No. 1: Last Saturday, at the Grouchmate's suggestion, we went to see the new football/inspirational movie "Invincible", the true story of former bartender and unemployed substitute teacher, Vince Papale, who attended an open tryout to the Phildelphia Eagles football team.
This is a Disney production, and if there is any movie form that Disney does well it is the sports genre. You can count on two things in any Disney sports film,
1) The main character will be a disadvantaged underdog, and
2) despite insurmountable odds, the character perseveres and attains the goal.
"Invincible" character Vince Papale is played by Mark Wahlberg who, physically, does not come close to resembling the real life character (Wahlberg cannot be more than 170 lbs. soaking wet) but at least generates the "down on your luck" attitude that one would expect to find in the run down "south Philly" neighborhoods.
Of course, there is a love interest which is played modestly enough, and many of the scenes center around the run down bar that Vince worked in, populated by a crowd you would NEVER find in the sitcom "Cheers". There are also "buddy" sub plots featuring "salt of the earth" flawed characters.
Even though the ending is preordained, and no surprise, it does relatively well protraying the reality of a 30 year old guy trying to compete with professional athletes performing at the highest levels of ability. Especially effective is the scene where Vince opens the season on special teams against the Dallas Cowboys in the Cowboys' stadium. The camera work, frantic 1 second clips of the crowd, the fiield, the opposing team, and amplifying the crowd noise, does an effective job of portraying the sheer terror probably felt by Vince as his first time experience in the "big time". The scene reminded me of my own experience in high school running in the city wide track meet in the large venue of a public auditoreum. Loose bowels (the bathrooms were VERY busy) the weak legs and churning stomachs of the VERY nervous. Whoa!
Overall, I thought that the movie was entertaining, even though NOT worth the $9.00 admission, and made me forget about real life for most of two hours, which is why I enjoy movies so much.
In a few months it'll be out on DVD, so rent it and enjoy.
No. 2: Tristan and Isolde, a love story set in the post Roman Brittish Isles, before it was predominately English.
After years of Roman domination, the various tribes of Picts, Angles, Celts, etc. try to unite under one man in order to throw off the influence of the Irish whom the Romans ignored and allowed to grow strong. A united Irish power, led by a powerful king, initially succeeds in squashing this united group, but...Tristan, the adoptive son of the erswhile King Marke, is though to be killed, and is set off in a funerary boat which, eventuall, lands on the Irish coast. When the Irish king's daughter, Isolde, finds Tristan, she recognizes that he is barely alive due to a paralyzing poison from a raiding Irish warrior's weapon, so she secretly nurses him back to health and, of course, falls in love with him. Although she keeps her identity from him Isolde discovers who Tristan really is and warns him to flee back to his people.
Meanwhile, the Irish king hatches a plot to subvert the new unity of the English tribes by hosting a tournament for the tribal leaders. The prize: the hand of his beautiful daughter, Isolde. His plan is to allow the tribes to believe that this is a peace offering and, when they are complacent, then attack and utterly destroy them.
Imagine Isolde's surprise and delight when, at tournament time, she sees that Tristan is the champion for King Marke, but little does she know that it is not Tristan who will win her hand, but Tristan's adoptive father, King Marke.
The following events lead to treachery, infidelity, death and redemption, large themes to be sure!
Filmed in the Czeck Republic and employing European actors, this film is a pleasure to watch even though the main characters are faithless and dishonest people who recieve the just desserts of their actions.
"Tristan And Isolde" is a movie worth the rental fee, rated PG-13 for implied sexual activity (none graphic) and violence, it is suitable for all but the youngest kidswho may become bored with it.
No. 3: "Inside Man" with Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster, directed and produced by Spike Lee.
I like Denzel, really like him as an actor, and would watch almost anything he is in just on the basis of his presence, but this movie just did not deliver the goods. An ambitious plot line involving financial profiteering during Germany's "Final Solution" in WW II and the building of a financial banking empire into the 21st century does NOT guarantee a satisfying result.
Denzel plays a hostage negotiator in the NYPD who is called to mediate a hostage situation that takes place during a bank robbery. But when the hostages are released and no robbers are found everyone is puzzeled. To make it even more bizzare, there is no real robbery!
An after event audit reveals that nothing was stolen! No robbery, no robbers, no crime? Denzel is smarter than that so he attempts to sove the case that his bosses say he should let go. This is where the film becomes a bore. Jodie Fosters role is one of the most puzzling, who the heck IS she, and what exactly DOES she do at the behest of the bank's owner? We never really find out either. All we really know is that there was a document implicating the banker with Nazi activities and she is supposed to guarantee that it will not come to the surface. How this is done we never see. A totally wasted role. She must have needed the money, I guess.
I won't divulge any more of the plot on the offchance that there are other Denzel fans who might like to see this movie despite my panning it. Just suffice it to say that Spike Lee produced a flop.
Rent at your own risk.Rated "R" for tons of foul language interspersed with large tracks of nothin-ness.