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KSR Picks: The Second Edition


In a relatively quiet day around the KSR offices, where the biggest story was about a Playboy bunny’s fall at Indiana, it seemed like a good time to dust off the old KSR Pick machine and give another round of suggestions for your entertainment pleasure. To kick them off, why not one of my favorite pictures in UK sports history.. Back in the heady late 90s time of Kentucky basketball, the rise of the Cats corresponded with the rise of WCW and led to this picture of the “Kentucky World Order.” Now having your picture made with Lex Luger might not seem like a big accomplishment, but at the time it was quite the coup. Had the KSR world been in full effect then, this picture would have taken on an “Adam Sandler wearing a UK t-shirt in ‘Funny People’ type life of its own”, but unfortunately it has often been forgotten in the dustpan of UK history. No more…Padgett, Evans and Turner mixing it up with the former heir to the Ric Flair throne should remain a classic piece of UK lore.

Now to the recommendations:


Again, my requirement is that these movies be available streaming on Netflix, so that in theory you could watch them right now. Some suggestions:

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO: You probably know about the book and chances are you know that its big movie adaption is coming out next week to take over America. But you may not know about this earlier Swedish version of the film that is the highest grossing Scandinavian movie in history. As a minor fan of the book, I was thoroughly impressed with the movie’s ability to bring the story to life and hold my interest through 150 minutes of subtitles. I am rooting for the American version to be good, but I might suggest watching this one first, especially if you have never been introduced to the series.

HARLAN COUNTY USA: One of the best documentaries I have ever encountered was filmed just miles from where I grew up. Harlan County USA is the story of a coal miner’s strike in the 1970s and showcases some of the most vivid imagery I have ever remember seeing on the screen. You have company men and their scab workers with guns, while coal miners on strike and their supportive wives battle on the other side. It is a fascinating look at an oft-forgotten part of our state’s history and is a must watch for any Kentuckian.

BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOW’S YOUR DEAD: The final film by Director Sidney Lumet stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke. The two brothers attempt to find a way to make needed cash and come up a plan to set up a robbery of their parents’ jewelry store. Their plan goes wrong and the next 90 minutes showcase their attempts to avoid the disaster of their missed opportunity. Hoffman is one of my five favorite actors and this is him at his smarmy best.

BEFORE SUNRISE: This movie has a very specific recommendation attached to it. The Ethan Hawke film is wordy and should never be taken in by a male alone. However, if you are on a date and are interested in setting the mood or have a female that you would truly like to impress/woo, put this on. It isn’t going to give you any new insight on life, but as far as a date movie, you cannot do better. Trust me.


FRANK SINATRA HAS A COLD: Written in 1966, this portrait of Frank Sinatra is, in my opinion, the best profile of anyone that I have ever read. Even though it is now 45 years old, the article will make you believe Sinatra is right in front of you, and possibly the coolest man in the world. It is one of the best examples of what was then called “New Journalism” and is a piece I read once a year to remind myself how it should be done.

TIGHT COLLAR: If you are a fan, as I am, of Greg Norman, the the subject of choking is one of fascination. This piece from 2011 looks at choking from the biological perspective to see if there is anything to the phenomenon that we all accept as a reality. Very interesting to read and worth remembering the next time we have a key free throw up one on the road with 5.6 seconds remaining.

THE KENTUCKY DERBY IS DECADENT AND DEPRAVED: I would assume you have read this, but if not, it is a must. Kentuckian Hunter S Thompson details a trip to the Kentucky Derby in 1970 that is just as the title suggests. If you are like me and a sucker for anything well-done about your home state, then this is the most important piece on this list. It is also an example of descriptive writing at its best. Every time I read it, I feel like I am hanging with Thompson and his odd friend, and I wonder what is wrong with my trips to Churchill.

CAN YOU SAY…HERO?: A profile of Mr. Rogers. I never thought the PBS star would be worth reading even two paragraphs about, much less an entire article. But it turns out that Mr. Rogers is not only a good neighbor, but also very interesting.


