Rated PG-13 for PG-13 for epithets, ethnic slurs and mature themes
Jackie Robinson Biopic Recounts Historic Breaking Of Baseball’s Color Barrier
From its formation in the late 19th century until well into the 1940s, Major League Baseball operated in accordance with an unwritten rule that the sport was to remain strictly segregated. The tacit understanding among the owners stipulated that no blacks were to be signed by any clubs, thereby frustrating the aspirations of many African-Americans who dreamed of playing professionally.
In the wake of World War II, however, this untenable state of affairs came to rankle Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), a man who fervently felt that to remain the national pastime, baseball needed to integrate. After all, thousands upon thousands of African-American soldiers were returning home to widespread discrimination based on skin color despite having been willing to die for their country in the conflict overseas.
So, in 1945, Rickey decided to challenge the status quo by being the first GM to put a black ballplayer on the field. However, he also suspected that pursuit of that landmark moment might be met with considerable resistance, given the virulent strains of racism still running rampant through much of the nation.
Therefore, he knew that the choice of the person to break the color barrier was critical, because it had to be done by an individual blessed not only with extraordinary athletic talent but with the requisite character, namely, the amalgam of integrity, restraint and resolve that would assure the success of the challenging endeavor. The candidate he settled upon was Jackie Robinson (Chad Boseman), a college-educated, veteran Army officer who just happened to be an All-Star second baseman in the fledgling Negro Leagues.
The two forged an alliance soon after an exchange in which Robinson assured his boss that he wouldn’t respond in kind to any of the racial epithets or vile vitriol about to be hurled in his direction while on the road. As it turned out, even some of his own new teammates initially took issue with his joining the Dodgers in 1947, the year he was brought up to the big leagues.
That historic achievement is painstakingly recreated in 42, a poignant cinematic portrait of an American legend directed by Brian Helgeland. The film carefully chronicles a host of humiliations Robinson was forced to endure en route to equality, from “Colored Only” bathrooms to separate accommodations to the relentless ribbing from bigoted fans in the stands and rivals in the opposing dugout.
Fortunately, Jackie managed to maintain his dignity and composure in the face of wearying adversity, thereby opening the door for the full integration of baseball by other African-Americans waiting in the wings. An emotionally-draining biopic featuring Oscar-quality performances from Harrison Ford and Chad Boseman in what is easily Hollywood’s best offering of the year thus far.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 100 minutes
Vineyard Haven Films
NC-17 for violence, profanity, full frontal nudity and explicit sexuality.
Fan Wins Date With Porn Star In Found-Footage Horror Flick
Dave (Jay Paulson) thought he’d died and gone to heaven when he learned that he’d won the monthly “Lucky Bastard” contest run by the adult entertainment website. He was informed by the site’s owner, Mike (Don McManus), that his name had been picked from all the entries to sleep with his favorite porn star, Ashley Saint (Betsy Rue).
However, the prize came with just one hitch, namely, that he’d have to sign a release so that the lusty liaison could be videotaped from every angle. After all, the promotion was designed to give the site’s subscribers a chance to see an Average Joe enjoying a roll in the hay with a gorgeous goddess who would never normally give him the time of day.
Bespectacled Dave definitely fit the bill in that regard, between his awkwardness and anxiety attempting to perform on cue on camera, even with the woman of his wet dreams. However, the skin flick’s director (Chris Wylde) obviously had a lot more to worry about than a limp nerd in need of Viagra.
For, something else would go horribly wrong after Dave’s arrival and by the time the police arrived, they would find the dead bodies of numerous males and females slain either by gunshot or blunt force trauma. The investigating officer (Lukas Kendall) was grateful to discover that the walls had been outfitted with 18 cameras which not only recorded Dave and Ashley’s fondling, foreplay and frustrated fornication, but the ensuing slaughter which subsequently turned the den of debauchery into a bloody crime scene.
So, cracking the case simply involved rewinding the tapes, and watching what transpired from start to finish. And that’s precisely the point-of-view shared with the audience in Lucky Bastard, a found-footage flick which puts a salacious spin on the “no surviving witnesses” cinematic device first effectively employed by The Blair Witch Project back in 1999.
