Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

The Jericho Mile

Monday, March 9th, 2015

tn_jerichomilerookiesIf you count TV movies – and I do – JERICHO MILE is Michael Mann’s directivational debut. It’s not as cinematic as his later big, wide movies, but it’s from the days when TV movies were legit enough to play theatrically overseas. It also stood out from other TV at the time, winning Emmies for writing, lead actor (over Kurt Russell in ELVIS!) and film editing for a limited series or special, and a Director’s Guild Award for “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Special/Movies for TV/Actuality.” (?)

It’s a prison movie, and you know Mann isn’t gonna want to soften that up. I mean, it’s TV so we don’t get any profanity, racial slurs or rape, but it’s still got a gritty feel because it was filmed in Folsom with the real inmates all around, and plenty of establishing montages that are clearly just documentary footage. You can definitely tell that some of the supporting players are real cons. I wasn’t surprised when I read that Mann had to negotiate for each of the race gangs (white, black and Latin) to have representatives on screen and vow to prevent any race wars or riots during filming so the production wouldn’t be kicked out. I mean obviously it’s an unwritten rule on pretty much all movie sets that the actors should not be involved in any race wars. But I still give them credit for not having one. Apparently there were a bunch of stabbings, one fatal, but those were allowed. (read the rest of this shit…)

When We Were Kings

Monday, January 19th, 2015

tn_wwwkIf you were going to build the prototype for the ultimate man, wouldn’t it pretty much be 1974 Muhammad Ali? He’s a badass, a fighter with style. I don’t even really like boxing that much but I love to watch him dance around, swinging his fists so fast. Even Bruce Lee liked to watch him.

He’s handsome in a manly way. He’s charming, eloquent, and funny as hell. His humor is mostly based around making preposterous boasts… but it’s not some Danny McBride overconfidence thing, because he usually delivers. In this movie there’s an interview where he goes into detail about high speed photography and how one of his punches was proven to take only four one hundredths of a second, like a blink or a camera flash, and all this is setup for him to claim “Now, the minute I hit Sonny Liston, all of those people blinked at that moment, that’s why they didn’t see the punch.” A tall tale, but based on a true, provable incident.

Of equal importance, Ali has integrity of the Stickin It To The Man variety. He didn’t believe in the war so he refused to sign up for selective service, knowing it would endanger his career, reputation and freedom, and he held his head high the whole time. And he was outspoken about racism too. And he was right. (read the rest of this shit…)

Foxcatcher

Monday, December 29th, 2014

tn_foxcatcherFOXCATCHER is an eerie examination of a true story about two brothers, Mark and Dave Schultz, who won gold medals in wrestling at the 1984 Olympics and a couple years later went to live on the Pennsylvania estate of a rich guy named John E. du Pont. The guy said he was a patriot and wrestling fan and wanted to help America win again. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but you immediately get the sense – in part from the foreboding grey skies and long, dry stretches with little dialogue and no music – that it’s gonna be something bad. I felt pretty confident this would end in some sort of fucked up tragedy and not with a Survivor song playing over a freeze frame on a joyful Channing Tatum (who plays Mark) being lifted by a congratulatory crowd of sports enthusiasts.

Steve Carrell plays du Pont and he makes him very odd. He leans his head back and leaves his mouth slightly open, like he’s watching you and is perpetually about to offer an observation. He wears a comically large fake nose and a nerdily tight Team Foxcatcher sweatshirt or windbreaker. Occasionally he has lines absurd enough to be in a Will Ferrell movie: “Don’t call me Mr. du Pont. My friends call me Golden Eagle, or just Eagle.” But whatever comedy may be inherent in the role, he’s intentionally un-milking it. This is his Serious Role, his Playing Against Type, his Robin Williams in ONE HOUR PHOTO. I mean, I’m sure it’s funnier than that magician movie he did, but it’s his most dramatic, not-going-for-laughs movie, and he’s successful at being creepy in it.
(read the rest of this shit…)

G.L.O.W.: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

tn_glowDo you guys remember G.L.O.W.? Back in the ’80s, specifically 1986-1990, it was a weekly televised all women’s wrestling event. What I remember is it was taped in what looked like a hotel banquet room (turns out it was in a casino). And because of the time it happened there was alot of big hair, alot of glitter, alot of shiny aerobics type outfits. And face paint.

This movie is one of these nostalgic documentaries we’re gonna start seeing even more of because of Kickstarter. It’s HEY, REMEMBER G.L.O.W.?: THE MOVIE. Not alot of substance. But it’s an unusual topic that’s interesting to me, so I enjoyed the stroll down memory lane.

