• Strictly Films

Weekly Roundup Episode 74; Hoop Dreams


Welcome to another edition of Weekly Roundup!


When I headed into Middle School, making the schools basketball team was one of the few dreams I wanted to achieve out of life growing up. Basketball to me was my third love behind films and romance, something about the game that made me felt whole. I think the love of the game complimented my introverted shy personality, shooting around can be extremely therapeutic. Like basketball: When comfortable, you can reveal a side of yourself in which you never thought could be achieved… Like an expression of adrenaline or expressing wide varieties of emotions. Basketball and myself were very similar… We feel content being alone and can be perfectly fine being quiet, however when we become comfortable you be surprised that we actually have a personality.


Back in November 2010, after disappointment of hearing from the freshmen basketball head coach that I didn’t make the team, the following day I received confirmation that they had a 16th man/Injured Reserved spot for me. With all due respect, considering all the time and hard work I put into the game of basketball in 2010… There’s not a single soul that deserved making the team than myself. It’s up to debate about talent, but in the category of heart, passion, integrity, work ethic… There’s nobody that dedicated their life to the game of basketball than myself that year, basketball was all I had and it meant the entire world making that team. All credit for this achievement was made by The Athletic Director of our School, Coach Johnson (Varsity Coach) whom helped convinced my coach as he was watching me throughout workouts, and all glory to God. This moment felt surreal, so surreal I celebrated by going to the gym to play basketball late at night… I just couldn’t wait to get on the court.


I would say being on the team started out rough. For starters the energy in the locker room was a bit two-sided when they heard the news, some of my teammates were happy/excited for me and some were pissed off. Majority of the practices we ran I was barely involved in any of them, the one consistent thing I was apart of in the practices were the stretches, quick exercises, and the first few warmup drills… As far as the playbook I was sidelined for most of them. It also doesn’t help the fact that a couple teammates and a friend of mine from school were bullying me on FaceBook. I would also like to mention getting picked on during a game, in which with everything going on I started crying… What really helped was a varsity girls player by the name of Shaunice standing up for me, pretty much punking my teammate, I’ll never forget that moment ever as it was purely genuine.


To be quite honest: I didn’t have second thoughts of leaving the team, despite the rough start. I understand there was a lot of signs in which catered to quitting, however the dream is not fulfilled until I step on that court, so I just couldn’t leave the team. During winter break we had practice as a few showed up, as we had joint practice with some JV and maybe a couple Varsity players. Attending this practice really helped me in my favor, as this was the first real opportunity I was given in which my coach can finally see me play. Though I made a couple lousy mistakes of the three seconds in the key calls, I was able to show I did have what it takes, as I played fairly well during scrimmages held.


January 4th 2011… A day in which I will never forget. It all started receiving a hug from Allysa Salino, a friend of mine in which I rarely see however on that morning I did see her and of course as a fan of hugs… This was already destined to be a good day from the start. After my final class of the day, the varsity coach hands me my teams jersey and shorts, I’ve been waiting a long time to receive this glorious uniform of mine as I was one step closer to my dream.


We had a game against Pahrump Valley High School that day, as fortunately was able to secure a seat on that one hour bus ride, as some of my teammates weren’t able to join us. Since I had my uniform, I was able to join the team in warmups which I only did briefly once on the second game of the year. We were destroying Pahrump in the first half, as I was not yet called into the game. Before the first half ended… The JV Basketball team started from the stands were chanting out loud “PUT MITCH IN! PUT MITCH IN! PUT MITCH IN!” When I heard that chant being screamed out loud in the stands, apart me felt… Happy, for the first time since getting the news I made the team, I finally felt happy. Maybe this game may not be the game I get to play, but considering the fact it’s brought to my attention people wanted to see me play, surely it’ll happen in due time.


As the first half ended: Pahrump got to shoot two technical free throws. I was confused as why they got to shoot these shots, however afterwards I realized my coach didn’t put me on the roster, as he added me on the roster as the half ended, which granted the team two free throws.


Within literally the first minute of the third quarter as the crowd still chanting “PUT MITCH IN”, the coach finally called me up to get in the game, as I ran down the sideline to check in the game. When I ran down the sideline… The whole bench and the stands went nuts, it really felt like a Rudy moment, like it was… I don’t know how to describe it, it was just incredible. Within the first ten seconds I guarded the offensive player as he missed the shot, as I grabbed the rebound and started dribbling till I fell caused by the defender, as they called a tech foul… For whatever reason. I got an opportunity to go to the foul line and score my first points… I thought it take me longer than that to be honest, so there was some nerves. I did my whole free throw routine as I made both shots, nothing but net, as I was receiving loud cheers and MVP chants. From then on… This was my game now.


