NFC Championship 2017: Falcons crunchy roll the Packers with some Triple X

The NFC Championship game leading up to Super Bowl LI featured the Green Bay Packers at the Atlanta Falcons.  Broadcast by Fox and narrated by Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, the last game played at the Georgia Dome started with the Falcons on offense.  Halfway through the second quarter, they were on top in scoring with 17 points (courtesy of wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, a field goal, and quarterback Matt Ryan running the ball into the end zone).  The Packers made an unsuccessful field goal attempt in the first quarter, then in the second quarter, Packers fullback Aaron Ripkowski lost possession of the ball and Falcons cornerback Jalen Collins recovered it.

The bottom of the second quarter saw Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers throw an interception into the arms of Falcons safety Ricardo Allen.  With seconds left in the first half of the game, Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones made a TD touch, giving Atlanta a 24 to 0 lead.

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The third quarter came to a thrilling start as Julio Jones ran 73 yards into the end zone for a TD.  He had to get Packers cornerback LeDarius Gunter’s hands off of him first (Gunter received a defensive holding penalty).  Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Davante Adams finally got some numbers on the board about halfway into the third quarter with a touchdown.  Falcons 31 and Packers 7.  Towards the bottom of the quarter, Falcons running back Devonta Freeman caught the ball right smack on the goal line, and the on-field call was fourth and goal.  The Falcons challenged it and won…and then didn’t get the extra point.  Falcons 37 and Packers 7.

The Packers’ offense increased their momentum in the last couple of minutes of the third quarter and got a TD via wide receiver Jordy Nelson.  They went for and got a two-point conversion (Aaron Ripkowski barreled his way into the end zone).  Falcons 37 and Packers 15.  The Falcons increased their lead with another TD at top of the fourth quarter (thanks to running back Tevin Coleman, whose momentum carried him partly into the tunnel, where he high-fived a guy in a Falcons shirt working the game).  The Packers closed the score gap with another TD soon enough but their two-point conversion failed.  Falcons 44 and Packers 21.  Final score.  FALCONS ARE NFC CHAMPIONS!!!

Get game summary, stats, and play by play here.

Observations & Miscellany:
~  Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosaline were in attendance today.
~ Joe Buck and Troy Aikman both wore blue ties; Joe’s was a very sharp, bright blue like this one.
~ There was so much red in the stadium today.
~ Packers backup QB Brett Hundley went into the game for the last couple of minutes of the game.

~!~

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I watched xXx: Return of Xander Cage (D.J. Caruso, 2017) on Friday because Donnie Yen and Kris Wu are in it.  Yes, that Kris Wu who used to be in the Korean boy group, EXO.  He plays a DJ in the film and is there to make things more fun.  One of his songs also plays in the scene when Vin Diesel and his posse first meet Donnie Yen.

The film overall is terrible — the editing, the dialogue, and some of the camerawork, particularly in non-action sequences, were uninspired.  Yet, it’s so much fun to watch  Nina Dobrev was a scene stealer for me; Ruby Rose‘s character was badass (who wouldn’t want to hang out in the African wilderness and inflict injury upon trophy hunters?);  Deepika Padukone demonstrated much onscreen charisma (I hope to see her in more American films of all genres and budgets); and Ice Cube‘s cameo was awesome and cheesy at the same time.

Former NFL tightend Tony Gonzalez was in the previews for Triple X, which was the initial reason I wanted to see the film.  Gonzalez spent five of his seventeen years in the NFL as an Atlanta Falcon and was an incredible athlete.  He also had more screen time than I expected.

The Sounds of NFL Films on the Seahawks at the Falcons

I subscribed recently to NFL Films’ YT channel — I know, what took so long.  After watching a number of their highlight films over the years, I wonder on occasion whether or not NFL Films would be the ideal “nature filmmakers” of people.  Their narrator’s voice is perfect for it.

Stay until the end to see Arthur Blank do a little dance in the locker room.

“Play hard, but stay poised.” – Matt Ryan

NFC Divisional: Falcons pluck the Seahawks with Elle

The Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons NFC divisional game started twenty minutes after the 4:10 pm showing of Paul Verhoeven‘s award-winning psychological drama Elle (2016).*  And why would I opt to watch the film over seeing the entire game between Seattle and Atlanta?  Well, I’ve been wanting to watch Elle for several months and I knew the fourth quarter would still be happening after the movie and I could get myself to a TV.

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I have loved Isabelle Huppert since the moment I watched Hal Hartley‘s Amateur (1994).  She played a woman who went from being a nun to writing erotica.  Something about that premise fascinated me.

Likewise, the premise of Elle intrigued me too.  Huppert portrays a woman who is raped in her house while her grey cat watches (and then leaves before the crime is completed), but instead of turning into a shriveling, paranoid victim, she metabolizes the trauma with subversive rationale and emotional/psychological deviance.

