The San Diego Chargers open the preseason at 10:00 p.m. ET Thursday vs. the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium. Here’s a couple things to watch for during the game: Why watch: Yes, we understand it’s the first exhibition game, which means that the starters will not play much. However, there’s a couple of different storylines to follow for the Chargers. First, rookie running back Melvin Gordon will see his first live action for the Bolts. The University of Wisconsin product has looked explosive in practice, making some impressive runs for big gains. But now we’ll see if he can have the same effectiveness against a real opponent. “I just want to go out there and be productive as an offense,” Gordon said. “Move the ball down the field, be sharp on assignments and be sharp with the runs and the reads. So that’s the goal.” The Chargers also will continue to shuffle the offensive line in order to find the best starting five up front. With projected starting guard Johnnie Troutman nursing a balky knee, right tackle D.J. Fluker has spent the past week working inside, and most likely will get the nod at guard to start the game for the Chargers. Joe Barksdale has worked at right tackle with Fluker pushed inside. Chargers offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris will get a long look at Fluker in order to better evaluate how the starting offensive line will ultimately shape up for the regular season. Did you know: The Chargers hold an 8-7 edge over the Cowboys in exhibition play. San Diego has won the last three meetings, including a 27-7 win in the preseason opener for both teams last season. Chargers tight end John Phillips will face his former team. Phillips was drafted by the Cowboys in the sixth round of the 2009 draft, and played four seasons in Dallas.
Rickie Fowler hopes to prove winning major championships is easy to complete an American clean sweep of golf’s biggest events for the first time since 1982. With Jordan Spieth winning the Masters and US Open and Zach Johnson victorious in the Open at St Andrews, Fowler is among the home players hoping to cement US dominance in the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. And although Fowler saw how difficult it is to win majors when he finished in the top five in all four in 2014, the 26-year-old is looking to adopt the same approach as 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus felt half the players in each major were too scared to win, while other players ruled themselves out by complaining about the tough conditions. “I don’t know if I would say it’s harder, by any means. There’s just fewer chances at playing in majors and winning,” said Fowler, who won the Players Championship and Scottish Open earlier this season. “I looked at what Jack said in saying that they’re the easiest to win. I’m trying to go with that outlook and go out there and just focus on sticking to my game plan and taking care of the business that I need to take care of out there. And ultimately putting myself in a position going into the weekend to be in contention. “So I don’t look at them as any harder to win, you just really have to be patient and not push any harder than needed.” Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke insists the current American dominance is not a cause for concern ahead of the 2016 contest at Hazeltine, but added: “If you ask me the same question at this time next year, then I may be a little more concerned. “But it does not make our task any more daunting. It’s a very, very tough task that we have in front of us regardless. There’s a new breed of American players coming through, highlighted by Jordan Spieth, obviously. “For us to be the away team on American soil, we’re under no illusions how hard it’s going to be. But thankfully I’m of the opinion that we’re going to have a very strong European team as well, which will only make it be a wonderful event. But we would be the underdogs as it stands right now.”