I was able to sink another foul shot later on. Before the quarter ended: I stole a pass, dribbled all the way down the court, and made a layup…. It was an electric five point quarter I will say. In the fourth I sinked a three pointer, as I finished the game with 8 points, 3 Rebounds, 3 Steals, and 2 Assists. Quite arguably: Top 5 happiest moments of my entire existence, it was then I finally fulfilled my dream. I’ve told this story so many times: But each time I tell it, it makes me feel happy, it’s a moment that really was pure happiness. Not to mention I accomplished this all on my Crush Andrea Salazar’s birthday… I dedicated this game to her in a subtext on FaceBook, I’m such a dweeb. A major thank you to Coach Nyznck as always… Without you, none of this would be possible, as I’m grateful you given me this moment.


This may be surprising to some: After my Freshmen Season in which I got to play five more games… I called it quits, as I no longer wished to continue playing basketball for my school. I think there is many factors within the season in which… I was extremely underwhelmed with my experience. I had many joyous moments on the courts, but off it… I wasn’t happy with how things were going, as it drove me away from playing for the team.


While playing a pickup game at my gym, I almost considered coming back to trying out for JV. My first workout for Vista really just showed that my heart was not in it, as recalling some unfortunate events taken place while being on the team just made me not to pursue basketball any further. I think early on in my life I regretted not continuing basketball, I understand because I loved the game as I loved playing it all the time at the gym or anywhere with a hoop. However as of now… So many wonderful and great things has happened in my life after, that it’s really hard for me to even think about what could’ve or should’ve been, I’m just content with everything that I even briefly forgot about this anniversary.


I’m truly grateful that one dream of mine was fulfilled, as it was a moment in which was everything I hoped for and so much more… 11 Years?! Time goes by when you’re living life to the fullest, let’s talk about movies!

The Unforgivable Grade: D+


Not sure why this is called “The Unforgivable”, should’ve been retitled “One Big Misunderstanding”... Viewers will understand what I’m talking about.


The Unforgivable perhaps is hard to forgive due to the fact it was extremely dull. All the events leading to what is perhaps the most intense situation taken place in the story even though that’s not at all intense, just was barely interesting. Like yeah I could see myself hoping the main character Ruth (Sandra Bullock) reunites with her younger sister which she did helped raise her, however just sequences taken place was just so bland to watch, things happen and slowly enough we get to the end… Then your brain leaves it behind and doesn’t even want to think about it afterwards.


The film has a fair amount of problems with regards to the characters and such. Like Ruth getting frustrated in the fact they won’t let her see her sister, instead of taking out your frustration on the homeless community center, why not beat the shit out of that co-worker who beaten you up earlier?! Like don’t take your anger out on something that actually matters to people less fortunate in which you were in that scenario twenty years ago, take it out on something that doesn’t matter at all. The antagonists of the film were poorly written and poorly acting, to where it could be described as a joke. It’s like watching a couple boneheaded idiots, especially in the third act good GRIEF!


The age gap of Ruth’s little sister can be a bit confusing, some flashbacks she looks a bit more older, some flashbacks she looks younger, as we fast forward she doesn’t look her age from the past. By the end of the film as we learn everything that has happened: I don’t really understand why exactly Ruth took the fault in the first place?! If she was able to explain along with her little sister what actually happen, surely enough I don’t see much of a penalty against her.


Overall, The Unforgivable was meh. I don’t recommend checking this one out, surprised this wasn’t on LifeTime.

The Humans Grade: B


I gotta say: This film made me a bit more appreciative of my Thanksgiving this year… I’ll take the Thanksgiving I have, over having it at a shitty New York apartment with depressing vibes any damn day. Me and along with many film goers had a major issue with the theatrical rollout for this film. Even in places like California and New York, no one could seem to find this film playing in any theater. A24: You have a lot of fans of your brand that’ll watch anything you put out, please when you make a film a theatrical release… PUT IT IN MORE THEATERS!


The Humans is based off a play, which is why majority of this story is taken place in this one house featuring this family on Thanksgiving. To some degree: Watching a group characters in one setting can be boring some, which I can understand. However: I found The Humans a well written accurate look of an unfiltered Thanksgiving dinner with a family, who doesn’t have all it together.


More than often we’re shown that Thanksgiving is suppose to be an event, where everything is picture perfect. Whether it be the dining room setting, the lavish dinner, and of course who can forget a happy family that are perfect all around. Truth be told: A realistic Thanksgiving for most people would actually look like a New York apartment… Over priced yet the appearance is broken down with tons of problems. I found the New York apartment choice to compliment this family on Thanksgiving, a lot of the family members are by assumption to be fairly wealthy and have everything together, yet as time goes on each and every character breaks down within their own faults and problems like the apartment they’re having dinner in.