For reasons that aren’t clear, Will Ferrell decided he wanted to do commercials for Old Milwaukee Beer. The company apparently had no interest in paying him, so he volunteered to do them so long as Old Milwaukee would run them in one location. The company and Ferrell apparently chose Davenport, Iowa, and thus the three commercials below are apparently running on local television there. They are brilliant and the bizarre story of how they were made makes them even better:


THE IMPERFECTIONISTS: I tend to have a bit of a scatter brain, thus I often read 4 or 5 books at once and space them over the course of a couple of weeks. But recently I got through the novel “The Imperfectionists” in 24 hours, and loved every minute of it. The story of 10 employees of an English language newspaper in Rome is great for those interested in what it is like behind the scenes of a newsroom. However, its biggest strength is telling 10 vivid stories, each of which could have been their own novel and having them all wrap together along the way. Well worth a pickup.

HELLHOUND ON HIS TRAIL: The best pieces of nonfiction can read like novels and this account of the lead-up to the Martin Luther King assassination and the subsequent search for the killer is as good as any piece of fiction. Even though I knew who did it and what his final fate will be, I was mesmerized by the story and captivated by the international manhunt created to find King’s killer. A great piece of history that everyone will like.

THE DEVIL AND SONNY LISTON: Most people reading this know little of Sonny Liston but his name, however this biography will make him a figure you will not forget. Liston grew up poor in rural Arkansas and ended up in state prison. There he became a massive fighter who upon his release rose to Heavyweight champion of the world. He was illiterate and those with sinister motives took advantage of him from day one in order to make him into a tragic and compelling figure. I read this book for the first time nearly a decade ago, but scenes from it still come back to me vividly to this day.

There you go…some stuff to help you pass the time. If you have any suggestions for future editions, let me know.

Article written by Matt Jones

43 Comments for KSR Picks: The Second Edition

  1. It's Evans
    10:06 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    That’s not Edwards, it’s Evans, but cool picture non the less

  2. UKGrad04
    10:08 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    I love Rooney Mara (a lot), but I’m not confident a girl whose family owns the New York Giants AND the Pittsburgh Steelers will be able channel the pain of Lisbeth Salander’s past the way Noomi Rapace did in the Swedisih version. Also, I wonder if Heshimu still looks like DMX.

  3. Ulfdog
    10:16 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    Harlan County USA is Cinema Verite, not a documentary.

  4. macon_volfan
    10:24 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    Lots of good things on here, Matt. Great job.

  5. Andrew
    10:26 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    Will Ferrell on youtube in pearl the landlord. short clip, really funny.

  6. Doug Shows is Angus Young
    10:27 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    “Restrepo” (chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistans Korengal Valley, film by Tim Hetherington who was later killed in Libya… awesome documentary)

    “Marwencol” trailer-

    “Exit Through the Gift Shop” (Film about Banksy with an unexpected twist, excellent)

  7. harlancountymoutaingibberish
    10:34 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    OK Matt, people should definitely watch the Swedish version of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I don’t think the american version will do it justice. Noomi Rapace is amazing in these installments and she is the gypsy in the new Sherlock Homes and she will also be the main character in the Ridley Scott prequel to Aliens, Prometheus in 2012.

    Obviously I’m gonna agree with you about Harlan County USA as I’m from there.

    Before the Devil Knows Your Dead is pretty rough. Does anyone really want to see an opening scene with Marisa Tomei getting it from behind from Phillip Seymour Hoffman? Just saying. That’s a pretty heavy movie.

    Before Sunrise is a must and watch the second one. Both are or were streaming on Netflix. Did you know they are talking about a third installment for this movie, which I do not understand. They should leave it where they left it. As my favorite Hokie responded when I told him about the third installment “What the hell else do they have to do??
    Wait until they are being spoon fed creamed croissants in 40 years, that will be the best one. It will be called “After our illegitimate love children sent us to the nursing home”.”

    Basically, this holiday season I’m just waiting for Michael Fassbender’s penis to show up here in Lexington in Shame. Wishful hoping I know. I don’t even think the Kentucky Theater will touch that one. Until then
    Drive is back at the dollar theater along with Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Those two are high on my list.
    And the independent love story Like Crazy is currently at Cinemark at Fayette Mall.

    These are my movie recommedations.