Beyond the basic story-line, I was pleasantly surprised to see that her character was  co-owner of a video game publishing company.  She wasn’t a housewife or a teacher or a high end fashion consultant.  Any more discussion will lead to minor spoilers, so highlight the relevant words at your own discretion.  Verhoeven’s adaptation of  Phillipe Dijan‘s novel Oh… could be interpreted to suggest that a rape fantasy is something that women in general would grow to want if she is willing to sleep with her friend and business partner’s husband because he was there and she wanted to get laid.  Or that just because a woman doesn’t become a broken, ruined creature, that physical violation isn’t that big of a deal.  It is tempting to make such an assertion…or to focus on her character’s inability to have a “normal” reaction to being raped (depression, anger, fear, vulnerability) on account of what her dad did when she was ten years-old that got him locked up in prison.

These interpretations are easy to make, but misses the mark of the character’s narrative and thematic arc.  She colors outside the lines and doesn’t behave as expected and whatever motivates her to act as she does or to think as she does throughout the film, she is purposeful and consequential.  Moreover, her reactions present a perspective on how to make sense of (or pervert) the offender-victim dynamic, especially when the film reveals the identity of her rapist.   Either you, the viewer, knew it all along or figured it out based on formal and plot elements.

 

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And, I was right.  The fourth quarter had just begun when I got to a TV after the movie ended.   I started watching the game (broadcast on Fox and narrated by John Lynch and Kevin Burkhardt) about halfway into the fourth quarter and the Falcons had 29 points to the Seahawks’ 13.  Over the next nine minutes, though not in this exact order, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was intercepted twice (the first time directly into the arms of Falcons safety Allen Ricardo, the second time indirectly into the hands of Falcons linebacker Deion Jones) and threw a touchdown pass (caught by wide receiver Doug Baldwin); Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and two 1st and goal complete passes (one of them caught by wide receiver Julio Jones).

The Falcons beat the Seahawks.  36 to 20. Final score.  Get game summary, stats, and play-by-play here.

*It isn’t drama quite in the way American dramas are drama — 98% seriousness with maybe a laugh or two.  Elle is quite comical throughout the film in dialogue and reality-of-the-situation tone.  I watched the film with at least twenty other people and everyone chuckled and laughed at the intended moments.  The more I think about it, the more I detect a satirical angle.

Football and MMA aren’t forms of art?

The Golden Globe Awards were last night and if you’ve launched any social media or culture outlet today you probably know about Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.  She spoke on the geographically diverse talent pool in Hollywood and that if they were kicked out, “…we’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”

Sure, athletic competition is certainly not a fine (high) art form (painting, pottery, sculpting, architecture, music, opera, theatre, poetry).  The activity itself, though, is a performing art as much as dance.  Moreover, as televised football and mixed martial arts are very much part of the visual arts (photography, film, video, digital media), I argue that the representation of these athletic experiences, especially with an audience, is artful in their own voyeuristic physics-at-work ways.  Sanctioned body trauma and sometimes in slow motion. Sweat ricochets, inertia observed, crash-test dummy whooshes, and it is a wonder why some of us like to watch adults inflict physical pain onto each other for entertainment.*

~!~

And now for some other performing arts that is just as athletic but without all the violence.

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*Of course, NFL Films changed profoundly how we think about football game play vis-a-vis how we see it.

The Last Word

Today was Marguerite’s 37th birthday.  She celebrated it alone at the Friar Rose cafe as she’d done each of the last six years.  Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” was playing over the speakers when she paid for her almond latte and blueberry muffin.  It was fitting, bittersweet to hear her first love’s young adult anthem at that moment.  It was ten years ago to the day, New Year’s Eve, that Marguerite had asked Catalina to marry her at the cafe — Catalina said no.

The law was on their side, their families were supportive, their friends ecstatic, but Catalina had never been one for meeting externally suggested expectations.  If Marguerite had waited one more day, Catalina would have proposed.  This contrary characteristic initially attracted Marguerite to her.  Catalina’s family thought she would go to university and study chemistry; instead, Catalina went to university and majored in comparative religion.

Marguerite spent most of her life surrounded by unwavering rule-followers no matter the irrationality of the rules.  Catalina was a blast of fresh air and water in comparison.  Over time, though, the insistence on going her own way turned into an unwillingness to empathize, to take one for the duo, and just irrational as the followers of old.

Marguerite drank from the mug of latte as she acknowledged fully to herself that Catalina’s refusal was probably for the better.  At that very instant, a customer approached her and asked if he could join her for a few minutes.

“It won’t be long, and I realize this is strange,” the man began. “But, do you see those people over there trying not to look obvious with their cameras and phones?”

Marguerite nodded and realized why this man had asked to sit with her. “You’re Patterson Chen…your fans want to know if it was you in that car the police found in the ravine and you still won’t confirm or deny.”

Patterson nodded.

Marguerite told him he could stay as long as he wished, confessing that she was more of a hockey and college football kind of gal so she wouldn’t be making small talk about America’s national pastime.  Patterson didn’t mind at all, he rather liked sitting quietly with someone who didn’t want anything from him.

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