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Reverting To Old Ways

Posted By Ian Altenbaugh On Mar 18 2009 @ 6:46 pm In Pittsburgh Penguins | 1 Comment

For this post in Around the Atlantic I am reverting to my previous Sports Fiend format. This is just for fun and will not be a regular thing. Keep in mind these posts, while seemingly “written by a crazy mind in a flash” actually take a ton of time. The theme tonight is “Reverting to old ways”.


I am a big fan of Eli Roth’s Hostel series. A former understudy of the great David Lynch, Roth is a film geek who’s love for film is only matched by his talent, wit, and sense of humor. For those ‘in the know’ Hostel is a completely different film than the vast majority of films associated with sadistic serial killers. It is indeed a Lynchian psychological thriller for the first half of the film and even as it slowly descends into chaos, the film never loses its identity. Even at the grossest moment, when a person slips on severed fingers, the film is not without a sense of irony. I have been all over Europe and know a great deal of people who have been farther than I have. As an American I am repeatedly told, “Past Greece is the wild west”. Having gone with people to strange places, not knowing how to return to my hotel, inebriated with alcohol, I can say that you can very easily put yourself in great risk without even realizing it. So despite the grotesque overtone, the film felt personally relevant and far more realistic than people realize.

As far as films about people talking to strangers, I recently watched a film called Transsiberian. For some reason I have called this film the Transsiberian Express over and over again. I feel like my aunt or mother, perpetually incorrectly naming people in my children and pets – my loved ones.

The film is essentially about two people, Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer play a married couple traveling Asia. They encounter a Western European (maybe Latino) man named Carlos and his American girlfriend. As it turns out, Carlos is a drug mule and stashed his stuff in her bags. This is typical practice in drug muling from my understanding and would not affect the stupid American couple if the wife, in an act of oversexed blood lust didn’t kill Carlos, which she did.

The Middle English phrase ‘Effed” would best describe the situation the stupid American couple is in.

Director Brad Anderson is a revolutionary director. He uses, reuses, and uses again the same train cars. Better than anything else, like a good auteur, he is able to make you think you know what is going on, flip things around, and not insult your intelligence like a certain director of a certain movie starring Bruce Willis as a dead person. There is no slight-of-hand techniques being applied, just a solid, unnerving story.

Unlike the recent film The International, a film in which Tom Tykwer defies logic in his use of space and architecture, making open spaces feel small and close places feel vast. Brad Anderson utilizes the vast empty Siberian land to create a sense of claustrophobia. Like in the Spaghetti western, large space can be desolate and create a sense of loneliness. The film at first glance looks like a Roman Polanski flick – bleak and sickly, with a palette rich in neutral colors.

One thing that separates Anderson’s thrillers from the others is the tempo. Too the often auteur opt for a patiently paced film, focusing on mood and atmosphere more than action. Anderson paces his film like an action movie – he allows character discourse to be dictated by action as opposed to dialog, and it pays dividends for this particularly tired feeling writer.

As far as directing action goes, it is very easy to go overboard and for things to turn out boring. As far as coaching hockey players goes, the same mantra could apply.

I see the same cast of players night in and night out and like a troupe of actors, some outshine others in performances but they always perform well as a whole. Well, at least until the Penguins decided to start playing laggard style hockey in which the team like the fat girl on top of the human pyramid, comes crashing down destroying everything in sight. Like my uncle Jack when he drank too much and decided to go down the stairs, these Penguins are doing something that they know better than to do. Something that inevitably ends in disaster: play passive hockey.

Having said that, the Penguins are in charge of this season’s destiny. They now have the talent, personnel, and system to favorably match up against the vast majority of the teams this season. With that in mind, here are the playoff matchups that if I were a Penguin fan, I would not want to see:

New Jersey: they are big, physical, playoff seasoned, and Marty’s back.

Boston: This changes in later rounds. In the first round I feel the Bruins will be a force to be reckoned with. However their relative inexperience will bite them in the second round as players like Lucic, Wheeler, and Krecji see what playing in the playoffs is all about.

Carolina: Like New Jersey and Boston, Carolina plays a neutral zone system that seems to absolutely torture the Penguins. It does not help that Eric Staal and Cam Ward always play their best against the Black n’ Gold.

Matchups I would want to see:

The Rangers: They are wounded right now and are still having difficulties scoring goals. Like Boston, I think the Rangers could slip into the second round but simply do not have the right mix of talent to make it much far past.

Buffalo: See Boston. Quite frankly, despite the entertaining style of game they play, I see big Jordan Staal absolutely man-handling the Sabres defense. Columbus and Florida, who have pretty good sized, fairly gritty groups of blueliners were tossed around like rag dolls. What’s to say Buffalo, a smaller team, would stand any better of a chance? That would create favorable matchups for Malkin or Crosby.

Washington: Despite their immense regular season success, Washington has some of the worst goaltending in the league. In the playoffs, goaltending is key. If Ovechkin can be held to two points a game, then the Caps should be easily dispatched of in the first or second round.

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