Showing posts with label Nyad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nyad. Show all posts

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Rosy the Reviewer Weighs in on Some Good Sports Movies: Who Knew?

 [I review the sports films "Ferrari," "Air" and "Nyad"]

It's a well-known fact, in my family at least, that I am not a sports gal.  I have paid my dues watching my kids and grandkids compete, but I am not known to keep sports stats or even make it through an entire TV football game.  But a good movie is a good movie, no matter what the subject matter, and these are some good movies.  And in a time when movies seem to be trying to appeal to young people with super heroes and horror, it's refreshing to see movies that appeal to adults. These films honor superheroes of a special kind.

Ferrari (2023)

It's 1957 and not only is Enzo Ferrari's business in trouble, his personal life is also a mess.

Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) started his successful car company in 1947, but now it's the summer of 1957, and his company is floundering. He has been too focused on sports cars and speed and not manufacturing enough cars for us common folk, er well, common rich folks. He is faced with merging with another company to keep his business afloat. 

But Ferrari's company woes are not the only problems he faces.  He lives with his wife, Laura (Penelope Cruz), but let's just say they don't get along.  In fact, early in the movie she pulls a gun on him.  They are both mourning the death of their only son and heir, Dino, and Enzo spends most of his time with his mistress, Lina Lardi (Shailene Woodley), and the son they have together, Piero (Giuseppe Festinese).  Lina is pressuring Enzo to legitimize Piero and give him the Ferrari name, and Ferrari does need an heir, but there is a problem - his wife, Laura.

It also doesn't help that Laura owns half of the company and Enzo can't move ahead with business deals without her shares.  She demands a check for $500,000 which would bankrupt the company if she cashes it.  She also finds out about Lina and Piero.  Not good.

But despite all of that, Ferrari is concentrating on his racing team and the upcoming Mille Miglia, an open road 1000 miles endurance race.

With a screenplay by Troy Kennedy Martin (based on a biography by Brock Yates) and directed by Michael Mann, as one would expect, there is beautiful cinematography, some dizzying racing scenes and lots of car shop talk in the film that culminates in a horrifying crash that made me jump out of my seat.

Adam Driver plays Ferrari with a steely majesty as the man worshiped for his accomplishments in a post-WW II Italy, but to see Adam Driver with white hair and all padded up to look like the 59-year-old Ferrari, I couldn't help but wonder, why him?  Don't get me wrong, I am a fan, but I couldn't help but think someone like Robert DeNiro would have been a better pick.  When I said that to my movie-going companion, she said perhaps Driver's name would pull in the younger crowd, and I think she is right.  And he is good in the role, but I have to say, I was a bit distracted by the make-up and prosthetics. And I am not going to get into the debate about his Italian accent. On the other hand, Penelope Cruz, ten years older than Driver, looks right for her role as Laura, and though it's basically a one note part - bitter - she gets to show her acting chops. But, Shailene Woodley seems out of place in this film and doesn't have much to do.

I came from a car racing family.  Both my Dad and brother were into drag racing and the Indy 500.  For some reason, my Dad was not as interested in European cars or Formula 1.  He was an American car guy, but the thrills of car racing run the gamut and there are thrills to be found in this film, no matter what your car racing preference. I felt his presence watching this film.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a standard old school biopic that car racing fans and movie fans alike will enjoy. (In theatres)

Air (2023)

It's all about how Nike went from a company known for running shoes to inventing the Air Jordan basketball shoe.

Now that sounds like a big yawn of a film, right?  Well, you would be wrong, because this film is fast and fun and engrossing. "Moneyball" comes to mind.  How could coming up with a computer-generated analysis to figure out what players to hire for the Oakland A's make for a good movie?  Well, we know how that worked out, right? - six Oscar nominations and countless other awards later. And "Air" is in that same league.

In 1984, Oregon-based Nike, Inc. is not doing well selling basketball shoes and co-founder and CEO Phil Knight (Ben Affleck) is thinking about shutting that division down. Converse has 54% of the basketball shoe market and Adidas 29%.  Nike, with only 17% of the market, can't compete. But he wants to give it one more shot.

