Lifetime movie title generator

Just match a word from each column to come up with your own Lifetime movie title!  Now you just have to cast an actress who used to be in a 1990s TV show.

Pronoun Adjective Noun
Her Mother's Past
My Deadly Romance
The Secret Kidnapping
Their Hidden Stranger
His Sister's Student
Our Dangerous Sister

There's always next season

As the season ends with a shameful fizzle for the Dallas Cowboys right on schedule, we decided to take stock of our own lackluster performance on the gridiron.  We've been a member of one fantasy football league for 14 seasons now.  We've never gone to the post-season, never even sniffed a championship.

Our cumulative record over these 14 season is 78-112-6, which works out to be a winning percentage of .397.  Pretty good for a batter, horrible for a team sport.  We lose more than we win.  In fact, we almost lose two out of every three times we play.

And there isn't an obvious learning curve, either.  Our worst record was 3-11, which we understandably put up in our first season when fantasy football was new to us.  But then the posted that same 3-11 record in our 8th season.  Our best season was our 11th, when we went 8-6.  We've won 7 games only four times in 14 seasons (our 3rd, 9th, 12th, and 14th).  Although maybe we are doing a little better.  In the last four seasons, we've never won less than six games.

All of this obsession over a completely ridiculous waste of time that ruins Sundays more than makes Sundays enjoyable gives us a special affinity for this NFL spot that returns every winter:

In a previous post, we looked at the seven stages of fantasy football.


And our minivan towed the Queen Mary

Tonight we must have seen the Toyota Tundra-pulls-the shuttle commercial about 20 times.  With each viewing, we grow more and more suspicious and skeptical.  That little truck towed that giant, freakin' spaceship?  Baloney.  But Jalopnik explains how it worked.  We stand corrected, Toyota.


Knee-jerk review: "Django Unchained"

1. The D is silent, people.
2. "Audacious" is the word that comes to mind.  Over the top.
3. And the blood, it does fly and spurt and gush and splatter.  Consider yourself warned.
4. As usual, Tarantino holds his credit until after the final image, so after the last fade-to-black, audiences can get a final loud blast of cool music and then see the "Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino" card.
5. Will Smith turned this down for something called After Earth co-starring his smug son and directed by M. Night Shymalan of all people.  We'll see how that works out for him.
6. It's probably got too many endings.  Just when you think it's over... here comes another 20 minutes.
7. We hate the lynching scene.  You'll know the one.  Way too jokey and broad for what's otherwise a dark, gritty story.  We can see the appeal of making fun of racist KKK-types, but it doesn't work.  Including Jonah Hill was a mistake.
8. Tarantino has a way with words, no doubt.  His dialogue is sterling as always.  You can see how much the actors relish those lines and long speeches.
9. Everyone's making a big deal about Don Johnson's bit part.  but we were underwhelmed.
10. We have no problem with bloody, gory shoot-outs, but we get very squeamish when it comes to hand-to-hand fighting involving cracking bones.  Why is that?
11. Dig that retro Columbia Pictures logo.
12. We're curious to learn more about how African-American audiences respond to this.  On one hand, it's clearly a populist revenge fantasy for slaves that does for racists what Inglourious Basterds did for Nazis.  But on the other hand, it's clearly got roots in seedy 1970s exploitation movies that have fun looking down on lower classes and using historical "accuracy" to allow white folks to use the N-word and sexualize the subservience of African-American slave women.
13. Some pretty random flashbacks and flashforwards, if you ask us.
14. That is one long rifle.
15. Samuel L. Jackson steals the movie and that's a tall order given the showy, scenery-chewing performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz.
16. Why make the miners Australian?  And why does Tarantino still feel the need to give himself a speaking part?
17. For us, the Tarantino gold standard remains Pulp Fiction, with Inglourious Basterds a photo-finish second.
18. The ending has narrative and structural parallels, believe it or not, with Star Wars.  Discuss amongst yourselves. 
19. The Brittle Brothers.  What a great name.
20. If you like Tarantino, go see it.


And to all a Cheese Fry night

In the spirit of the season, here are links to Knee-Jerks we've done over the years to those great evergreen holiday TV specials:

And as a special treat, here's a vintage 1970s spot for Dolly Madison, long the sponsor of the CBS airing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas."  We will always associate Charlie Brown with the "Zinger Zapper."

