*MOVIE RECAP: PAIN AND GLORY (Dolor y Gloria)

Full disclosure, Pedro Almodovar is by far my favorite living filmmaker alive today. To me, Almodovar is the closest thing we have to Luis Buñuel and Federico Fellini in terms of originality and style. His body of work is beyond impressive and complex, which can be intimidating for anyone attempting to watch an Almodovar film for the first time. However, Pain and Glory is an excellent entry point for anyone interested in exploring the deep and outstanding filmography of Pedro Almodovar.

The story centers around Salvador (Antonio Banderas), a depressed movie director who is thinking of retiring from filmmaking because of chronic health problems. Meanwhile, a film festival wants to screen one of Salvador’s films and have the director and the lead actor Alberto (Asier Etxeandia) do a Q & A after the screening. But Salvador and Alberto had a falling out and have not spoken to each other in many years.

Reconnecting with Alberto, followed by a series of encounters with people from his past; Plus, a look back at his childhood leads Salvador to reflect on his choices throughout his life. Additionally, the mother and son relationship is a crucial component of this story. Salvador’s mom Jacinta (Penelope Cruz), is a highly influential figure here. The constant collaboration between Penelope Cruz and Almodovar is always magic.

We get to see young Salvador (Asier Flores) coming of age in a small town village in Spain under the influence of Franco’s fascist regime. It is remarkable how the old worldly nature of living in caves and catacombs’ housing style, somewhat disconnected from the modern 20th century, is presented. This depiction of provincial Spain and the old-world country people of Spain is beautifully done.

Young Salvador’s sexual awakening and his relationship with the female energy are significant components of this story. Also, the way that childhood is remembered through the company of women who helped define the world for him is extremely important. The mother-son bedside scene as their older selves is one of the most powerfully moving written scenes in the entire Almodovar filmography.

Ultimately, this is the story of a filmmaker in crisis — Reflecting on his career and life story while dealing with his body breaking down. On top of that, reconnecting with essential people from his past, like Alberto and Federico (Leonardo Sbaraglia), forces Salvador to reconsider multiple aspects of his life. At the same time, remembering his sexual awakening also allows Salvador to resurrect his creative spirit and piece together all these different elements of his life’s journey.

The parallels between Pedro Almodovar and Salvador are astounding. The character of Salvador is clearly modeled after Almodovar; Salvador dresses like him and even lives in an apartment that closely resembles Almodovar’s place. In addition, they are both dealing with similar health issues, including back pain.

Incredible performance by Antonio Banderas. There is a physical aspect to this role that Banderas captures brilliantly. Plus, Banderas’s vulnerability comes across exceptionally well. Salvador lives in darkness, but there is beauty and a colorful energy around him.

Pain and Glory is an impressive film — It comes off as fresh and different but somewhat familiar to previous films by Almodovar. As far as I can tell, Almodovar uses similar themes here that he developed in his earlier movies. It feels like this is the story Pedro had been making for the last 40 years of his filmmaking career. His stories and themes always seem to relate to the same central thing; sexual identity, cinema culture, and Spanish culture.

All in all, this is a highly complex story, but all of it comes together cohesively. It is an intensely personal film, full of melancholy, regret, addiction, depression, pain, and glory.

Five out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

Pain and Glory (2019).

*TV SERIES RECAP: THE KOMINSKY METHOD (Season 3)

After binging the first two seasons during the early days of the pandemic slash lockdown, I found myself pleasantly surprised by how charming and funny this series was. So I was anxiously looking forward to this third and final season.

Sadly, Alan Arkin (Norman) decided to abruptly retire from acting, throwing a major monkey wrench to this series. As a result, Chuck Lorre and his writing team had no choice but to kill off Norman — that was a bummer. The chemistry between Norman and Sandy (Michael Douglas) made things unique and special in the first 2 seasons. 

So at the start of season 3 we find out that Norman is now dead, and the grieving premise from the first 2 seasons is again one of the main themes here. We also find out that Norman left Sandy as the executor of his state, leaving Norman’s daughter Phoebe (Lisa Edelstein) and her son Robby (Haley Joel Osment) dependent on Sandy to have access to their inheritance. Plus, Phoebe and her son Robby keep coming up with all kinds of crazy schemes to get their hands on Norman’s money. 

Additionally, Norman left sandy’s daughter Mindy (Sarah Baker) a big chunk of cash in his will — but Sandy doesn’t want Mindy’s boyfriend Martin (Paul Reiser) to know about it. Sandy is concerned that Martin will exploit Mindy’s inheritance. At the same time, the age difference between Mindy and Martin becomes a significant component of the plot. Sarah Baker’s performance continues to be a bright spot here. Also, Estelle (Christine Ebersole) Martin’s mom shows up, creating tension in Mindy and Martin’s relationship. Estelle is awful, mean, and nasty — she is a monster. 

Notwithstanding all the grief, loss, and stress surrounding Sandy’s life, he is also undergoing a late-career resurgence and gets the role of a lifetime. On top of all that, his ex-wife Dr. Roz (Kathleen Turner), returns home to be reunited with her daughter Mindy. I really liked how Dr. Roz got a more prominent role in this 3rd season. In addition, I was beyond happy to see how the chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner is still magic. It was like watching a Romancing the Stone (1984) and The Jewel of the Nile (1985) reunion between Douglas and Turner. Another highlight for me was Morgan Freeman hilariously playing himself.                                                                                   

At its core, this season continues to tackle the same themes from the first two seasons. It deals head-on with real human issues like the fragility of aging, mortality, and grief — all of those things come together beautifully along with the comedic premise of the show. 

