One of the greatest actors to come out of the 1990’s is Denzel Washington (Malcolm X) who is money when it comes to his films. He has a movie called Fences coming out on Christmas which is gaining a lot of critical acclaim, but to celebrate his career, I decided to check out He Got Game. Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel)has been in jail for six years after the death of his wife which has forced his son Jesus Shuttlesworth (NBA Legend Ray Allen) to be the man of the house. You see Jesus is also an unbelievable basketball player for his high school who hasn’t made a decision as to where he wants to go or do after high school. Jake is given a chance to exit jail to try and convince his son to go to a certain school so that his sentence can be cut short. The film also stars Milla Jovovich (Zoolander 2) as Dakota Burns, Rosario Dawson (Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis) as Lala, Hill Harper (CSI: NY) as Booger, Zelda Harris (The Baby-Sitters Club) as Mary Shuttlesworth, Ned Beatty (Deliverance) as Warden Wyatt, Jim Brown (Mars Attacks) as Spivey, Joseph Lyle Taylor (The Dark Knight Rises) as Crudup, Bill Nunn (Spider-Man 3) as Uncle Bubba, John Turturro (The Color Of Money) as Coach Sunday, Roger Guenveur Smith (American Gangster) as Big Time Willie, and the film was written and directed by Spike Lee (Malcolm X).
This was one of those films that you are kind of glad they only made one just because one of the main actors was kind of awful. The film’s story is actually a very good story that kind of takes a look into what happens when someone from a poor area has some talent and has to deal with vultures trying to get theirs. But as I said before, Ray Allen is kind of an awful actor who has his moments in the film, but is also one of those guys who shouldn’t have transitioned into films.Now Denzel on the other hand puts on one heck of a performance as he always does as a man who is desperate to get his son to sign, but he is also enjoying his time out of prison. He also touches other peoples lives to wake them up to realize their potentials or what they are missing out on. His interaction with Milla Jovovich are awesome as she plays a prostitute that he feels bad for in a way. The film features some gritty moments and plenty of T&A as one college tries to persuade him to come to their school. I can imagine that those things happened in real life and I am kind of mad I never took sport serious enough in high school. The ending of the film to me is a little rushed and it sort of doesn’t make sense to me in a way while in a way it does. It just seems a little too quick that he spends years hating his father, but forgives him what seems quick. It was a decent film that any basketball fan may enjoy. I am going to give a B+ only because Allen and some other performances bothered me a little. Enjoy the cameos in the film from NBA coaches and players like Dean Smith, Lute Olson, John Chaney, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Shaq, etc.
After watching the 1961 Billiards classic The Hustler for yesterday’s film, I couldn’t pass up on watching the sequel which took 25 years to make. I’m Certainly ok with it taking that long considering that The Color Of Money was directed by Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street). Paul Newman (The Hustler) is back as Fast Eddie Felson, but he has kept to his promise that he made in the first film where he doesn’t play pool. The game has certainly changed as the nine ball has become the preferred game. One day, he sees a kid named Vincent (Tom Cruise) that he sees a lot of potential in so he decides to take him on the road to train him in how to hustle in billiards, but this will inspire Eddie to return. The film also stars Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves) as Carmen, Helen Shaver (The Land Before Time) as Janelle, John Turturro (Transformers) as Julian, Bill Cobbs (Oz the Great and Powerful) as Orvis, Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Amos, Bruce A. Young (Jurassic Park III) as Moselle, and the film featured real pool players like Grady Matthews, Keith McCready, and Steve Mizerak.
