Showing posts with label Baby Boom (book review). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baby Boom (book review). Show all posts

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kevin Costner Sports Movies and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie version of "Jersey Boys," the DVDs "At Middleton," "Gloria" and Neil Jordan's "Byzantium" and P.J. O'Rourke's new book "The Baby Boom."]

But First

I am not a sports person. 

Probably because I wasn't very good at sports.  In fact, I was terrible.

It might have been that I had a sister who was a tennis wunderkind who became a tennis professional.  I wasn't a natural at sports.  My sister used to call me a "Motor Moron."
Then I met Hubby who was a sports junkie.
Add to that a son who excelled at every sport, and I was doomed.

I have been to more sporting events starring my son than I dare count.

But my niche was the theatre, and I had a few moments of stardom doing that, and that is still one of my many interests, along with movies, of course.

But it takes someone or something special to get me to watch a sports movie. 

Well, let's go with the someone.

And that someone is Kevin Costner. 

He has that guy's guy quality that appeals to men, and he appeals to women...let's just say the sport I enjoyed watching him play the most was the first time I took notice of him in the film, "No Way Out."

First there was the white navy dress uniform and then there was that thing in the back seat of the cab with Sean Young. Yowza.

If you haven't seen that film, see it and you will know what I mean.  And this was way before Sean Young went round the bend.


I saw him in person once playing in the A T & T golf tournament at Pebble Beach.  There he was in head-to-toe Armani looking just fabulous.  I think I might have yelled, "You look fabulous!" at him.  Not sure, but he looked my way and looked mighty fine.

But Kevin has evolved from pretty boy sex object to a serious actor and for some reason he is synonymous with many of our greatest sports movies.  There are those who speculate about why that is,  but I think it's his cool demeanor under pressure and his just plain likability that makes him perfect for sports films.  He has also perfected playing the washed-up guy who triumphs.

I agree with Tim Grierson in his article on Costner in "The Concourse," when he says,

"There is something reassuring about Costner's presence—rugged but familiar—that's akin to the return of your favorite sport each year. We take pleasure from it, we know what to expect from it, and we take it for granted, always knowing it's going to be there. We tend to get a little too sentimental about our connection to our favorite sport or favorite team—it's not just grown men playing a game, it has to mean something—and at his best, Costner seems to embody this tendency. He's all aging masculine dignity and sappy sincerity, like a Cialis commercial imbued with the sepia tones of a Ken Burns retrospective."

Here they are:
Rosy the Reviewer says... well, this isn't one of the greatest sports movies, but it was Kevin's first, a poignant story of bicycle racing, sibling rivalry and father issues.  It bombed.  But it was the beginning.
Bull Durham (1988)
Rosy the Reviewer says...this is the classic baseball film that brought Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins together.  Robbins may have gotten the girl in real life, but Kevin gets the girl here and his leading man status was assured, especially when he uttered the famous line to Sarandon  "I believe in long, slow, soft, deep wet kisses that last three days... Good night." 
Some believe this is the best sports film ever made.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this classic tearjerker film just celebrated its 25th Anniversary on June 14th with a big shindig on the movie site.  Fathers and sons were there as was Costner and other members of the cast.  Ray Kinsella is a struggling farmer with Daddy issues.  Then he hears a voice telling him to build a baseball diamond in his field (his Dad loved baseball). Who can forget the classic line "If you build it, he will come." Few men can avoid tears at the end when Ray asks his Dad if he wants to have a catch. 

And who can resist a movie that makes men cry?

Tin Cup (1996)
Rosy the Reviewer says...a washed up pro-golfer tries to win the U.S. Open. You can see right away where this is going to go, but this is actually a good film that has been underrated.  

By the way, whatever happened to Renee Russo?
Rosy the Reviewer says...Billy Chapel, a major league pitcher, finds himself at the end of his career with one last game to play.  As it plays out, the game itself becomes a metaphor for Billy's life.  

Again, you can see where this is headed, but Kevin makes it real. 

Draft Day (2014)
Rosy the Reviewer says...Our hero has one day to put together the perfect football team.

I said it all here in an earlier blog.

So I hope this inspires you to check out some or all of these films and glory in all that is Kevin (as I do).
What do you think is the greatest sports film?

Now since I have said such nice things about you,

Kevin, call me!