The first 2 seasons got lots of Emmy nominations, and it received high critical acclaim. But this third season did not receive as much appreciation as the first two. For one, the absence of Alan Arkin made a difference — I missed the back and forth banter between Sandy and Norman; It was a crucial component of the unique “dramedy” basis of the series. However, Chuch Lorre and his writing team did find a way to wrap things up and bring the story to a close.

All in all, season 3 suffers from not having Norman back, but the series, as a whole, is pretty enjoyable and worth binging straight through.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

THE KOMINSKY METHOD Season 3 (Streaming on Netflix).

*MOVIE RECAP: DON’T LOOK UP

I’m surprised how divided most people are about this movie; some people appreciate the climate change metaphor, and others flat out hate it. The reviews have been all over the place. I sense political sensitivities are driving most of the negative feedback.

Anyhow, the story centers around the discovery of a comet by a tenure university professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), and a Ph.D. candidate, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence). According to their calculations, this comet’s trajectory is in a direct collision course with Earth. And its impact will potentially be more significant than the comet that wiped out the Dinosaurs. As a result, human life on Earth will probably cease to exist — which means they have to urgently bring this information to the US government and the White House.

At the White House, the president of the U.S., Jane Orlean (Meryl Streep), doesn’t really take this information seriously and dismisses it as a political distraction from the upcoming elections. It is important to note that Meryl Streep’s POTUS is a right-wing nationalist modeled after Trump. So these two scientists have no choice but to take this information to the media.

From this point on, it is all-out chaos as our main characters frantically try to convince the world of the severity of this extinction-level event. While the media, the press, and the government don’t seem too concerned about the gravity of the situation. At the same time, most of society seems more interested in the love life of two celebrities. And even Leo’s character falls for celebrity culture and becomes a celebrity scientist, corrupted by fame. 

Eventually, POTUS uses this potential life-ending catastrophe as a political tool to attack the left. She weaponizes the phrase Don’t Look Up as a catchphrase for her right-wing supporters, similar to how Trump weaponized the MAGA phrase. With this performance, Meryl Streep channels most of the current prop of right-wing politicians; her character comes across as somewhat cartoonish, but it rings hilariously and scarily true in many aspects. 

The entire ensemble cast is impressive but somewhat underutilized. Nevertheless, there were some standouts like Jason Orlean (Jonah Hill); this character is pretty notable as the inept son and Chief of Staff to the President — His scenes are hysterical. The Air Force General (Paul Guilfoyle) charging people for free snacks at the White House was genius.

The character of Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance) is fascinating as this weird and anti-social tech billionaire. He is a heavy political donor who controls POTUS and sets up the agenda for the White House. This character represents all of the outside corporate interests dictating domestic and foreign policy in the US government. It is beyond obvious that this character is a mashup of a bunch of billionaires like Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg, to name a few.

However, one of the most complex characters in this movie is Yule (Timothy Chalamet); this character provides the spiritual component needed for the overall viewpoint of this storyline. Yule comes across as the spiritual consciousness of this movie. Also, the ending of the film and the credit scenes were definitely my favorite parts of this movie.

Don’t Look Up is a well-intended sci/fi dramedy— A parable for climate change and the cynical, irresponsible approach by those with the tools and power to bring about change. And by using a planet-killing meteor as a metaphor for climate change, this movie directly critiques modern society, social media culture, bureaucracy, and politics. When considering the current political climate where everything is politicized, Adam McKay is one of the few filmmakers out there bold enough to address essential and profound real-world issues by using farce and satire.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

DON’T LOOK UP, 2021. (Streaming on Netflix)

*MOVIE RECAP: THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS

It is hard to believe that it has been over 20 years since the original Matrix was released in theaters. Back then, when the Matrix was released in 1999, I was a young buck, working for AMC theaters as a projectionist, so naturally, I clearly remember this movie’s cultural impact when it came out.

It was a revolutionary film — we had never seen anything like it before; from all the groundbreaking special effects, the wild action sequences, bullet time effects, and the fantastic fighting scenes — it changed filmmaking forever.

Movies in the 90s were failing miserably to integrate new technology like the internet into their plot lines. And their attempt to utilize new cutting-edge special effects was falling hopelessly flat.

Primarily, films released in 1995 had a rougher time — movies like Hackers (1995), The Net (1995), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), Virtuosity (1995), and Assassins (1995), to name a few — they struggled to use the internet and futuristic technology in their storylines. They were all clunky and unimpressive movies. However, Assassins wasn’t that bad; it had lots of potential to be a better movie, but it was made in the 90s, and the studio butchered the original screenplay — they should’ve waited a few years to make this movie.

Interestingly enough, Assasins was also written by the Wachowskis.

However, in 1999, The Matrix figured out how to properly integrate internet technology in a film. The mind-twisting storytelling inter-mingled with Eastern philosophy felt radical and fresh. While at the same time, The Matrix helped usher in the internet generation.

Sadly, the sequels didn’t live up to the same level of the original film. For me, their overall storylines felt convoluted. But overall, The Matrix Reloaded (2) and The Matrix Revolutions (3) had terrific special effects and action sequences. Most notably, the highway chase sequence in Matrix Reloaded was outstanding. Oh, and I can’t forget that rave slash dance floor orgy scene in Zion — it was one of the coolest scenes in the entire trilogy. Additionally, The Matrix 2 was a fun and exciting sequel — it introduced cool new characters like the Merovingian, Seraph, Niobe, the ghost twins, the key maker, and so on. And it also expanded on the world-building from the original Matrix film.

