven Tyler crooned on the Aerosmith classic, “My Big Ten Inch,” he could’ve easily been referring to the big 10 ounces that comprise the girth of Duke’s Big Ass Brick.

As I removed one of the five product offerings from its sheath, I was assaulted by the fragrance of Accomplishment. But it was a good, enjoyable assault.

On the box, it claimed the scent was inspired by “Drinking a fine scotch in a wood-paneled den.” And by god, IT DID! It really smelled like that. Nice work, smell technicians.

My Special Lady commented on the scent multiple times over a period of three days. At first, she said it smelled “feminine.”

So to prove it wasn’t, we had sex. Day two came along and this time she said she “really liked it.” So, we had sex. On day three, we had sex and she asked me to always wear Duke Cannon and she would “Always love me.” I said, “Hell nah, biatch.” Sometimes (all the time), you gotta let the hen know who the rooster is.

Duke and I hit the shower after a long day at the orifice, Duke cleaned all my orifices in the most pleasing manners allowed by law.

The Big Ass Brick of Soap came to a frothy head soon after we entered the shower and I never felt even an ounce of guilt or regret about it. The froth itself was very thick and laid down a dense layer of awesome all over my body. When it was time to rinse, it washed right off (which can be atypical of several leading men’s soaps), but the awesome lingered long after and made me recall a time when men were men and weren’t ashamed of it either.

The next day I hit the shower again and doubled my pleasure by incorporating the 2-in-1 Hair Wash alongside the girth of Duke Cannon’s Big Ass Brick of Soap. Then I jumped out and shaved every hair on my body with the Superior Grade Shave Cream. Duke Cannon knows how to orchestrate a gang bang.

A portion of all the proceeds from the soap support veteran causes. The soap was also field tested by active duty US soldiers, so that explains why it’s so #Badass. The soap retails for just $6.99 a “unit,” while the shampoo retails for $9.99 and the Shave Cream for $7.99.

Check it out and buy some here for Christmas, wuss.

  

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