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I promised I wouldn’t, but… August 12, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA.
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My writing course is starting to really freak me out with all the assessments I have to do this semester.  I actually have to interact with people!  Interview complete strangers like a professional!  How terrifying is that?

Anyway, I still wanted to continue writing everyday, not just for class exercises but also for leisure.  I want to keep reminding myself why I love writing and want to keep doing it, no matter what.

I still have other posts left waiting on the sideline, but I feel I must ramble on about the fantastic trade the Indiana Pacers made today when they traded power foward Troy Murphy to the New Jersey Nets in return for point guard Darren Collison and veteran James Posey from the New Orleans Hornets in a four-team trade (I don’t care for the other trades).

I know I promised to keep this blog basketball free, but this news is just too fantastic!  About damn time Larry Bird did something, especially after the Pacers had remained the only team in the NBA this offseason that did not add or retain a player through trades or free agency.

In Darren Collison, the Pacers got a point guard that could potentially turn this franchise around.  Collison was one of the best rookies last season and could have won Rookie of the Year had he not played behind superstar Chris Paul.  He averaged a solid 12.7 points and 5.7 assists last season in just 27.8 minutes per game.  When Chris Paul went down with injury, he stepped up to average a tremendous 18.8 points, 9.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 37 starts.

In Indiana, Collison will have a real chance to prove himself as the starting point guard (which appears highly likely).  No one is expecting him to take the team to the playoffs on his back, especially since the team just lost its second best player and best rebounder in Troy Murphy.  But with time, the right attitude (which he seems to have) and lots and lots of minutes, Collison could definitely be something special.  At least the Pacers no longer have to count on Lance Stephenson or AJ Price as the point guard of the future.

As for James Posey, the guy is expensive, but it’s worth putting up with him if the Pacers can get Collison.  It also means more trades could be on the horizon, as the Pacers already have a logjam at the wing spots with guys like Granger, Dunleavy, Rush, Jones and rookie Paul George.

Troy Murphy will be missed for his shooting and rebounding, but let’s face it, his defensive presence (or lack thereof) is not going to be missed.  Pacers fans will surely wish him all the best in New Jersey.

Now all of a sudden the Pacers’ future is looking a lot brighter.  They just have to find a way to get rid of TJ Ford, who has refused to be bought out.

DVD Review: The Princess and the Frog (2009) May 28, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews.
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Disney’s latest animation feature, The Princess and the Frog, will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on 16 June 2010.  Running time: 94 minutes. Rated: G

In the age of computer animations and 3D special effects, it’s always good to see a traditional hand-drawn story that is just as beautiful to the eye — but with that extra bit of fluidity and a human touch.  That’s exactly what Disney has delivered with Oscar-nominated The Princess and the Frog, a true family film that brought back the nostalgic feelings of those classic animated features from my childhood.

I must admit, The Princess and the Frog was not a film that immediately jumped out at me at during its theatrical run.  The original Grimm brothers’ fairytale about a princess who turns a frog into a prince never really appealed to me personally, and I thought the film would just be a simple retelling of that story.

However, full credit must go to John Musker and Ron Clements (creators of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin).  Instead of going down the expected route, The Princess and the Frog turns the original fairytale on its head, and the result is both surprising and hilarious.

The obvious thing that sticks out about this film is that Disney finally has a black female lead in Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose from Dreamgirls), a hardworking waitress who dreams of opening up her own restaurant.  But there’s a lot more than that.  Rather than some magical alternative world, The Princess and the Frog is set in French Quarter of New Orleans.  This backdrop gives the film an entirely new dimension, bringing back that fun-filled era of jazz music, big bands and old-school dancing never before seen in Disney animated features.

Young Tiana’s world is turned upside down when Prince Naveen (voiced by Bruno Campos from Nip/Tuck) arrives for a royal visit.  Of course, there is a mysterious villain, and without giving away too much of the plot, spells and frogs become involved and the setting is transformed from New Orleans to the mystical bayous of Louisiana, where more interesting characters are introduced, including a musical alligator and a lovesick firefly.

As I understand it, The Princess and the Frog endured a lot of controversies and changes over title, the lead characters, the location and the villain — but seriously, as always, it was much ado about nothing.  In the end, it’s just pure family fun without a suggestion of political messages or racial or cultural insensitivity.

I haven’t been a big fan of animations for a while (with a few notable exceptions), but I really enjoyed The Princess and the Frog.  It is indeed a film intended for the whole family but the target is still clearly young children, despite a couple of “frightening” scenes involving voodoo and the “other side”.  The humour is very much geared towards the kids, though from about the halfway mark I found myself laughing way more than I should have been.

I don’t usually consider myself a jazz listener, but the score for this film was exceptional — lively and fun while remaining true to the Disney spirit.  But perhaps my favourite thing about The Princess and the Frog was the character of Prince Naveen.  For once, the male lead is not just some wealthy, handsome and unbelievably perfect guy who comes in to sweep the heroine off her feet.  Naveen is really a bit of a douche, and I was almost disappointed to find that he actually had some redeeming qualities by the end of the film.

3.5 stars out of 5!

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