BATTLE OF THE SEXES review

I can’t claim to know anything about the the real events that this movie is portraying, but based on my dollar tree-worth of research, Billie Jean King, whose husband is famed talk-show host Larry King, is considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time. I’m guessing it’s no accident that she’s not considered one of the greatest “female” tennis players of all time, a testament to her talent, no doubt. Bobby Riggs was also a heavy-weight for his time and the two essentially get into a tennis match. Riggs taunts King into it, he was in his fifties, and she was almost thirty. Summed up, she won, but even that victory had its controversies, citing that it was King’s age that won the match.

As for the movie itself, yes, I’m looking forward to this one the most this week. I’m always down for a good feminist flick and who doesn’t love an ass-kicking woman humbling a sexist jack-off?

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Emma Stone (LA LA LAND [2016], THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN [2012], SUPERBAD [2007], and the upcoming CRUELLA [2018]), and Steve Carell (DESPICABLE ME 3 [2017], DATE NIGHT [2010], BRUCE ALMIGHTY [2003], and the upcoming MINECRAFT: THE MOVIE [2019]). In support, we have Bill Pullman (INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE [2016], SCARY MOVIE 4 [2006], CASPER [1995], and the upcoming THE EQUALIZER 2 [2018]), Elisabeth Shue (HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET [2012], PIRANHA 3D [2010], THE KARATE KID [1984], and the upcoming DEATH WISH [2017]), Sarah Silverman (THE BOOK OF HENRY [2017], THE MUPPETS [2011], THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY [1998], and the upcoming RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018]), Natalie Morales (TV shows TROPHY WIFE [2013 – 2014] and PARKS AND REC [2009 – 2015]), and Alan Cummings (STRANGE MAGIC [2015], X2: X-MEN UNITED [2003], and GOLDENEYE [1995]).

Now for the crew. Co-directing, we have Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, both known for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006) and a bunch of music videos. Penning the screenplay is Simon Beaufoy, known for EVEREST (2015), THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013), and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (2008). Composing the score is Nicholas Britell, known for MOONLIGHT (2016), A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS (2016), FREE STATE OF JONES (2016), and the upcoming OCEAN’S EIGHT (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Linus Sandgren, known for LA LA LAND, THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (2014), PROMISED LAND (2013), and upcoming films FIRST MAN (2018) and THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS (2018).

Overall, I’m super stoked for this. I can’t wait.

This is my honest opinion of: BATTLE OF THE SEXES

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1973. Billy Jean King (Emma Stone) has just been marked as the most successful women’s tennis player in the world. However, despite the great strides that women have been making in the world of sports, the higher ups believe that men are more marketable, despite evidence suggesting that women are just as popular a draw. Repulsed by the lack of equality, she founded the Women’s Tennis Association with some other great female tennis players. Billy Jean’s success eventually catches the eye of former great tennis player Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), who is eager to join the bandwagon in proving that men are superior to women in sports and challenges Billy Jean to a Battle of the Sexes match.

(REVIEW)

I like it. I’m really happy I got to see this.

Okay, I think if there’s anything that should be mentioned is that this isn’t exactly a sports biopic. At least, not all the way through. Much of the marketing strictly revolves around the match between Billy Jean and Bobby. And while that is a central and integral element to the story, people should be aware that it gets pretty personal for both people. We’re shown how Bobby is an addicted gambler and shows his failing marriage to his wife. We’re also shown Billie Jean’s homosexual awakening and her affair with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough). In fact, a lot of time is devoted to that and how it affected her marriage to Larry King (Austin Stowell). In fact, a lot of time is dedicated to this, which might throw a few people off wondering what this has to do with the famous tennis match. Truth is, probably not much. But that’s not to say that it’s not effective. Stone’s performance as a sexually confused Billy Jean is very engaging and perfectly acted. On the one hand, she’s utterly guilty with how it would affect her marriage to Larry, and due to the 70s, would give a bad name to her new organization. On the other hand, it’s a new side of herself that she wants to explore and understand better and despite her cheating on Larry, we want her to be happy. She’s a feminist, a supportive friend, an iron-clad determination, and an all-around down to Earth gal. There’s real stakes in this story and no matter what Billy Jean does, she’s sacrificing something for what she believes is the greater good.

