I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cinderella Man (2005)

Jim Braddock, (Russell Crowe) a boxer, is doing well at the beginning of the film. But then, the Great Depression takes its toll on him and his family. A broken hand keeps him out of the ring for awhile. He's reduced to begging for work at the docks to provide for his wife Mae (Renee Zellweger) and their three kids. Then his fast-talking manager, Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti), gets him another fight. Braddock is expected to lose, because he is considered to be washed up.

The plot focuses mainly on Braddock's struggle to keep his family together during tough economic times. Braddock is shown as a proud family man, a regular guy who just wants his kids to have a little more than he did. His wife never attends his matches in person, because she can't take seeing her husband get hit. Yet, she supports his decision to fight. As Braddock moves up in the ranks, his struggle brings hope to his family, and others as well.

There was a real Jim Braddock, who was a boxing champion in the 1930's. He eventually retired from boxing after losing to Joe Louis. The movie covers events leading up to a defining fight against Max Baer (Craig Bierko). There are some inaccuracies in the film. For example, Baer is made out to be a out-and-out villian, when he wasn't that bad. Otherwise, this is one of the better boxing-themed movies.

Mr. Crowe won an Oscar for his performance in Gladiator (2000). Mr. Giamatti was an odious radio executive in Private Parts (1997). Ms. Zellweger was the lead in Bridget Jones Diary (2001). Boxing fans will recognize the older man playing one of Braddock's corner men during the fights. It's Boxing Hall of Famer Angelo Dundee, the man who trained Muhammad Ali.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

I Am Legend (2007)

A cure for cancer created by a doctor (Emma Thompson) goes horribly wrong in this remake. Instead of being a boon to mankind, the serum kills off most of the world's population. Flashbacks show a military scientist med Robert (Will Smith), trying to get his wife (Salli Richardson) and daughter (Willow Smith) out of Manhattan to safety. Confusion reigns as many other residents are denied escape because they have been infected.

In the present, Robert's only companion is his dog. His wife and child were killed in an accident as they were trying to leave. He sends out radio messages to anyone that may be still alive. Robert also tries to find a cure for the plague that has decimated humans. He feels that he is responsible for not being able to stop it when it first happened. At night, Robert barricades himself and the dog in the house. The virus has turned most of the humans who are still walking around into cannibals who seek victims.

This film reminded me a lot of Cast Away (2000). There's a man alone in a bad situation with a mute companion to whom to talk. However, the main character's isolation wears thin after awhile, and the mutated creatures weren't scary enough.

Will Smith was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for Ali (2001) and The Pursuit of Happyness (2006). Willow Smith is his daughter. Salli Richardson was featured in Once Upon A Time. . .When We Were Colored (1995) and How You Like Me Now (1993).

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Family Man (2000)

Brett Ratner directed this fantasy about a successful guy named Jack (Nicholas Cage) who is given a glimpse of what could have been. The film opens several years earlier when Jack is on his way to take advantage of an internship in England. His girlfriend Kate (Tea Leoni) has a feeling that he shouldn't go. Kate fears Jack won't return to her. She's right.

Fast forward to the present where Jack is a top dog at an investment firm. He's rich and successful. He stops in a store on Christmas Eve and witnesses a confrontation between Cash (Don Cheadle) and a clerk at the counter. Cash has a gun. Jack talks Cash out of being violent, and they leave the store. Jack gives Cash some money, and Cash gives Jack a hint that he's missed out on something in life. Jack goes home for the evening, but when he wakes up the next morning, Kate is sleeping next to him. Annie (Mackenzie Vega) runs into the bedroom, calling Jack "Daddy". Jack is understandably confused and upset.

The rest of film follows Jack as he navigates through the life he would have had if he'd married Kate. There's a message that people aren't fulfilled unless they are married have kids, which I didn't buy. But I could get with the message of "follow your heart".

Nicholas Cage is related to the Coppola family. His credits include Moonstruck (1987) and Con Air (1997). Jeremy Piven plays Cage's best friend; he was in the quirky ABC TV series "Cupid" (1998-1999). Tea Leoni was in the TV series "The Naked Truth" (1995-1998). Don Cheadle was the lead in Talk To Me (2007).

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