Knee-jerk review: "Silver Linings Playbook"

1. Bradley Cooper is the real deal.  A movie star with legitimate chops.
2. We can only guess how hard it must have been to strike the right tonal balance with this material.  Funny in places, sad in others, romantic in others.  Football tailgating side by side with a dance competition and therapy sessions.  What a hard movie to categorize.  Or explain.
3. Weird title.  Probably working against it.
4. Three Kings is still our favorite David O. Russell movie.  But this is a close second.  Not as grim and humorless as The Fighter.
5. The next time we're in a diner with Jennifer Lawrence, we're ordering raisin bran.  Genius.
6. When was the last time Robert DeNiro had this kind of meaty dramatic role?  Seems like lately he's doing the "DeNiro spoof" thing where he's mostly playing off his own persona rather than creating a new character.
7. What's most compelling about the movie, to us, is the idea that just about everyone, no matter how normal and ordinary they may seem, is actually grappling with some sort of secret dysfunction or burning unhappiness.  Merry Christmas, moviegoers! 
8. We won't hold against it the movie's obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles... or the way the one Dallas Cowboys fan is cast as a villain.
9. Jennifer Lawrence is a real woman in an industry full mostly of scrawny girls.  That's a good thing.  She's a real find.
10. Excelsior.
11. Best scene is probably the discussion of psychiatric drugs that plays like two film buffs talking about movies.
12. Where's Chris Tucker been?  Probably counting all his Rush Hour 3 money.  He's fun here, a reminder that he can be good in very small doses.
13. Clever script in the way the backstory unfolds organically throughout the story.  There is no awkward infodump of exposition to explain everything.  You have to pay attention to piece everything together.  This is how it's done, people.
14. Still don't like Julia Stiles.  Blech.  We'd be miserable married to her, too.
15. Spoiler alert: a satisfying, old-school romantic comedy ending.
16. Worth a look.

Knee-jerk review: "Red Dawn"

1. What can we say? We were curious. The 1984 original - the first movie ever rated PG-13, true story - is a something of an iconic classic for Generation X.  We loved it.
2. But this remake? Not terrible. Not great, either.  Mostly, it's just sort of pointless.
3. You'd think this kind of thing would really resonate in an age of American occupation where one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist insurgent.  It's all a matter of geopolitical perspective.  But this is not a very deep movie.  Disappointing, but not surprising.  Probably didn't help that the finished film sat on the shelf for a couple of years while MGM sorted out yet another set of financial troubles, robbing the movie of whatever meager relevance it might have had when it was made.
4. The producers' last-minute decision to use post-production CGI to make the bad guys North Korean instead of Chinese (to avoid offending that huge box office audience) is not only hilariously cowardly, but also completely implausible from a narrative perspective.  Anyone who's at all familiar with the pathetic realities of North Korea knows they could never mount any sort of large-scale invasion of anything.
5. That one shot of the paratrooper parachutes drifting down out of the sky, lifted from the original, is still pretty powerful.
6. "Wolverines!"
7. Josh Peck (in the Charlie Sheen role) is apparently some kind of up-and-comer in Hollywood, but we found his scratchy-voiced, hooded-eye brand of James Dean-style brooding to be annoying and, frankly, rather douchey.
8. The movie just feels small, whereas the original had more of an epic scope to it.  Or is just that as a 12-year-old in 1984, we had lower standards?
9. This despite the fact that the remake creates a new MacGuffin element that allows our heroes a clear mission to accomplish.  That should have helped address the original film's rather mushy second half.
10. Adrianne Palicki.  Sigh.  We'd probably watch her do anything.
11. The weary cynicism of Jeffrey Dean Morgan (in the Powers Boothe role) makes the most of his handful of lines.  He steals the few scenes he's in, but his character is really not much of a factor.
12. What teenaged high school guy wouldn't want the opportunity to fight a foreign army?  
13. There's a lot of macho talk about making "tough choices" (i.e. fight or collaborate) but the remake skirts complex questions about the messy nature of guerrilla warfare.  We're thinking of the horrible moment in the original in which our heroes realized they had a spy in their midst.  The remake cleverly mutes that situation to sidestep any unpleasantness.
14. We saw it so you didn't have to.  You're welcome.