Even the stuff with Bobby isn’t short-changed. We see a man who is a loving husband and father, just trying to find his way in the world post-tennis greatness, but sadly fell into gambling and can’t give it up. He lies to his wife Priscilla (Elizabeth Shue) about it, which deteriorates their marriage understandably, but believes himself to be changed when he gets back into tennis. He loves his family dearly, and even when he’s playing up the Chauvinist Pig persona in the media, you never really get the sense that he’s one-hundred percent sincere about it. He’s doing it for the publicity and sponsorships, so it’s hard to see him as the villain. Easy to root against, he’s an egotistical jack-off, but not so easy to hate.

The performances are really what holds the movie up. This is arguably my favorite live-action performance by Silverman, who is so much fun watch here, Pullman’s a delicious asshole, Shue is incredibly sympathetic as Rigg’s wife, it all carries the film incredibly well.

I suppose if I had any real complaints, it’s the numerous creative liberties that were taken. But to be clear, I’m only going off of what I’ve read off of Wikipedia, which has a nasty habit of getting facts wrong, so if anything I mention is either false or not entirely true because you read some book that Billie Jean wrote, feel free to comment. I’ll post the link below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Sexes_(tennis)

First, the discrepancies. Billie Jean and Marilyn didn’t meet in 1973 as depicted in the film, they met in 1971. And unless “secretary” has an incredibly generalized definition, Marilyn wasn’t a hairdresser, she was Billie Jean’s personal secretary. During the match itself, Billie Jean was getting her ass handed to her early on, but the film depicted it as pretty even split.

Now, here’s my issues with these. While I can’t claim to know how long Billie Jean’s affair was with Marilyn, maybe it lasted a very brief amount of time, maybe it lasted from ’71 to ’73 throughout the Battle of the Sexes match, but it seems strange that they threw it in like that. If it didn’t last two years, then this relationship was used as an excuse to throw in more sympathy for the lesbian community. Not that this is bad, of course, Billie Jean was a champion of women’s rights, but the subject matter in itself does a fine job of that, promoting fair and equal pay for women in sports. Who’s not down for that? Adding a lesbian sideplot almost seems contrived. But then again, this is a biopic of Billie Jean’s life and her affair with Marilyn is a part of her life, and I think the writer was trying to make this movie a little more all-encompassing of her life. After all, a two year separation from the real events and the events depicted in the film really isn’t that big of a deal, especially since the film does place an importance on their relationship, which was a big deal in Billie Jean’s life.

But seriously, why is she a hairdresser and not a secretary? Isn’t that distinction kind of necessary? If Marilyn was Billy Jean’s secretary, the relationship might have felt a little more organic instead of a single encounter in a hair salon. Having her as a secretary, depending on how long they’d known each other before the affair and how long they’d known each other in general, would have shown that there was history and chemistry, which would create that sexual tension and just make more sense. A one off encounter in a hair salon just seems a little too “love at first sight” to me, and making it lesbians doesn’t make it okay. I have a problem with it even it when it involves heterosexual people. Gays don’t get a free pass in this.

Swinging back around to Billy Jean’s personal life, she did had an abortion in 1971. If gay rights are a hot button topic in 2017, despite the legal advances that have been made in recent years, then you sure as shit better believe that abortion is a hot button topic as well, which remains just as controversial today as it’s ever been. . Why wasn’t this something added to the movie? I have my theories. One, if they did add it, they risk both making the movie longer and more unfocused. Or two, they made a choice. Talk about a subject matter that lights fires under countless asses, or showcase Emma Stone making out with a chick. Well… sex does sell… and boom, we have this. I think a better, smarter writer could have used the abortion angle and made a really impactful film. But then again… maybe that’s why it wasn’t used because the writer wouldn’t have known what to say about it and or didn’t have anything smart to add, so it was decided to leave it out. Either way, it’s a shame.