The thing that I loved about this film is that while it sort of takes a cue from the first film, it definitely carves it’s own path as it differentiates itself from the original. For one, there is a little more nudity in this film than there was in the original thanks to a scene with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. The real difference between this film and the other film is that Fast Eddie just didn’t know when to quit and he didn’t realize what he had in front of him until it was too late. In this film, he is trying to teach Vincent that you don’t always show your stuff right from the get go, but that will bite him in the you know what later. That is the difference between the two films as far as story is concerned and I like that about this film. The pool scenes were incredible as usual, but they sped up a lot of the action too for time purposes. Tom Cruise was great as this kid who thinks he’s all that, but is really insecure inside when it boils down to it and Mastrantonio is great as the girl who pulls the strings on him. I loved the ending of the film because they leave it open ended where you sort of figure out for yourself who may have won that match. This was an example of a film that may have taken years to do, but they did it right. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
I can’t believe that out 52 Sundays in year that after today there is only one Sunday left in the whole entire year. So for this week’s Sunday At The Classics, I decided to check out the pool hall classic from Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid) in The Hustler. Fast Eddie Felson (Newman) is one of the best pool hall hustlers around that is looking for that match up that could make him the big money. One match with the best around in Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) sends Eddie into a downward spiral that leaves him broke with no manager. A chance meeting with a girl (Piper Laurie) at the bus station begins to show him that there is more to life then just winning and losing and Eddie then begins his comeback. The film also stars George C. Scott (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) as Bert Gordon, Myron McCormick (The Fight For Life) as Charlie, Murray Hamilton (Jaws) as Findley, Michael Constantine (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) as Big John, Stefan Gierasch (High Plains Drifter) as Preacher, Jake LaMotta (Raging Bull) as Bartender, Vincent Gardenia (Little Shop Of Horrors) as Bartender, and the film was directed by Robert Rossen (The Roaring Twenties).
There is definitely a reason why this is a must see film and a absolute classic. The sequence in the beginning of the film between Fast Eddie and Minnesota Fats was absolutely amazing and it kept you hooked because you wanted to see who would quit first. The relationship between Piper Laurie’s character Sarah and Fast Eddie was also a fascinating aspect of the film because they were theoretically not made for each other, but then again maybe they were. There’s the old adage that women love the bad boys and maybe she was experiencing that, but she was such a benefit for him more than he was for her. The acting in the film was phenomenal and you have to love the camera work in this film because the shots always looked so full and they painted the various settings just right. You felt like you were in an actual dingy smoke infested pool hall the whole time you were watching. In a way in this film, you were hopeful of Eddie, but he could definitely frustrate you which is why I loved the story of the film. They had all the right conflicts and sub plots to keep you hooked from beginning to end. One of the other things I loved about this film is the very end during the credit sequence when everyone except George C. Scott leaves the pool hall by the end of the credits. You’ll find out why for yourself, but I thought it was poetic justice. I need to check out The Color Of Money (which is the sequel), but give this one a watch while you are it. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.
Besides films that are based on Football, the other kinds of sports films that I have always loved are boxing movies like the Rocky franchise, Raging Bull, and so many more. That is why for today’s film, I chose to cover the 2007 film Resurrecting The Champ which stars Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight) and Josh Hartnett (Lucky Number Slevin). All Erik Kernan Jr. (Hartnett) has ever wanted to be is a great reporter like his father. The only problem for him is that everything seems to be going in the opposite direction in his life as he’s a beat reporter and his marriage is falling apart. After his editor (Alan Alda) turns down an opportunity, he meets a homeless man that everyone calls Champ. The man claims to be boxing legend Bob Satterfield even though people claim he’s dead. So, he does a piece on the champ that gives him critical acclaim and backlash. The film also stars Kathryn Morris (Cold Case) as Joyce Kernan, Rachel Nichols (Star Trek) as Polly, Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives) as Andrea Flak, Kristen Shaw (The Last Castle) as Perlmutter, Nick Sandow (Orange Is The New Black) as Marciano, David Paymer (Quiz Show) as Whitley, Dakota Goyo (Thor) as Teddy Kernan, and the film was directed by Rod Lurie (The Contender).
Spoiler Alert: There are going to be details about the movie that could spoil things for you so proceed with caution or do no read any further. I didn’t realize when I chose to watch the film on TV that it was based on a true story. There was such a boxer named Bob Satterfield, but the real name of the homeless man known as champ changed in this film and he also didn’t die (I don’t think anyways, read this article). The film was very interesting to watch because Josh Hartnett’s character really believes that he’s getting his shot, but in reality is about to be made to look like a fool. The moral of the story for future journalists is to do your research before you release an article because retractions can be the death of your career like a boxer with a glass chin. The film contained an awesome performance from Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett’s is right up there with his. Dramas are very dependent on having plenty of dramatic moments within them and this film had plenty of moments that they focused on. It went back and forth with Josh Hartnett whether it was dealing with failing marriage, having his sons approval, and the drama with the newspaper. It’s a very different kind of boxing movie than what we are used to because it’s more of a human piece than a piece about the sport. I enjoyed watching the film and that is why I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade.
