• Strictly Films

Weekly Roundup Episode 25: Ball is Life


Welcome to another edition of Weekly Roundup! Other than enjoying a film in a theater, you know what else I’ve missed?! Playing pickup basketball games at Rhodes Ranch, especially when the older folks and the competitive younger crowd plays... Those games were FUN!


The game of Basketball has been loved ever since I was a small child, winning chips at the local YMCA with my coach Reggie and star player Darien. What I love about the game of Basketball is that it can be enjoyed by those whom want to play alone, as to those whom want to play with others. I often enjoy shooting around by myself, while blasting music in my ears, as I tend to get lost in the rhythm and the game along with it. I often enjoy playing pickup games as I can be easily introduced to new people. The beautiful thing about Basketball is you can easily make friends by just the game itself, without feeling complicated in the idea of finding something to say. The language of Basketball speaks for itself, doesn’t matter if you appear different, everyone that partakes in the game accepts one another as they play the game together. If there’s one thing society needs more of, it’s kids/teenagers/adults playing Basketball on a Blacktop or at a Gymnasium. Not only does the game of Basketball provide entertainment/fun, but it also helps those dealing with Mental Health Issues, as it brings people together as well. A game so simple, yet extremely important towards overcoming the problems were currently dealing with today.


During my days of YMCA, Basketball Intermuals at Clarence Middle School/Summer Camp, Tarkanian B-Ball League, Boys and Girls Club, The Senators, Vegas Elite, Freshman Year PE, Rhodes Ranch Hoopers, and of course Sierra Vista Mountain Lions... Basketball has given me a lot to appreciate in the game itself and those who play it. Just want to appreciate the many hoopers, in which I’ve had the honor and pleasure playing the game with. Darien (YMCA), Charles Louch (YMCA), Bryan Jost (Clarence), Daeqwaun Crossley (The Senators/Sierra Vista), Giovanni Santana (Sierra Vista), Dominique Marcy (Rhodes Ranch), Noah Nobert (Boys and Girls Club), Nick Bizov (Rhodes Ranch), L-Train (Boys and Girls Club), The Zeer Brothers Anthony and Sam (Rhodes Ranch), Bobby Bender (Rhodes Ranch), Brian Penny (Tarkanian), Tyler Williams (Rhodes Ranch), Tre Wells (Rhodes Ranch), and lastly my favorite person I ever gotten a chance to play ball with... Mikko Balmes (The Senators/Sierra Vista).


I think we all can agree on one thing... LET THE HOOPERS HOOP DAMN IT! Alrighty let’s talk about some movies!


MILF Grade: D-


A friend of mine back in the day was having a dilemma, whether or not to go on a date with a guy that’s two months younger than her... Yes this is not a joke, human beings today are that odd. Boy oh boy will that friend FREAK out if and when she partakes in MILF.


I guess I’ll give some credit towards this comedy film: The character development for a couple characters are actually developed. What was going to be a smash and dash scenario, turned out to be much more, as the Little Punks developed feelings for these women. I guess the women learned that age is just a number, as they shouldn’t care what one would say about them. I mean to be living lavish in this beach house, while these women developed a life where their financially set, as they don’t have any concern for their own well being... Heaven forbid if they go out and have some fun with twenty years olds.


MILF is extremely bland for my taste. The story at hand is pretty formulated, as it doesn’t provide anything new to the table. The comedy material is honestly dreadful, only received one chuckle while partaking this film. The main problem is the men really don’t mature with their experience with these women. One character in particular cuts ties with his lover, due to the fact he’s a “Jerk”, that a relationship is not his “Thing”. I guess all the time they spent together really meant nothing, as he didn’t grow with his experience. Funny thing is: His lover claims age is not a representation of maturity, yet his lover wore a “Yes Master” T-shirt, celebrating his accomplishment of sex... Yes, that’s what a mature man would do. I want to point out that the women were heading off to Spain, as this would be the last time the women will see these younger men. Yet... They never left for Spain?! What gives?! MILF is honestly a Great Value version of American Pie 2. In American Pie 2 it’s filled with interesting characters that are certainly entertaining, that provide quality comedy material, as it’s a fun movie to watch. Here with MILF it’s just poorly done, barely has any meat on it’s bone, as it becomes a rather waste of time.


Overall, MILF is a bad film. I don’t recommend this film. The characters in MILF and some human beings during the times of Covid-19 have one thing in common: They both have the same attitude, as which they say “Fuck it, who cares!”


TigerTail Grade: B


Alan Yang’s personal project TigerTail stands tall, delivering a satisfying experience. It’s captivated by wonderful Cinematography, in which the film looks absolutely authentic from a visual standpoint following the time period of Young Grover’s (Hong Chi-Lee) life. Followed by fairly solid performances as a cast all around and a nice composed Score as well, gives the film a classical sound. The story is very simple, yet engaging as we come to see what has Grover (Tzi Mai) made for himself, as well as struggling with regrets from the past as he can’t quite comprehend to problems of the present. The film speaks volumes in which one follows a life of financial security, rather than following what you truly desire.


