“The contemporary Oscar economy runs entirely on charm,” Movieline‘s Stu Van Airsdale wrote late today. “Your movie can make $1 million or $1 billion, be a polarizing scourge or smothered in plaudits and acclaim. You can place ads everywhere, send thousands of DVD screeners and engineer a fortune’s worth of publicity. But by the time nomination ballots are mailed in late December, if you haven’t found a way to charm a vote out of an Academy member, then you and your film are about as long for the awards race as Angelina Jolie is for a burger-eating contest.”
I’m sorry but I’m not getting the same sense of ironic hooligan satire from Goon (2.24) that I did from the Hanson Brothers drawing blood in George Roy Hill‘s Slap Shot. But I’ll bet that the Goon guys (director Michael Dowse, screenwriters Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg) took their inspiration from the Hanson Brothers.
Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin‘s Undefeated (Weinstein Co., 2.17) is a deeply touching 90-minute doc about Memphis’s Manassas Tigers, an African-American high-school football team trying to up their wins. But it’s mainly about various team members toughing it out with personal struggles. And it really sinks in.
The first half is somewhere between good enough and not bad — very nicely shot and smoothly cut but still a familiar portrait of a rural underdog football team. Kinda seen it before. But the second half…whoa. That’s when all the threads pay off and the seeds sprout, and it really gets you. I started to choke up a bit during one scene, but I coughed and kept it in check. “Shit…this is affecting,” I said to myself.
The life of the party is Bill Courtney, a dogged, red-haired lumber mill owner who donates his time as coach of the Tigers. He’s really quite an educator and an orator and an inspirational father to his players. He really gets into their lives and gets them to deal with their temporary setbacks, foibles, challenges.
It covers a wide range but focused on three main “characters.” “Money” Brown, a right tackle who suffers a torn ligament halfway through his senior season. An angry junior named Chavis Daniels who did time in a youth jail during his sophomore year. And O.C. Brown, a 280-pounder (he reminds you of the kid in The Blind Side) who has the best shot at a college football scholarship but who has problems getting decent grades.
It’s basically a slice of a real-life Blind Side (as far as O.C. is concerned) mixed in with Peter Berg‘s Friday Night Lights but without the wackjob parents.
It even ends on a similar note to Berg’s film. It isn’t the winning or the losing, but how you play the game and whether or not you’ve given your all and stood tall in a proud way, etc. The doc isn’t really about football as much as character, intestinal fortitude, manning up, etc. And caring, really caring. Put a little love in your heart.
“You think football builds character. It does not. Football rreveals character.”
The Undefeated gang at Austin’s SXSW film festival in mid March 2011.
Honestly? In a perfect world? I’d like to do is retain everything I’ve learned and acquired over the last 30 years, spiritually and wisdom- and experience-wise, while physically reverting back to this guy. I could get more girls this way, for one thing.
I’ve had this for about 15 or 16 years now. It’s crucial to be able to see the red serpent eyes.
The L.A. all-media screening for Daniel Espinosa‘s Safe House happens tonight at 7 pm. Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds bagging a paycheck for a standard action thriller — i.e, a variation of the Training Day formula set in South Africa, CIA operatives instead of L.A. cops, same old same old, blah, blah explosions, etc.
Many critics have already seen Safe House and reviewed it and, according to Rotten Tomatoes summary, given it a failing grade. Universal’s request that reviews be held until Friday seems….well, odd in light of this.
Is Reynolds ever going to star in a really good commercial film? Buried was riveting as far as it went, but it burned the audience at the finale. Adventureland was the only other pretty good film that Reynolds has costarred in. Otherwise the man has built a career out of starring in nothing but paycheck movies.
Daniel Espinosa, the new Tony Scott, is Swedish.
Vera Farmiga did the work and cashed her check and put some of the money in her kids’ college fund. Brendan Gleeson did the work and cashed his check and put some of the money into home renovation. Sam Shepard did the work and cashed his check and put some of the money into dental work. Ruben Blades did the work and cashed his check and put some of the money into building a music studio.
Here’s a reminder that Robert Weide‘s Woody Allen: A Documentary will begin streaming gratis starting tomorrow (i.e., Thursday, 2.9) “for a limited time,” whatever that means. There will also be an encore broadcast on PBS CoCal on Saturday, 2.18 at 9 p.m. Here’s my review from mid November 2011.
Tony Gilroy‘s The Bourne Legacy (8.3.12) got a boost from Jeremy Renner‘s standout performance in Mission Impossible 4. That movie explained to the primitives (i.e., those who couldn’t be bothered to see The Hurt Locker) that Renner is solid and cool. The second best thing is this trailer, which makes it clear that Legacy is a Renner-for-Matt Damon substitution thriller with many of the same players (Joan Allen, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn ) as before.
The only thing that gives me a moment of pause, frankly, is the August 3rd release date — obviously a hedging-our-bets-but-hoping-for-the-best strategy. To me it amounts to Universal saying the following: “Renner is not Damon, and so we can’t go up against the big fat whopper titles in May, June and July. It’s better and safer to go with early August, which isn’t really a dog-day opening like mid-August or late August. As far as we’re concerned, August 3rd is the same as late July. August is generally regarded as a dump month, okay, but not in our minds, and certainly not in the case of this film.”