And for the match itself, making it a little too even split at the beginning, wouldn’t it have been more dramatic to see Billy Jean losing while Bobby taunts her? And when she makes her comeback, that’s when Bobby takes his jacket off and stops his clowning around? I feel like it would have served the film much better, but what do I know?

To be fair, I can’t claim to know why these creative liberties were taken. Maybe Billie Jean herself requested certain elements not be included. But regardless, as much as I ragged on the liberties, it’s a solid film and I do recommend it. I don’t think it’s the must-see movie of the year or anything, but if you’re a fan of the cast, enjoy a good feminist movie, or even sports films, then this is worth your time.

My honest rating for BATTLE OF THE SEXES: 4/5

battle-sexes-poster-lareg

Advertisements

Netflix review: GLOW (season 1)

Starring: Alison Brie (THE LITTLE HOURS [2017], HOW TO BE SINGLE [2016], GET HARD [2015], and the upcoming “The Room” biopic, THE DISASTER ARTIST [2017]), Betty Gilpin (a bit role in GHOST TOWN [2008], and TV show NURSE JACKIE) and Marc Maron (MIKE AND DAVE [2016]).

Central writers: Kristoffer Diaz (television debut; congrats), Emma Rathbone (television debut; congrats), and Rachel Shukert (3 episodes of SUPERGIRL [2015-2016]). Composer: Craig Wedren (HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER [2017], WANDERLUST [2012], and SCHOOL OF ROCK [2003]). Cinematographer: Christian Sprenger (BRIGSBY BEAR [2017], and TV shows ATLANTA [2016] and THE LAST MAN ON EARTH [2015- ongoing]).

(SUMMARY)

Struggling actress Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) might just have found her calling when she falls into a revolutionary new sport, GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. It’s not what she was hoping for, but she soon learns to see the promise that it affords. But things get complicated when the man she’s been having sex with happens to be the husband of her best friend Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), a retired soap opera actress to focus on becoming a mother. And once Debbie learned of the betrayal, she shows up at Ruth’s gym where the auditions and training take place, and causes a scene. Turns out, GLOW’s overly direct and harsh director, Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), enjoyed the dramatic spectacle and manages to convince Debbie to join GLOW and regain her former glory. It also doesn’t hurt to be in a wrestling setting and near the woman that broke up her marriage.

(REVIEW)

I went in to this show with an expectation that it’d be a little too similar to ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. Just a bunch of women that get together and have lesbian sex. Of course, that’s not quite what that show was, but a lot of that show’s identity is the lesbian sex. Honestly, I didn’t care for that in this show. Thankfully, that’s precisely what this show doesn’t do. The first episode is really the only one that features Brie’s tits and having a sex scene. I give the episode some credit that it does serve the story and becomes the driving force that creates the tension between characters Ruth and Debbie, which is eventually what the in-universe show “GLOW” gravitates around. Beyond that, yeah, this is finally the role that I absolutely love Brie in. I can’t say I’ve been a fan of hers, mostly because I haven’t seen all the stuff she’s known for, and everything I have seen her in, she’s the hot bimbo who’s trying to be funny, but isn’t. Her role as Ruth is actually really layered. On top of brilliantly portraying a struggling actress who is clearly talented but not given a break, she also goes through a great arch of being completely dense and unsure of what is she’s a part of when she joins GLOW, and starts adapting gloriously and even humorously. She can be annoying, but well-meaning, pushes the envelope for herself. These are the roles I’d prefer to see Brie in.

