Review: Trouble with the Curve

Trouble with the Curve Still

Director: Robert Lorenz
Screenplay: Randy Brown
Producers: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Michele Weisler
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, Matthew Lillard, John Goodman
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 111 min.


Early into Trouble with the Curve we meet “Peanut Boy” (Jay Galloway) a Latino youth that throws a bag of peanuts at Bo Gentry, a cocky hitter at the top of the draft list and who all the scouts are there to check out, including Clint Eastwood’s Gus. Problem is that Gus is losing his vision so he’s depending on his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), named after the baseball legend, to help him figure out if the Gentry kid is as good as the computers say he is.

It’s important to note this scene because from the moment it plays out, I expected the story to meander in his direction. It eventually goes the way you’d expect it to though that bit of plot doesn’t take centre stage until much later in the movie and the farther the plot meanders from that scene, the clearer it becomes that Trouble with the Curve isn’t really a movie about baseball. Sure, there’s a lot of baseball in it and it takes place in the heat of a baseball road trip (complete with tailgaters) but at its core this is a family drama and a romantic comedy brought together by baseball.

Gus is a stubborn and independent guy, the best scout in the business. Bo Gentry is the up-and-comer everyone’s talking about so the Braves send Gentry out to make sure that the kid is solid. But Gus’ boss and good friend Pete (John Goodman) knows Gus isn’t doing so well so he calls up Gus’ daughter Mickey and essentially convinces her to help out dad by going with him on this scouting trip which could likely be his last. Reluctantly she agrees, a decision that will affect both her personal and professional life. While on the road she and her father finally come to terms with their broken relationship, Mickey falls for a former player turned scout (Justin Timberlake) and she eventually saves the day by discovering that Peanut Boy is an exceptionally gifted pitcher.

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Cinecast Episode 245 – White People Cure Racism Through Football

Welcome back to our little show. Lots of in-house business items on the table this week, including the first grading of this semester’s homework assignments. Kurt and Matt discuss found footage superpower movie Chronicle. We delve into the state of the reborn Hammer studios with spooky ghost tale, The Woman in Black. Then we talk Clint Eastwood, Chrysler and the state of the Nation through Advertising and Politics. The Watchlist covers a fair bit of talk on David Mamet, but also the woefully received Clint Eastwood rugby movie, Invictus. Also, terrorism, Carlos and the films of Olivier Assayas. And Miranda July revisited. It’s a pleasantly meandering show in an otherwise quiet movie-going month. Join Us.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_12/episode_245.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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It’s Halftime in America: Don’t Change Horses Mid-Stream

I do not watch The Super Bowl. Generally, I am more interested in the movie trailers and whatnot that more or less tell me what films to avoid this summer, which are aired to great expense during the big game. Curiously, this year most of them made it to the internet a few days early; thus, I am a little bit late on this bit of tempestuousness hiding as a lengthy advertisement. My assumption that I had seen all of the biggies before Super Bowl Sunday was flat out false! Colour me surprised (and playing catch-up) when I came across this Chrysler Ad that plays like a bit of good old fashion propaganda. I’ll take this ‘entertainment’ any day over those gawd-awful Act of Valour ads that demonstrate Micheal Bay has been setting down the film-grammar for military recruiting for the past few decades, only to give birth to the perfect synergy of popcorn-entertainment and propaganda.

But I digress.

I am a fairly big fan of David Mamet penned Wag The Dog, and this commercial fits nicely into the “Don’t Change Horses Mid-Stream” Ads (themselves an echo of the Ronald Reagan Campaign “Morning in America spots in 1984.) that gets Dustin Hoffman hired, rewarded and then killed, in that film. Even more amusing is that it was directed by David Gordon Green, striding the line between original Americana, George Washington, and bad 1980s remake, The Sitter.

Apparently this has ruffled a lot of feathers. Clint’s made a statement, as has Karl Rove, and a lot of that is covered here.

Cinecast Episode 235 – Clint’s Notes

Our quickest show in some time: Gamble mangled his ankle and is on the DL and Kurt is suffering from an energy sapping cold. But we soldier on folks, we soldier on. Like good little Cineastes, we check out the yearly offering from Clint Eastwood. This time it is a puffy Leonardo DiCaprio making out with the man in the bad latex, Armie Hammer (sans CGI twin) across the annals of twentieth century America in J. Edgar **SPOILERS**. This segues into our first “VS.” segment, where we debate “Eastwood the Actor” vs. “Eastwood the Director”, and struggle with the thin line in between those distinctions. We also check back in with quality Brit-Creature-Feature Attack The Block **SPOILERS**. In The Watch List we get our music on with Bill Condon’s Dreamgirls and Jean-Marc Vallée’s Café de flore. A little bit of philosophical waxing on the nature of the Space and Time rounds out the show.
 
