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Concrete Cowboy and I Care A Lot



An enjoyable (and frequently noted) side effect of unhinging one’s brain-jaw and inhaling movies like you’re No-Face in Spirited Away is that, whether you intentionally set out to do so or not, you begin to notice certain patterns—in themes, in plots, in lighting schemes, in soundtrack choices. These can be profound reflections of the dreams and anxieties of the collective unconscious, or they can simply be amusing coincidences. One example of the latter is the number of films at this year’s TIFF whose scores could double as tracks on a Pure Moods compilation, like the lovely but undoubtedly New Age-y music pianist Ludovico Einaudi brings to Nomadland, or the Sigur Ros needle drop at a pivotal moment in Pieces Of A Woman.

Other connections are more aesthetically tenuous, but politically illuminating: Take the wildly different takes on the deteriorating American social safety net offered up by Zhao’s film and by I Care A Lot (Grade: B). As is her artistic wont, Zhao’s take on how the system is failing America’s elders is fueled by a bone-deep humanism and boundless compassion for those left behind. On the other hand, I Care A Lot writer-director J. Blakeson sees the plight of senior citizens ground beneath the wheels of bureaucracy as the jumping-off point for a black comedy of escalating aggression. The result is something one could facetiously, but accurately describe as I Love You Phillip Morris crossed with I Saw The Devil, with a little The Psychopath Test for added flavor.

I Care A Lot

I Care A Lot
Photo: TIFF

Rosamund Pike stars as Marla Grayson, a con artist and stone-cold sociopath who reins over what she thinks is the perfect scam: A professional guardianship service that specializes in watching over elderly people left in the care of the state. If you’re thinking, “but that sounds nice, actually,” that’s the point: Under the angelic cover of social work, Marla and her business/life partner Fran (Eiza Gonzalez) are bleeding their clients dry like vampires in tailored pantsuits. A legal guardian also has control of their ward’s assets, you see, and Marla and Fran’s game is to pay a corrupt doctor (Alicia Witt) to declare someone mentally incompetent and scuttle them off to a prison-like nursing facility before any distant relatives notice what’s happening. And if the person objects to Marla and Fran selling their house and draining their bank account? They’re not fit to make their own decisions. It’s right there on their chart.

What Marla has not accounted for, however, is the possibility that there are people out there just as ruthless as she is, and some of them love their mothers. That’s the short version of what happens when this immovable object meets the unstoppable force that is Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage), prompting a game of one upsmanship that escalates to deliriously violent levels. (The best part is, they’re both terrible people, so you don’t have to feel bad chuckling at their cruelty to one another.) That being said, the most shocking part of the film is early on, in the brisk montage laying out the exact mechanics of Marla and Fran’s con. It’s kidnapping and robbery under the guise of compassion, and Blakeson makes a point of commenting on how American society not only creates Marlas, it rewards them. The film is arguably too long, with a mushy middle section that slows the momentum of its savage first third. But Pike’s performance remains sharp as her character’s blonde bob throughout, and the pleasures of watching her and Dinklage face off are significant.

Believe it or not, I Care A Lot is based on an actual phenomenon, as is Ricky Staub’s feature debut Concrete Cowboy (B). Of course, one’s awareness of the phenomena dramatized in these two movies may vary; arguably, the popularity of Lil Nas X and the “Yeehaw Agenda” has hipped more outsiders to Black cowboys and cowgirls in the past two years than in the previous decade combined. (If you’re in Chicago, you may have even seen Adam Hollingsworth, a.k.a. the Dreadhead Cowboy, trotting around.) That being said, the tradition of Black equestrianship goes back much farther than that, with historians now estimating that 25% of Old West cowboys were Black. Concrete Cowboy continues the mission of bringing this storied subculture into the mainstream, casting Idris Elba as the unofficial leader of a group of Black urban riders and Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin as his estranged son.

