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RACE (2016)

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A film by Stephen Hopkins

Cast: Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Eli Goree

Race is a Franco-German-Canadian film directed by Stephen Hopkins. It the story of the African-American athlete Jesse Owens who alone humiliated Hitler and prevented the glorification of the Third Reich at the Games Olympics 1936 in Berlin.

In 1934, during a period of racial segregation, Jesse Owens arrives at the Ohio State University to work with the best coaches of the time. Jesse will develop  an amazing relationship with a white coach Larry Snyder. Snyder became the coach who is obsessed with success also one of the toughest who develop this relationship with his protegé who together focus on getting at the Olympics. Talking about humiliating Hitler even pissing him off every time he won a medal. Even after becoming world-famous, Owens is treated with contempt by many whites, including those in the athletic and political establishment. President Franklin D. Roosevelt never invited him to the White House. Jesse became aware that racism has many faces at every turn of his life. You have to understand that they did not want him to go in Berlin (And that would have been a mistake) under pressure from both side he decide to go. As he said at the moment the gun off and I start running I have 10 second of freedom where nothing matter 10 second where I am free. Some powerful word there. Jesse however endured still the hatred by the white people even though he had humiliated Hitler by winning 4 gold medals. That is a shame. It took 25 years before someone break one of his records. He has done more in one year that others has done in a life time.

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race

GOOD LUCK ALGERIA (2016)

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A  film by Farid Bentoumi

Cast: Sami Bouajila, Franck Gastambide, Chiara Mastroianni

Imagine the incredible story of a French of Algerian of origin decided to represent this country in the  cross country skiing in the  Olympics is particularly surprising. Bentoumi did not look too far to make his first film, it is the true story of his brother who qualify for the olympics for cross-country skiing. But in the film it is two childhood friends who open cross country company that makes skis made in France. But they loss the contract of this  Swedish cross country skier, will force them to  embark in this crazy bet.

Here is the film feel good movie of a family history, drawing inspiration from the extraordinary story of his brother, a young engineer in Grenoble who represented Algeria in cross-country skiing at the Winter Olympics in Turin in 2006.For the film purpose the director uses a small company that specialises in making competition skis, Duval, run by Samir (Sami Bouajila) and former champion Stéphane (Franck Gastambide) on the brink of bankruptcy despite the exceptional quality of its products. Of course the bank tells them that they offer a buy out from this other company a large equipment manufacturer, that does not seat well with Samir. So they find this solution that Samir must enter the competition for the Olympics in order to promote his skis. The thing is that Samir has not ski in 20 years plus in order to qualify he has to ski 15 km in less than an hour. Of course there is the positive story of immigration here and a bit of history of his family. The thing is that Samir rediscover his country that he has not been in for years. Kind of like me after a long absence from France. Good one for a first film let’s see what Farid Bentoumi does next.

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CONCUSSION (2015)

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A film by Peter Landesman

Cast: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks 

Mike Webster (David Morse) at his Pro Football Hall of Fame  speech in 1997 where he states it is “the greatest thing to have the opportunity to work with people with a common goal, a single purpose” who are willing to make sacrifices. Webster played first for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-1988) and then for the Kansas City Chiefs (1989-1990). When he retired, he had played for four Super Bowl winning teams. Before his death, according to the movie, he sold those rings and was living in a truck, getting high on Super Glue. In 2002 when he died his corpse was on the table of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), a forensic pathologist in Pittsburgh by pure luck. Omalu is from Nigeria, he has eight advanced degrees and certifications.

Omalu knows nothing of football, he does not watch the games. Omalu speaks to the dead, asking “Please help me find out how this happened to you.” Webster is diagnosed with premature Alzheimer’s at 50. “ But Omalu does not buy it so he does more research and find that webster has a schronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Is when the brain is banged to many times on the field even with the helmet does not protect them fully. Plus later on cases are piling up more are dead most of suicide.  Omalu’s position is supported by former NFL doctor, Dr. Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin). But the NFL does not believe him they want proof.

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Here is a terrific film where a single man is trying to defend his theory against the NFL. You see the NFL is a business it make millions of dollars and telling them that their players are later dying of CTE no one is going to play football none of less that the NFL will loose money. Money talks bull shit walks is the old saying. Of course he gets the death threats. Also the city of Pittsburgh, football is placed on a pedestal. Smith has said that he loves football and his son plays football, but he wasn’t aware of the dangers. Terrific film here where I too was not aware of the danger of playing football. I only played soccer anyway.

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CREED (2015)

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A film by Ryan Coogler

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson

Here it is they went back to the old formula of the first rocky but instead now Rocky is on the side line and an other boxer will take his place and follow his father’s legacy . There is also the famous boxer who gives our hero the boxing match chance of a lifetime. With these elements, “Creed” then manipulates them differently by playing on our expectations before occasionally surprising us. It is a crowd-pleaser that takes the time to tell and develop the characters as in the first Rocky. Yes there is a quietly effective moments as there are stand-up-and-cheer moments is a matter a fact a woman sitting next to me jump up and cheer (seriously) and they are handle with skills on both side of the camera not an easy thing to do. Ok the film is predictable but pay attention to Stallone giving the right director the dude is a wonderful actor here.

