February 2008

Hoops Week!

by Alan Rapp on February 29, 2008

in Uncategorized

Welcome boys and girls to our latest theme week!  This week, along with our regular fare, and in honor of Will Ferrell’s new film Semi-Pro, we’ll be bringing you more basketball goodness than you can stand!  Check out the Full Diagnosis for all the week’s links!

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Reviews:

Semi-Pro
Hoosiers
Space Jam
Glory Road
Teen Wolf
Blue Chips
Love & Basketball
Crossover
Mr. Woodcock

Features:

Will Ferrell’s Semi-Pro Interview
“Beware of the Phog”

Odds & Ends:

Futurama – “Time Keeps on Slipping”
Kansas Jayhwawks video
The Animated Adventures of the Harlem Globetrotters

Semi-Pro

by Alan Rapp on February 29, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Semi-Pro
  • IMDB: link

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I’m not a huge Will Ferrell fan.  I usually prefer my Ferrell in small SNL skits or films which aren’t built entirely around him acting as silly as possible (check out my review for Stranger Than Fiction).  There are exceptions to this rule however as I though Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was a very strong comedy.  Semi-Pro, to me, isn’t as good a film, but for those who enjoyed Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and/or Blades of Glory this one should be right up your alley (oh wait, that’s bowling).

The movie centers around the Flint, Michigan Tropics, a struggling ABA team and their owner/player/coach Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell).  Moon is hit with the news that the ABA is disbanding and only four teams will make the transition to the NBA.  Trading the team’s washing machine for a washed-up point guard (Woody Harrelson), Jackie tries to will his team into fourth place, and into the NBA, before the end of the season.

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The Other Boleyn Girl

by Alan Rapp on February 29, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Other Boleyn Girl
  • IMDB: link

“Our daughters are being traded like cattle for the advancement of men.”

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The story centers around the two Boleyn girls.  The older, more conniving Anne (Natalie Portman) and the sweeter, though simpler, Mary (Scarlett Johansson), are thrust into a world of societal intrigue and deception for which neither is prepared.

The bond between the sisters is put to the test when their father (Mark Rylance) and uncle (David Morrissey) ask Anne to attempt to seduce King Henry VIII (Eric Bana) and become his new mistress, only to discover he prefers the attentions of the other Boleyn girl – Mary.

What follows are schemes upon schemes, plotting, lies and deceptions which will leave England a far different country, and the Boleyn girls far worse for wear.

The story was adapted by Peter Morgan (The Queen) from the historical novel by Philippa Gregory.  Although the novel became a best seller, the film always seems to be grasping for what made the story work on the printed page.

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Penelope

by December Lambeth on February 29, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Penelope
  • IMDB: link

penelope-poster

Here is a classic yet modern fairy tale of life and true love. Who hasn’t experienced a touch of Penelope from time to time? Who hasn’t felt loved or appreciated or wanted by another or society because of one flaw or another? Everybody has felt dejected in one format or another and Penelope gives us a lighthearted reach into hope; a lighthearted reach with James McAvoy being the end result and no longer feeling like an outcast. True, I may have read just a little more into a simple fairy tale than what was actually there. Then again, isn’t that what going to the moves is all about?

Here we have Penelope (Christina Ricci) and blue-blooded aristocrat that is the first-born female who receives a gypsies curse. Her family kind of pissed off a gypsy by double crossing her daughter and a curse was put upon the entire family tree, the first girl to be born would have the face of a pig, which will not release that child until she is loved unconditionally by one of her own. Luck would have it that after generations of Wilhern’s born Penelope is the first girl and therefore the cursed.

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Hoosiers

by Alan Rapp on February 28, 2008

in DVD Reviews 

Check out any list of the best sports films ever made and the odds are quite good that at,or near, the top you will find Hoosiers.  The story of a small town basketball program and a coach given a second chance chasing the dream of the state championship works as well today as it did when it was released more than two decades ago. 

Hoosiers
Custom Rating

“Welcome to Indiana basketball.”

Loosely based on the true experiences of Milan High School’s basketball team’s championship in 1954 the film tells the story of Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) who lost his last head coaching job due to his temper and a violent outburst directed at one of his players.  Now considered untouchable Dale is given the opportunity by an old friend (Sheb Wooley) to coach a small high school in Indiana with barely enough players to field a team.

What Hickory, Indiana does have however is a vocal local fanbase of knowledgeable basketball fans who aren’t too keen on the new coach or his system of team ball.  Earlier on the coach spends more time deflecting, and ignoring, their unsolicited advice than actually coaching.

With support of the town’s best player (Maris Valainis) and the knowledge of an alcoholic assistant coach (Dennis Hopper), Coach Dale manages to keep his job long enough to start winning some games and make a run at the state championship.

If you love the game of basketball, this is the film for you.  Down to the basics of passing, moving, dribbling, hard work, and execution the script by Angelo Pizzo (who would also write another pretty good sports movie) gives us a basketball experience in its purest form.  The film also succeeds in capturing the small town feel and the emphasized importance of high school basketball to the community.

Hackman is well cast as the gruff head coach and surrounded with a team of underdogs who look and sound the part (Scott Summers, Wade Schenck, Kent Poole, Brad Long, Steve Hollar, Brad Boyle).  Barbara Hershey also has a small role as a Marian the Librarian type who distrusts the coach, researches into his past, and then must decide what to do with the information she finds.

The film is sports in a nutshell.  It’s a tale about the love of the game, of second chances, of hard work and perseverance, of the little guy taking on the bigger challenger on the largest stage possible, and of winning the right way.  Sure, there’s a bit of sports cliche along the way, but it’s dealt with in such an honest and forthright way that it never comes close to harming the characters, the story, or the film itself.

Hoosiers is a basketball film made by, and for, those who love basketball.  Considering its reverence among sports movies I was a little surprised to find the average score on both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB to be only a 7.5.  If you haven’t seen Hoosiers in years give it a second chance.  And if you’ve never seen it (where have you been?) get out there and find a copy!  You will be glad you did.