A Solid Second Serve, Borg vs. McEnroe

So right off the bat I have to say Mea Culpa in being THE most biased reviewer when it comes to a film about John McEnroe (Borg vs. McEnroe directed by Janus Metz). See I’ve been in love with him since I was 17, had my bedroom wall plastered with his photos as a senior in high school, met him for an autograph in 1983, even loved his short lived interview show, and am still to this day, downright giddy when I see him commentating. I LOVE THIS MAN.

On the other hand, I may be the most biased against a film that stars Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe. HOWEVER, Shia LaBeouf actually did a very good job portraying him. And I mean, very, very believable. My only nitpick is that McEnroe is a rocker (meaning in the physical self-soothing way) and in a scene where he’s on an interview Tonight Show like show, he sat perfectly still. That’s not Mac. But beyond that, excellent. And talk about kindred spirits…it’s no secret that Shia has been arrested a few times due to reckless behavior. I’d actually read Shia’s book about his obviously tortured past. I’d even help him edit (HINT, HINT).

The man who plays Borg could have easily been Borg’s son, or an identical clone that was cryogenically defrosted, Sverrir Gudnason. Not much acting involved besides pensive looks, but still, well done. And the man who’s in every Lars Von Trier film, Stellan Skarsgard, was also good as ‘the coach’.

The screenplay by Ronnie Sandahl (who won accolades for a foreign film called Under Dog) told each player’s back stories enough for us to understand their tremendous drive to be victor. And extra congrats to the man who did the musical score, Jonas Struck who not only saved, but refreshed re-watching a condensed 5 hour tennis match.

Definitely worth seeing on the big screen, especially if you’re a tennis fan. And thank you very much to my comedy editor and com padre, Bob, for treating me to this film, the finale of the Cineworld Film Fest sponsored by the Sarasota film Society.

Battle of the Sexes, I Miss the 70’s

For many reasons, I love the 70’s. It’s partly the drop dead beautiful music (Elton John‘s Rocket Man, George Harrison‘s What is Life!), partly that I was a little girl obsessed with the adult world (10 at the time of the King-Riggs match), and partly due to the moments of spectacle (like the aforementioned tennis match and another off the top of my head- Evel Knievel). These days, everything has become a spectacle and consequently, very few things are that amazing.

At any rate, Battle of the Sexes was good. Emma Stone, good. Steve Carell, great. But because the real people are so damn cool, I’d prefer to see a well executed documentary rather than people playing them. Which goes back to corroborate my love of that decade.

Probably the most extraordinary part of the film is the back story of Billie Jean’s sexuality and that she was one of the first people (at least of that era) that had to finally be courageous enough to live the life she truly wanted. Although according to Wiki, she didn’t actually get divorced until 1987, but perhaps the movie, which led me to believe he knew at 1973 that Billie was a lesbian, stayed married for practical purposes.

An interesting sub-plot was the nutritional advisor Rheo Blair who Bobby Riggs employed to help is stamina. Fred Armisen of SNL and Portlandia portrayed the man, and unfortunately, his appearance reminded me of Louis CK in Trumbo and here I’ll invoke another tennis legend in Fred as actor choice, “You Can’t Be Serious!”. Even more strange, ther’s no wiki page on this dude. Try it, all you’ll come up with his his own website-Nutritionist to the Stars! I expected some Brian Wilson psychiatrist type scandal bringing this guy down eventually. Hmmmm, a mystery.

So, Battle of the Sexes a good walk down memory lane, but not as spectacular as the spectacle of the genuine articles.

Mr. Right indeed, but the Movie, Mr. Mediocre

My number one fantasy man is still John McEnroe (not a movie actor-smiley face). He’s the primal adolescent raging hormone man I fell in love with, and plastered my bedroom wall with a giant photo collage with, so long ago. And speaking of high school, I felt that way and this photo reflects that sentiment at a recent ‘Meet up”: https://www.meetup.com/Parties-by-LeslieSRQ/photos/27917964/461772634/?#461772644

And now you’re asking, what’s with the fantasy talk lately, first Bright Star and the James Taylor dance and now this? Wait for it. But also in my defense, this is Florida, the supposed sunshine state and yet it has rained almost (one was rain free) ten consecutive days. But do spread the word on the miserable Florida weather, I’d like to stave the population rush here (newspaper reports 600,000 new Fla. residents annually…is that even possible?).

Back to the movie review, I knew going in that Mr. Right (directed by Paco Cabezas (if I ever become domesticated myself, Paco Cabezas is my next cat’s name hands down!) was not well reviewed. In fact, I believe it went straight to dvd.

At any rate, I knew I wouldn’t hate it since my number two fantasy man (told you I’d get to it) is Sam Rockwell. I’m geeky enough to have watched and re-watched his audition (a dvd special feature) for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Which I just realized I loaned to Mr. “Hey Let Me Tell You What to Watch and Listen, But I’m Not Going to Quid Pro Quo”. Oh well, perhaps I don’t need to see Sam break dance any longer.

As much as I do like Sam (best film “Moon” though “Snatch” is also great), he looked like he wasn’t totally enjoying being Mr. Right. I may be projecting given that I am not an Anna Kendrick fan (though I don’t dislike her-best film “Up in the Air”). After wracking my brain thinking of who would have been good in this female lead, I came up with two ideas: Sarah Silverman and even better, Jenny Slate. Max Landis (screenwriter) wrote a crazy girl role, but then someone chose Pollyanna (Kendrick)to play her. Bad choice.

But on a rainy Saturday, a little profanity and flirtation wasn’t half bad. Althought Mr. Right was a Kiss Kiss Bang Bang wanna be, it was still a good PPLL.

Snowpiercer: Ode to McEnroe, “You Can Not Be Serious!”

Much like that chair ump with an obvious stygmatism from the late 70’s are Rotten Tomatoes reviewers(94%) and David Denby of The New Yorker. You can not be serious! Snowpiercer was horrid story telling, due to either the original book being flawed or the screenplay and editing askew, and I’m not about to try to find out. I’m just relieved I escaped with a few laughs from Tilda Swinton’s magical near cameo-esque performance and the ascetic beauty of Chris Evans’ face while I stifled a laugh at his ridiculous dialogue (paraphrasing here, but something to the effect of “I started hating myself for liking the taste of babies.”) Holy Jonathan Swift! See? I cannot even finish a compliment without being stymied by a stupid moment in this film.

Chris Evans

This plot had more holes than my fishnet stockings. Like how were the Korean father daughter team huffing the noxious drug yet still able to snap to whenever ‘danger’ came their way?

In addition, the gratuitous violence was more than one needs in a life time. I have to hand it to Bong-Joon-ho though, even he must have grown weary of your basic man on man violence. In subsequent scenes he added twists like power outage train tunnel fighting lit with an infrared type lighting and slow motion sequences where the sounds of hitting and grunting finally came to an end, proving that even the protagonist was numbed by the sheer banality.

I’ll finish on a positive, the movie’s super antagonist, played by Ed Harris has a great line near the film’s end to Chris Evans, “You’re so tense. When’s the last time you got laid?” Now THAT would have been a much better film!