Film Review – DOWNHILL RACER (1969)

Downhill Racer (1969) | Nostalgia CentralDOWNHILL RACER (1969, USA) ***
Drama, Sport
dist. Paramount Pictures; pr co. Wildwood Enterprises; d. Michael Ritchie; w. James Salter (based on the novel “The Downhill Racers” by Oakley Hall); pr. Richard Gregson; ph. Brian Probyn (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.85:1); m. Kenyon Hopkins; ed. Richard A. Harris; ad. Ian Whittaker; cos. Cynthia May, Edith Head (uncredited); m/up. Bill Lodge; sd. Elden Ruberg, Kevin Sutton (Mono); sfx. Roy L. Downey (uncredited); st. Stefan Zürcher, Joe Jay Jalbert (both uncredited); rel. 28 October 1969 (USA), 19 March 1970 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 101m.

cast: Robert Redford (Chappellet), Gene Hackman (Claire), Camilla Sparv (Carole), Karl Michael Vogler (Machet), Jim McMullan (Creech), Kathleen Crowley (Reporter), Dabney Coleman (Mayo), Kenneth Kirk (D.K.), Oren Stevens (Kipsmith), Jerry Dexter (Engel), Walter Stroud (Mr. Chappellet), Carole Carle (Lena), Rip McManus (Devore), Joe Jay Jalbert (Tommy Erb), Tom J. Kirk (Stiles), Robin Hutton-Potts (Gabriel), Heini Schuler (Meier), Peter Rohr (Boyriven), Arnold Alpiger (Hinsch), Eddie Waldburger (Haas).

Redford stars as a single-minded downhill ski racer who is called up to the US team following an injury to another team member. He is a loner and does not bond well with his teammates or his coach (Hackman). When he begins to place and then win races he is seen as a major challenger for the Olympic title. Along the way he hooks up with Sparv who works for a ski manufacturer looking for a contract with the US team. Redford gives an excellent understated performance and is well supported by Hackman as the coach attempting to make a team out of different individuals. Their clashes are the best part of this sports drama, which otherwise adopts a pseudo-documentary approach to its subject, thereby remaining at a distance from his motivations. As a result, there is little to endear us to Redford’s character. Scenes with Stroud as his father, who shows little pride in his son’s achievements, fall short in offering any observations as to character make-up. Even the sporting drama is somehow lost in Ritchie’s clinical drive for authenticity. The film ends without offering any conclusions to the questions it raises and ultimately falls short leaving us just to admire the Alpine scenery, the excellent ski action and two very fine actors making the most of the material.

Film Review – TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (2012)

Image result for trouble with the curveTROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (USA, 2012) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 19 September 2012 (USA), 30 November 2012 (UK); Filming Dates: Began March 2012; Running Time: 111m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital | Datasat | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Panavision (anamorphic) (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Robert Lorenz; Writer: Randy Brown; Executive Producer: Tim Moore; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Michele Weisler; Director of Photography: Tom Stern; Music Composer: Marco Beltrami; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Gary Roach; Casting Director: Geoffrey Miclat; Production Designer: James J. Murakami; Art Director: Patrick M. Sullivan Jr.; Set Decorator: Gary Fettis; Costumes: Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Luisa Abel; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Steve Riley; Visual Effects: Darin McCormick-Millett.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Gus Lobel), Amy Adams (Mickey Lobel), Justin Timberlake (Johnny Flanagan), Matthew Lillard (Phillip Sanderson), Jack Gilpin (Schwartz), John Goodman (Pete Klein), Robert Patrick (Vince), Scott Eastwood (Billy Clark), Ed Lauter (Max), Chelcie Ross (Smitty), Raymond Anthony Thomas (Lucious), Matt Bush (Danny), George Wyner (Rosenbloom), Bob Gunton (Watson), Tom Dreesen (Rock), James Patrick Freetly (Todd), Joe Massingill (Bo Gentry), Jay Galloway (Rigoberto (Rigo) Sanchez), Sammy Blue (the blues guitar musician).
      Synopsis: An ailing baseball scout in his twilight years takes his daughter along for one last recruiting trip.
      Comment: Whilst the movie may be both predictable and a little contrived it is more than compensated for by the central performance of Eastwood and his strong chemistry with Adams (as his estranged daughter) and Timberlake (a former protegee). Goodman is also good in a supporting role as Eastwood’s boss. Traditional crowd-pleasing elements combine with the grizzled cynicism of Eastwood’s character to make for an enjoyable, if slight, entertainment.