Despite this film being in one setting: There are moments in which there is not only great cinematography making you unease at the setting of the apartment, but there are some very impressive camera work. Especially when Momo (June Squibb) leaves the apartment for a bit, as her son Erik (Richard Jenkins) is trying to find her… The way the camera moves through this narrow hallway was executed very well. I also enjoyed the shots in the finale, whether it be the horror like sequence or a different architecture view of the apartment.


The cast all in all was terrific I must say by everybody, also found all the characters well written as well as they’re all very engaging and interesting which is hard to accomplish in a story like this. Even Momo who has Alzheimer's I would say, despite her not delivering much dialogue she too was engaging in her moments as well. The way the story is presented of course it’s a drama, but some people can describe this film as like watching a horror film. Yes there are sequences in which are executed like a horror film especially the third act, however the way this story is being told it can feel like a horror film at times. Like for some on this particular holiday: It does feel terrifying to actually reveal your true self than make up this false perception that you have everything together and life is all good, when in reality you’re mess and so is everyone else… Maybe not as bad as this family is going through, but a lot of people can relate. The film has some solid moments of dialogue here and there, I especially love the line where Erik tries to find positivity in the family’s financial circumstance just to make them feel better when they’re upset they don’t have as much as they would like to.


The only real issue with The Humans is sometimes sequences can drag here and there, which happens in films like these. The Humans to me t’was an impressive watch and I would be surprise if anyone is going to make this film, a traditional watch on Thanksgiving time like this family’s tradition of smashing a Piggy in the bag.


Overall, The Humans is a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on Showtime, t’was bummed out I couldn’t see this in a theater.

Sweat Grade: B


I’m quite amazed by influencers on social media in terms of how they impact our society and culture… It’s really just regular everyday people, who don’t have much of personality yet their treated like their heroes?! I tell ya I was born in the wrong time period, people oddly obsessed with these influencers and people oddly obsessed in investing cartoons aka NFT’s… No wonder why there’s a Mental Health crisis: Look at the things people are interested now a days?!


Sweat is a simply told story about a gym fitness influencer by the name of Sylwia (Magdalena Kolesnik), whom is emotionally unstable despite having countless amount of fans and followers. How the film executes this kind of story is pretty straight to the point: While going live on social media or doing an event Sylwia looks like the happiest being on the planet, that is most certainly adored and loved. Off camera… Sylwia doesn’t have any real connection with anyone, whom feels truly alone and just wants to be loved.


You see I can understand this: When you put so much time and energy on platforms that are centered around a world that quite honestly isn’t real, you suddenly become so detached from reality, as the effect is you lack any real social skills to where you can actually connect with others whether having a friendship or even a relationship especially. I don’t think people actually realize just how damaging social media has done to our world, sure it’s not done in such an extreme way in this film other than one sequence, however it’s quite depressing when you have a following like Sylwia has… That you can feel like the most loneliness person in the world, as you have 0 clue how to actually establish a mutual connection with anyone.


There are times where Sylwia can become problematic, as she incites trouble to more than likely get a reaction to seek attention. You see: Social Media has done a major damaging effect, where people try to make nothing out of something, just to get some kind of spark to where they can get the attention they seek as it’s comparable to what Sylwia does to this random man, whom is parked in front of her condo complex. Now keep in mind: We’re not too sure what that man’s deal is, however the measures and accusations Sylwia makes on this man… It’s way too extreme and we know exactly what Sylwia is doing here. She knows that kind of accusation brings attention and Sylwia receives closure from attention, this is what is most frightening in our world because like the man in the car following the third act… People can be wrongfully hurt for things they didn’t do, not to mention Sylwia’s friend actually did what she accused the man of doing yet she didn’t say a word about that.

The thing that is up for a good discussion is fact we treat these influencers, like their flawless robots. I mean Sylwia posted a video of her crying about wanting a relationship, yet her sponsor gotten angry in the fact she was shown as being vulnerable. Now a days if you make one little mistake or aren’t happy 24/7, it’s pretty much the end of the world… It’s a normal everyday feeling and yet Sylwia in her line of work it’s appalling, it’s just insanity. So you do feel for these people because there is barely any room to mess up at all, even how you’re feeling especially. Felt the finale finished off strong, it shows the audience more of an understanding how Sylwia finds comfort within the platform and feels more freely to express her emotions with people she doesn’t know than in reality.

Overall, Sweat is a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on Mubi. -Mitch Smietana

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