"You mean she would rather imagine herself relating to an absent person than build relationships with those around her?"
Hmm, so would I sometimes. Audrey Tautou's been a more reliable friend than most people and has put a smile on my face and lightened my day at the thought of her more times than one. And I still say I'll marry her one day.
However in my opinion the best movie to ever capture the game of hoops is the criminally underrated and underseen White Men Can't Jump, by director Ron Shelton. Shelton also brought us the more popular baseball film Bull Durham and the golf flick Tin Cup. But I'd argue White Men Can't Jump is his centerpiece. The story revolves around two street court b-ball hustlers. One new in town, smooth, and white (Woody Harrelson), undoubtedly to his advantage. The other man, a black, a veteran of the LA courts, and fast-talking (Wesley Snipes). After Harrelson hustles Snipes the two form an unlikely partnership "ebony and ivory" but as always it is on edge and lacks a required amount of trust.
For a film that was released in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating and the L.A. riots and just before the O.J. Simpson debacle, White Men Can't Jump is surprisingly mature, witty, light hearted and open-minded in its approach to the race issue. Ron Shelton's dialogue is amazingly rapid fire and smart. It bites and certainly has a sting to it, but it's all in good fun. The multi-flamboyant personalities on the outdoor L.A. street courts hustler each other, crack "yo-mama" jokes with one another, and try to look better than the other. This is the movie that really put Wesley Snipes on the map and showed that Woody Harrelson was far more than just another face in the "Cheers" ensemble. Both provide excellent work in not only playing the characters but also learning how to play basketball and talk like actual street hustlers. There's very few standins here. Both Snipes and Harrelson learned to play the sport as well as any actor could be expected to. Rosie Perez is good as Harrelson's annoying and overbearing Puerto Rican girlfriend. If any one word can describe White Men Can't Jump, that word is "fun." The movie tackles serious issues like hustling, family, relationships, race, life in poverty, and gambling debts. However if Robert Rossen's pool hall film The Hustler presented the dark side of the life, Ron Shelton's White Men Can't Jump shows the flip side of the coin. How hustling can be fun and games.
Soderbergh had double duty as writer and director. He scripted the novel by A.E. Hotchner and I think it's his best film. As I mentioned it takes place during the Great Depression in St. Louis Missouri. Watching Aaron fight for survival is one of the best charms of the film. It's done realistically. The audience is able to believe his methods. There's a nice mix of drama, dark somber humor and dire situations, but there's also enough humanity and hope in the movie to send an uplifting message. For those who enjoy Andy Dufresne's message of hope and persaverence in the more widely known The Shawshank Redemption, seek out this film. I would argue it's even superior to Frank Darabont's movie. It's one of the great and underrated modern films and ranks with the best using the Great Depression setting. Sadly King of the Hill isn't released yet on DVD and it's not very likely that you'll be able to find it at your local video store. Especially if all you have is the local communist Blockbuster near you. Anyway, King of the Hill should be regarded and known far more highly than what it is. It's a sin for a movie this great to not get its due.
It's true Warren Beatty does play the role blandly and stiff. While that's a turn off for many people watching the film, I think they fail to understand that just like Ryan O'Neil in Barry Lyndon, it's the character they're playing. Not the actor and certainly not the direction. Wonderful supporting cast from Kim Hunter and Peter Fonda as well as a brilliant cameo by Gene Hackman, which oozes of a marriage gone sour in his bit part.
It's a very hard film to figure out because so much is left untold and rightfully so leaving the audience to decide what happened. Playing on the fable of the past coming back to haunt us it plays deeply on buried memories and traumatic life experiences that were covered up rather than confronted. There is so much positive to say about this amazing film, but even so it's actress Jean Seberg that is the crown jewell in this picture. Criminally underseen, now that it is on DVD anyone interested in deep character studies should make it a point to watch this ASAP.
Rollerball is a brutal sport where almost anything goes and the players are expendable, but it does draw huge crowds. Jonathan E. a 10-year veteran of the sport, rises above the norm and becomes an icon, bigger than the game itself. The cooperations don't want the individual player to be the important thing nor to advance into upper "executive" social class, so they scheme to get him to retire. Rollerball doesn't pull any punches. James Caan is great as the weathered veteran. The action sequences are tight and thrilling and the set pieces and futuristic designs still look fresh today.
It's not only a fun action movie, but it does have a message warning against violence in sports and the danger of commercializing them. Unfortunately it's all too clear that the message of the film was all but ignored. A real sport came of it, companies are paying millions for a few seconds of time during the Superbowl, the commercials are as important as the game, and championship boxing fights can only be seen on payperview. Yeah this movie wasn't far off.
