Friday, November 12, 2004

Friday Night Lights

Saw it tonight. Overall, a very, very good movie -- not just a good sports movie. Couple of points:

  • Makes all the difference in the world when movies set in the South use actors from the South. Billy Bob Thornton played the head coach, Lucas Black (from Speake, Alabama, of Sling Blade fame) played the quarterback, Tim McGraw played the abusive father (and did a damn fine job). I don't know about many of the other actors, but they had real accents, and they weren't trying to act "southern."
  • Rarely have I seen a movie that so effectively captures the essence of the book on which it is based.
  • (Please excuse my ignorance here, but I'm not a movie critic or film major.) The director used a documentary/informal style of camera work -- you know, where the camera looks like its on an amateur's shoulder or something, like Any Given Sunday. And this is crucial to the film's success: it invites the viewer to pass his own judgments on what he sees on the screen. This is a story of ambivalence -- one alternately finds himself rooting for and against the Permian Panthers and their fans -- and the camera work facilitates that ambivalence. (I'm not sure if that makes sense to you, but it does to me.)
  • This movie, like the book, will really make you think, especially if you grew up around the obsessive high school or college football culture. Is it cultural kitsch which gives needed meaning to the lives of many small towns, or does this kind of fan obsession with the performance of kids in a game ultimately ruin the lives of many of those kids? If it's both, is the trade-off worth it?

I apologize for the pitifully written thoughts above, but the Plaintiff is watching the "Blue-Collar Comedy Hour" in the background, and I can't seem to concentrate. Hopefully, you were able to decipher roughly what I was trying to say.

Git 'er dun!

QUICK UPDATE: Two quick additional points:
  • I really want to emphasize how powerful some of the actors' performances were in this movie. The kid who played Boobie Miles, the team's star tailback, was incredible. In one scene (and I won't tell you what it is), the Plaintiff and I were about to bawl, and it had everything to do with his performance. Several other actors turned in great performances as well, and this had a lot to do with the casting -- the minor characters in the movie look like people I might've seen walking around my hometown. Really, this was perfect.
  • Browsing over at rottentomatoes.com -- which, by the way, gives the movie an overall 81% freshness rating (which is very, very high) -- I noticed one review that compared the style of the movie to Robert Altman's Nashville. Like I said above, I'm no film major, but I did see Nashville, and I thought the same thing throughout the movie. The movie simply takes a complex subject, puts it on the screen, warts and all, and allows the viewer to pass judgment.

4 Comments:

At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having grown up in Texas for 8 years and spent another 6 years around other Southerners, it gives me heartburn to hear actors feign Southern accents. My nominee for all-time worst: Jodie Foster in "Silence of the Lambs." Actually, I think I had better go with Nicholas Cage in "Con Air." He managed to sound not Southern, but merely retarded.

 
At 11:23 PM, Blogger Tortfeasor said...

Those are worthy nominees for worst Southern accents. Let me add:

Kevin Spacey in "A Time to Kill"

Matthew McConahey in "A Time to Kill"

Charlyze Theron in "A Time to Kill" (they really did that movie up right)

Julia Roberts in "Steel Magnolias"

James Vanderbeek in "Varsity Blues" ("I don't want your life!")

 
At 11:39 PM, Blogger Tortfeasor said...

But Jodie Foster was horrible. Just horrible.

And Nick Cage sounds retarded most all of the time, so that wasn't much of a shock. But his accent was embarrassing too.

I'm going to think this one through and really come up with the kicker by tomorrow, though. There has to be someone obvious I'm forgetting.

 
At 2:32 AM, Blogger Bo said...

Nate Diggy, I should have mentioned that the first post (by Anonymous) was actually me. I'm not sure why I didn't receive credit for it, but indeed, it is me.

And Jodie Foster was abysmal, marring an otherwise spectacular movie.

 

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