 

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_11/episode_235.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Movies We Watched

Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.

Hereafter poster

Hereafter

2010. Director: Clint Eastwood. Starring: Matt Damon, Cecile De France, Bryce Dallas Howard, Thiery Neuvic, Jay Mohr, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren, Richard Kind.

Clint Eastwood is perhaps more known now for being a director than an actor and he almost always delivers a handsomely made film, even if they don’t break any sort of new ground. But Hereafter sticks out like a sore thumb in his modern directorial repertoire – a too often overly sentimental, emotionally manipulative three-way story about death and what might come after. To be fair the blame falls on the script (by the usually excellent writer Peter Morgan, of such films as Frost/Nixon and The Last King of Scotland) and not on Eastwood’s direction, and the performances across the board are all very solid. But aside from a surprisingly bold but arguably entirely unnecessary (and tasteless?) Tsunami scene at the start, Hereafter follows the path you’d expect pretty much from start to finish. And the fact it had so much potential makes it all the more frustrating.
-ROSS

Aliens poster

Aliens

1986 USA. Director: James Cameron. Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Hendrickson, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein.

And with this I scratch another off my List of Shame, one that many many people have been nagging me to watch for a very long time. I had put it off after being less than enthused with the first film when I saw it ages ago (but I do want to rewatch it now), and because the shift from sci-fi to action that I’d heard about the second film didn’t really intrigue me. But I ended up quite enjoying it. It’s a great example of how to build a good and suspenseful action story; it says high-octane for most of the time, but it never loses sight of Ripley, and it allows her to gradually build into the action heroine she is at the end by using traits and skills established early on. The emotional throughline involving Newt is predictable, but effective. It’s interesting to compare this movie to Avatar, because lots of details from here turn up again, except here they all work much better within the narrative, with no over-earnest message-picture pandering. Similarly, this is a much better female empowerment narrative than a lot of so-called girl power movies in recent years, although my one complaint with the film is the over-determined machismo of the marines – I got the point, but some of those early boasting scenes went on far too long. Overall, though, a more than solid film that more sci-fi actioners should learn from.
-JANDY

(CANADA)

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Cinecast Episode 218 – Coked Out with a Shitty Comb Over

 
 
Matt Gamble returns to give us a breakdown on the newest D.C. property, Green Lantern. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. It being the halfway point of the year, we all take a at the state of the first 6 months and proffer up a top 5 films of 2011… so far. There is plenty of agreement and disagreement to be passed round the table, particularly on a certain ‘Killer Tire’ movie. After that it is a cornucopia of the latest theatrical screenings (Hammer Horror, quirky gay-father dramedy, and Supervisericide) before digging into Indiana Jones’ goofiest adventure, mid-1990s era action films (that as it turns out is not so nostalgic) and another movie that shall go unnamed (literally.) Oh yeah, and Cher. All of the usual DVD and Netflix stuff rounds out the show along with prognostication of Pixar’s next film being released this coming weekend: Cars 2. Sit back and enjoy this bed time story of sorts, with Andrew, Kurt, Matt and Sam.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_11/episode_218.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Cinecast Episode 187 – Stop Putting Wings on Paul Bettany!

Are we silly enough to talk about the use of 3D in Jackass 3D whilst watching it in 2D? Yes we are. Indulge us, as we do not spend that much time on it, but hey, this franchise gets crapped on more than it deserves and the boys are creative and energetically subversive enough in their stunt-ery to be worthy of some consideration. And despite what the haters think, it is still funny. We rehash some of the finer details of Knoxville and company over the past decade before switching gears to a second opinion on the seniors-on-a-mission mayhem from Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis and John Malkovich in Red. This leads to a bit of a tangent on all the ‘on-a-mission’ movies released this summer. Meanwhile, Andrew has been managing to keep up with his one-a-day DVD viewings and this week plugs another hole in the Polanski oeuvre with a quite violent take on a Shakespearean classic. Furthermore, the question of why are there not more caveman movies is uttered aloud after we look back at 1981’s Quest for Fire and also the pretty darn swell filmography of Frenchman Jean-Jacques Annaud. Another round of Nolan’s Batman pictures vs. Ang Lee’s Hulk, and the joy of surround sound screenings are all tossed into the conversational mixer. It is a good week for classic and contemporary DVDs and Blurays too. They are considered. If the title (or the truncated runtime of this episode makes little sense to you, that is because some seasonal gremlins ate a discussion on some of the remaining films to be released. Suffice it to say that the segment was out-of-this-world awesome now that it has been sacrificed to the binary demons and no one can hear it, but we are both surprisingly anticipating the Angelina Jolie / Johnny Depp ‘Charade-esque‘ thriller The Tourist amongst other things. Enjoy this exceedingly rare ‘short version’ of the RowThree cinecast!