Adonis Johnson an orphan  is visited in juvenile hall by Apollo Creed’s widow, Mary Anne ( Phylicia Rashad). Mary Anne adopts the young man. Mary Anne raises him as her own, Donnie’s resentment about being in the shadow of a famous man he never knew that never goes away. Donnie here has learned how to fight by himself and fighting in Mexico for money on the week end. He is not interested in the white collar job where he go a good education and a great job to secure his future but instead he wants to fights. He goes to Philadelphia to find Rocky to see if he can train him. Coogler here turn the tables here is a rich kid who want to go boxing never in real life there is been a rich man who got into boxing that I know so far. Of course there is a love interest in our story the beloved Bianca who is a singer / composer. The film is well written here and is as good as the first Rocky and yes ladies and gentlemen Sylvester Stallone can act even through  in emotion in the mix. Here he plays the mentor and trainer of the kid. Coogler has gave us a new hero wonderfully played by Micheal  B. Jordan. Check out the end of the film and you will go ok then but I knew where that was going the only logical ending there and what a beautiful end for a film.

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SOUTHPAW (2015)

Southpaw (2015)

A film by Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona LaurenceForest Whitaker

A boxer who looses his wife turnto Tick Willis a trainer at some gym to help him get back his life together as well as the custody of his daughter from child protection services.  Here is a terrific screenplay from Kurt Shutter who has written this cool series Sons of Arnachy, the Shield I have them on my series website. You put Antoine Fuqua as the director and the aver so terrific Jake GyHenhaal as the hero of the story you got yourself a terrific awesome film.

Here is a boxer who has everything and comes from a broken home as work his ass off tho be on the top when suddenly he losses everything after his wife gets killed. The wife was the decision maker in the house as well as his business manager take that away and you have a lost angry boxer who does not know how to cope with it. His empires crumble down and his kid gets taken by child protection services to top it all off. It is a story of redemption a little bit predictable but great to watch here because the performance of Jake is outstanding, he is on the top go his game. Even Forest Whitaker who plays the trainer here in some small gym with a bunch of kids that he tries to get them out of trouble by leaning boxing has done a great job and Forrest and jake deserve each other here. 50 cents to my surprise as played wonderfully well in this film. The cinematography has a shadow black on black to it. The fighting scenes are pumped with emotional punch in the gut. Best view with recommendation while of course drinking beer, Hello! it is a boxing film after all.

Southpaw (2015)

Southpaw

FOXCATCHER (2014)

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A film by Bennett Miller

Cast: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo

Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) an Olympics  gold medalist after winning a gold medal has nothing going on with his life no girlfriend, just an apartment and a car. He trains in the morning and in the evening with his brother then goes home. Until one day a certain John du Pont (Steve Carell) calls and wants to meet him. He want Mark to train and live in his facility named Foxcatcher in his prime real estate in Newtown Square, Pa. But john wanted Mark’s brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) to come but Mark’s brother decline the offer, John din’t like that as you see his expression of his face. John has a dark side we all do but he goes downhill after that. John was never accepted by his mother she don’t even like wrestling and he never had any friends he didn’t know how to integrate himself into society. Sometimes wealthy people are a little out there well you will see why when you see the film.  I will stop here and talk no more just in case you didn’t see the film. I heard the story back in the 80’s and I could not believe it. Terrific performances from all the actors especially Carell you don’t even recognize him at all,with his pasty skin and large prosthetic nose. Even Tatum the way he walk like an ape to me nay way the way his body moves the same way Mark Ruffalo does it I guess all wrestlers moves like that. The cinematography is perfect, the estate is breath taking Do Pont had vast property a Mansion, with several houses on it. A terrific film not to be missed.

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UNBROKEN (2014)

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A film by Angelina Jolie

cast: Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson

It is the autobiographical story a man from L.A. California who became a high school legend even went in the olympics representing the U.S. in Berlin, and survived the war as a Pow living in brutal condition.

Unbroken is the story of world war II survival, of redemption and resilience. Here is a guy who goes to the olympics for the US and soon after that the  is drafted to go to war against japan. The thing is some stuff has been left out of the film or some other stuff were putting in. The first thing is when he is under the bleachers looking up women’s dress, well he was not he was so embarrassed that he was running so fast and winning that he hid under the bleachers, his coach used to get him out of there. When he was rescued by the Japanese they were clean fed ,clothed then interrogated and throw in the barracks. There were more torture that Jolie was showing in the film. Yes the guard Mutsuhiro Watanabe was torturing a lot more prisoners , he was extremely sadistic. Now the rest was fine yes the guard Watanabe single him out all the tim because he was an Olympic athletic. Zamperini was trying to hide out in the crowed but the guard always find him. Watanabe wanted to break him and did not succeed. There are times Zamperini wanted to kill him that was left out of the film is a matter of fact he and a bunch of prisoners had a plan to kill him, but was not carried out. I think there were too much to say in the film that it had to be cut out or told rapidly like the flashback were Zamperini young brother saw that his brother was smoking and driking at a young age that he was distant to be a nobody that is going to go to jail someday. So his bother taught him running something that he became good at. So you know where he came from. The film is about survival, and forgiveness. The Japanese did not comply t the rules of the geneva convention. You have to be careful of what you say, when they crashed in the water and they were floating in the water Max said “oh! my god we are going to die here” Zamperini replied “no we’re not ” when the soldier said it againvZamperini told him to shut up, and later in the movie Max died. Zamperini somehow knew that he was going to make it but what he didn’t count on was to be rescued by Japanese.

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