But not only her, everyone is great. Gilpin is awesome as this woman who’s trying to get back on top of her acting career, which she put aside to focus on being a mother, Maron is a lot of fun as the asshole director who just wants to make something that’s both familiar to his work, porn, and yet totally revolutionary, women’s wrestling, which wasn’t a thing until the 80’s. Some other characters also stand out. You have the hilariously apathetic, yet weirdly content Sheila the She-Wolf (Gayle Rankin), who is silent like a church mouse, but a seething “fuck you” attitude that is strangely engaging. There’s also Cherry Bang (Sydelle Noel), a happily married woman who is also an aspiring actress, but takes her role in GLOW very seriously. Because Cherry is so familiar with Sam, she knows his tricks, how to navigate his attitude and methods to achieving his goals. And because she wants to be taken seriously as well, she’s just as thick-skulled and strong willed like him. There’s also Carmen Wade (Britney Young), who is the daughter of a famous wrestler and sister to a pair of up and coming wrestlers, and despite her knowledge and love of wrestling, she gets serious stage-fright. And there’s Justine Biagi (Britt Baron), who is a fan of Sam’s previous work and hangs around him a lot. The characters are pretty memorable and all work well off of each other.

The story is an interesting one as well. To be completely honest, I genuinely thought that female wresting wasn’t a legit thing, but a fetish porn thing. I guess, in retrospect, that was sort of the initial pitch and what garnered interest for the public. Sex, or in this case, sex appeal, sells. Right? But I guess this really was something that accumulated some serious popularity in its day. But I’m also wondering if female wrestling is a thing presently. I only wonder because I never see it on any sports channels. Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough? Or maybe it’s a coastal thing, only popular in certain areas of the States? Or maybe it really is such an underground thing that you have to know where to look for it? In any case, it’s interesting to see this at it’s starting point and I am curious to see where it goes in future seasons.

I don’t think it’s an amazing show, but it is fun. It’s got some well-executed drama and comedy done right. Some great performances from everyone as well. But for a cast that’s so big, there are plenty that are there just to make the numbers bigger and don’t get much development, so here’s hoping that changes in season two, if it gets green-lit. There’s enough surprises to keep someone engaged, and an interesting enough story to carry my interest. I like it. Give it a watch if you’re in the mood to binge.

My honest rating for Netflix’s GLOW (season 1): 4/5

GLOW-character-posters-1-600x889

TOMMY’S HONOUR review

The perfect old man’s movie. I say this because my dad loves golf and if he knew this movie was coming out, he’d be all over this shit.

So… is this based on a true story? I know it’s based on a book, so… is the book based on a true story? The inventors of golf… kinda. That’d be an odd subject to fabricate. But it’s also a story about social class and rebellion against the orthodox, and… I don’t know, this feels like it’s going to be a pretty unfocused movie. But it seems like early reviews have been pretty kind so far. IMDb has is at 7.0/10 (as of 4/14/2017) and RottenTomatoes has it at 67% (as of 4/14/2017), so it looks like it could be promising.

Let’s take a look at the on screen talent, shall we? Starring at the titular character, we have Jack Lowden (A UNITED KINGDOM [2017], DENIAL [2016], and upcoming film DUNKIRK [2017]). Beside him, we have Peter Mullan (HERCULES [2014], WAR HORSE [2011], CHILDREN OF MEN [2006], and the upcoming JUNGLE BOOK [2018]), Ophelia Lovibond (MAN UP [2015], GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY [2014], and TV show ELEMENTARY), and the legendary Sam Neill (HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE [2016], EVENT HORIZON [1997], JURASSIC PARK [1993], and the upcoming THOR: RAGNAROK [2017]).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing the film is Jason Connery, known for a bunch of unknown films. Co-writing the script is Pamela Marin and Kevin Cook, both making their feature-length debut. Congrats, you two. Composing the music is Christian Henson, known for THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE (2011), MALICE IN WONDERLAND (2009), and video game ALIEN: ISOLATION. Finally, the cinematographer is Gary Shaw, known for RUSH (2012) and MOON (2009).

