I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

My Photo
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

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Blind Side (2009)

I delayed going to see this movie initially.  I thought, "It's another one of those downtrodden-person-of-color-gets-their-live-saved-by-caring-white-person movies."  It's been done too many times before, and sometimes, it comes off as offensive.  But two things save this movie: it's a true story, and Sandra Bullock's performance.

Bullock portrays Leigh Anne Tuohy, a well-to-do Southern wife.  She's married to a successful businessman named Sean (Tim McGraw), and they have two children, Collins (Lily Collins) and S.J. (Jae Head).  One night while out driving with her family, she spots Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron).  He's walking in the cold with no coat.  After finding out he has no where to go that night, Leigh Anne takes him into her home. 

Soon, Leigh Anne discovers that Michael comes from a hard background: an absentee father, a drug addicted mother, a family split up by foster care.  Michael attends the same private school where Collins go, but he's been admitted mainly because of his size.  He's big, and Burt (Ray McKinnon), the school's football coach, sees gridiron glory on the horizon.  But Michael's academic skills are extremely low.  But he's good at football, and despite doubts from her husband and her friends, Leigh Anne believes in Michael's potential as a human being. 

Bullock's performance as the tough-but-loving Leigh Anne raises this movie from the often predictable, feel-good story.  However, the script tells the story through the eyes, and not enough from Michael's point of view. 

Ms. Bullock first gained fame through the blockbuster movie Speed (1994).  Tim McGraw is practically unrecognizable here; he's better known as a country music star.  Kathy Bates, who won an Oscar for her performance in Misery (1990), appears as a tutor to Michael.  The real Michael Oher is now a pro football player.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Crazy Heart (2009)

Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) was once a top country star, but he spent too much time peering out at life from the inside of a bottle.  When we meet him, Blake has been reduced to performing in small venues -- including a bowling alley -- throughout the south.  He still has fans who ask him to sing their favorite songs.  But he can no longer get a record deal, not even on the strength of Tommy (Colin Farrell), a former protege of Blake's who is a superstar.  

While working one gig, he meets Jane (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the niece of a piano player.  She's works for a newspaper, and requests to get an interview with Blake.  There is a mutual attraction, but Jane eases cautiously into a relation with Blake.  She has a divorce behind her, a few failed relationships, and a toddler son (Jack Nation) to look after.  Their relationship appears to produce some change in Blake's cynical outlook on life, but he still has a long road to go.

This film is a solid character study.  Bridges shows the emotional and physical pain that his character has carried around for decades through the way he moves, and the weariness in his voice.

Ms. Gyllenhaal appeared in the movie Secretary (2002), and actor Jake Gyllenhaal is her younger sibling.  Veteran actor Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies, 1983; The Godfather, 1972), has a small pivotal role.  Mr. Bridges is the son of actor Lloyd Bridges (High Noon, 1952; Airplane, 1980), and has been nominated for Oscars for his previous performances (The Last Picture Show, 1971; Starman, 1984).

Labels: , ,