The main issue with TigerTail is majority of the story is fairly skimmed over. As one who would like to learn of Grover’s journey in thorough detail, unfortunately we never get to see the full picture. It’s like watching a glass half empty: You know what’s in the glass, however you would like to see the glass full. I felt if this film was told in full detail, certainly could’ve easily been a great film, it’s unfortunate Yang settled for good. At least TigerTail is a satisfying watch, as it has something to say as well.


Overall, TigerTail is a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, as it can be found on Netflix.


The Occupant Grade: B


A story about a successful marketer Javier (Javier Gutierrez), whom becomes unemployed as it becomes extremely hard for him to get himself to afford his lavish lifestyle again. Where one would like to see one rise from the grave as they become successful again, Javier instead stalks the new tenet at his old house... Ok?! As weird as this plot sounds... It was honestly different to the table regarding slow burn thrillers.


You come to question why Javier would stalk this man of this household, at his old place. But it’s honestly clear as day: Why would Javier want to work extremely hard all over again, to receive a lavish lifestyle again?! He’s older now, doesn’t have the integrity he once had as a younger version of himself. So when he sees a family, in which the man of the household Tomas (Mario Casas) clearly has past demons of his own. Javier sets his eyes on the prize to sabotage this man’s life, so he can get himself back to the lavish lifestyle once again. It’s messed up like this man is crazy.


Problems occur towards the pacing of this film, as well as it’s hard for me to reason with one aspect at the end of the film. This thriller has solid Cinematography, solid performances, and an unique story despite how unusual it is.


Overall, The Occupant is a solid film. I recommend checking this one out on Netflix.


And Then We Danced Grade: B


I’ve always been a horrible dancer, but heck I dance away anyways. And Then We Danced is honestly a feel good film, about one that has a passion for dancing. The theme of this film is pretty simple: Stay true to yourself and forget what other people think. Our lead character Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) goes through the motions, of not necessarily fitting in the standard of the Georgian dance and society. Georgian dance is basically the dance of this country, where it’s a traditional masculine dance, as Merab shows feminine like emotions. One can understand the required standard to perform this dance, however Merab has one thing no one in this class has: Passion. He may not appear as masculine as the others, but in the third act we see one that no one would dare to attempt, as it shows a great amount of heart and courage in his character.


When it came to Merab realizing his true identity towards his sexuality... I wish it wasn’t so predictable, like I saw the cliches coming from a mile away. But like dancing, his transition to another liking towards a sexuality not acceptable in this area is comparable. It’s not welcomed in this society, as Merab gets made fun of. His interaction with his female dance partner was emotional, like she apologizes for not understanding as she comes to accept him. It’s a film in which teaches the audience just because one might not appear acceptable in the public eye, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t accept them. It’s a nice story, with some pretty dope dance numbers.


Overall, And Then We Danced is a solid film. I recommend checking this one out.


To the Stars Grade: B


To the Stars brings back them October Sky vibes you used cherish in cinema before. A beloved tale of friendship, in which one like Iris (Kara Hayward) overcomes her problems with insecurity. The film shows the many ways one can appear insecure. Whether it be shameful towards their own looks, being different from the rest, lying about their true self, or simply lacking confidence within themselves. As Iris develops a friendship with the new girl on the block Maggie (Liana Liberato), we come to see this adorable friendship, really help shape Iris into a more secure powerful woman. All it takes is a true friend, to bring out the best of you.


Though Maggie appears confident and bold, she too is dealing with problems of insecurity as well. She feels the need to force herself into being something she’s not or lie about what her dad does for a living, in order to fit in. The only time Maggie feels accepted to show her true colors, is with Iris, whom accepts her flaws and all as she has no sign of judgement. The story also hits some emotional strings in the end, as we come to learn Maggie’s true identity is not welcomed in this small town, as Maggie loses control of her sanity. When I think about Maggie’s situation, I can’t help to think how unappreciative people in modern day society are. Like back then it was frown upon for Maggie to be whom she is, as violence/hate would follow. How about instead of crying and complaining about everything, why don’t you celebrate the progression we have made over the course of time?!


I honestly didn’t care too much for the third act, felt some elements were rushed as well there is a great amount of predictably taken place. I even predicted what was going to happen and surely enough it did, I feel the repetitiveness is starting catch up within these type of genres. Tony Hale’s performance was alright, I felt he butchered the scene in which he had to cry. Still I throughly enjoyed this film. The story is quite moving, followed by lovely set pieces and grand cinematography, as well as well written characters as well.


Overall, To the Stars t’was pretty good. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on HULU. As always: Open the Damn Theaters. -Mitch Smietana


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