But Matrix Revolutions (3) disappointed me and left me perplexed. So, as a result, I was beyond skeptical upon hearing about a 4th Matrix movie. Especially since Neo clearly dies at the end of Matrix Revolutions by sacrificing himself to bring peace between humans and the machines. But we never really saw what happened to Neo’s body after the machines took his dead body away. So as the title of this 4th movie implies, there is a resurrection.

It has been 60 years since Neo died at the end of Matrix 3, and things are way different. The Matrix has evolved; no more dial-up is needed to hook into the Matrix. The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) has replaced the Architect as the new mastermind behind things. Let’s remember that because of Neo’s sacrifice at the end of the original trilogy, humans were supposed to co-exist with the machines and be skeptical of technology. Instead, humans have now entirely embraced it.

The opening scene is an almost identical redo of the opening scene from the original Matrix, but with new character Bugs instead of Trinity. It is important to note that this movie was shot digitally, while the original trilogy was shot on film.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) is back inside the Matrix with no memory from his past — He is now a video game developer who has dreams and visions that resemble Neo’s past from the 3 previous movies. Neo has created a virtual reality game that comes close to the likeness of the characters and narrative of the original Matrix trilogy — By the way, the game is also called The Matrix.

Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is also resurrected and back inside the Matrix under the name Tiffany — she lives a normal life, is married with kids, and has zero memory of her past. Amazingly, the on-screen chemistry between these two is stronger than ever.

Agent Smith, the AI program, returns, but now he is played by Jonathan Graff and not Hugo Weaving. Jonathan Graff is outstanding in this new version of Agent Smith, Graff had some flashes of weaving’s version, but this character is an entirely new take on Agent Smith. There is a new version of Morpheus played by (Yahya Abdul-Maten); this new version is a computer program based on the original Morpheus played by Laurence Fishburne — this new Morpheus annoyed the hell out of me. On the other hand, It was great seeing Naobi (Jada Pinkett-Smith) return as an older version of her character and she is now the leader of the new Zion. Also, brand new character Bugs (Jessica Henwick) is a solid addition to this series.

It has taken me some time to process and reflect on this movie. The premise is bold and daring. Writer-Director Lana Wachowski has created a smart and sophisticated movie with multiple themes. This film attempts to revisit and revise what reality is and what we perceive as real.

All be told, there was no wow factor here like in the previous 3 films. The action sequences are mostly meh until the last action scene of the movie — which was a pretty impressive action scene. The rest of the action sequences are unremarkable and not groundbreaking, like in the previous films. Also, Neo never uses a gun here, which was a refreshing and bold choice. Still, there are some beautiful shots throughout this movie.

There is also this brilliant self-awareness to this movie when they take a direct shot at Warner Bros for making movies about the Matrix, based on Neo’s video game. There is a scene where we hear about Warner Bro’s threatening to go ahead and make a movie with or without Neo’s blessing. Similar to how Warner Bros planned to make this 4th movie with or without the Wachowskis.

The whole concept of a digital self-image was innovative. I loved seeing the Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) making a quick cameo, looking Like a crazed hobo —ranting like a lunatic. Massive fan service points for including Sati (Priyanka Chopra) in this new storyline. Sati was an essential character from Matrix Revolutions (3), and now she is again a crucial character in this 4th movie. But I wonder what happened to the “Kid” (Clayton Watson) from the previous films. I thought that maybe he was the heir apparent to Neo, and he is not even mentioned here.

Ultimately, The Matrix Resurrection is a love story between Neo and Trinity — so yes, they are the ONE together. And although somewhat forced, this 4th movie does connect and ties in with the original 3 films. It manages to convey a distrust for the “real” world and the notion that we are being manipulated — and how our whole idea of reality is distorted. You have to go in with an open mind and be free of any expectations. I sense other movies in this series might be coming. I, for one, would love to see live-action prequels.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

The Matrix Resurrection (2021).

*MOVIE RECAP: BEING THE RICARDOS

For one, I’m glad that we have gotten two Aaron Sorkin written and directed movies two years in a row — The Trial of the Chicago 7, in 2020, and now, Being the Ricardos in 2021. It seems like he is getting more comfortable behind the camera and finding his way as a director.

But first, I need to address the elephant in the room. There was tons of nonsensical controversy and outrage with the casting of Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem. Primarily by people who don’t have a clue about the art of acting and filmmaking. And by people who go about the wrong way to ensure and promote fairness and equality in media representation.

Here is the thing, people who had a problem with Bardem, a Spaniard playing a Cuban, are beyond dumb. Any actor of Hispanic heritage is qualified to play any member of our Latino culture, simple as that. After all, Javier Bardem already played a Cuban character back in 2000 in the movie Before Night Falls, a biopic of Cuban writer and poet Reinaldo Arenas. A performance for which Bardem was nominated for a best actor Academy Award — Bardem was outstanding in that movie, and he deserved the Oscar nomination for sure.

Additionally, we have many examples of actors from different Latin American slash Hispanic cultures playing characters from different nationalities like Gael Garcia Bernal, a Mexican actor playing Che Guevara, an Argentinian in two movies, Fidel (2001), and The Motorcycle Diaries (2004). Also, Benicio Del Toro, a Puerto Rican actor, won an Oscar for a best-supporting actor playing a Mexican character in Traffic (2000).

Not to mention all those times when Antonio Banderas, a Spaniard, has played Mexican characters, like in Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico and those two Zorro movies, to name a few. Recently, we had Wagner Moura, a Brazilian actor playing Pablo Escobar, a Colombian character in the hit Netflix series Narcos — which was a critically acclaimed portrayal.