  8. JT
    10:36 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    You have got to sell kwo tshirts again…. I’d pay 50 bucks for one

  9. You Can Call Me Cal
    10:36 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    Actually, he also did these commercials for the Beast’s Classy Older Brother, Old Milewake in Terre Haute. Good stuff tho

  10. the yo
    10:45 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    before the devil knows your dead is awesome.

    anything by hunter s thompson

  11. Epadude
    10:53 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    An outstanding writer, Mary Karr, and book (memoir) Lit. Amazingly good writer

  12. Calipari'sInYourEar
    11:00 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    Why keep referring to that girl as a Playboy bunny?

    She didn’t fool me, why’d she fool you?

  13. Tyler Montell
    11:00 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    Harlan County USA just went to DVD only. It is great though. “Boogie Man” about Lee Atwater is very good. The whole “Party Down” series is wonderful.

  14. capnmonkey
    11:09 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    I’m sensing a Matt Jones on Ethan Hawke man crush. He was dreamy in Gattaca

  15. kentuckyboy30
    11:17 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    My Grandfather is the man on the CB Radio driving through Brookside telling the people to come out and support the strike in Harlan County USA

  16. GZA
    11:26 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    I, too, enjoyed the Imperfectionists and I believe it was on Amazon’s 2010 Best Books List. Take that for whatever it’s worth. The format allows for easy, short story-esque reading, to where you really can read other books simultaneously.

    As for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I sure hope the American version doesn’t totally screw up the story/series. The Swedish version is a must watch, at least to parse out the BS that I’m sure we’ll see in the U.S. copy. RIP Stieg.

  17. O Connells
    11:27 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    Is this from my archives?

  18. old_school
    11:47 pm December 14, 2011 Permalink

    Ok – I’ll post something positive tonight without saying anything about how I dislike Cal’s players first philosophy or how I admire Indiana for doing it the right way.

    I’m not a film buff by any stretch of the imaganation. I know what I enjoy and what I find entertaining and the opinion of critics rarely sway my thinking one way or the other. This from a man who thinks Jim Varney is a Kentucky treasure and who can watch Gary Cooper’s “Sgt. York” and long for a time when actors were more in awe of the characters they played that the other way around.

    With that said, whether your a movie afficiando or just the average Joe who enjoys a good story – no movie has made me so unashamed as a grown man to shed tears as “Life is Beautiful.”

    I’ve seen it as originally shot with the subtitles, and the English version and I recommend the former.

    As for books – every UK fan should try to find a copy of a book written by former Wildcat Ed Beck, who played for Adolph Rupp’s “Fiddlin’ Five” NCAA Championship team.

    The book is entitled “Billie” and is actually the true life love story of Beck and his young bride Billie who was stricken with cancer shortly after they moved to Lexington while he was at UK.

    I read it for the first time probably 20 years ago and finished it in one day. It’s an uplifting tale of loyalty between a young husband and wife, contains enough basketball material to satisfy the sports fan (complete with some rare photos of Rupp and others) and sheds some new light on the compassion of Rupp and the Kentucky basketball family that has never generally been known.

    “Billie” would be a great movie that would be part sports-movie/chick flick. Beck went on to become an ordained minister after school and I’m grateful he decided to share the story of a painful, yet remarkable chapter in his life.

  19. Frank
    12:05 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Great piece on Sinatra! It literally took me an hour to read but was well worth it. Frank Sinatra is one of the more controversial figures in the last 75 years and if you are intrigued about the actual man behind the myth, that is a must read and incredibly well done. Good stuff today, thanks Matt.

  20. Larry Bird
    12:44 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    I wish Will would have done an Old Milwaukee Commercial with me!

  21. Hal
    1:30 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    movies: warrior. way better than one would expect.
    -the debt

  22. Bobthebuilder
    1:52 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Matt– Your picks are super weak. You’re from Louisville, went to Transy and Duke for college. Stop trying to act like you know everything about UK basketball. You’re a damn lawyer who writes a blog not a basketball analyst. Stick with what you know.

  23. make-a-swish foundation
    6:32 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    There are much better Lumet movies than “Devil”. I hate Ethan Hawke. Surely Dog Day Afternoon, Network, or 12 Angry Men are streaming.

  24. make-a-swish foundation
    6:36 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    3- They can be the same, duh.