Overall, I’m not sure what to make of this. The acting looks great, but I’m afraid that there won’t be a very good connection between ambitions of golf and social class themes, but I digress. I need to see it to see how it all pans out.

This is my honest opinion of: TOMMY’S HONOUR

(SUMMARY)

Set in Scotland, circa 1866 through 1875. Tommy Morris (Jack Lowden) is the son of Tom Morris (Peter Mullan), who is the green’s keeper for the local golf course. Despite the elder Morris’ respectable position, he is still treated as a second-class citizen by the higher society folks. In turn, this makes Tommy uneasy and strives to break through his social class and be better than what everyone thinks he is. Tommy gets older and starts competing in golf tournaments, winning for years straight, falls in love with a waitress named Meg (Ophelia Lovibond), and the struggles of his family and profession.

(REVIEW)

It’s really good, actually. I can tell it won’t be for everyone, but I liked this one.

The biggest selling point is clearly the acting from the leads, Lowden and Mullan, and dear God, Lowden commands the screen. I feel like there’s a great passion behind each delivery of his lines and you feel the weight of everything he’s going through. From trying to be taken seriously as a golfer from his elderly and higher class peers, to his family accepting his lower class wife, he carries the film so well, you’d swear you time-traveled and were watching the actual events play out as they really did.

And if there was anyone that might have stolen the show as much as Lowden, Lovibond. Holy hell, this woman is charming and engaging like you wouldn’t believe. While most of the women in the movie seem to take kindly to prestigious golfers here, Meg is playfully apathetic toward Tommy’s accomplishments. Though she likes him well enough, there is a bit of work that Tommy has in front of him before the two end up in a relationship. There’s also a pretty tragic backstory to her during this amazing scene between her and Tommy’s mother, and Lovibond showcases some incredible talent that I hope lands her some great roles in the future. She’s generous, supportive, determined, grounded, everything to make for a great role that Lovibond nails, making her probably one of the more memorable roles I’ve seen this year.

In fact, what really helps this movie is how real the setting feels. The architecture, the fashion, little touches like period-correct photos of the actors. I really liked that a lot. For some reason, you never see those.

But of course, the golfing scenes are very well done and authentically tense. While I can tell there are some obviously fake CGI golf balls every now and again, the key to making any golf scene “on the edge of your seat” is toning up the stakes and I’m pretty sure every match that Tommy competes in, there’s something that makes his victories important, so when he wins, we share in his satisfaction and cheering of the crowd.

I suppose there are a few negatives that should be addressed. For one thing, while I’m not privy toward many films that cover the whole “social class” theme, this movie does feel like it would hit the clichés a movie like this would. There’s always a rebel trying to rise above what is expected, and succeeds in some inspiring way. While this is done effectively, I can’t deny that it does feel like it’s been done before, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t often see stories about his kind of thing.

I also didn’t like how the mother was treated, as far as writing is concerned. She’s barely in the movie in the first half. The first scene I remember her in is when Tommy’s playing with his younger brother and his mom comes in and tells him to stop goofing around and continue studying. Bitch, he’s bonding with his brother. Get the hell over it. And we don’t really see hide or hair of her until Tommy marries Meg. Actually, I take that back, we get a quick sequence of her investigating Meg’s life with her family, which leads to a reveal, which eventually leads to the scene between her and Meg. And while that scene between the two women is a powerhouse performance on both sides, it’s still never shown why we should care about the mother’s judgments. She was such a bit character before the film and becomes a bit character after said scene, we never a sense of who she is and why we should care about her. She’s been demonized, when it feels like she deserved a more prominent role and probably resulting in a deeper understanding of her motivations and way of thinking. I know someone’s probably going to point out how she doesn’t like Meg because she’s of lesser social standing than even Tommy, but again, this is only learned during that scene. For such an important moment in the movie, only one of two characters involved felt really important themselves.

