Total films seen so far this year: 272
Films seen in the last week: The Wedding Video, Frankenweenie, The Bird, A Few Best Men
FILM OF THE WEEK: BRAVE
Five Unsung Sports Movies That Are Worth Checking Out
I'm very much a fair-weather sports fan (I watch Wimbledon and will catch the odd World Cup game but that's about it) but like pretty much everyone else in the country, I was completely sucked into the Olympics over the past two weeks and it got me thinking about my favourite sports movies (I may not love sports but I do love sports movies). Then I thought there'd be no point listing my favourite sports movies, because they are all the well known ones (Breaking Away, Eight Men Out, Raging Bull and so on, along with more recent films like Whip It and Friday Night Lights). So instead, here's a list of five unsung sports movies that you probably haven't seen, all of which are well worth checking out.
1. North Dallas Forty (1979). Nick Nolte gives one of his best performances as Phillip Elliot, an ageing American football player who's become dependent on painkillers as he struggles to avoid being replaced by younger players.
2. Personal Best (1982). Mariel Hemingway stars in writer/director Robert Towne's sensitive lesbian drama about female track and field athletes preparing for the 1980 Olympic games. Also stars real-life track star Patrice Donnelly.
3. Bang The Drum Slowly (1973). Along with the same year's Mean Streets, this was the film that helped bring De Niro widespread fame. He plays Bruce Pearson, a slow-witted catcher for fictional baseball team New York Mammoths, who becomes terminally ill. His best friend and confidant is the team's star pitcher (Michael Moriarty), who manipulates the team's manager into continuing to allow Bruce to play, without revealing his reasons.
4. Stick It (2006). I asked several gymnastics-watchers if they'd seen this during the Olympics and no-one had, which surprised me, as it's one of the few films about the sport. Missy Peregrym plays Haley Graham, a rebellious teenager who's forced to return to the world of competitive gymnastics she left behind. Also starring Jeff Bridges, who's a lot of fun as the team's trainer.
5. The Cutting Edge (1992). Okay, so it's likely that ice skating fans are well aware of this film, as it's something of a cult movie, despite going straight to video back in 1992. Essentially, it's an ultra-cheesy romcom, starring D.B. Sweeney as a has-been ice hockey player who's paired with Moira Kelly's spoiled rich girl figure skater in the run up to the Winter Olympics. Still, if you haven't seen it, it's both an enjoyable romcom and an enjoyable ice skating movie.
Films I Am Dying To See: Wreck-It Ralph
I can't remember when the rest of the internet saw the Wreck-It Ralph trailer, but it was a while ago and I filed it away for future watching and then forgot about it. However, during a visit to Disney HQ yesterday (can't say why, embargoed, etc), I saw the poster for it and it reminded me that I still had to watch the trailer. Needless to say, the film has now rocketed onto my Dying To See list.
The idea is genuinely inspired, taking its cues from the likes of Toy Story, only this time it's video game characters that have lives outside of the games they're in. John C. Reilly voices Wreck-It Ralph, a hulking video game villain who's tired of being the bad guy and longs to be a hero, so he walks out of his game (“Fix-It Felix”, voiced by 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer) and signs up to a Call of Duty-style videogame as one of the good guys, before realising he may have bitten off more than he can chew (“When did videogames get so VIOLENT?”).
Sadly, I was never much of a videogame player beyond the likes of Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and so on (I am slightly more familiar with the Mario characters thanks to my nephews' Wii, but that's as far as it goes), so a lot of the in-jokes and references are likely to be lost on me. In the now seemingly-obligatory support group scene (00m50s), for example, I can recognise Bowzer and the Pac-Man ghost and I get that the fighter is meant to be from Mortal Kombat (or whatever), but that's about it, so I'll have to rely on game-savvy friends to fill me in.
Anyway, the concept is inspired and the voice cast (which also includes Jane Lynch and Sarah Silverman) is extremely promising – I love the scene with Silverman's annoying little girl character at the end of the trailer. Unfortunately, the film doesn't open here till February, so quite a while to wait yet.