So I ask, where was the outrage then?

In any case, I could sit here and point out tons of actors successfully playing characters from different cultural backgrounds. But, unfortunately, and sadly, all of those people outraged by Bardem playing a Cuban are the same exact people who are setting back the decades of little progress for proper representation that we have made as a culture in recent years.

But what do I know about this? I’m just some random Hispanic immigrant — and a wannabe screenwriter. Right? not really an expert at all.

Anyhow, the story of this movie is centered around a week in the life of Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem). And it is set during the same week of production for an upcoming live shooting of the I Love Lucy show — with some flashbacks sprinkled throughout the story.

This movie is not your typical biopic per se; It starts with a fake documentary featuring older versions of the original writers for the I Love Lucy Show, Madelyn Pugh (Linda Lavin) and Bob Carroll (Ronny Cox). And the executive producer, Jess Oppenheimer (John Rubinstein). I was thrilled to see Ronny Cox in a big-time Hollywood movie again; he played one of my all-time favorite movie villains, Dick Jones, in Robocop (1986).

The main plot point of the story here is the accusation by the press that Lucille Ball is a member of the communist party. The implications of this accusation could cost Lucy her career and the possible cancellation of their hit TV show. So the tension and the stakes of this shocking accusation become the main obstacle for our heroes to overcome. And we get to see how this real-life TV couple had to tackle this issue head-on. Desi has to deal with the fallout and navigate through all of the network and corporate politics. At the same time, Lucy is trying to keep the show running efficiently and keep it fresh and funny. And on top of that, she is trying to save her marriage.

Nicole Kidman delivers an interesting performance; She managed to capture the heart of two characters, one real and one fictitious. In essence, Kidman’s performance focuses more on Lucille Ball, the person and not as much as Lucy Ricardo, the TV character. Still, when she transforms into Lucy Ricardo, she nails it beautifully.

There were some excellent scenes where we get to see Lucy display her comedic genius. When the writers pitched scenes to Lucy, you could see how her comedic mind worked as she began to imagine the multiple possibilities within the scene—like a chess master, seeing how a scene would play out ahead of time. Also, we got to see how obsessed she was with physical comedy.

Javier Bardem brings lots of charisma and charm into this role. However, I didn’t really see the same Desi Arnaz that I remember from the old interviews on YouTube at the Johnny Carson show and the old NBC David Letterman show. I still think that the version of Desi Arnaz in the 1992 movie Mambo Kings, played by Desi Arnaz jr, remains my all-time favorite version of Desi. Nonetheless, Javier Bardem has some solid scenes here, most notably, Bardem’s impressive version of Cuban Pete.

Also, the location settings, custom designs, and set pieces are all great and felt right with the period. The scenes in the writer’s room were exceptional; it was cool seeing the writers working out their material — the difficulty of making comedy for TV and how they went about creating comedy. The fake documentary thing, set in the future with the older versions of the writers and producer, was a good choice, but I wanted to see a little more of them throughout the movie.

The taboos and the gender dynamics of the era are also on full display here. It was an era when a handful of old conservative white males were making all the important decisions — and having a pregnant woman appear on TV or even to say the word pregnant on TV was considered obscene. The scenes where the white male, corporate suits clash with Lucille are some of the best scenes in the movie. It is important to note that Lucy was the first visible pregnant woman to appear on TV.

The supporting performances by Nina Aranda (Vivian Vance) and JK Simmons (William Frawley) are praiseworthy. The younger version of the writers, Alia Shawkat (Madelyn Pugh) and Jake Lacy (Bob Carrol), are solid. Also, the younger version of producer Jess Oppenheimer played by Tony Hale, was notable. I appreciate the layers of humanity both central characters were given. It brilliantly touches their past, personal relationships, and comedic genius. Especially when seeing that Lucille’s ultimate goal was to have a real home and a family, and her struggle to keep everything together — it all comes through across to the audience clearly and nicely.

Being the Ricardos is a well-written, sophisticated, and complex movie — Typical of an Aaron Sorkin production. As a writer-director, Sorkin is a superb combination that will only improve as he embarks on more directing and writing projects.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

Being the Ricardos (2021). Streaming on Prime.

*MOVIE RECAP: THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD

At a glance, Those who Wish Me Dead had the makings of a terrific movie. For one, it is directed by Taylor Sheridan and based on a novel of the same name by Michael Koryta. The adaptation was scripted by Taylor Sheridan along with Michael Koryta and Charles Leavitt (Blood Diamond, 2006). On top of all that, the casting assembled here is impressive but very underutilized.

Angelina Jolie plays Hanna, a disgraced firefighter and smoke jumper, haunted by the death of a colleague and three young kids due to a mistake on her part. For the confused, a smokejumper is someone who combats forest fires and wildfires.

Hanna now spends her time alone in a fire tower, where people live for months and months in total isolation looking for wildfires. 

We also have Connor (Finn Little), a young boy on the run from assassins. Connor’s father, Owen (Jake Weber), is helping the local DA build a case against some bad people. The DA gets blown up by two assassins, and Owen is the next target — So they have to flee. For me, this whole running from the killers’ premise was a bit weird and convoluted.

In any case, Connor and Hanna cross each other’s paths, and they both have to fend off the hired killers.

The two hired killers have zero redeeming qualities, but they are excellent together; Assassin 1, Jack (Aidan Gillen, little finger in Game of Thrones) is evil and remorseless; Assassin 2, Patrick (Nicholas Hoult) is creepy as fuck. The chemistry between these two psychotic contract killers is outstanding, and the humor is solid.

