18 March 2008

Cinderella Man

The March movie of the month was, of course, Cinderella Man staring Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger and the wonderful Paul Giamatti. This is the true story of Depression era boxer Jim Braddock's rise from the soup line to win the heavyweight championship of the world. Quick plot summary: Braddock is at the peak of his career when the depression hits. We learn that he lost a big fight and his career has spiraled downward to the point that his boxing license is revoked. Living in poverty, Jim is forced to go on relief and even beg to keep his family together. Then opportunity comes. Corn Griffin, the number 2 contender, has to find a fighter on short notice when his opponent drops out. Braddock is chosen on the novelty that he has never been knocked out (and no one else will take a fight without time to train). In a shocking turn of events, Braddock wins in the 3rd round. He continues to win matches and finds himself fighting for the Heavy Weight Championship against Max Baer, who recently killed a man in the ring. In the meantime Jim has not only distanced himself form poverty but also paid back all the relief he was given. He is dubbed the Cinderella Man and is made a hero of the common people. Think Seabiscut but a boxer. Braddock wins the Heavyweight Title and all is well.

I know a lot of people don't like the sports movie genre because they don't like the idea of taking sports and turning it into a metaphor for life. I personally don't have a problem with that formula. I love movies like The Natural, Hoosiers, Rocky etc. But what sets this movie apart is that it's a true story about a man who finds himself in dire circumstance and manages to fight his way out. And by the way he's a professional athlete. So it's really the life story of an amazing man who happens to be a boxer. I think that's also why I love the original Rocky. There's only really 5 minutes or less of boxing in that film. Anyway, I digress. Cinderella Man is a great story about the triumph of the human spirit, beautifully told through the eyes of Opie.

A quick note that makes the story more palatable for me: Max Baer is kind of depicted as a murderous thug. The truth is that Max was devastated when he killed Frankie Campbell in a match earlier in his career. In fact he lost 4 of his next 6 matches before moving to the east coast and defeating Primo Carneira for the title. 

So I need to talk about the actors. There is something I really don't like about Russell Crowe. I can't put my finger on it but he drives me crazy. On the other hand I must concede that he is a fine actor. This film and Beautiful Mind, among others, are fine examples of his workmanship. When I finally pin down what I don't like I'll let you all know. It's there, trust me. I also have very mixed feelings about Renee Zellweger. I keep telling myself that I don't really care for her acting but every film that I think of with her in it she does a pretty darn good job. There are scenes in Cinderella Man where we see her struggling with the realities of poverty and fighting to keep her family together that put a lump in my throat. But something about her still bugs me. The "You are the champion of my heart" was a bit over the top but it could have been worse. Now Paul Giamatti. In my book this man can do no wrong. I love him even in really crappy movies like Lady in the Water. But you should check him out in The Illusionist. I just really like watching him act. His portrayl of Joe Gould puts all the fun into this film. And he delivers one of the best lines of the film. Jim is begging for money and when he approaches Joe he appologizes. Joe replies by saying "What the hell do you have to be sorry for?" I seriously am moved just thinking of that part and Paul's delivery in that scene. Wonderful. Maybe my favorite part of the film. I hope he continues to make many more movies.

So that was Cinderella Man. I hope you all really enjoyed it like I did. On to the April Movie of the month. This category is a bit more complicated. I want everyone to suggest 2 films - an original and it's remake (or a film based on the original). Let me give examples: Seven Samurai and Magnificent Seven (for that matter, Magnificent Seven and Three Amigos), Bringing Up Baby and What's Up Doc, Cheaper by the Dozen and Cheaper by the Dozen, Father of the Bride (Spencer Tracy) and Father of the Bride (Steve Martin), Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Invasion, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bedtime Story and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Man Who Knew Too Much and The Man Who Knew Too Little, Oceans Eleven and Oceans Eleven, The Italian Job and The Italian Job etc etc. You get the point. Feel free to submit one of my suggestions above. If you need help I found this
website useful.

My official submission is Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) and Mr. Deeds (2002). If you found this category a pain I promise next month it will be much lighter. So let me know what you thought of Cinderella Man and DON'T FORGET TO SUBMIT YOUR MOVIES!

01 March 2008


So i went on this hike today with a bunch of friends. What a beautiful hike and what a fun swing over a waterfall into a natural pool.

Kinda makes you wanna come out. We'll put you up you just gotta fly out here.