Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Diane Lane follow-up: Secretariat

After we recorded the podcast over the weekend, I went and saw Secretariat.  My mom LOVES horses, and it's always been a family tradition to watch the Triple Crown, so I've always known who Secretariat was.  I wouldn't say I was eager to see the movie, but definitely interested - if you read this blog regularly or know me at all, I'm sure you're not surprised.  Diane Lane plays Patty Chenery Tweedy, the daughter of a Virigina horse farmer.  She lives in Denver with her family keeping house, but when her mom dies and her father isn't able to run the farm, she goes home to take care of things for a bit.  There's the issue of a capable, intelligent woman in the late 1960s not fulfilling her potential as a housewife and mother, and Lane takes on the challenge of getting her father's farm back in order.  We learn a fair amount about the ins and outs of raising horses.  The lineage of purebred horses is important, and it's really expensive to get the "stud rights" to a winning stallion to knock up your mares.  So her father has had a deal where he knocks up two of his mares, and instead of paying the stud owner, they each get one of the foals.  Lane has to show up and choose on behalf of her father which of the foals she wants, so she studies all the lineages of the parents of the foals and thinks she's found the perfect combination (and of course she's right).  We then follow her challenge of finding a trainer (she gets Lucian Laurin (John Malkovich in on of his least annoying roles lately), and then a jockey, and figuring out how to make sure everything goes well.  They manage to create a fair amount of tension without too many contrivances (Secretariat loses his first race because he had an abscess in his mouth), and I'll admit to tearing up when the final race took place (it was just an amazing victory for any sports fan).  Overall, enjoyable movie, perfect for kids (rated PG) but not bad for adults either. I didn't think of this until afterward, but since this movie didn't focus on the jockey, and on the actual way to run a race, I wasn't reminded of Seabiscuit at all, but that might just be me. 3 of 5 stars/lambs
BONUS: Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette from "True Blood") is terrific as Secretariat's stable hand)

The other movies I watched for Episode 18 of Reel Insight: 

Fierce People - This movie was on Netflix watch instantly and starred Donald Sutherland and Anton Yelchin (one of my new favorite young stars).  Diane Lane plays a drug-addicted mother, who decides to save her son, and herself, by getting a job in the Hamptons as Sutherland's masseuse.  They move out there to his family compound, Chris Evans is his grandson, Elizabeth Perkins is his daughter, and Kristin Stewart is his granddaughter.  Anton falls for Stewart and befriends Sutherland, taking Evan's place in a hot-air balloon race.  After the race, Anton is attacked and raped (you find out it's Evans, but they never really explain why he's so screwed up), and Lane finally realizes she should be a better mother.  It's not a good movie, poorly made, strange story that doesn't make much sense, and odd acting. 

Unfaithful - Rachel and I both checked this out for the first time this week, knowing you can't talk about Diane Lane without discussing this film, and we were both very pleasantly surprised that it's awesome.  Lane is married to Richard Gere and is a stay at home mom.  She's in NYC one windy day and meets Paul (Olivier Martinez).  He lives in a bookshop and helps her with a cut on her knee - he's so insanely sexy that she goes back to see him a few weeks later (after seeing a book he gave her) and they start having an extremely hot affair.  She becomes obsessed with him, and Gere hires someone to track down why his wife has changed.  I won't spoil the ending if you haven't seen it, but the acting is terrific, by all concerned.  Gere plays the suspicious but loving husband, and is destroyed when he finds out what's going on.  Martinez does a terrific job being hot and smoldering (so it's not surprising he's doing it with lots of people), and Lane deserved her Oscar nomination for her conflicted, but passionate performance.  Check it out if you missed this one. 4.5 of 5 stars/lambs

Rumble Fish - This Francis Ford Coppola flick from the early 80s is beautifully shot, has interesting visuals, but the story, about Matt Dillion (who I haven't ever liked in a film) as a punk who just wants to be in a gang fight in the 50s like his older brother, The Motorcycle Boy (a young, unrecognizable Mickey Rourke).  Diane Lane plays his girlfriend and she's young, pretty, and annoying.  Overall, I really didn't like the movie, but it was neat to see a young Lane, Nicholas Cage, Chris Penn, Laurence Fishburne and Sophia Coppola.

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