The rest of the characters lacked more depth and development. Jon Bernthal’s character needed more screen time and more dialogue. Also, Tyler Perry’s character went nowhere and seemed unnecessary. However, Allison (Medina Senghore) steals the movie — She has some of the best action sequences and some of the strongest scenes of the entire film.

Taylor Sheridan has a good track record of well-written and well-developed characters that feel genuine. Unfortunately, this is wasn’t the case here, so this film feels underwhelming. There were no socio-economic themes like in his previous work. And there are plenty of holes in the overall storyline and premise.

The special effects looked silly and not very realistic. Except for the dry lightning storms, those scenes were pretty cool. In addition, the dialogue and overall premise seemed flawed. As a result, the whole movie comes off as a sloppy popcorn movie. In essence, it has an old-school 90s throwback action movie vibe. Most reviewers have compared it as a mixture of The Client (1994) meets Firestorm (Howie Long’s 1998 movie).

Ultimately, Those who Wish Me Dead is not that bad; it is just pretty unremarkable. And it didn’t really do it for me, but it is a short movie to watch, so it is definitely worth seeing at least once.

Two out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿

Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021).

*NEW NAME FOR WASHINGTON, 2021 SEASON RECAP & SUPER BOWL THOUGHTS

It took me a while to sit down and write this post wrapping up the season — mostly because I was busy moving to a new place. Sadly, the 2021 NFL season has come and gone. I’m looking around, and I still cannot believe the season is over — it feels like the whole thing went out in a flash.

Anyhow, My Washington Football Team had a rough 2021 season — All of the Dan Snyder controversies overshadowed the season for Washington. The accusations of sexual misconduct, harassment, and toxic culture made constant headlines: the lawsuits, the cheerleading scandal exposed by the Washington Post. The John Gruden slash Bruce Allen email scandal. The secrecy surrounding the Beth Wilkinson investigation. The drama with the minority owners looking to bail on Snyder and sell their shares. The low fan attendance for home games. The whole screw-up with the Sean Taylor tribute — and of course, the congressional hearings, looking into Washington and Dan Snyder.

The team finished at 7-10. There were some highs and a bunch of lows. The 4-game winning streak and briefly climbing to the top of the NFC East was the highlight of the season for me. However, losing our NFC East lead, primarily due to the record number of Covid positive players becoming ineligible for crucial games, was the kill shot for our season. It was pure agony and misery week to week watching our lead shrink and shrink and eventually disappear into nothingness.

On top of all that, on 2.2.22, The Washington Football Team became The Washington Commanders. This new name doesn’t excite me at all — I wanted the new name to be Red Hogs and not this uninspiring name. Admittedly, I wasn’t crazy about the idea to rebrand from The Washington Football team name — a name that had actually grown on me. But, who knows, maybe Commanders will eventually also grow on me.

This was a mess of a rebrand, full of leaks and missteps. They even messed up the logo and the dates of our NFL championships. They put the year when the Super Bowl was played in the new logo — which was entirely wrong — it was supposed to be the year of the NFL season, not the year the game was played….what a bunch of fucking idiots, really.

As a Washington fan, I’m happy for our old QBs coach and offensive coordinator, Sean McVay, winning his first Super Bowl. It is becoming more apparent how special Mike Shanahan’s coaching staff was during his time in Washington. And besides McVay, the Mike Shanahan coaching tree is deep and impressive, with many former assistants now working as NFL head Coaches — Matt Lefleur (Packers), Kyle Shanahan (49ers), and Mike McDaniel (Dolphins). I think McDaniel will be an excellent head coach for Miami.

Their success as coaches and teams’ continued interest in hiring from the Shanahan tree is direct proof of how awful and stupid Dan Snyder was for allowing Bruce Allen to be part of Washington in any capacity regardless of George Allen’s legacy as a coach. They both wrecked this team and the potential of what the Shanahan era could have been.

In any case, I don’t really like this new name, but I have no choice but to accept it. I echo everyone else saying that the only way Washington fans and people in the DMV area will embrace this new name is by winning. They have to win — and win consistently — simple as that.

SUPER BOWL GAME:

LA RAMS 23 — BENGALS 20
The Rams bet massively in free agency, and it paid off big-time this season. They gave up so much to get Matthew Stafford, Von Miller, and OBJ, But it all worked out, they got to the Super Bowl, and they won the whole thing.

OBJ getting hurt early in the game after scoring a TD changed the entire outlook for LA’s offense. However, the triple crown of receiving, Cooper Kupp stepped up and delivered the goods again — Kupp was deadly in this game, especially in the final offensive drive, scoring the game-winning TD.

On the other hand, Cincinnati did not make things easy for LA. Joe Burrow had a solid game and showed flashes of future greatness. However, the Bengals have to upgrade their O-Line and actually protect Burrow to compete and get back to the big game next season.

Overall, the 2021 season was fun, and I really liked the extra regular-season game added. Although I’m getting annoyed with Thursday night games, I think they should scrap those at some point.

*NFL DIVISIONAL ROUND RECAP (2021 Season)

Okay, the rebranding is barely a week away. And I’m beyond anxious waiting for the unveiling of the new team name and logo. However, I’m still not feeling the name Commanders and Admirals. Personally, I would love Hogs or Red Hogs, but I will continue to cheer faithfully for Washington regardless of the new name.

