An American classic that depends on the sport, subculture and colloquialisms of an understanding audience may not make the transition to the United Kingdom as well as expected. It is the reverse effect of projects such as I, Daniel Blake or The Damned United not quite working out their American market. Not because they necessarily need to, but because the culture is so volatile and different in comparison. Field of Dreams is a bridge for that gap, an experience led by grand performances that can include just about everyone in its baseball-led drama, sports jargon et al. Audiences can connect with ideas and cultural pieces beyond their own, but not baseball. Baseball is the sport of hell.
Big burly action is what Pain & Gain offers with its successful call-backs to the glory days of big-budget action entertainment. A dying breed this sort of film may be, it does not stop Michael Bay from turning in another expectedly explosive bit of work. The American Dream, in one way or another, will chew up and spit out whoever it can. Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) was one such man. His belief in fitness as the future of the country and as part of his own personal American Dream is a fascinating self-made rise and fall. Daniel Lugo is of the Jordan Belfort category in the sense that he is a self-made man that will stop at nothing to fulfil his goal as a freewheeling, charismatic businessman.
Despite a light touch from director Peter Weir, it is hard to forget how monumental a film The Truman Show is, not just for Jim Carrey, but for the narrative expectancy of comedians adapting themselves to other genres. Now, it is a commonplace event. To see some funny guy or gal from the stage manoeuvre them to pastures new, usually in the chase for awards glory or fulfilment of a larger role. That is The Truman Show for Carrey, and while Batman Forever surely helped, it is not the critical and beloved darling that can have such a monumental impact. The Truman Show has an inherent comedy underlining it, but a deep and quite horrifying message within.
In death, there is salvation for the estranged fathers and miserable sons who try and follow in their faded footsteps. Kodachrome utilises this process well, with its difficult relationship between a father and son slowly mended in the final days of the father’s life. Ed Harris and Jason Sudeikis’ pairing on-screen from director Mark Raso finds the pair playing characters who, for one reason or another, are at the end of their respective roads. One is, quite literally at the end of his, taking the final days of his life as best he can. The other has nearly been dropped by the job that held him for a decade, his ears no longer helping his music career. What a pairing for a road trip.
When you are sabotaging your own career, it is best to go out on the right note of sincerity. What director Alex Cox presented in Walker is such a moment. He sacrificed his comfortable position under the guiding hand of Hollywood to make a statement. To hell with the consequences, and as he tears up the rulebook, he also tears up parts of his script, sanity and anything else he can get his hands on. Walker is a work of insanity, and it is all the better for it. It is, unfortunately, a film whose calamitous production overwhelms the actual story, and we audience members will remember it as the downfall of a promising director, more than a story of mercenaries installing a new government in Nicaragua.
While I never go into a piece directed by Ron Howard with the greatest of expectations, I did expect a strong experience from his work within A Beautiful Mind. An Academy Award winner, awards darling and a commendable cast who have brought us exceptional performances time and time again, the show is off to a great start. Bringing Russell Crowe into a leading performance hot off of the heels of his performance in Gladiator and pairing him with Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer and Paul Bettany is a recipe for success. It’s a shame then that this mixture of extreme talent isn’t quite enough to muster up anything exceptionally interesting or worthwhile.