Chuck (US – 2016) – Short Review

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for Cinetalk.net

Chuck (it was titled the The Bleeder when shown at TIFF in September)is based upon the real life story of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner who had a shot at glory in 1975 facing Muhammad Ali in the ring and making it to the 15th round.

Directed by Philippe Falardeau (The good lie) it stars Liev Schreiber (Spotlight, X-Men), Naomi Watts and Ron Perlman (Hellboy). It is said that Wepner’s story was influential in the Making of Rocky (1976). At least that is what he wants us to believe.

We are witnesses to the preceding, then the fight and the ensuing downfall. The depiction of 1970’s era is honest, the performances are enjoyable, especially Perlman as the manager. A colorful manager is a must to any boxing film.

Chuck is a pedestrian ride narrated with with a great dose of narcissism, but in such a self-deprecating way it ultimately becomes sympathetic. Chuck is much about trusting the word of the one telling the story…

Fantasia 2016 : Fourth place (South Korea)

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for Cinetalk.net

In Ji-woo Jung’s Fourth Place, Young Jun-Ho’s mother sees her son as a potential swimming champion, leaving him in the hands of a merciless coach, thus opening the door to moral and physical abuse.

Carefully crafted, structured with simplicity in a straight forward fashion, Fourth Place throws a punch at bullying by exposing the process (there is a beautiful 20 minutes prologue with the coach as a young man) leading to such anomaly.

Built on strong performances by the leads Continue reading

Football films #1 :Two Half-Times in Hell (Hungary – 1962))

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Legendary Hungarian director Zoltan Fabri’s Two Half-Times in Hell (aka The Last Goal, original title: Két félidő a pokolban ) is a deliberately inaccurate retelling of the real life 1942 European football match (Dubbed the Death Match) between a German soldier team and an Ukrainian War prisoners team made of former footballers of Kiev  Lokomotyv and Dynamo Continue reading

5 BASEBALL FILMS

for Cinetalk.net

Opening Day in Major League Baseball is just a couple days away. Except for Boxing, no other sport was put on screen as often as baseball,  America’s pastime. Instead of writing about the most popular titles like The Natural, Field of Dreams, Major League or the recently Oscar-nominated Moneyball, I suggest 5 lesser-known entries on the subject.

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1 – I Will Buy You (Anata kaimasu, Masaki Kobayashi, 1956)

A professional baseball scout is entitled to convince a promising athlete to  sign with the team of the Toyo Flowers.

Before  his stunning Human Condition trilogy, Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi made this tremendous film about Japan’s professional baseball industry.  It is a very engaging (if pitiless) look at the popular sport in 1950s Japan. Unlike many of his American counterparts, this is not a flattering portrait of the sport as the film exposes all maneuvers by rival scouts to sign the promising baseball player.

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2- Fear Strikes Out (Robert Mulligan, 1957)

Inspired by the true story of professional baseball player Jimmy Piersall, who battled mental illness to achieve stardom in the MLB.

Fear Strikes Out Features some amazing performances by Anthony Perkins ( predating Psycho deranged-character) Continue reading

A film to start your Super Bowl Week-End?

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North Dallas Forty (USA 1979, Ted Kotcheff)  – By Sandro Forte (for Cinetalk.net)

Ted Kotcheff’s North Dallas Forty, from the book by ex-NFL player Peter Gent, and starring Nick Nolte, is a semi-fictional comedy-drama on professional American Football players of the 70’s. The team of the North Dallas Bulls is clearly based on the real life NFL football team of the Dallas Cowboys, which Gent played for between 1964 and 1968.

A great sport Film, North Dallas Forty offers an inside look to a strange culture that leads to these famous Sunday clashes without any complacency . At the time it was one of the first film to deal with drugs, hidden wounds, the demeaning pressure by the staff. Nolte offers a great performance as an aging player trying to survive the weekend and the surroundings between the games. If the film shows love for the game it’s also being critical of it and Kotcheff keeps a great balance between humor and drama with limited means (the final game is obviously played in an empty stadium). You do believe it happened this way.

Critical of a system, 30 years before the movie Concussion (2015), North Dallas Forty shows that cinema is a memory by being very contemporary.

An ideal film to start your Super Bowl Weekend.