BOP 25 of Fall 2004: Selections 10-6
10) Friday Night Lights
We're an eclectic group here at BOP, and in addition to a dedication to film, our interests include numerous sports-related activities. Football in particular is a button for us, which makes it only natural that we would select this film about the passionate fans and players of Texas' Permian Basin as one we can't wait to see. Odessa is a mid-sized town on the west side of the state, and it's been suffering a bit of a depression in the past decade due to its economics being so heavily affected by the rise and fall of oil fortunes. In 1988, journalist H.G. Bissinger spent a high school football season with the Permian Panthers and chronicled the relationship between the team's success and the self-image of the city. The wonderfully-crafted book was a sensation, as its gritty, realistic portrayal of the players struck a chord with football fans of all shapes and sizes. Seeing the real-life story translated to the big screen promises to be a rewarding experience, indeed.
9) Mr. 3000
In an entire movie full of great actors offering up crisp one-liners, no one stole the show more than Bernie Mac. The film was Ocean’s Eleven and the performance was noteworthy in the way it showed that Mac was more than just a foul-mouthed comedian with a hit television series. Instead, it indicated that the actor had the ability to stand out even in the most notable of casts.
Since Ocean’s Eleven, Mac has taken on a couple of roles such as the one he had in the Charlie’s Angels sequel, but he has yet to find the perfect part. Mr. 3000 appears to be just that project. Keying upon international frustrations with spoiled athletes who act unaware of their fortune, the film takes a Barry Bonds-flavored egomaniac and slowly dehumanizes the man until such a time as he realizes what’s really important in life. Cliché as that might sound, Mr. 3000 affords the opportunity to see a comedy based on exactly what the USA men’s basketball Dream Team recently faced at the Olympics. The world has turned against prima donna ballplayers, and a movie underscoring that reality is a brilliant premise.
The third sports movie on our list is the one the BOP staff is most amped up to see. Wimbledon would be appealing if only for the presence of Spider-Man damsel in distress extraordinaire Kirsten Dunst. The fact that it shares the same executive producer as BOP fave Notting Hill makes us all the more hopeful. It’s the presence of Paul Bettany, though, that makes us take note. The previously supporting actor in films like A Beautiful Mind and A Knight’s Tale seemed like an incongruous choice at first. As the trailer shows, though, he is the spitting image of Wimbledon icon Boris Becker. Bettany also demonstrates impeccable delivery of his punchlines in the Wimbledon trailer, which is one of the staff’s favorites of 2004 to date.
7) Infernal Affairs
This film scores high on our list even though several of our staff members have already had the opportunity to see it. Winner of seven Hong Kong Film Awards (the equivalent of our Oscar), this thriller is markedly different than what many North Americans have come to expect as a "typical" Asian film. Andrew Lau's stylistic direction adds to the somber mood of the film, which follows two men, a cop and a gangster, who are trained as boys to infiltrate the "enemy". The cop, therefore, becomes a gangster, while the gangster rises through the ranks of the local police. Both groups are working feverishly to discover who among them is the traitor. Exquisite performances from both Andy Lau and the incomparable Tony Cheung make this film well worth marking on the calendar. Here's hoping Miramax doesn't pull a "Hero" with it and yank it from the schedule at the last minute.
6) The Grudge
Takashi Shimizu started quite the cottage industry with his first creation, Ju-On. The made-for-video title was so popular that a sequel was quickly ready. Those two videos sold so well that a theatrical release was created that combined the stories from those two productions. And that film did so well that a sequel was created. Ju-On is all the rage in Eastern cinema, and as is usually the case when horror succeeds over there, a North American adaptation has been made. The difference here is that Shimizu, the original director, is onboard for English language version. Even better, it stars Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. The actress is trying to stake out cinemaplexes as her next territory now that she has conquered the realm of television. With Scooby-Doo establishing her credibility, Gellar is now poised to return to the gothic area which made her a star in the first place. One of the earlier columns BOP ever posted was a glowing review of Ju-On: The Grudge, so it’s no surprise that we look forward to seeing what a genius like Shimizu can do with talent like Gellar and a budget like only Hollywood will provide.
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Click here to read selections 15-11.
Click here to read selections 5-1.