Recently, the name of Malik Wills has been mentioned all over sports media as Washington’s potential first-round pick in this upcoming draft. I hear good things about him — that he has a strong arm and good mobility, but the high number of picks is a concern. The issue with him is that it seems like he is not an immediate starter and more of a developmental prospect. So using a first-round pick on a prospect seems pretty expensive for us. Matt Corral and Kenny Pickett are also options, and Pickett appears to be the most NFL from this QB draft class. But for sure, Washington needs to draft a young QB.

I, for one, do not want Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, or Jimmy G. All of those QBs will be way too expensive to trade for them. On top of all that, I’m concerned about the potential interest in Mitch Trubisky, especially when considering the Buffalo Slash Carolina connection with Washington’s coaching staff. I don’t see Trubisky as a viable option; instead, they should re-sign Fitzpatrick and see what he can do with our offense with Heinicke backing him and Malik Wills or a young rookie QB as the understudy.

Every reporter with solid connections to Washington seems convinced on Brandon Scherff leaving — that blows; they need to bring him back at all costs, we should keep the OL intact. This was the first time we had some solid OL depth in a long time. Also, bringing back JD McKissic should be a top priority. First-year guys DeAndre Carter and Adam Humphries should both be resigned soon. I still have not seen enough from Jaret Patterson, so we need to add more running back competition on this group

On the defensive front, Daron Payne should also be a priority. Bobby McCain and Landon Collins found their way towards the second half of the season — their contribution was significant — so I think they should return. I’m not really too concerned with losing Tim Settle in free agency.

All in all, I feel like we are in a better spot than we were at the start of the 2020 offseason. Nevertheless, we need a solid draft and aggressiveness in free agency.

The rebranding doesn’t mean that all the controversies and investigations will disappear. 2020 was full of DEA raids, Congressional hearings, and Washington post-investigations. An utter mess and an awful look for this once proud and respected franchise. I hear that Tanya Snyder is now more involved in the team’s day-to-day operations. I don’t really know if that is a good thing; I still haven’t seen many positives from all the structural changes made by the front office at the executive level.

I don’t trust this front office group….yet. So as a result, I cannot help but feel very nervous and anxious for 2.2.22.

49ERS 13 — PACKERS 10

Man, San Francisco is a dangerous team. However, Jimmy G is their Achilles heel; he looked shaky for most of this game but managed to make some clutch throws that made an enormous difference. Outstanding special teams and defensive play were crucial for San Francisco. For their upcoming NFC Championship matchup, Kyle Shanahan will once again go against Sean McVay, another former protege in Washington. San Francisco owns the Rams, sweeping them this season. Next up, San Francisco visits LA. Advantage, LA Rams.

Antivaxxer Aaron Rodgers got precisely what he deserved. Green Bay came in as the #1 seed and with home-field advantage in cold-ass Wisconsin — and once again, Rodgers squandered it. Next up, Green Bay needs to come up with a plan to replace their hack QB. Plus, they are losing their OC coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to Denver, where he will become their new head coach.

CHIEFS 42 — BILLS 36

This was the most insane game of the entire season. I was out of my seat watching the last few minutes of this game. And the overtime was beyond thrilling. Next up, Kansas City hosts Cincinnati. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs

Buffalo should’ve won this game. Josh Allen was money — but needed a better and more productive run game. If Buffalo adds a few more weapons, they should be considered a favorite next season. However, Buffalo will miss losing their OC Brian Daboll to Miami, as he is about to become their new head coach.

LA RAMS 30 — BUCCANEERS 27

Alright, how in the world could Cooper Kupp be that wide open, and with the game on the line? Matt Stafford was clutch and outdueled Brady. Next up, LA hosts top-rival, San Francisco. Advantage, LA Rams (too much firepower).

Tom Brady sucked ass through most of this game but finally got going in the 4th quarter and managed to tie this game with only seconds left. But Tampa Bay’s defense could not cover Cooper Kupp, the league’s top receiving threat. Next up, Tom Brady will ponder retirement, while OC Byron Leftwich might end up as the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

BENGALS 19 — TITANS 10

Joe Burrow is living up to his number 1 overall selection. It is remarkable when you realize that Cincinnati did not even make the playoffs last season, and now they are playing for the AFC Championship game and one game away from the Super Bowl. Evidently, this has been a successful turnaround for this franchise. Next up, Cincinnati hosts Kansas City. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs.

Ryan Tannehill did not rise to the occasion like most expected him. Next season, Tennessee must add better weapons around Derrick Henry and maybe look for a new QB.

*NFL WILDCARD WEEKEND RECAP (2021 Season)

Well, we are just two weeks away from the official reveal of our brand new team name and logo. So I’m dreading Wednesday 2-2-22 — Washington as an organization doesn’t have a good track record of smooth transitions and public relations with their fans. Additionally, we have the upcoming release of RG3s tell-all book, which will most likely include all kinds of dirt and damming accusations. I sense more controversies are on the horizon for Washington.  

In any case, we need to figure out what to do with Brandon Scherff ASAP before the draft. Also, J.D. McKissic should be a top priority. I liked how Bobby McCain finished the season, so we should try to bring him back. Landon Collins should also be brought back; he was coming into his own in this new hybrid position. 

Sam Cosmi and John Bates were the best contributors from the 2021 draft class. Unfortunately, Third-rounders Benjamin St-Jude and Dyami Brown were injured for most of the season and barely played to make a proper assessment of them. I hope in 2022; we see players like Shaka Toney, Curtis Samuel, Jamin Davis, and Sammis Reyes become more significant contributors. 

The coaching staff, scouts, and our two GMs are assessing the young QBs coming out in this year’s draft. It seems like they are all talented prospects and not first-year starters, but with the 11th pick in the 2022 draft, we should probably not use it on a young developmental QB. 