Film Review – MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004)

Image result for million dollar baby 2004MILLION DOLLAR BABY (USA, 2004) *****
      Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors; Production Company: Warner Bros. / Lakeshore Entertainment / Malpaso Productions / Albert S. Ruddy Productions; Release Date: 5 December 2004 (USA), 14 January 2005 (UK); Filming Dates: 7 June 2004 – 14 July 2004; Running Time: 132m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm (Kodak Vision 2383); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Paul Haggis (based on stories from “Rope Burns” by F.X. Toole); Executive Producer: Robert Lorenz, Gary Lucchesi; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Paul Haggis, Tom Rosenberg, Albert S. Ruddy; Director of Photography: Tom Stern; Music Composer: Clint Eastwood; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Richard C. Goddard; Costumes: Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Tania McComas; Sound: Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman; Special Effects: Steve Riley; Visual Effects: Liz Radley.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Frankie Dunn), Hilary Swank (Maggie Fitzgerald), Morgan Freeman (Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris), Jay Baruchel (Danger Barch), Mike Colter (Big Willie Little), Lucia Rijker (Billie ‘The Blue Bear’), Brían F. O’Byrne (Father Horvak), Anthony Mackie (Shawrelle Berry), Margo Martindale (Earline Fitzgerald), Riki Lindhome (Mardell Fitzgerald), Michael Peña (Omar), Benito Martinez (Billie’s Manager), Bruce MacVittie (Mickey Mack), David Powledge (Counterman at Diner), Joe D’Angerio (Cut Man), Marcus Chait (J.D. Fitzgerald), Tom McCleister (Lawyer), Erica Grant (Nurse), Naveen (Pakistani), Morgan Eastwood (Little Girl in Truck), Jamison Yang (Paramedic), Dean Familton (Ref #1), Louis Moret (Ref #2), V.J. Foster (Ref #3), Jon D. Schorle II (Ref #4), Marty Sammon (Ref #5), Steven M. Porter (Ref #6), Ray Corona (Ref #7), Ming Lo (Rehab Doctor), Miguel Pérez (Restaurant Owner), Jim Cantafio (Ring Doctor #1), Ted Grossman (Ring Doctor #2), Ned Eisenberg (Sally Mendoza), Marco Rodríguez (Second at Vegas Fight), Roy Nugent (Fan in Vegas), Don Familton (Ring Announcer), Mark Thomason (Radio Commentator), Brian T. Finney (Irish Fan #1), Spice Williams-Crosby (Irish Fan #2), Kim Strauss (Irish Fan #3), Rob Maron (Irish Fan #4), Kirsten Berman (Irish Fan #5), Susan Krebs (Rehab Nurse), Sunshine Chantal Parkman (Rehab Nurse #2), Kim Dannenberg (Rehab Nurse #3), Eddie Bates (Rehab Resident).
      Synopsis: A determined woman works with a hardened boxing trainer to become a professional.
      Comment: An outstanding drama that works on many levels. It’s seemingly simple and straight-forward sporting drama plot is deceptive as it adds subtle layers of subtext and a change of direction in its final act that is both shocking and intensely moving. Eastwood, Swank and Freeman give multi-dimensional performances. Haggis’ script is wonderful in its use of dialogue and the way it manages the more melodramatic moments. Eastwood directs with a veteran’s eye and ear. Stern’s contrast heavy photography helps set the dark tone. A true modern classic.
      Notes: Won 4 Oscars including Best Film, Director, Actress (Swank) and Supporting Actor (Freeman).

Film Review – SILVER DREAM RACER (1980)

Silver Dream Racer (1980; UK; Eastmancolor; 111m) ∗∗½  d. David Wickes; w. David Wickes, Michael Billington; ph. Paul Beeson; m. David Essex.  Cast: David Essex, Beau Bridges, Cristina Raines, Clarke Peters, Harry H. Corbett, Diane Keen, Lee Montague, Sheila White, Patrick Ryecart, Ed Bishop, T.P. McKenna, David Baxt. A young hot-headed motorbike enthusiast inherits the prototype for an incredibly fast machine which was designed by his brother. Cliché ridden sports drama benefits from lively performances from Bridges and Peters, but is ultimately predictable. Star Essex, whose hot-headed character competes for Raines’ affections with Bridges, also provided the music score. Corbett’s last feature film. US shorter cut runs 101m. [15]