As expected, Universal/Comcast CMCSA +0.00% Corp. is premiering the first trailer for Ride Along 2 with the opening weekend of Straight Outta Compton. There are a few things of note about the trailer. First of all, it, like London Has Fallen (which opens a week later), is attempting to make up for its sausage-fest mentality the first time around by pairing the hero(es) with a female cop. Gerald Butler will be teaming up with Charlotte Riley while this time around Ice Cube and Kevin Hart will team up with Olivia Munn. I’m a fan of Olivia Munn, mostly because of how awesome she was in The Newsroom. It’s interesting, how often Aaron Sorkin gets accused of being a wanton misogynist and what-have-you. He may have icky opinions and may stick his foot in his mouth now and then, but do you really think anyone out there is going to write a better character for Ms. Munn over the course of her career in mainstream films or television? I hope so, but I’m not optimistic, and frankly I’m pleased that she isn’t being sold as a love interest thus far. Anyway, the one quote that has my attention in yesterday’s Entertainment Weekly write-up is the notion of, according to Ice Cube, the film “true action-comedy.” I’ve discussed this in the past, with films like Ride Along and Hot Pursuit putting far more emphasis on the comedy than the action. That is one of the reasons that Brett Ratner’s Rush Hour movies still somewhat stand out, to say nothing of the Shanghai movies (including Shanghai Knights, one of the greatest movies ever made), and that’s what made Spy such a treat earlier this summer. The notion of a film like Ride Along 2 being a genuine action movie as well as a genuine comedy, closer to Lethal Weapon 2 than The Heat, is encouraging and makes me look forward to a sequel to a film I wasn’t that crazy about two years ago. I laughed here and there at Ride Along, and I am happy it did as well as it did ($153m worldwide on a $25m budget). But I won’t pretend that it was a very good movie. So that it would appear, albeit on the basis of a few choice quotes, that Tim Story and friends are building a better mousetrap is encouraging. Speaking of Tim Story, this is the fourth franchise for the filmmaker. Ride Along joins Barbershop, Think Like A Man, and oh yeah, Fantastic Four, as the fourth Tim Story film to spawn a franchise, something that puts him in awfully rare company. Over the last week, we’ve seen a lot of discussion of the current Fantastic Four debacle, and at least some of it has noted that Josh Trank is super talented and hopefully he will get something of a second chance. I agree with that, being a fan of Chronicle and frankly a fan of the first half of Fantastic Four. But considering that Tim Story was able to deliver not one, but two, coherent, comprehensible, and highly marketable Fantastic Four movies, including an initial chapter that earned well-over 3x its budget, why exactly was he more-or-less blacklisted from the industry after Rise of the Silver Surfer “only” made $287m on a $130m budget? Where was his “second chance” golden parachute for making merely adequate Fantastic Four movies that did relatively well at the box office as opposed to one that basically killed a franchise and jeopardized Fox entire would-be Marvel universe? Tim Story’s Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer will likely have sold more tickets on their opening weekends than Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four will gross in America total. By the way, it is all-but-certain that Ride Along 2 will out gross Fantastic Four, possibly on its first four-day weekend alone, in America. Considering how much Hollywood values the would-be franchise, you would think Tim Story, who has an uncanny ability to make franchises out of not-neccessarily franchise-friendly films, would be a more valuable commodity in the industry. Once again, what actually makes money in Hollywood is less important than the perception of what makes money in Hollywood. Anyway, Ride Along 2, starring Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Olivia Munn, Benjamin Bratt, Ken Jeong, and Nadine Velazquez, opens January 15th, 2016. As always, we’ll see.
Graphic artist and professor Phoebe Gloeckner had an unconventional upbringing. When she was 15, she lost her virginity to an older man — who also happened to be her mother's boyfriend. Gloeckner chronicled the experience in her teenage diaries, which she put aside and then revisited when she found them decades later. "I remember I opened the box with the diaries and I was just stunned to start reading," Gloeckner tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "To hear this child's voice, kind of, talking to me as an adult, it felt like it was crying out to be heard." In 2002, Gloeckner detailed the turmoil of her teenage years in the semi-autobiographical graphic novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Eight years later, actress Marielle Heller adapted the book and starred in a New York theatrical production. More recently, she directed a movie version of the work, with Bel Powley as a teenage girl named Minnie, and Kristen Wiig as her mother. Heller tells Gross that she felt an immediate connection to Gloeckner's novel: "Even though this isn't my story — I wasn't a teenage girl who slept with my mother's boyfriend — I was a sexual teenage girl and I was into boys from a really young