  25. Bucky Small Hooves
    7:39 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    The Swedish version of Girl with A Dragon Tattoo was decent, felt more like an American TV movie. HBO shows are higher quality. Fincher’s film is going to murder that euro-fluff.

  26. Al B. Sure
    7:39 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    I love this site. I visit it multiple times every day and it is pretty much the only place I get my UK related news. That said, I am deeply disturbed by the improper apostrophe by several of your writers. I expected more from Matt Jones, but alas he has also let me down. Seems silly, yet, but a pet peeve of mine. If you’re going to put it out there for all to read, you represent the BBN and this basic grammar mistake is embarrassing. I don’t expect perfect punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, or anything like that, and I know I’ve made typos and lazy errors myself but this is 3rd grade stuff. How about we make an effort to improve?

  27. Al B. Sure
    7:40 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    *apostrophe use, I meant. See, I make typos and errors myself… but then again, I’m not a blogger. Just a reader.

  28. Al B. Sure
    7:41 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    *apostrophe “use”, I meant. See, I make errors, too… but I am just a reader. I am not a blogger representing BBN on the Internet.

  29. Al B. Sure
    7:43 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    “BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOW’S YOUR DEAD” should read: “Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead”.

  30. OCDGrammarPatrol
    7:56 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Al B, do you by any chance go by the nickname Bradley? And if you are not she, then bugger off and leave Matt alone. I think you left out a comma before the the but in your second to last sentence in the first post.

  31. RonH
    7:59 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    There is a Version of the Swedish movie “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” with English Audio and No sub Titles.

  32. BPM
    8:42 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Totally agree 26. The Swedish version was ok but absolutely felt like a made for TV movie. The early word is that Fincher nailed it but I will wait to see if the initial reports are accurate.

  33. MIDDAY
    9:02 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Midday recommendations:

    Movies – Rare Birds, The Door in the Floor, Cold Blooded
    Books – Life of Pie, Brave New World, Bluegrass Conspiracy

  34. GummyBear
    9:33 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    I love these posts.

  35. Fear&LoathingInLex
    10:02 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    The Derby is decadent is a must read if you have been to the derby or if you just like hilarious writing.I read it every yr around derby time, and every since the movie fear and loathing, my inner diologue sounds like johnny depp as HS Thompson

  36. HeDidNotJustDoThat
    10:14 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    I also liked The Imperfectionists. Rachman has real affection for his characters and the writing is vivid. I recommended it to others. More book reviews welcome on this site!

  37. KingRex
    10:24 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    This is good stuff. I like these posts, Matt.
    Have you ever read any Harry Crews? I guess you’d call most of his writing “Southern Gothic,” which is cool with me. Flannery O’Connor is one of my all time favorites for short stories. Back to Crews though, if you’re interested then start with this book, which includes his memoir and some other writings:

  38. tsmithpage
    10:31 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    I agree with Al B (27-30). 31, you can excuse or disregard poor grammar in your routine life if you choose, but if someone is going to elect a vocation involving writing, they need to know how to write well and edit well. Matt is highly educated and knows better than to insert that apostrophe there. Next thing you know, he’ll be throwing around “irregardless”s haphazardly. Kentucky has enough problems with people thinking its (note the lack of apostrophe there) populace is uneducated and ignorant and these examples of poor grammar just bolster their arguments.

  39. Paducahfan
    10:40 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Should we anticipate the Matt and Oprah Book Club?

  40. Vic
    11:33 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    MATT…you stealing Cal’s idea’s….book of the week club..C’mon man!!!!

  41. tyrus
    3:23 pm December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Thanks for the link Matt. I’ve never read that one, very cool! I too watched the Dragon Tattoo on the Sundance Ch. several months ago.

  42. killa crawguilla
    5:32 pm December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Your exactly right, any proud Kentuckian should watch Harlan county,USA.I have been recomending it for years to anybody who would listen.This story will inspire you to stand up, and not just keep taking it.

  43. Flyernation
    9:01 pm December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Bluegrass Conspiracy is a must read for Kentucky connections. Lots of holes in the overall story, but amazing what the author was able to piece together given the secrecy of the group of criminals involved.