Welcome to another edition of Everyone’s a Critic series. Today we’ve got an Oscar nominated flick and two sports movies from a golf and soccer enthusiast. Special thanks to Becky, Scot and Alan for taking the time to contribute to FlixChatter!
Crazy Heart (2009)
by Becky Kurk
My sister from California was visiting a few weeks ago, and we both wanted to see the The Blind Side, but it vanished from the theater one day before we planned to see it. Crazy Heart was her second choice, and since she was from the “away” team, I let her win the coin toss.
Turns out Jeff Bridges (Bad Blake) performance is certainly Oscar-worthy. He plays drunk and down-and-out so well it hurts to keep watching him. In fact, I think his role was over-written. I mean how many times do you need to see him vomit or pass out before you get the hint that he’s got a problem? Not as much as we have to watch. So that leaves little left for the rest of the characters. I have no idea why his love interest (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is the least bit interested in him, and there’s nothing in the story that even hints at it. I really think Maggie is a good actor, but her performance here is not Oscar-worthy. That’s not her fault, it’s because of the weakly-written character she has to play. And I don’t know why one minute Colin Farrell (Tommy Sweet) is his musical rival, and then suddenly Bad is his opening act. Sweet then strongly encourages him to write original songs for his band to finally start making some money again. Strangely, Bad turns him down, and again, we have no way of knowing why. Colin, however, gave a subtle but surprisingly good performance.
There’s very little in this film to get you to care about any of the other characters. On the plus side, however, even though I’m not a country music fan, I was surprised I didn’t totally hate the music. And the beautiful panoramas of the Southwest are worth seeing. The story line has been compared to Tender Mercies, The Wrestler and Walk the Line – I haven’t seen the first two, but Walk the Line hits it out of the park compared to Crazy Heart, which barely gets to second base.
The Damned United (2009)
by Scot Mattison
Michael Sheen takes on the role of one of England’s all-time great and controversial football managers, Brian Clough. The movie looks at Clough’s 44-day reign as the coach of Leeds United and the events that lead up to the doomed Leeds side.
Colm Meaney plays Don Revie, Clough’s nemesis and predecessor at Leeds. Clough’s sets out to change the playing style of the existing Leeds team, players loyal to Don Revie, and a team Clough has openly criticized for playing dirty. Clough attempts to endear the team to him by telling them “You can all throw your medals in the bin because they were not won fairly”… surprisingly, this doesn’t produce the desired endearing effect.
An ok script filled with very rich characters. I can’t say the movie captured the whole that was Brian Clough though. Lacking is a charming, working-class, boozer quality… which leads to a “campy” feel to some of the scenes. The movie does do a good job of creating many uneasy moments, and Sheen does a great job of portraying the over-confident and egocentric manager, delivering his lines with a “nasally-condescending-Cloughie” quality. A good watch for football lovers and anyone that enjoys seeing off-center historical characters.
The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)
by Alan Markham
The Greatest Game Ever Played is not the “greatest movie ever made,” but it is pretty decent as far as golf flicks go. The movie is based on a book written by Mark Frost (well known golf writer), and even if you’re not a huge golf fan, I think those who like sports movies would appreciate this story.
The basic premise of the movie is the story of Francis Ouimet’s (played by Shia LaBeouf) rise to golfing fame in the early 1900’s. The movie begins with Ouimet’s life as a caddy, and as a relative unknown in the golfing world, and follows along with his growth and ultimate success when he wins the 1913 U.S. Open at age 20. The key moment is when Ouimet takes on Harry Vardon (Tiger Woods of the day) in a head to head match. The outcome seems predictable, but the fact that it actually did happen makes it more entertaining. No fire hydrants or smashed Escalades here, just good clean fun.
As I mentioned, the storyline is expected, but I feel it still has enough interest to hold your attention throughout the entire movie. The acting is decent, cinematography is great (from a golfers’ perspective), and the story is entertaining. If the movie were a golf score, I’d give it a par.
Edit: This movie was Bill Paxton’s directing debut. As a teen, Bill caddied for golf great Ben Hogan in Fort Worth, which might’ve explained his enthusiasm for the sport.