Anyhow, Dallas and Philly lost in the first round of the playoffs, so I’m pleased about that. Happy to see these two delusional fan bases be miserable. 

49ERS 23 — COWBOYS 17

The 49ers put up a big lead and never looked back. And despite all the shaky QB play from Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco still managed to overcome a late-game surge from Dallas. San Francisco is a dangerous team, but their secondary continues to be suspect. Next up, San Francisco visits Green Bay. Advantage, Green Bay Packers (but I’m rooting for San Francisco). 

The Cowboys can whine all day long about not getting a chance for a final Hail-Mary play while blaming the refs for their ineptitude. But, the fact is that Dallas had been living on borrow time all season long, and they finally got exposed for what they are. Next season, Dallas will take a dramatic drop to third-best in the NFC EAST. 

LA RAMS 34 — CARDINALS 11

This was a dominating win for LA; they looked formidable against their top-division rival. Next up, LA visits Tampa Bay. Advantage, LA Rams.

The Cardinals were riding high early in the season, but injuries and the absence of playmakers brought this team down. Next season, Arizona has to address depth issues and find a better running game, complimentary to Kyler Murray. 

BILLS 47 — PATRIOTS 17

Josh Allen was terrific, throwing 5 TDs for over 300 yards and zero picks. Their running game looked rejuvenated with Devin Singletary, who finished with 95 total yards and 2 TDs. The Bills should be considered favorites to go all the way. Next up, Buffalo has an epic matchup with Patrick Mahomes at Kansas City. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs, but Buffalo will give them a run for their money. 

New England backed into the playoffs with a rookie QB and got exposed by their division rival. So with Brian Flores leaving Miami, Belicheater will continue to be number 2 behind Buffalo in the AFC EAST. 

CHIEFS 42 — STEELERS 21

Patrick Mahomes was sensational, throwing for over 400 yards with 5 TDs and 1 pick. The Chiefs, on paper, were supposed to beat this inconsistent Pittsburgh team. Next up, Kansas City hosts a dynamic Buffalo team. Advantage Kansas City Chiefs.

This was probably Big Ben’s final game in the NFL. During the offseason, the Steelers have lots of work figuring out what to do at QB in 2022. Haskins is definitely the answer, and Pittsburgh is not known for going after free agent QBs. But Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Mitch Trubisky, and Ryan Fitzpatrick might be looking for a new team.

BENGALS 26 — RAIDERS 16

Cincinnati is a legit contender this season. However, stopping Derrick Henry next week will be their ultimate test. Next up, Cincinnati visits a well-rested Tennessee team. Advantage, Tennessee Titans.

The Raiders overcame a lot this season. It was remarkable and impressive that they got this far. But, unfortunately, Mike Mayock was fired, and the future of Rich Bisaccia is up in the air. So, next season, Vegas needs to figure out if Derek Carr fits their plans and find a GM and head coach.

BUCCANEERS 31 — EAGLES 15

Tampa Bay was supposed to beat this overrated Philadelphia team, and they did just that. The Buccaneers without Antonio Brown are still in good shape to be a contender. Next up, Tampa Bay hosts the LA Rams. Advantage, LA Rams.

Philadelphia was not a good playoff team and benefited by winning games against Covid affected teams and lucked into the playoffs. Next season, Philly needs to build up around Jalen Hurts, who is clearly their future.

*NFL WEEK 18 RECAP (2021 Season)

Finally, all the misery and agony of this crappy season have ended. We finished this underwhelming season at 7-10 — and with many questions surrounding the future of this yet to be renamed, football team.

The new name will be announced in 3 weeks. But in the meantime, there will be lots of moving and shaking leading up to the unveiling of the new name. 

First, the QB situation has to be addressed pronto; Taylor Heinicke will not be the starter next season; that’s all I know for sure. We should draft a young QB and develop him — Matt Corral piques my interest. 

I, for one, I’m not interested in Jimmy G (he gets hurt way too much), Mitch Trubisky is a backup, and we are better off with Heinicke than with Trubisky. Cam Newton wants to go to a contender — I think Washington should be considered a contender, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up here. Marcus Mariota might be a possibility, but I am unsure about his contract situation. But he kinda intrigues me. 

Unfortunately, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr, and Deshaun Watson will cost way too much. So, I say no to them. 

However, if Ryan Fitzpatrick is 100% and we draft one of those young QBs coming out in this upcoming draft, then we should revisit 2021s QB plan. So we go with Fitzpatrick starting, Heinicke backs him, and a young rookie QB watches and learns. 

Happy that Charles Leno was signed for the next few years: he was one of the bright spots out of this season’s free-agent signings. But, as a top priority, we need to figure out a way to re-sign Brandon Scherff. He said in his exit interview that he wanted to stay. Also, we need to go out and find a middle linebacker, which will most likely happen during free agency.

In any case, this off-season will not be boring for Washington, that’s for sure. 

WFT 22 — NY GIANTS 7

COWBOYS 51 — EAGLES 26

The Cowboys beat up on backups, so this score means nothing. However, Dallas is in for a rude awakening come playoff weekend. Next week, Dallas hosts San Francisco. Advantage, San Francisco 49ers.

The Eagles rested their starters as they looked into the playoffs. Next week, Philadelphia visits Tampa Bay. Advantage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

CHIEFS 28 — BRONCOS 24

Kansas City struggled to win this game, but Denver, a division rival, always gives them a tough game. Next week, Kansas City hosts Pittsburgh. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs.

Vic Fangio was fired soon after their game ended. Significant changes are coming to Denver; they need to find a legit starting QB and a big-time head coach. Drew Lock has played well at times, but at best, he is a quality backup. 

