For Sanity’s Sake, Here’s Hoping this is My Last Justin Fields Column

| February 23rd, 2024

When the Bears drafted Cade McNown in 1999, I didn’t care.

But do you remember the first game of the 2000 season? Against a very good Vikings team, McNown opened 27-41-290-2 and 10 carries, 81 yards and a TD on the ground. From my lounger at the now defunct ESPN Zone in Times Square, I got excited.

When the Bears drafted Rex Grossman in 2003, I didn’t care.

Reverend Dave and I watched that selection, thoroughly intoxicated with some British Browns fans, at a sports pub in Piccadilly Circus. It was a surreal and hysterical experience, but nobody celebrated anything. Yet by early in the 2006 season, there were few doubting Rex could be a top player at the professional level. 

When the Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky in 2017, I didn’t care.

Well, I cared a little, as this was the first real scoop I had been given and was able to break on Twitter. I also won quite a bit of cash off the skeptical patrons of Mother Hubbard’s. (That ripped us off that night and I never returned.) I picked the Bears to go to the Super Bowl in 2019 specifically because of Mitch’s final drive against the Eagles in the Cody Parkey game; a drive I watched in the building. 

When the Bears drafted Justin Fields in 2021, I didn’t care.

While the Robert Mays’s of the world got giddy on their podcasts (why is he always so damn giggly), I hadn’t been impressed by the two college games I’d seen Fields play and saw no reason for ecstasy. But there were clearly moments in his tenure I found genuinely thrilling, most of which were documented on this site. Fields is not a bad quarterback. He’s a limited one. 

When the Bears take their next starting quarterback in April, I won’t care.

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HughesReviews: The Zone of Interest and Other Major Cinematic Works of 2023

| February 19th, 2024

I didn’t particularly care for Barbie or Oppenheimer; the former felt cloying and obvious, the latter bloated and often incoherent. But one cannot understate their cultural importance. These two films, and the brilliant, seemingly organic marketing campaign which conjoined them into Barbenheimer, were the Sosa and McGwire of the modern movie landscape. At the physical cinema’s darkest moment, they brought fans back to the ballpark, and they are the legacy of “Movies 2023.”

But aside from these two popular pictures, this was a year where great filmmakers made great films. Each of the films that comprise my top five of the year are by established masters, cinematic artists working at the height of their powers. They are films I look forward to revisiting and writing extensively about. But I’m not a professional movie critic. I don’t spend each week advising the moviegoing public where to spend their movie buck and I’m not interested in wasting energy on the films I don’t like. At the risk of sounding like, well, an asshole, my academic pursuit of cinema enables me to focus entirely on that which interests me. I can dismiss the crap films and never write a sentence about them. Thus, you will not be reading about Maestro below.

And apologies to Frederick Wiseman, whose Menus-Plaisirs – Les Troisgros is certainly another in a long line of master works, but I just couldn’t muster the four hours of energy required to sit in an uncomfortable Film Forum seat. Although these are my favorite films of 2023, my favorite cinematic experience of the year was seeing the 93-year-old Wiseman live at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.

Note: I know that many of you have not seen most of the films below, so I’ll refrain from giving away too many plot details. But I am happy to discuss movies any time via email – just reach out. 

(10) BlackBerry. One of the great entertainments of 2023, this first major work from Canadian director Matt Johnson serves primarily as a grand showcase for Glenn Howerton, whose towering, menacing performance is a brilliant expansion of the darkness he has honed over decades as Dennis on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

(09) Bottoms. Is this a great movie? No. But it was the funniest film I saw in 2023 and we all need to encourage Hollywood to keep producing damn comedies.

(08) The Killer. David Fincher is a master of the neo-noir, having created moody classics like Se7en, Zodiac and Gone Girl. This film, a perfect addition to that corpus, deserved more attention (see my Netflix rant below), if only for Tilda Swinton’s tour-de-force cameo. The film’s deliberate pacing requires the patience of its subject, but the reward is palpable.

(07) Titanic: The Musical. I was underwhelmed by the Tony-winning Titanic when it ran on Broadway in 1997, opening just months before the film would take over the world. It had a brilliant cast (Michael Cerveris, Brian d’Arcy James, Vicky Clark, etc.) and some powerful Maury Yeston music, but the piece left me, pardon the pun, cold. (If you know me, you know I want no such pardoning. I relished writing that sentence.) This film, a documentation of a touring production in England, is brilliant example of what can be achieved on screen when a director does more than point a single camera at the stage. Directors Austin Shaw and Thom Southerland use the camera to amplify the play’s emotional character and in doing so provide a profound stage AND screen experience.