April may turn out to be a tough month to pick a clear top 25 with all of the films that are becoming available to watch that I have wanted to see. Today’s film is definitely one that could be challenging for the top spot in the movie Creed. Creed is the latest installment in the Rocky series that follows Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the child of the late Apollo Creed’s infidelity. Throughout his whole life, Adonis has been fighting for what is his, but all he wants to do is prove that he can be like his father int he ring. Adonis decides that he needs to move to Philadelphia to get trained by the great Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). With the guidance of Rocky, can he finally prove himself in the ring as the heavyweight champion comes calling. The film also stars Tessa Thompson (Dear White People) as Bianca, Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show) as Mary Anne Creed, Andre Ward as Danny Wheeler, Tony Bellew as Pretty Ricky Conlon, Ritchie Coster (The Dark Knight) as Pete Sporino, Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran (Here Comes The Boom) as Stitch, Graham McTavish (Rambo) as Tommy Holiday, Gabe Rosado as Leo “The Lion” Sporino, and the film was directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station).
I have always been a huge fan of all the Rocky films because not only is there boxing, but there’s drama and their’s the human factor. What I mean by the human factor is that you see the struggle that Rocky went through for every fight in and out of the ring and the same holds true for Adonis in the film Creed. Ryan Coogler did an amazing job taking the franchise into the future in my opinion as he wrote and directed this one. This was also the first film in the whole series that Sylvester Stallone had nothing to do with the writing, he just starred and produced the film. The other thing I love about these movies is that they make you feel like these are authentic fights and that you really are watching them on HBO for HBO Boxing as Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, and Michael Buffer all make appearances in the film. The other great thing about the film is that they don’t forget about the history of the franchise and in fact, it’s a very important piece. I’m not going to spoil the details, but that secret fight behind closed doors that Rocky had with Apollo at the end of Rocky III, well the winner is revealed in this film. If you are a fan of the Rocky franchise or boxing films in general, then take the time an check this one out. The cinematography, fight choreography, set designs, acting, etc. are all amazing in this film in my opinion. This could be the number one movie for the month of April as of this point. There is still 22 days left to the month to decide. With that being said, I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.
Since the beginning of this bog, I don’t think I covered a film that starred Tom Cruise (Top Gun) who was one of my favorite actors from the 80’s. For today’s film, I chose All The Right Moves which stars Cruise as Stefen Djordjevic, a kid from Ampipe, a steel town in Pennsylvania. You see in Ampipe, there are only two options it seems for most of their residents, you either work in the dying steel mills or you go to college. All Stefen ever dreams of is to have the chance to get out of Ampipe and so he uses football as the means to an end. The only problem is that Stefen’s attitude and his high school coach Nickerson (Craig T. Nelson) stands in the way of his escape. The film also stars Lea Thompson (Back To The Future) as Lisa, Charles Cioffi (Shaft) as Pop, Gary Graham (Alien Nation) as Greg, Paul Carafotes (Fight Club) as Salvucci, Christopher Penn (Best Of The Best) as Brian, Sandy Faison (Guiding Light) as Suzie, Leon (Cool Runnings) as Shadow, Jonas Chaka (Biker Boyz) as Mouse, Keith Diamond (Dr. Giggles) as Fox, James A. Baffico (Dawn Of The Dead) as Bosco, and the film was directed by Michael Chapman (The Clan Of The Cave Bear).
This was your average early 80’s teen flick that happened to star a future megastar and one of the finest women of the 80’s. While the scene between Thompson and Cruise isn’t very long, it surely is a really good one. Tom Cruise was well he is Tom Cruise so he puts on the performance you would expect from him and have seen in all of the movies he has been in. Lea Thompson is great as the first under appreciated girlfriend who has to make a tough decision later on in the film even though it could be the end. The football parts of the film are pretty good, but the real story of this film is the town itself. There was a time in this nation when certain production heavy cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit were in big trouble because production was moving elsewhere and you see that touched upon in this film. People are getting laid off and one character whose in high school even resorts to armed robbery because he feels he has no other option. So, while the film is essentially about the struggle of two characters who are looking to get out of this town, there is a bigger picture around it. I didn’t understand the title of the film because clearly Cruise’s character makes all the wrong moves, but it all works out for him in the end because even Coach wakes up. I liked the movie and so I am going to give it an B+ for a final grade.