Monday, August 31, 2009

DVD Round-up

Over the weekend, I saw two new DVDs from Netflix. As it's a bit of lull in the DVD season for movies I missed, but wanted to see so there were a few older ones that popped up at the top. The first was Bonneville, a lesser known movie starring Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Joan Allen as friends from Idaho who decide to travel to California. Lange's husband has died and his daughter from a previous marriage is threatening to take away her house if Lange doesn't return the dad's ashes to Santa Barbara. They decide to drive in a 1966 Bonneville convertible. Lange had promised to spread her husband's ashes around the world they'd traveled together, but doesn't want to lose her house to her step-daughter. She does find a way around her problem, but her friends help her get to Santa Barbara on time. There are fun adventures like any road trip movie, but given their age, the adventures are a bit less disgusting and more fun than a college version. The acting is impressive, the writing decent and the story compelling. A solid film to like, 3.5 of 5 stars/lambs

The second movie I saw is one of the best sports movie I've ever seen. The Express stars Rob Brown (Finding Forrester) as Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy (the award for best collegiate football player). He grows up in Pennsylvania in the late 1950s and attends Syracuse University (Go Orangemen!) at the urging of former player Jim Brown. He tries to keep his head down and stay out of trouble, but ultimately can't escape the influence his star playing has on the African-American community and the civil rights movement. The year he leads his team to the Cotten Bowl game in Dallas he (and the other two black players) are not allowed to enter the hotel where the team is staying as it's a segregated hotel. His coach, Ben Schwartzwalder (played really well by Dennis Quaid), often runs into Davis' drive to further both his own career and the cause of civil rights. While the movie could step into broad statements and make a hero out of a small person, but even after researching some of the interviews done about the historical accuracy of the movie it seems that Ernie Davis was as amazing as the movie slowly explains that he was. The acting is good, and the games are shot in a way that's easy to follow both the course of the game and the deeper meanings when certain tackles occur (some of the Texas players find more pleasure beating on the successful black players rather than winning the game). It's a terrific film, and I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars/lambs

1 comment:

Buttercup said...

Terrific reviews. Just so happens I saw the same movies. I'd only give "Bonneville" a 3, but definitely agree about "Express." I've been thinking about it all day.