Now on to 
 The Week in Reviews

***In Theatres Now***

Jersey Boys

This is the story of Frankie Valli and the forming and storming of the musical group The Four Seasons.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film stays true to its stage play roots.  Characters break "the fourth wall" and talk directly to the audience, many of the actors are from the stage version and the ending credits start with a recreation of a curtain call.

But the film has the added benefit of allowing us to get up close and personal with the characters and their stories.  Frankie (John Lloyd Young, who starred in the play version), is the good teen who falls in with the wrong crowd.  Tommy (Vincent Piazza) is an amoral hustler and serious Nick (Michael Lomenda, (who is also reprising his Broadway role and making his film debut) just wants to get along.  All three try to make it as a trio, but it's not until Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci) introduces them to Bob Gaudio (Eric Bergen, from the "Jersey Boys" touring company), who has written some songs.  Bob plays the group his song "Sherry" and The Four Seasons are born.

Rumor has it that this is the sanitized version of Frankie Valli's story, but it's still a good story. 

A young Frankie hangs out with some two-bit hoods, but makes an impression on Gyp, one of the mob's kingpins, when he sings his favorite song, "My Mother's Eyes," an incredibly mawkish song that is Gyp's favorite.  The mobster played by Christopher Walken gives him a marker for future use. 

Frankie uses it to save Tommy from gangsters who want the money he owes them, but it ultimately tears the group apart.  Frankie, on his own, takes on Tommy's debt, works every club he can until he hits it big with "Can't Take my Eyes Off You," and then tragedy hits. The group is eventually reunited at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Young's voice is uncanny as Frankie and he does a good job of aging from a 16-year-old to the middle-aged Frankie.  The other actors are also convincing.  Clint has done a great job of bringing this Tony Award-winning musical to the big screen and pays due respect to this iconic group.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you loved the Broadway musical, will you love this film?  Yes.  If you didn't see the play version, will you like this film?  Yes.  If you don't like musicals, will you like this film?  Yes.  It stands on its own as a great biopic.

You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)

At Middleton (2013)


Two parents, Edith and George, meet on a college tour with their kids and go off together and have a "moment."

This film is a sort of modern day "Brief Encounter," but not nearly as captivating and memorable as that classic film.

It's difficult to believe these two helicopter parents would wander off and leave their kids to their own devices.  They have some adventures together due to the "adventurous" Audrey, such as stealing some bikes and climbing a clock tower (George is afraid of heights), but the biggest stretch for the viewer is the improv class they happen upon.  They are asked to participate and they reveal their deepest feelings to each other -- and the entire class!

I usually enjoy slow-moving two-person character studies like the "Before" series, especially ones that focus on mature adults instead of teenagers, but this just went too slow and had too many plot elements that were unbelievable.  I found myself fast-forwarding the remote.  The end was predictable but touching, but by then it was too late.

Vera Farmiga is a wonderful actress, but her character here is irritating. I really dislike those forced "free spirit" types.  It's nice to see Andy Garcia again and he is convincing as an uptight heart surgeon, bow-tie and all.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you or your child went to Gonzaga, you might like this (it's filmed on that campus), but otherwise, it's a snooze.


Gloria  (2013)


Here is what it's like to be a divorced woman of a certain age in Santiago, Chile.  Well, if you are Gloria, it is.

Gloria lives alone, works a 9-5 job and goes to clubs at night to meet and dance with men.  She meets Rodolpho and they have an affair.  Rodolpho is separated from his wife but it's clear that he is still tied to his wife two daughters and this interferes with the relationship.

Paulina Garcia plays Gloria and she is a wonder to behold.   She is a nice but ordinary looking middle-aged woman who wears glasses, but she is mesmerizing in her portrayal of a lonely woman who loves life and wants to live it fully.  Despite being lonely, Gloria engages in life:  she sings in her car on the way to work, dances by herself at clubs, is friendly with her ex-husband and loves her children.  When she meets Rodolpho, there is hope for a new chapter and she gives herself in to it.  When all does not go as planned, she takes her revenge.

It is refreshing to see mature romance and director Sebastian Lelio pulls no punches when it comes to the sex scenes - it's all there, rolls of fat and all.

It is amazing how Garcia is able to carry this film, which is subtle and realistic, but she makes you really care about Gloria.