The director Brett Whitcomb and writer Bradford Thomason actually did another nostalgic documentary about a colorful pop culture oddity that only could’ve happened in the ’80s, THE ROCK-A-FIRE EXPLOSION. I recommend that to anybody that wants to see a movie about the animatronic bears and gorillas and shit that played music at the Show Biz Pizza chain, the weird guy that invented them, the crazy coke-fueled hey day when the company was on top of the world, the inevitable downfall, and the dilapidated warehouse where he still keeps all the old crap he has left. That’s real interesting stuff, GLOW actually seems kinda predictable compared to that but, you know, it’s about women who used to paint their faces and wave chainsaws around and rap and bodyslam each other on TV. I’m gonna watch it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Victory

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

tn_victoryVICTORY is a 1981 John Huston film that combines a LONGEST YARD type game-between-prisoners-and-guards story with a GREAT ESCAPE type story about escape greatness. It all begins when Sylvester Stallone, a Canadian prisoner in a German WWII labor camp (I thought American, but apparently he has a maple leaf on him somewhere), loses control of his soccer ball. It rolls over to Max Von Sydow, a Nazi officer who starts showboating by foot juggling it even though he’s wearing his big Nazi boots, and he kicks it over to Michael Caine, a British prisoner who was a pro footballer/soccerer before the war.

That one casual sporting exchange is historic because it starts up the conversation that leads to the deal: the best players from among the Allied prisoners will play an exhibition game against the German national team. For the Nazis it’s good propaganda at the end of a war that, let’s face it, did not improve their country’s image on the international stage. For the prisoners it’s an opportunity to plan an escape.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Trouble With the Curve

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

tn_troublewiththecurveI don’t know if this is true but I heard it’s good luck for movie critics to start a year with a Clint Eastwood review. So I saved TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE for the occasion.

It’s a pretty standard mainstream feel-good-about-everything-at-the-end father-daughter relationship drama, but I couldn’t resist it because Clint plays the stubborn old grump dad and Amy Adams plays the daughter. She’s pissed off and sarcastic through half the movie but I’m still powerless in the face of her charms. I’m sorry.

Here’s the situation: Gus (Clint) is a veteran scout for the Braves baseball team, sent to evaluate some young hot shot out in North Carolina (Scott Eastwood). But Gus is secretly losing his eyesight and openly losing favor in the organization to a young douchebag (Matthew Lillard) who prefers modern methods involving computers and statistics. Gus’s best friend (John Goodman with an impressive mustache) worries they’re gonna drop him if something goes wrong, so he begs Gus’s estranged lawyer daughter Mickey (Adams) to come keep an eye on him. Meanwhile, a young pitching-phenom-turned-scout who Gus likes (Justin Timberlake) helps out and tries to woo Mickey.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Moneyball

Friday, February 24th, 2012

tn_moneyballI heard MONEYBALL was good, so I wanted to see it, but I was definitely skeptical. Steven Soderbergh tried to get this movie done for a long time, based on the non-fiction book of the same title. But he got the plug pulled a couple times, the studio thought the script wasn’t entertaining enough and he wouldn’t do what they wanted because he was trying not to dramatize and composite and shit, he wanted to try to make it as close to 100% true as he could. Well, after he finally bowed out they quickly got a new script by Steve Zaillian (SCHINDLER’S LIST, GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) and Aaron Sorkin (SOCIAL NETWORK, West Wing TV show) and director Bennett Miller, and that’s a good group of people, but these kinds of salvage jobs never turn out good. (read the rest of this shit…)

Real Steel

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

tn_realsteeelHere’s a not-perfect but surprisingly enjoyable family sports robots drama from the visionary director of, to be frankly honest, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (remake) and THE PINK PANTHER (remake) and a bunch of other shit like that. Obviously the title is a cheap stunt, they’re trying to make you think Shaquille O’Neal is in it, so please spread the word that that’s not the case. It’s also not officially based on the beloved intellectual property Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, even though it’s about boxing robots. It’s credited as being partly based on a Richard Matheson short story called “Steel” (also turned into a Twilight Zone episode starring Lee Marvin), but I say it’s suspiciously similar to Menahem Golan’s OVER THE TOP. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Fighter

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

tn_fighterTHE FIGHTER is another movie about the working class struggle of the underdog boxer, this one based on a true story, developed for years by Darren Aranofsky, finally directed by David O. Russell when Mark Wahlberg realized he’d been in boxing training for 3 or 4 years now and it would be good to start filming at some point. Those are both kinda weird directors for a normal boxing movie, but this is pretty normal, it’s not some radical reinvention of the genre. What makes it fresh though is the focus on the whole family. It’s equally about the fighter, Micky Ward (Wahlberg, BOOGIE NIGHTS) and his half- brother Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale, AMERICAN PSYCHO) and their place in the town of Lowell, Massachusetts.

Dickie is a former contender and now Micky’s trainer, but to be honest it doesn’t seem like his heart is that in it anymore. He spends most of his time pursuing his other passion, smoking crack.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Choke

Monday, October 11th, 2010

tn_chokeCHOKE is an early mixed martial arts documentary, released in ’99 and directed by one Rob Goodman. They don’t call it “mixed martial arts” or “MMA,” they seem to like “no rules fighting,” even though the movie makes it clear that there are rules, and even shows people arguing over what the rules should be. It focuses on the 1995 Vale Tudo tournament, a Japanese freestyle fighting competition similar to Ultimate Fighting Championship except in a ring instead of an octagon. It has ropes instead of walls and is a totally different shape although the number 8 is divisible by 4, in my opinion. (read the rest of this shit…)