REVIEW: Secretariat

Directed by: Randall Wallace
Written by: Mike Rich (screenplay), William Nack (book)
Starring: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Dylan Walsh, and Margo Martindale

Apparently Seabiscuit and The Blind Side weren’t enough.  According to Disney, we needed at least one more historically sugar-coated “impossible true story.”  Something savory for the whole family, with perfectly timed and safe one-liners and plot points that the company has had on repeat since it started doing live action movies.

Of course, when this company has a lack of creativity and innovation, they simply write a check.  This gives them access to the best filmmaking tools at their disposal to make this pile of garbage.  The race footage in Secretariat is amazingly well-done and even a little bit exhilarating.  It’s too bad once the horses stop, the movie does too.

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Oscar Acting Up Close: Quite a bit Country, not enough Rock ‘N Roll

Image courtesy of Alt. Film Guide

As it stands now, it looks like the four winners for for acting Oscars this weekend will be Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Christoph Waltz, and Mo’Nique.  One washed-up country singer, one modern country belle, one Jew Hunter, and one mom from Hell- see any similarities?

The acting categories usually go to four very distinct roles from very different styles of acting.  Not so this year.

If you were to look at the supporting categories this year, you’d see that.  Waltz gives his tour de force in four languages layered with charm and menace, while Mo’Nique gives hers in one language, amps up the menace, takes away charm, and adds insanity.   Different styles of acting?  Yes.  But, both of these roles are antagonists.

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Image courtesy of Jack FM

The Blind Side
Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Written by: John Lee Hancock (screenplay), Michael Lewis (novel)
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, and Kathy Bates

Good wholesome Southerners have their movie to cheer for this year at the Academy Awards.  John Lee Hancock’s bombastic, preachy and watered down The Blind Side is the one movie nominated for Best Picture this year that didn’t deserve its slot.

This is the crowd-pleasing, melodramatic sports movie that moved both the Monday Night Football crowd and Sarah Palin wannabes to tears.  It also moved serious film critics to tears, but not for the same reasons. Hancock directs this film with a style right out of the sports film playbook, taking no chances and milking every crowd-pleasing scenario for maximum fluff.

Sandra Bullock in a football movie,” is a great selling point for studio executives.  In order to sabotage and exploit an audience’s emotions, you need a marketable lead.  In the year 2009, there was no one more marketable (or undeserving of their profits) than her.  Her Oscar nomination (and likely win) for playing Leigh Ann Tuohy is the result of a frivolous, cooly calculated business decision.  Though her performance is the reluctant highlight of this film, it is by no means anything more than her spouting off clever one liners with a Southern accent.  Bullock plays emotional-yet-controlled in almost all of her films, and never that greatly.  She does the same thing here, but with a drawl so it’s Oscar worthy.

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