(06) The Taste of Things. Subtle and sublime, very few films are so willingly, and lovingly, about process. Dramatic encounters are suggested. Deaths occur between edits. But each moment of culinary preparation is displayed in painstaking detail. (I only saw this film Wednesday so still need time to digest the whole affair.) Side note: how did this become the American title? The French title was La Passion De Dodin Bouffant. How does that become The Taste of Things? What does The Taste of Things even mean? Does it mean ANYTHING? Can we get a documentary about the corporate conference room that produced this inane title?

(05) Showing Up. When you are a struggling artist, “showing up” is survival, and Kelly Reichardt’s film is the finest depiction of that struggle I can remember. The director, and her star, Michelle Williams, manage to create a character in pain without allowing the pain to be her definitive characteristic. Lizzy has no hot water. Her brother is psychologically at sea. Her father is being taken advantage of by two drifters. But she still manages to make herself emotionally available to everyone, even the pigeons. She shows up. And you’re foolish if you don’t show up every time you read the phrase “Directed by Kelly Reichardt.”

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DBB’s Third Annual Pledge Drive, February 5 – 10!

| February 10th, 2024

2023 was a landmark year for DaBearsBlog, with the introduction of our second editor-in-chief, Robert K. Schmitz. The result has been traffic reaching new in-season heights as Robert modernized our content with the incorporation of video, podcasts and more film study in six months than this site had provided in the previous sixteen years combined.

But we can only do this work because of our annual pledge drives. We will NEVER put our content behind a paywall, instead channeling the NPR model of soliciting support from our readers and followers for one week every year. This is that week. We ask for seven days and then we don’t ask again for a year.

So give what you can. A dollar. A fiver. A hundo. Nothing. Your readership is the only support we’ve ever truly wanted. This drive simply ensures you’ll continue to have unique work to read.

The link to support is right here!

And on behalf of Robert, a sincere thank you. After the Super Bowl, we’re back to business, and the most pivotal Chicago Bears off-season in a generation.



Marrs: In Kevin Warren, the Bears Hired a General Contractor

| February 3rd, 2024

This is a special piece from DBB contributor Chris Marrs. Marrs doesn’t cover the Bears professionally. He’s just a fan who spends too much time thinking about this team. Longtime reader, first time caller, he looks forward to contributing to DaBearsBlog, which he considers the ’85 Bears of blogs.

There is something magical about that navy backdrop in the press room at Halas Hall – you know, the one behind the podium, featuring the iconic logo that stands unmistakably for pride, tradition, and the excellence we’ve come to expect from Hyundai (the Bears’ logo is on there too). When otherwise bright, accomplished men sit in front of it, they magically transform into clumsy, tone deaf, empty suits in orange ties, barfing so many corporate clichés that you’d swear they were doing shots of them backstage.

It has been a few weeks now since the Bears latest autopsy press conference on January 10th. This one was bigger, though, serving as an introduction of sorts to Bears fans’ most recent knight in shining armor: new Team President Kevin Warren. This moment would be his first true time-of-crisis Q & A as the boss.

There was such hope for Warren. First new president in 25 years. Accomplished. Connected. Dynamic. Ted Phillips was The Penguin. This was Batman.

We all saw Warren’s comments days earlier at Lurie Children’s Hospital – by the way, cheers to Warren and his family for their support of Lurie. Good people. Wonderful gesture. Makes these next several paragraphs tougher, but such is life. Because five days later, sitting in front of that navy backdrop, Warren’s ideas weren’t fresh or new or encouraging. To put it as elegantly as I can, Warren swung a two-by-four into the nuts of Bears fandom.

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Championship Sunday Prediction Haikus

| January 26th, 2024

All times ET. Home team in CAPS.

Sunday 3:00 PM – Chiefs at RAVENS (-3)

Those audible cheers

come from the Inner Harbor.

Roquan rejoices.

Sunday 6:30 PM – Lions at 49ERS (-6.5)

They call him “Deebo.”

But his real name is Tyshun.

The Niners need him.

2-2 last weekend, getting shut out on Sunday. This week I’m on the Ravens -3 and the 49ers -6.5. Why? I just think these were clearly the two best teams in the sport and have been destined to meet in Vegas.

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