Friday, October 9, 2009

Appreciative Review: The Best of Times

Bakersfield must be destroyed!
Usually around this time of year, I start watching some horror/monster classics as the month builds up toward Halloween (btw, over at RADIATOR HEAVEN, blogger J.D. is reviewing that genre of films for the month of October as I compose this piece). And when I get to next month, it'll be the few Thanksgiving-related films and then on to the Christmas variety. Who knew my viewing habits are so seasonal? [let the record show that my wife has just raised her hand] However, (as "... the first leaf of autumn falls forlornly on the ground below") it's also football season and that has its own priority. [it doesn't really matter, much, that Los Angeles no longer has a pro team - but I'm not bitter] And when you mix in my historical penchant for being one of the (oh so) few in the theater at movie gems that weren't successful during their first run (Hickey & Boggs, The Ninth Configuration, etc.), my motivation should be transparent.

The rest of the review can be found on my current blog, here.
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  1. What a great review, you've done your usual bang-up job of making me want to run for my dvd catalogue and make sure I have this film.

    I'm in agreement with you on Kurt Russell, he rarely gets credit for his acting chops, but then when was the last time you saw him in one of those over-long, full of silence tales of agony that qualify their actors for Oscars?

  2. Wow, what a fantastic review on a very under-appreciated film. It's been showing up on cable 'round these parts and I really should sit down and watch it again. It's been too long and you're excellent review has piqued my curiosity.

    I also agree that Kurt Russell is also underappreciated... by the mainstream. He certainly gets a lot of love from film buffs for his Carpenter output alone. Good call on his athletic prowess. I believe in his commentary for BULL DURHAM, Shelton mentions that the role of Crash was down to either Russell or Kevin Costner and he wanted to cast someone who had natural baseball chops.

    As for football films, I think my fave is a tie between NORTH DALLAS FORTY and THE LONGEST YARD (the original!). Both are really good at capturing the grittiness of the sport. I do have a soft sport for ANY GIVEN SUNDAY which is dynamically shot by Oliver Stone but is a bit of mess in the screenplay department but I'm willing to forgive it for the casting of Pacino as an ultra-intense coach (could he play it any other way?).

  3. I don't see a lot of sports movies because I'm clueless about sports. But I did like Bull Durham a lot and thought Kurt Russell's work as Herb Brooks in Miracle was really good. I'm particular to that movie because I remember watching the real game during the 1980 Winter Olympics. I cried when we beat the Russian team; it really did feel like a miracle. NOBODY thought our guys could do it.

  4. Lots of fun movies with Kurt. His serious mode is one of the best. Always watchable. Serious actors can do comedy but IMHO comics should hardly ever do serious. Over the years,Robin williams, Steve Martin and Jim Carrey have bored me to tears in their quest to be taken seriously.


  5. Corey: Yeah, I agree with you. But, I really thought Russell should have nominated (best actor) for his role in Shelton's Dark Blue. But, since the studio released it in Feb, it was almost guaranteed to draw no attention come awards season.

    (oh, and I thought he's have been nom'd for supporting in Silkwood and his Atticus Finch-like role in Vanilla Sky (he was my favorite there in that remake of the original Abre Los Ojos).

    J.D.: I knew he'd have a good recognition among film buffs and Carpenter aficionados for the work he's done. I'm glad that you bring up Shelton's commentary from Bull Durham. I read an interview somewhere Russell states he's still the better ball player than Costner (and has a friendly rivalry with the actor). And those are all great football films you list - with the Aldrich version of The Longest Yard being my fav among them.

    PCN: You were at that '80 Winter Olympics final?!? I'm so jealous! What a fantastic moment (sports or otherwise) to be at! And yes, Russell was simply great in the Herb Brooks role. Which reminds me, I need to show that film to my kids because it's such a special and real moment in history.

    HnL: yes, I always thought Russell could do serious and comedy with such ease. It's interesting that you mention comedians doing serious roles. Williams won his Oscar for his serious role in Good Will Hunting. Perhaps, they seek recognition through those roles because comedy (which is really much harder to do) doesn't get the respect it deserves. But, I have to agree with you re: Carrey's serious takes (which seem blatant in their attempt for awards glory).

    Thank you all for your very kind words and comments.

  6. Oh no, I WISH! I meant I remember what it felt like watching the real game unfold on TV, as opposed to watching the movie about the game.

    I'd love to go to the Olympics one day. It's on my bucket list.

  7. Yeah, I also wanted to chime in and praise Russell's work in MIRACLES. There aren't many good hockey films (SLAP SHOT, hands down, is THE best) but this one is fantastic and I found myself really getting involved with the story as it unfolded even though I knew how it ended. Gripping stuff.

  8. PCN: then you and I (along with just about the entire country) experienced this the same way. And I'd say that was the next best thing ;-).

    J.D.: you know, hockey is not my regular sport. But when I watch Slap Shot or Miracle, I'm so gripped by it (and wonder why I don't take more of it in). And you right, there aren't good hockey films out there.

    Thank you both for your wonderful comments.

  9. Excellent review. I've seen this movie at least a dozen times and it never gets old. Great writing and great performances all around.

    This and The Survivors are my two favorite Robin Williams movies - he is great playing someone constantly on edge.

  10. Welcome, Jon. You bring up a good point about Robin being at his best when on the edge - I couldn't agree more. It's been awhile since I saw The Survivors. Robin's fantastic in it, along with Matthau and the underrated Jerry Reed. Thank you very much for your thoughts and very kind words.