Concrete Cowboy

Concrete Cowboy
Photo: TIFF

As the story begins, 15-year-old Cole (McLaughlin) is sent by his mother from Detroit to Philadelphia to spend the summer with his dad—and get away from the bad influences that led to his expulsion from school. Cole and Harp (Elba) barely know each other, and Harp seems more interested in taking care of his horse—who, in one of the film’s more surreal details, lives in the living room of Harp’s weathered row house—than his teenage son. The sight of Harp and his friends riding horses through the streets of North Philly is irresistible, however, even to a sullen adolescent. And so Cole begins his apprenticeship at the Fletcher Street Stables, home of the riding club whose real-life members make up much of the film’s supporting cast.

Staub’s intentions with Concrete Cowboy are clearly to uplift and pay tribute to the Fletcher Street Riders, a handful of whom also appear in the end credits. Staub and cinematographer Minka Farthing-Kohl film the riders and their environment under soft, lustrous light, each street lamp a glowing beacon and each puff of dust a magic powder. Aside from the equestrian element, however, the storyline is clichéd coming-of-age fare for films about Black urban youth, complete with a subplot about a childhood friend of Cole’s who’s been seduced by the drug trade. What ultimately pulls Concrete Cowboy out of that trap is not only the intriguing characters, but also its earnest belief in the steadying power of the bond between humans and animals, as well as the value of legacy and community in giving our lives meaning. So yeah, it’s a little corny at times, but it looks good and has heart—and, let’s be honest, Black cowboys are pretty damn cool.


Caesars, Eldorado Complete Merger





“Eldorado Hotel Casino, Reno, Nevada” by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the biggest names in the casino and entertainment industry is growing larger. Caesars Entertainment, Inc. announced that Eldorado Resorts has completed its acquisition of Caesars Entertainment Corporation. The transaction creates the largest casino and entertainment company in the U.S.A.

This transaction further enhances Caesars’ position as the leading regional and destination gaming operator in the U.S. The combined company owns and operates more than 55 casino properties worldwide, including an iconic portfolio of eight casino hotel properties on the Las Vegas Strip, highlighted by the legendary Caesars Palace.

Additionally, Caesars owns or operates casinos in 16 states across the U.S., including Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Iowa, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, California and Maryland.

“We are pleased to have completed this transformative merger, thus making us the premier leader in gaming and hospitality,” Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, Inc. said in a statement. “We look forward to executing on the numerous opportunities ahead to create value for all stakeholders.

“Additionally, we are pleased to welcome all of our Team Members to the combined company, and we look forward to implementing all of the strategic initiatives that will position the company for continued growth.”

“William Hill outside Goodison Park” by Ben Sutherland is licensed under CC BY 2.0

William Hill Moving In

As part of this epic agreement, venerable British bookmaker William Hill is taking over operation of all of the Caesars sportsbook properties. William Hill had a previous agreement in place to operate the sportsbooks at all Eldorado properties.

Founded in 1934, William Hill is to sports betting what Caesars is to casino and resort living. No online sportsbook app permeates the U.S. market as efficiently and effectively as William Hill.

Last week, William Hill entered into a multi-year agreement with ESPN. The new deal includes link integrations from ESPN’s digital platforms to sportsbooks from William Hill as Caesars Entertainment’s sports betting partner. The deal comes shortly after William Hill became the exclusive sports betting operator for Caesars Entertainment, following the merger with Eldorado Resorts.

Link integrations to William Hill’s sports betting apps, geo-targeted to legalized sports betting states, will appear on web and mobile web and the ESPN Fantasy app.

“ESPN is one of the pre-eminent brands in sports, Ulrik Bengtsson, Group Chief Executive Officer of William Hill, said in a statement. “Tens of millions of fans will now have a direct link to our sports betting apps and odds.

“Giving ESPN users this access will accelerate our leadership, as we continue to expand in the US.”

As part of the new agreement, Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill will also become a sponsor of ESPN’s Fantasy products, deepening an existing relationship as ESPN’s exclusive odds provider. The news follows an expanded content collaboration with ESPN and the recent launch of ESPN’s Las Vegas studio at the Caesars-owned The LINQ Hotel + Experience.