Overall, I think this is a pretty strong film. I was, indeed, worried that the golfing stuff and the social class themes wouldn’t mix well, but I guess that’s why I’m a movie reviewer, rather than a movie writer. It’s compelling, emotional, thoroughly interesting, it’s a decent watch whether you’re a golf fan or not. But if you are, I think you’ll get your money’s worth. I know the very concept of golf will turn people away from this movie, and that’s a shame because it does do a lot right. So I recommend this in theaters. Mantinee viewing if you’re paranoid about whether or not this is your thing, but still want to give it a chance. If not in theaters, then I highly recommend a rental. It’s worth seeing folks, weather because of the acting, or the time period, or the sport subject, it’s a really good flick.

My honest rating for TOMMY’S HONOUR: 4/5

tommys_honour

BLEED FOR THIS review

Before seeing this movie, I had a fairly low impression of it. It looked like it’d be about this hotshot boxer who is completely unlikable, gets into a car accident, can’t fight, builds determination, and eventually makes a comeback. Dime a dozen if you ask me.

But let’s talk about the only positives that had me interested. Miles Teller is always a reliable talent. In retrospect, he wasn’t that bad in FANT4STIC (2015). You can’t work with a shitty script, no matter how talented you are. But with the widely acclaimed WHIPLASH under his belt, he’ll definitely be seen as a star on its way to shine brightly. Supporting, we have my personal favorite cast member: Aaron Eckhart. If this man is in a movie, just link my bank account to my go-to cinemas and auto-purchase my ticket. He is so awesome and – dare I say as a flaming heterosexual man? – good looking guy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that I didn’t like with him in it. No, I, FRANKENSTEIN (2014) wasn’t great, but it was still a fun piece of bad. But he’s also got THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) under his belt and the ever popular THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (2005). The man is criminally underrated, but he’s one of the greats in my book.

Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Ben Younger. Not a lot of feature length films under his belt, but he has done such titles as PRIME (2005) and BOILER ROOM (2000). Composing the music is Julia Holter, a relative newcomer with only one feature-length unknown film to her credit: OWN WORST ENEMY (2012). Finally, the cinematographer is Larkin Seiple, known for SWISS ARMY MAN (2016), COP CAR (2015), and a slew of short films.

Overall, I had some “meh” expectations going in to this. Looks cliché, not very interesting, but lets see how it held up. This is my honest opinion of BLEED FOR THIS.

(SUMMARY)

Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller) is a popular boxer and he loves to show off. After losing one title fight, he gets an opportunity to fight for another, but in two weight classes higher than his own. With the help of his new coach Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart), he achieves this goal. After celebrating, he heads out with a friend but gets into a horrific car accident. Though both survive, Vinny is told that he suffered injuries that may not allow him to walk again, let alone box again. Unable to accept this defeat, he works on healing and, in secret, trains.

(REVIEW)

This film was a lot better than I thought it’d be. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s still worth it.

Alright, the best thing about this movie that stands out to me is Teller’s portrayal of Vinny. By comparison to so many other boxing movies out there, Vinny is very mellow and regular character. Others tend to be larger than life, alcoholics, playboys, or combinations of. Vinny however doesn’t do drugs, or drink heavily, and isn’t some screw up. He’s a normal guy, and that is unbelievably refreshing to me. Which… makes his intro scene fairly out of place. He shows up at a weigh-in in a thong, prancing about, showing off, but he doesn’t act this obnoxiously throught the rest of the film. In fact, it’s pretty heartbreaking. When he gets into his accident, and he’s in his halo, every little tap that causes him pain, I found myself cringing too. I’m grappling onto my arm-rest for dear life, trying to brace for the next ouchie. I never got used to it. It’s painful, but in an engaging way. Although, I do hate it when athletes can’t take in a situation and accept it for what it is. I’m not saying that Vinny needed to give up, but verbally going, “No, I feel fine! I’m gonna fight again!” That’s a cliché I never enjoyed. Even if that’s what really happened, can’t an athlete quietly contemplate their next move? Wouldn’t that open for a more subtle performance? But overall, his story is compelling and Teller does a wonderful job.