Forest Whitaker plays Bird with a lot of heart and soul. Even though I have no idea if it was an accurate portrayal in capturing the man's nuances, Whitaker's interpretation was superlative. Equally as good was Diane Venora as Bird's wife, who found enough strength for the both of them and tried to hold the family together in an un-winnable battle. There's lots of rain, lots of dark nightclubs, lots of street lamps reflecting the soaked streets, and lots of feeling in this one. Having just watched another biopic, that one on Ray Charles, it's clear to see Eastwood's was the real deal, whereas Ray was merely decent.
The plot is fairly standard. A young girl living with her playboy father becomes jealous of his new love and when marriage is proposed she does her best to break it up. Gee nothing remarkable there. What is remarkable is the characters and their relationships. They have an extra amount of depth and the situation between Cecile and her father, Raymond (David Niven) borders on the incestuous. This gives it an added dimension and depth when Anne (Deborah Kerr) threatens to "steal" her father away. Another place where it avoids clichés is dealing with Anne. Kerr plays her magnificently and with a warm passion. She is not the wicked step mother here, but a sympathetic and self sacrificing woman who wants to bring love and stability into Cecile and Raymond's morally ambiguous and flighty lifestyle. This film while a modest success in America was a huge hit in Europe and inspired Jean-Luc Godard to work with Seberg.
Bonjour Tristesse also foreshadowed the films dealing with the idle rich that quickly popped up in its wake including two masterpieces, Antonioni's L'avventura and Fellini's La Dolce Vita. Preminger directs Bonjour Tristesse with a sure hand and I love how the flashbacks are in color and the present day scenes are in a somber black and white to fit with the mood. Oh and yes the story is told in flashback for the most part and the technique along with Seberg's narration gives a heightened sense of loss that Cecile and Raymond feel towards the events that transpired concerning Anne. Remarkable film and Seberg is so delightful and hot running around in her bathing suit practically the whole time.
The movie has some great scenery and photography but so do all them commercials that advertise that you should go to Montana on vacation. Lots of mountains, grass, and cloudy sky seen time and time again with panoramic shots let us know what a great place Montana truly is. As I write this now, I'm tempted to say to hell with all this technology rubbish, toss out the computer and head out to Montana to find myself by working on a ranch, talking to disturbed horses, riding in slow motion on the prairie, and shoveling horse s**t, not worry about getting too smelly cause I can always go bathe in the crystal clear steam which conveniently runs through the backyard which happens to consist of about 1,000,000 acres. Yes the city and even the rural areas are great. But living in a town you can't shovel horse s**t or talk to them.
The Horse Whisperer is 3 hours long but it really should only be about 80 minutes. Since much of the movie is landscape shots, horses running around in slow motion, and just about everything else in slow motion... I figure there's only about a little more than an hours worth of actual movie. It reminded me of another Redford film, A River Runs Through It, but unlike that movie this one really doesn't have a set course. And naturally we have a love story. Robert Redford is in this thing ya know. Kristen Scott Thomas falls in love with him even though she's married to Sam Neill's character. You remember Sam Neill right? He's that actor doomed to the Jurassic Park franchise, three equally as boring films. The Horse Whisperer manages to be about the most melodramatic and soap operaish thing you've ever seen and does so without any "Quite frankly my dear" scenes. Instead it follows the pathetic formula of the worst lifetime movie falling in love story. We get the looks across the room, we get the slow dance set to a sad country music song, just about anything that applies to the word "sappy." So I don't know what's worse the horse story, the little girl/mother story or the married woman falling in love with Robert Redford story. Pick any of em' and they're equally clichéd to hell. This is one movie that just goes on, and on, and on and nothing really moves forward. Just lots of uninteresting sentimentality, slow motion, closeups, and mountains. I'd rather shovel horse s**t. That'd be less boring.
Grade: D -
The movie has its ups and downs, but feels too rushed and gives an equal amount of attention to the 17 year span it covers from 1948-1965. Meaning there are certain things that could have been given more focus (the music itself) and there are other things that were given too much (the soap opera, connect the dots, marriage and affair, juggling the two women). One thing I do like is how the film showed his foray into heroine as a gradual thing taking place throughout most of the film instead of having a big dramatic revelation that he's been doing it all along, but only now are we shown it. I also appreciate the old time film transitions such as the closing and opening of the iris. It's a decent film, but it's not what a movie about Ray Charles should be. It's more like a conventional drawn out VH1 behind the music episode than it is about the music and the man themselves.
There were too many things going on at once and much of the film was unfortunately dedicated to the business side of his career going from one record company to another. Perhaps the worst thing about the movie was that his blindness was everybit as much of a character as he was. The fact Ray Charles was blind is the backbone of the entire film and everything completely revolves around that condition of his. Ray could be used more appropriately as a source of motivation for blind people than it can be used as a good example of a biopic. Ray should tell the story of a great musician who happened to be blind instead of a story of a blind man who became a great musician. Leaving the film I can't hardly tell you any more about the man's music and how he changed that world than before I went into it. Grade: B-