“With Caesars utilizing odds from William Hill’s sports betting data, we are able to deliver content in new and innovative ways,” Mike Morrison, ESPN’s Vice President of Business Development and Innovation, said in a statement. “Our multi-dimensional relationship is a testament to the growth and opportunity in the sports betting space.”

Since becoming Caesars Entertainment’s exclusive sports betting partner a month ago, William Hill has opened 12 branded sports books at Caesars’ properties in Nevada, Iowa, and most recently, New Jersey. Pending regulatory approval, the remaining sports books across the Caesars portfolio will be rebranded in the coming weeks as Caesars Sports Book by William Hill. Once this changeover is fully completed, William Hill will operate in more than 170 retail locations across 13 states.

“As our exclusive sports betting operator, William Hill has added immediate value to Caesars Entertainment’s portfolio of properties nationally,” Reeg said. “Our new agreement with ESPN, as the largest provider in sports content, completes what is sure to be a momentous partnership in gaming and sports wagering.”

Pending the completion of the Eldorado-Caesars merger and William Hill’s previously announced proposed acquisition of CG Technology, more commonly known as Cantor, the company will further expand their Nevada position, adding 15 locations. Many of these locations are on the Las Vegas Strip, providing William Hill a leading sports book presence in this iconic location for the first time.

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Best Places to Date in Vegas




When you’re dating in Las Vegas, there are so many options that will make it easy to plan the perfect daytime get-together or romantic evening. But knowing the best places to go to have an unforgettable time with your date is the first step. Check out our list below to start generating some ideas that are sure to impress!

Movies and Dining at The Eclipse Theater

If you and your date are up for a classic dinner and a movie, check out the Eclipse Theater, where you can enjoy food, wine, and cocktails while you watch the movie. And if you want to really impress your date, opt for the VIP Prime seats, which provide you with a call button to get your server whenever you want. Plus, there’s also a lounge and outdoor patio where you can spend time chatting and getting to know each other better before or after the film. Basically, if you want to go beyond a regular old movie theater, and you want to enjoy a luxury experience for a change, definitely check out this venue in downtown Las Vegas. 

Hiking at Red Rock Canyon

Sure, you can chat, flirt & date online with singles from your area, but if you want to really get to know someone, heading out into the great outdoors for a day of adventure is a great way to see if you’re truly compatible. And a beautiful place to do just that is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It boasts many hiking trials that you and your date can choose from, or you can opt to take a scenic drive instead. Just don’t forget to pack food so you can enjoy a quiet picnic together while enjoying the fresh air and scenery.

Playtime at VR Adventures

Another great date night idea when you’re in Las Vegas is VR Adventures, where you can go to play and have fun with virtual reality games. Simply choose from the different simulations that are available, such as being able to fight zombies, drive a race car, make your way through a haunted house, or go flying through the sky like a superhero. If you have been chatting with someone who’s located nearby on, this can be an exciting first date that will have you both laughing in no time. Plus, it’s a great way to break the ice and feel comfortable around each other when meeting in person for the first time.

Gondola Rides at The Venetian

Head to The Venetian to experience a romantic gondola ride, much like you would be able to do in Venice, Italy. A gondolier will sing while taking you on a journey that you are sure to remember, whether you choose the indoor ride or the outdoor ride. Relax as you take in the scenery that surrounds you as you make your way along the Grand Canal, with its lovely bridges, balconies, and cafes. 

So Many Amazing Places to Choose From!

When you’re in Las Vegas, it’s all about experiencing life to the fullest, and making the most of every date, whether you’re on your first date with someone or you have been together for a while. With so many different places to go and things to do, you’ll always have options and you’ll never get bored. So, go ahead and plan the perfect date night that’s sure to impress!

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Online slots guide: best games and tips for players




Slots are the most popular games in both online casinos. They attract users by the high payouts level, great design and the ability to win a huge jackpot that can reach millions of dollars. Slot machines are also easy to play. You don’t need to learn complicated rules. Just choose the game you like and online casino Canada real money.