age. ... Reading Phoebe's book ... made me feel less alone and like, oh, maybe this is normal, maybe this isn't such a crazy thing to have been having all these thoughts and feelings." Interview Highlights On having a sexual relationship with her mother's boyfriend as a teenager Phoebe Gloeckner: It was my first experience of any sort, the first person I ever kissed. ... It is upsetting, and the book, to me, has a lot of sadness, and it doesn't condone that relationship in the least. I think I was such a lonely kid and the adults in my life were busy with their lives in various ways and he kind of just stepped in and was paying a lot of attention to me, and it turned into this other sort of attention. And I think in my head I thought, "Gosh, he's such a great guy. If he's doing this, maybe it's OK and maybe I just don't know." On telling the story from Minnie's point of view, without judgment Gloeckner: I was very, kind of, hyper-sexual and it felt very pleasant and it did feel like love, it did feel like wonderful attention. So in that sense, I look at the story and I'm trying to express the voice of that girl with no judgment, just to express what she felt. Marielle Heller: It felt like the way to honor Minnie's experience with the film was to tell the story purely from her point of view. So while she's experiencing that conflating of lust and love and that confusion whether these first sexual experiences are consensual or not, I wanted the audience to experience it the way she's experiencing it, and if she's not feeling like a victim in those moments we shouldn't be feeling like she's a victim. If she's finding empowerment in moments of it, then we wanted that to be the experience of the film. Although I do think it's ... an abusive situation and she's being taken advantage of, but it's being told so much from her perspective, because I think a lot of situations, especially where young women are being taken advantage of. What I thought was so beautiful about what Phoebe had written is she kind of explained how you could fall into this type of situation, and how that could've been almost any of us in many ways. On telling a therapist about her relationship when she was a teenager Gloeckner: I went to a therapist, I guess I was sent there when I was 15. I think the school wanted me to go, maybe my mother wanted me to go, because I had been kicked out of several schools already and it wasn't clear why. I told the therapist [about the sexual experience] and she was totally freaked out, she was actually a therapist who dealt with childhood trauma ... so I thought she was going to help me, but she just said, "I've met with your mother, I cannot talk to you anymore. I'm going to have to find someone else for you to go to." She didn't report back to my mother, she didn't tell my mother what was going on, she just kind of flipped out. I remember feeling like, "This is too much for adults, they're not going to want to hear it." I was kind of silenced just by the therapist telling me she couldn't deal with it and not really explaining why. On her mother's reaction when she found out Gloeckner: I think she took it very personally that it was a personal blow, we were hurting her. I think that was her initial reaction, which I think a lot of people would have, there's a combination of shock and you don't really realize or full integrate what's happened. ... She still maintains that she was very betrayed by this. Heller: She blamed you. Gloeckner: She blamed me. ... I don't think she was really capable of understanding how it affected me. She had been a teenage mother, she was still very young, very beautiful, very involved in her social life, and having a teenage girl in her life who was about the same age as she was when she got pregnant and got married, I can only imagine that she looked at me as something that was — she didn't know if I was adult or a child. She didn't know how my life compared to hers. People constantly mistook us as sisters. So no matter what she was feeling, there was reinforcement from those around us, like "Big Phoebe and Little Phoebe, they're just two peas in a pod, they're almost the same age." But it wasn't true. I was a child. On casting Bel Powley as Minnie Heller: In my mind, I kind of quantified the type of beauty I was looking for as being something different than the sort of traditional "hottie" ... young actress. I wanted somebody who was strikingly beautiful in a weird way, in a way that she might not know how beautiful she was, but that it was the type of beauty an older man would see and be drawn to, and that maybe even boys her own age don't yet know how special she is, but there is something there that is really amazing, and that you want to look at. But I also wanted to cast somebody who felt like a real human being, that never felt like they were this airbrushed Disney version of what a teenage girl looks like. I wanted to feel like she was me — so she needed to be little normal. She had to have a normal-ish body; she had to have normal-ish features; she couldn't look like a model had stepped off a page. And Bel had all of those qualities. She has these strikingly beautiful eyes that draw you in, that tell you everything you need to know, which are really similar to Phoebe's eyes — which are really similar to my eyes. In some ways, we all have big, intense eyes, and Bel had this face that I just wanted to look at.