The movie marks the impressive directorial debut of Robert Nathan, who also co-wrote the cleverly constructed script with Lukas Kendall. Their novel storyline unfolds like your typical horror film, except instead of taking place inside a Gothic haunted house it unfolds on a sleazy set inside the bedroom of a nondescript suburban home rented for the day from a realtor (Deborah Zoe) out to make a quick buck.
Besides Dave and Ashley, the suspects include director Kris, cameraman Nico (Lanny Joon), Ashley’s regular co-star, Josh (Lee Kholafai), producer Mike and his considerably-younger girlfriend, Casey (Catherine Annette), an aspiring porn star. However, the perpetrator might not be a cast or crew member, since Mike also has issues with the alarmed real estate agent as well as with his estranged ex-wife.
It’s no surprise Lucky Bastard landed an NC-17 rating, given the fairly explicit displays of carnality, though the production is as much a riveting murder mystery as it is a raunchy sex romp. A compelling, high body-count whodunit for folks willing to watch a lot of kinky cavorting while trying to unravel clues leading to the killer.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 94 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening April 12, 2013
Scary Movie 5 (PG-13 for profanity, drug use, cartoon violence and crude humor). Latest installment of the horror spoof franchise revolves around a happily married couple (Ashley Tisdale and Simon Rex) with a newborn who suddenly find themselves stalked by a diabolical demon. Ensemble cast includes Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Mike Tyson, Terry Crews, Bow Wow, Katt Williams, Heather Locklear, Darrell Hammond and Jasmine Guy.
American Meat (Unrated). Solutions-oriented documentary examining the state of the U.S. meat business from the point-of-view of farmers working in the industry.
The Angel’s Share (Unrated). Ken Loach directed this bittersweet tale of redemption, set inScotland, about a petty criminal (Paul Brannigan) who promises to turn over a new leaf after his girlfriend (Siobhan Reilly) has a baby. With John Henshaw, Gary Maitland and Jasmin Riggins.
Disconnect (R for sexuality, profanity, violence, graphic nudity and teen drug use). Serendipitous cyber thriller exploring themes ranging from bullying to the invasion of privacy from the perspective of people desperate to make a human connection in today’s totally wired world. Starring Jason Bateman, Paula Patton, Hope Davis and Kasi Lemmons.
Into The White (R for profanity). Strange bedfellows saga, set in Norway during World War II, about five downed fighter pilots, three German, two British, who team-up to survive the harsh elements in the wilderness. Cast includes Rupert Grint, Florian Lukas, David Kross, Stig Henrik Hoff and Knut Joner. (In English, Norwegian and German with subtitles)
It’s A Disaster (R for profanity, sexual references and drug use). Apocalyptic comedy about four couples who get together for Sunday brunch only to find themselves stuck together in a house as the end of the world approaches. FeaturingAmericaFerrara, Julia Stiles, David Cross, Rachel Boston and Jeff Grace.
Not Today (PG-13 for mature themes). Faith-based drama about a spoiled-rotten rich kid (Cody Longo) who comes to appreciate his many blessings while vacationing in India where he witnesses the sex-trafficking of lower caste girls. With John Schneider, Walid Amini, Cassie Scerbo and Justin Baldoni. (In English, Hindi and Telugu)
Paris-Manhattan (Unrated). Romantic romp, set in Paris, revolving around a lonely, Woody Allen-obsessed pharmacist (Alice Taglioni) whose frustrated father (Michel Aumont) tries to play matchmaker by introducing her to a burglary alarm technician (Patrick Bruel). Support cast includes Marine Delterme, Louis-Do De Lencquesaing and Marie-Christine Adam, with a cameo by Woody Allen. (In French with subtitles)
This Ain’t California (Unrated). Cold War documentary highlighting the exploits of a trio of popular skateboarders who had their heyday in East Germany back in the ‘80s. (In German with subtitles)
To The Wonder (R for nudity and sexuality). Terrence Malick directed this romance drama, set in Oklahoma, about a couple (Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko) whose relationship is on the rocks, with him taking up with a childhood friend (Rachel McAdams) while she cries on the shoulder of a Catholic priest (Javier Bardem) questioning the wisdom of his vow of celibacy. With Charles Baker, Romina Mondello and Darryl Cox. (In English, French, Spanish and Italian with subtitles)