Slots machines are numerous. Dozens of developers work on slots to provide the best software for online casino users. As an inspiration they use various topics, including ancient mythologies, comics, movies, fairy tales, historical events, games etc.

Slots also may have different bonuses, additional rounds, jackpots and other features. The more money you can win, the more popular games are.

Playing slot machines online: brief instructions for players

It’s really easy to play slots. Still, there are a few things you should know before spinning the reels:

  1. Most games have a wide range of betting options. You can choose not only the actual amount of coins you want to use on one spin, but also the coin denomination. It means it’s possible to gamble online with both low or high budget.
  2. Even with small bets you can still win big. Slot machines have winning combinations that pay x5000 and even x10 000 to your initial bet amount.
  3. Playing slots isn’t only about money. It’s also fun and entertaining. You’ll always find the game that will appeal you most.
  4. Slot machines may have a various number of paying lines. Some games don’t have lines at all, just the ways to win a prize.

Playing slots online you’ll enjoy quality graphics, unique game design and huge wins that can reach tens thousands of dollars and more.

How do slot machines work?

Every game has its unique features, but most slot machines are built in the same way. There are the reels you can spin that create a game field. Each cell on the reel contains a place for a symbol. If 3 or more symbols (sometimes even 2) create a paying combination, you get a win.

To start gambling you should choose the number of lines to use, in case they’re not fixed, and then make your bet. After that, just use “Spin” button. There is usually a possibility to play online in automatic mode. You choose how many times you’d like to spin the reels at a certain bet level and than click on “Start”.

Slots give players lots of winning opportunities. They have special symbols like Scatter and Wild to increase your wins, unique features that deliver valuable prizes and bonus rounds where you can win free spins or cash rewards. Some games also have a risk game and a free spins round that is triggered by Scatter images.

How to find a good online slot machine?

Every software developer has its own style. Providers design games trying to meet users’ needs, but the fact is that everyone has own preferences. That’s why you have to decide what do you like. There are slots which:

  • offer incredible 3D graphics and animation;
  • have classic 3-reel design that resembles old Vegas machines;
  • use mostly fruits as paying symbols;
  • give you a chance to win huge jackpot;
  • have random special features.

It’s also important to pick the game that will be fun to play. Just think about a couple of topics you’re interested in and choose slot machines accordingly. But don’t forget about winning opportunities. Make sure the game you’ve selected has a high Return to Player rate.

Top slots to play online

Games may become popular for several reasons, but mostly because of high payouts. That’s why lots of gamblers choose Thunderstruck II slot to play online. Its highest payout reaches an incredible 2 400 000 coins amount, which is a huge sum of money. The game doesn’t have lines. It uses 243 ways to win instead. Apart from big prizes, Thunderstruck II has amazing graphics and engages users utilizing a popular mythological and movie character Thor.

Another game you should definitely try is Mega Moolah. This is probably one of the most played slot machines ever. It also holds the record for the biggest jackpot in the industry. A luck gambler has won more than 21 000 000 dollars! Since the jackpot is progressive, it increases again and again the more players make bets and spin the reels.

One more jackpot game that has managed to attract lots of online casino users is Mega Fortune Mega. With the second biggest payout ever (almost 20 million dollars), it’s right after Mega Moolah in the rating of the best-paying slot machines. The game has a wheel of fortune bonus round that is used to determine the player who’ll receive a progressive payout.

Slots don’t always have to offer millions of dollars to engage a lot of users. The game should also be entertaining. If you like movies and books about vampires, Immortal Romance is the slot machine you should definitely try.

Gambling industry offers players lots of slots to choose from. They’re entertaining, they have amazing graphics and give you a chance to win a lot of money. Just try to spin the reels online and you’ll see how fun it is.

How to play slot machines? A brief guide and top games Playing slot machines is fun and easy. Learn how do slots work and find out what are the best and the most high-paying games in online casinos.
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