49ERS 27 — LA RAMS 24

San Francisco has now beaten the Rams 6 straight times. It is safe to say that Kyle Shanahan has his former Washington protege’s number. The 49ers clinched the final NFC playoff spot — they will be a dangerous team in the playoffs. Next week, San Francisco visits Dallas. Advantage, San Francisco 49ers. 

I don’t put too much stock in this loss. San Francisco has had the edge over LA for a while now. The Rams, however, still won the NFC WEST and will host a playoff game. Next week, LA hosts Arizona. Advantage, LA Rams. 

RAIDERS 35 — LA CHARGERS 32

This was a thrilling game that went into the last few seconds of overtime. Notably, this Vegas team has solid momentum heading into the playoffs. Next week, Vegas visits Cincinnati. Advantage, Las Vegas Raiders.

Justin Herbert was right on the money multiple times on 4th down, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a crucial missed field goal by Dustin Hopkins and some questionable coaching calls from Brandon Staley. The LA Chargers missed the playoffs by losing this game in overtime, but no reason to panic; the Chargers will be back in the playoffs next season.

TITANS 28 — TEXANS 25

The Titans clinched the AFC SOUTH and the number 1 seed. They are getting Derrick Henry back in time for their first playoff game in two weeks. Next up, Tennessee has a first-round bye.

Houston has lots of work in the offseason. First, they need to figure out the Deshaun Watson situation and address the future of head coach David Culley. Then, if they fire Culley, Houston should go out and get Brian Flores. But I think Cullen should get another year. I like what Lovie Smith is doing on the defensive side. 

VIKINGS 31 — BEARS 17

Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman were fired, signaling a complete overhaul in football philosophy and operations moving forward. 

Matt Nagy was also fired, and now Chicago becomes a fascinating destination for a new head coach willing to develop Justin Fields.

DOLPHINS 33 — PATRIOTS 24

Brian Flores getting fired was probably the most shocking casualty of Black Monday. Instead of getting rid of the GM, Miami owner Stephen Ross and his clown ownership group decided to move away from the best coach they’ve had since Jimmy Johnson. I’m sure Brian Flores will not be unemployed for long.

New England lost, but they are still playoff bound. However, the Patriots are not a very good team and will likely be one and done in the playoffs. Next week, New England visits Buffalo. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

BILLS 27 — NY JETS 10

The Bills won the AFC EAST for the 2nd year in a row and have a favorable matchup for their first playoff game. Next week, Buffalo hosts New England. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

Zack Wilson will become a pretty good QB for NY, and coach Robert Saleh is the right fit for this team. The Jets have to build around Wilson and continue to build through the draft. And now, with Flores gone from Miami, the Jets have a pretty good chance to climb up in their division.

SEAHAWKS 38 — CARDINALS 30

Seattle finished the season with a win but underdelivered on expectations. As a result, the future of Russell Wilson will now be a topic of speculation during the off-season. Houston, Denver, Washington, Miami, and even Cleveland might be possible destinations for Wilson. 

Arizona is limping into the playoffs and, by losing this game, missed the opportunity to wrap up their division title and a home game. Next week, Arizona visits LA. Advantage, LA Rams.

BUCCANEERS 41 — PANTHERS 17

The Bucs put a beat down on division rival Carolina — while locking up the number 2 seed in the NFC. Tampa Bay needed to win this game and roll into the playoffs with some rhythm. Next week, Tampa Bay hosts Philadelphia. Advantage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Panthers are a disaster, and the way Cam Newton has been treated is beyond reprehensible. The Panthers will continue to sink further if Matt Rhule isn’t fired. Cam and Christian McCaffrey need to get the hell out of Carolina ASAP. 

STEELERS 16 — RAVENS 13

The Steelers needed to win this game and a Raiders win to clinch a playoff spot. And now, Big Ben gets one more playoff game before officially retiring. Next week, Pittsburgh visits Kansas City. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs.

The Ravens are all about Lamar Jackson or nothing. And with Lamar injured, their post-season chances went bye-bye. Next season Baltimore needs to acquire better weapons and improve their depth.

BROWNS 21 — BENGALS 16

The Browns were Super Bowl favorites at the start of the 2021 season but failed to grab a wildcard spot finishing at 8-9. So naturally, questions surrounding the future of Baker Mayfield will dominate talking points during the off-season. 

The Bengals didn’t play Joe Burrow and most of their starters. Instead, they played backups as they prepared and rested up for their upcoming playoff game. Next week, Cincinnati hosts Las Vegas. Advantage, Las Vegas Raiders. 

LIONS 37 — PACKERS 30

The Lions secured the number 2 pick in the 2022 NFL draft and will continue to build around Jared Goff. 

Green Bay didn’t need this game; they already had clinched their division and the number 1 seed throughout the NFC. Next week, Green Bay has a first-round bye. 

JAGUARS 26 — COLTS 11

The Jaguars played spoiler and helped eliminate the Colts from playoff contention. As a result, Jacksonville will again pick first in the upcoming NFL draft. 

The Colts had the biggest stinker of week 18. They were supposed to destroy Jacksonville on paper, but instead, they were blown out and embarrassed. The off-season will be awkward for Indy.

SAINTS 30 — FALCONS 20

New Orleans missed the playoffs and now will have to figure out what to do at QB or maybe add better depth behind Winston. Unfortunately, Tyson Hill and Trevor Siemian may not be the answer.

The Falcons showed signs of life towards the second half of the season. However, an aging Matt Ryan might become expandable next season or soon after.

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