Rosy the Reviewer says...A must see for Garcia's remarkable performance (sub-titles).

Byzantium (2012)


A couple of British vampires get together and make a bloody mess.

Ever since "The Crying Game," I have been a huge fan of Director Neil Jordan. I even remember the person who told me the ending (you know who you are, Lois).  He has written and directed some great films since - "Michael Collins," "The End of the Affair" and written and directed several episodes of "The Borgias," but here he misses the mark.  Maybe that's the problem.  He should have written this one.

It starts out well with a strange man confronting our heroines Eleanor (the remarkable Saoirse Ronan) and Clara (Gemma Arterton).  We don't know anything about them yet but as the film progresses, we see more and more of their history and how they ended up as immortals. 

During the Napoleonic Wars, Clara is seduced by a soldier and forced into prostitution.  She gives birth to Eleanor and places her in a convent to save her life, secretly visiting her. Through a series of events, Clara becomes a vampire and part of a secret society of vampires called "The Brethren" and because she is a prostitute, the other Brethren think she is not worthy and hunt her down to kill her. In the meantime, in present day, Eleanor gets sick so Clara must once again save her, this time by turning her into a vampire. Eleanor meets a boy who also get sick...well, yada yada yada.  It goes on and on and gets worse and worse. 

The cinematography is typical moody Jordan and all is well until about the second half when it all falls apart.

This reminded me a bit of "The Hunger," except these ladies turn out to be mother and daughter, not lesbians.  If they had been lesbians, it might have been more interesting.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like vampires, you might like this, but if you are expecting a film worthy of Neil Jordan's reputation, this isn't it.


***Book of the Week***

The Baby Boom:  How It Got That Way And It Wasn't My Fault And I'll Never Do It Again (2014) by P.J. O'Rourke
Humorist O'Rourke uses his usual wry sense of humor to talk about and make fun of "The Baby Boom Generation," of which he is also a member.
O'Rourke takes us through all of the social mores peculiar to the Baby Boomer generation.
The book begins with "We are the generation that changed everything.  Of all the eras and epochs of Americans, ours is the one that made the biggest impression - on ourselves."
"There are some things the Baby Boom has done that we're not proud of.  We used up all the weird.  It has always been the special prerogative of youth to look and act strange, to alarm and surprise our elders with peculiar dress and manners.  But the Baby Boom exhausted the available supply of peculiar.  Weire clothes, we wore them.  Weird beards, we grew them.  Weird words and phrases, we said them.  Weird attitudes, we had them.  Thus when it came time for the next generation to alarm and surprise us with their peculiarities they were compelled to pierce their extremities and permanently ink their exposed flesh.  That must have hurt. We apologize."
"The world is our fault.  We are the generation that has an excuse for everything --one of our greatest contributions to modern life-but the world is still our fault.  This is every generation's fate.  It's a matter of power and privilege demography.  Whenever anything happens anywhere, somebody over fifty signs the bill for it.  And the Baby Boom, seated as we are at the head of life's table, is hearing Generation X, Generation Y and the Millennials all saying, "Check, please!"
We are the generation that heard our parents wonder if the automatic dryer would send the electric bill "through the roof," that used to write letters and people used to "drop over" unannounced.  There were rules:  everybody outdoors on nice days, no crossing busy streets, come when you're called for dinner and everybody home when the street lights go on.
Then everything went to hell when the Vietnam War started.
It's interesting to note that many of the icons of the Baby Boom generation were not Baby Boomers at all.  Mick Jagger was born in 1943, Ken Kesey in 1935, Malcolm X in 1925, Bob Dylan 1941 and Gloria Steinem in 1934.  We really aren't the generation of the Beatles, Black Power and Women's Liberation.  He points out that perhaps Donovan (1946) and Twiggy (1949) were the actual sixties scene makers.
Our last youthful exuberance was Punk which then gave way to Generation X's Goth, as he points out a subtle shift from "fuck you" to "I'm fucked."
We unleashed the "safety hysteria" where if you buy a ladder it is so festooned with stickers warning you of the dangers the only one missing is one that says "Don't step on ladder." 
Rosy the Reviewer says...every Baby Boomer will find something here to laugh about. 
That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"Retirement - One Year Later:
A Retired Baby Boomer Reflects on What She's Learned So Far"


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