Eckhart’s his usual awesome self, if not a slightly cliché character. Starts off drunk and barely interested in working with the central character, but the two characters end up becoming really good friends, yeah, it’s that song and dance. Thankfully, they don’t dwell on this for too long and it’s only in the beginning. And I miss Eckhart’s hair… that amount of baldness is not natural dude. It’s like a clean-shaven Tim McGraw, you can’t expect me to get used to that. I jest, of course, this isn’t a negative toward the film, but… gah, I need you to have hair! Your hair is what makes you sexy! No, not your kindness, not your success, not your hard work, not your talent, it’s that beautiful light brown (dark blond?) hair on your head, sir!

Honestly, though that’s the best way to see this movie. It’s nothing particularly incredible and seems to hit the notes of a standard boxing movie, but if you’re going to make a basic story, you might as well do it well, and that’s exactly what they did here. Not stand-out, but good. If you’re looking for a new and ground-breaking boxing movie, this may not be your cup of tea. But if you just casually want to see one that doesn’t suck, this is definitely worth your time then.

My honest rating for BLEED FOR THIS: 4/5

bleed-for-this-poster

HANDS OF STONE review

Look, I’m all for a movie with Robert De Niro, I’m even all for a De Niro boxing movie, but… holy crap, I look at this and it looks like a Rocky movie with Paulie as the star.

De Niro needs no introduction. He’s a living acting legend, one of the greatest, moving on. The rest of the cast is what has me concerned. Edgar Ramírez… I’m sure is a fine actor, but the last movie I saw him in was the dreadful POINT BREAK remake and I don’t even remember him in JOY (2015). I don’t know, maybe this is his break-out role. Now Usher. Yeah, the music artist Usher is in this movie. First of all, can the guy act at all? I mean, I know he’s acted before, I’m not asking if he’s been in movies prior to this, but… can he even act? Finally, John Turturro. The very man who kind of ruins the Transformers movies the most for me (you know, beyond their natural badness). He’s been in a lot Adam Sandler movies, at least, before his horrid downfall, but he’s never really done anything of particular worth. Maybe like Ramírez, this is his movie to show off his real talent. But fun fact, Ana de Armas is in this movie, competing against herself in WAR DOGS. That tickles me a bit. And… De Niro’s adopted daughter Drena De Niro is in this film too? She and Ramírez did both appear in JOY together, so even more fun facts.

As for the crew. Writing and directing this picture is Jonathan Jakubowicz, who hasn’t done many big screen movies before, nothing that any common Joe would recognize anyway, so he’s pretty new to the directing scene in my book, so we’ll see how he does. Success or failure, he’s taking the blame. Beyond him, there isn’t anyone else that’d be recognizable.

I’m going in to this with pretty low expectations. I don’t think it’ll be very good outside of De Niro, but you’ll never know. I’ve been impressed before. This is my honest opinion of HANDS OF STONE.

(SUMMARY)

A biopic taking place between 1968 through 1980, following the life of famed Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán (Edgar Ramírez). Roberto has been trained in boxing since he was a young, poor kid struggling to survive. He didn’t make his mark on the boxing world until he turned sixteen years old, where he was discovered by one of the greatest boxing coaches of all time, Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro). Deciding to come out of “retirement,” he decides to train Roberto to make him the world champion. Though untrusting toward an American at first, Roberto agrees, and through the course of his amazing boxing career has had victory after victory, until he’s met with the newest boxing prodigy, Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond), who may prove to be Roberto’s toughest opponent yet.