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

 
 

 
 

To download the ALTERNATIVE (no music track) version of this episode,
paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_187-alt.mp3

 


 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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DVD Review: Dirty Harry (1971)

With Clint Eastwood’s birthday a few weeks ago, just about every movie he’s ever been a part of was re-released on DVD. The subsequent upgrade of my home theater to Blu-ray incited a need to relive some of these great films. Eastwood is arguably best known for his portrayal of the relentless cop with no tolerance for bullshit rules and red tape titularly known as “Dirty” Harry Calahan. This franchise seemed like as good of a place as any to start with some Eastwood magic.

The original Dirty Harry film is loosely based off of the Zodiac killer who terrorized San Francisco in the mid-60’s – the killer even identifies himself as Scorpio (one of the signs of the zodiac calendar). In fact, David Fincher’s film, Zodiac, even has a sequence in which his characters are at the movies watching Dirty Harry and they remark about the “rules” of the film within the film. A psycho is on the loose, killing indescriminantly while simultaneously taunting and bragging to the police and mayor’s office. In this fictitious version however, Scorpio is asking for money. While the mayor’s office scrambles to find the money to pay off this psycho, Calahan will none of it and sets off on an investigation of his own – hell-bent on capturing, or preferably killing, this maniac on the loose.

It’s been years since my last viewing of the original Dirty Harry film. As a kid it scared the bejeezus out of my fragile soul and this time around the film does its best to do the same. Though I’m older, desensitized and more mature, nevertheless the movie does a fantastic job of setting up an ominous mood when it needs to and the villain is just as I remember him – creepy, insane and worst of all utterly insane – thereby maintaining a very notable position in my top ten favorite villains of all time. The actor, Andrew Robinson, has an odd sounding voice, wide, bugging eyes and a strange mouth that articulates his menacing verbiage and maniacal laughs with shuddersome peculiarity.

Interestingly, the movie itself is only about 100 minutes, yet somehow really manages to take its time with the case and developing Calahan as someone more than just a cop with a gun. There are a few side plots involving unrelated bank heists, suicide attempts and street vigilantes. The story always weaves its way back to the central story line, but in between there is all manner of fun stuff to behold – “do you feel lucky? Well do ya punk!!?”

What makes this movie work and still hold up remarkably well today is its all-around style. Not only are there side tangents in the plot, but there’s a great sense of director Don Siegel really taking his time to show off and linger on the things that help encompass the mood. We don’t just see Harry Calahan answer a pay phone. Instead we see him running from a long distance to get there. It seems like five minutes go by as we wait for a little speck of nothingness on the dark horizon to slowly materialize as Calahan running towards the camera. We don’t just see Calahan enter a building and start talking to someone; we inexplicably have to watch him walk up about a hundred steps to get where he’s going. This is NOT a complaint. On the contrary, the longer we are able to look at and appreciate our surrounds, the easier we familiarize ourselves with the location and even have time to gather thoughts about what just took place or what is about to happen. This occurs alot throughout the film and not only is it there just to linger on great shots or put ourselves in the shoes of a character, but at times it also adds to the tension in the scene.

With regards to the music in the film, at times I swear Soderbergh was around to help collaborate with these decisions. In most of the scenes involving Scorpio, we get to watch his goings-on with just a funky drum kit beat pumping in the background. The occasional jazz flute or bass line may accompany, but for the most part it’s just a funky rhythm that paces itself depending on what is happening within the scene. In darker, more ominous scenes, the film might as well evolve into a pure ghost/horror film with some of the haunting vocals and ambient instrumentals that accompany the visuals. It’s seriously one of the coolest and most effective scores I’ve ever heard.

Dirty Harry, as iconic as it is, doesn’t get mentioned very often in discussion about great cinema; which is a shame. Because watching again after all these years and with much more in the way of a frame of reference, I see this picture as one of the best “cops and robbers” movies I’ve ever seen. The style and mood is what sells it, but the addition of great and (at the time) innovative characters solidifies this film as a must-see staple. Dirty Harry changed the landscape of American cop movies for the better and I look forward to checking out all of the sequels to the film over the coming days/weeks.