So Knight gives Nike's basketball talent scout, Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon), the task of finding a spokesperson for Nike basketball shoes.  That's not easy, though, because many of the upcoming NBA draft have already made it clear they prefer Adidas and Converse shoes. But Sonny Vaccaro is not daunted.  He may be a nerdy, Dad-bod, Members Only-wearing guy, but he has moxie and wants the 21-year-old, third draft pick, Michael Jordan, even though it looks like there is no way they can get him, partly because of the money and partly because Jordan likes Adidas.

But Sonny is not a shrinking violet. He goes straight to Michael's mother, Deloris (Viola Davis), and tells her what Nike would do for Michael, and in preparation for meeting with Michael's parents, Vaccaro asks designer Peter Moore (Matthew Maher) to come up with a prototype shoe that will lure Michael and his parents. Moore does that, and he names it "Air Jordan."  After some negotiating ups and downs that are fun to watch, and Deloris driving a hard bargain, we see how it all came down for Michael Jordan to go with Nike.  And yes, we all know how this turned out, but in case you didn't know the details, an epilogue shows that what Nike was hoping for that first year - three million in sales - went to $162 million!

Sports movies with lots of sports action can be fun and exciting but, like "Moneyball," sometimes it's what goes on behind the scenes that is the most fun and exciting. And even without basketball footage, this film delivers.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck together again, with Ben acting and directing, showing us once again what a brilliant director he is.  As for the acting, Matt does most of the heavy lifting, but the ensemble cast of Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Chris Messina and others all do their part too. The screenplay by Alex Convery is fast-moving and snappy, lots of 1980's nostalgia, and it all adds up to a smart, delightful and satisfying film. And can I give a special shout-out to Chris Tucker?  No matter what he does he makes me laugh. And that's a good thing.  He is a special guy.  

And fun fact: who knew the "Just do it" advertising slogan came from what someone said when he was about to be executed.  See what you can learn from the movies?

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is one of those movies where you know how it ends, but it's the journey and it's an enjoyable one that even non-sports fans will love. (Amazon Prime) 

Nyad (2023)

The true story of swimmer, Diana Nyad, who at 64 was finally able to accomplish her dream of swimming the 110 miles from Cuba to Florida.

In 1978 at the age of 28, long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad (Annette Bening), whose name fittingly means water nymph, attempted to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys without a shark cage, a distance of 110 miles and 60 hours in the water.  That try failed but 33 years later, she tried again, but an asthma attack scuppered that swim.  Her third and fourth attempts ended when she was stung by jellyfish and by the onslaught of bad weather, but finally her fifth attempt, at the age of 64, with the help of her best friend and coach, Bonnie Stoll (Jodie Foster) and boat captain and navigator, John Bartlett (Rhys Ifans), was successful, though there has been some controversy surrounding its authenticity.

Written by Julia Cox and directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (who also directed the Oscar-winning documentary "Free Solo"), this film is their first feature film, and it is all about that final swim and how Nyad got there, but it's also the story of a life-long friendship between Nyad and her coach and friend, Bonnie Stoll.  Jodie Foster and Annette Bening are a wonderful team.

We don't see Jodie Foster acting much these days, and in a recent interview, she said it has to be something special to get her to want to act anymore.  But this film is special, and she helps to make it so with her quiet, intense portrayal. But Annette gets the splashy role (sorry) as she embodies Nyad's huge ego and her "magnificent obsession," which I guess is what it takes to accomplish something really, really big.  Both Bening and Foster were nominated for Golden Globes, and I expect some Oscar nominations in their future. Speaking of Annette Bening - she is one of those actors who will give it all to her "art," and as beautiful as she is, doesn't shy away from looking like hell, which she often does in this film.  She also did all of her own swimming, saying that some days she was in the water for over 8 hours.

Bening and Foster are both wonderful actresses individually, but together they are electric and just wonderful together.  They tell a story of a strong friendship and you can tell it's a real life friendship because it just emanates from the screen.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a riveting true story of what it takes to achieve a life-long goal and the power of female friendship. (Netflix) 

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

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And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that, and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!