(REVIEW)

I did not like this movie. Let’s just cut right to why: Roberto Durán himself. Now, I won’t lie, I didn’t go in knowing this was a biopic. I’m not sports savvy, so cut me some slack. I have no idea what the real Roberto Durán was like. Having said that, his portrayal in this film is completely unlikable, 100 percent accurate or complete fabrication. I can understand him as a kid. He’s poor and struggles to survive and has to steal in order get by. His hatred for Americans, totally understandable. He’s witnessed them commit horrible acts against his people, and has even been chased by American Marines and shot at by them. Totally on board. But right off the bat, the opening scene ultimately makes zero sense. They’re first introduced and Roberto wants nothing to do with Ray and turns him away. Soon as Ray leaves understanding why, Roberto’s then-coach is all like, “Why did you do that? Don’t you want to be World Champ?” Literally, the next scene featuring Roberto and Ray, they’re training. Well… shit, that took no effort to convince a Hispanic man to train with an American that he distrusts. No transition whatsoever.

It doesn’t end there, either. I didn’t buy into his initial meeting with his future wife, Felicidad. He comes off as a total creeper, seeing the first hot piece of ass and refusing to leave her alone until she agrees to go out with him… AND IT FUCKING WORKS!!! Okay, any woman with half a hint of self-respect would be screaming for help, bitch slapping, or full-on assaulting this mother fucker until he pissed off. But what do I know about women? Maybe stalking a girl really is the easiest way into her heart. Forget flowers, chocolates, and general courtship everyone, borderline harassment is the real panty-dropper!

If he isn’t showing his own wife a lack of respect, by cheating on her, he’s being disrespectful toward another man’s wife. There’s a scene where Roberto confronts Sugar Ray in a restaurant and immediately taunts him. But he doesn’t stop there. After he says things like, “I’m going to fuck you up,” he turns to Sugar Ray’s wife and says, “and then I’m going to fuck you.” Rightfully so, Sugar Ray throws a punch at Roberto. To make matters even worse, Ray catches wind of what Roberto did and tells him that he screwed up. As if it’s the only thing that solves such a shitty act of humanity, Roberto says, “Okay, I’m sorry. I apologize to you, but not to him.” Um… jack-off, it’s not Ray that you royally insulted, it was Sugar Ray and his wife! Acts of pure rudeness that is completely uncalled for, especially coming from a character that we are supposed to empathize with and root for, it completely takes me out of the story and all I want is for him to lose. Every fight that he wins, I’m almost done with the movie. By that one hour mark, I was ready for the credits.

The worst part of everything is that there’s no real consequences for his actions. At least, no consequences that ultimately shape him. I don’t remember Roberto having an epiphany that made him realize, “Yeah, I’m a piece of shit, I need to be better than that,” and working with others and himself to be a better human being. If you want to tell me that his epiphany was that he needs to fight, then I’ll tell you that’s weak. Not once throughout this flick does Roberto ever grow as a person. He never makes up for his actions. “Tell your wife, I’m sorry.” Mother fucker, pull your balls out of your hairy vagina and tell her yourself how sorry you are because she’s probably not thinking too highly of you and a cheap two-word sentence isn’t enough to take back what you said and how you acted.

That’s my rant. But there’s also a few subplots that don’t go anywhere. Roberto’s hatred for Americans doesn’t really play a part in his character. His hatred for everyone is either unbelievably short-lived, or more out of because they seem like “clowns” rather than being Americans. There’s a bit where he… apparently hates his biological American father that he thinks is white, turns out to be American, but of Hispanic heritage… this shit doesn’t really go anywhere. Man, this movie was such a mess.

I really hope that this movie isn’t an accurate portrayal of Roberto Durán’s life. This movie makes him out to be such an asshole that I can’t believe his accomplishments are worth two shits if he really did act this way. I say skip this. There’s better boxing movies out there. Save your money, save your gas, make better use of your time because this one isn’t worth it.

My honest rating for HANDS OF STONE: 2/5

Hands-of-Stone_poster_goldposter_com_1

Upcoming review:

  • SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erpUF2ToUls

Upcoming hopeful reviews

  • THE HOLLARS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDm-hMnvB44
  • A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2Jd6COX9Q0