Tag Archives: foxcatcher

Foxcatcher (2014)

20 Jan

“Coach is the father. Coach is a mentor. Coach has great power on athlete’s life.” These words, uttered by John du Pont (Steve Carell) in the drama Foxcatcherecho with a slightly sinister tone in the minds of Olympic athletes Mark and Dave Schultz (played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, respectively).  The film follows the story of these two brothers, who both took home Olympic gold medals for the US Wrestling Team, as they encounter the enigmatic figure of du Pont, a millionaire wrestling fan and self-described patriot. Mark, who has long been struggling in the shadow of his older brother’s athletic achievements, is persuaded by du Pont to come and train on his private family-fun Foxcatcher Farms, in order to better prepare for the upcoming World’s Tournament and 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic Games. “I want to see America gain her roots back” du Pont says, as one of his many motivating monologues to help Mark reach another Olympic gold. Mark makes an agreement to train on Foxcatcher Farms under du Pont’s specific conditions, while Dave declines the invitation in order to spend more time with his wife and children. This creates an uneasy tension between the three characters, which ultimately escalates into one of the most bizarre true stories in recent sports history.

Directed by Bennet Miller, Foxcatcher is a deeply felt character-driven drama of an inexplicably strange relationship between coach and athlete. The film was originally slated for a 2013 awards-season run, but was ultimately shelved for late 2014 due to an over-crowded awards season. Oscar contender Steve Carell (who does a complete 180 here in a play against his typical comedic types) gives a frightfully convincing portrayal of the millionaire bird aficionado. A shoe-in for this year’s Best Actor in a Leading Role, Carell is meticulously good, nailing both the mannerisms and speech patterns of the late du Pont (go watch the real du Pont’s speaking videos afterwards, and you will be in awe). For the entire running time you can tell there is something off about his character, and his increasingly off-kilter behavior grows more bizarre with each minute onscreen.  Another well known comedy actor, Channing Tatum, also plays against type in a serious dramatic role. His performance is a bit more subtle than the eccentric Carell, but he effectively brings out the full physicality and explosive nature of competitive wrestling. And we can’t forget about Mark Ruffalo.  The long underrated actor gets his chance to shine more than once, and  100% deserves his Best Supporting Actor nom (though it’s looking likely the Oscar will go to JK Simmons at this point).

I haven’t been a huge of a fan of Miller’s work as the Academy, (both his previous films Moneyball and Capote were also Best Picture nominees) but I do think Foxcatcher is without a doubt his best film yet. The film showcases what Miller does best by taking nuanced and vulnerable characters and having them interact in unusual and explosive ways. Unfortunately, its 134 minute running time feels a little too lengthy and the action is often drawn out between ineffective long shots; shave off 20 minutes or so and you would have a near dramatic masterpiece. As it stands however, Foxcatcher is a solid film boasting some of the year’s best acting work, and will serve as a highlight and strong contender in this year’s awards season.

Rating – 7/10 

Similar to: There Will Be Blood (2007), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), The Master (2011) 

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MY FAVORITE FILMS OF 2014

30 Dec

For your viewing pleasure: my favorite films of 2014. I only counted films that had a theatrical or VOD release this year, so some stuff I saw at festivals (like Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter & Infinitely Polar Bear) and late Oscar films (like Foxcatcher & Inherent Vice) will be saved for next year.  Enjoy!

EDIT – unfortunately, Vimeo took down my video, so here is a direct link to view it from my Google Drive (thanks Google!)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9ugyZi0NsQmZGwwVkt0bmVMREk/view?usp=sharing

I want to hear your thoughts. Anything you think I missed?

Top 10 Anticipated films of 2014

5 Jan

Well hats off to a new year. In the midst of all this awards season talk (you can catch my top 15 list of 2013 here) I’d like to present the films I’m most looking forward to seeing this next year. If available, I’ve provided the trailers and release dates. Make sure to let me know what films you are looking forward to seeing and if there are any I missed.

10 – Knight of Cups

This one is still a bit of a mystery as director Terrence Malick hasn’t officially said anything about Knight of Cups (or much else about his other projects). What we do know is that is stars Christian Bale, Imogen Poots, Joel Kinnaman, Cate Blanchet, Natalie Portman, Jason Clarke, Wes Bentley, and Antonio Banderas (wow!!). If the cast isn’t enough to get you excited, rumor is that Malick has a few additional films planned (though these are most likely to be pushed back to 2015 and beyond).  No release date yet.

9 – Foxcatcher

Director Bennett Miller made waves a while back with his Oscar-winning film Capote and 2011’s Moneyball. Next year he returns with a film based on Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz. Originally intended for 2013 (there was even a trailer released last fall), the film was pushed back due to editing issues and concern the awards season would be too crowded. Channing Tatum and Steve Carell (supposedly playing against type) star alongside Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, and Tara Subkoff.  Foxcatcher is rumored to be released in the spring, but could be pushed back to fall.

8 – Boyhood

This mysterious project from Richard Linklater supposedly has been in production for the last 12 years, chronicling the life of Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette’s son. As a huge fan of his Before trilogy, I can’t wait to see what frequent collaborators Linklater and Hawke have in store. No release date yet.

7- Transcendence

Wally Pfister, who is mostly known for his cinematography work with Christopher Nolan, makes his directorial debut next year with a mind-bending sci-fi about artificial intelligence. This looks like it has all the right ingredients to be the next Minority Report, and I’m excited to see Johnny Depp actually using his talent. Depp stars alongside Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Paul Bettany and Rebecca Hall. In theaters April 14.

6 – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Boasting an amazing all-star lineup of Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux, Jude Law, Edwards Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, and Harvey Keitel (!!!), the film from Wes Anderson promises mystery, laughs, drama, superb music and Helvetica font. In theaters March 7.

5 – Enemy

After filming the Oscar-nominated Incendies, and last years incredible Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve is making a name for himself and this year he agian reunited with Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy. The thriller is supposedly about a man who goes after his look-alike after seeing him in a movie. I’m intrigued. In theaters March 14.

4 – Gone Girl

One of my favorite directors, David Fincher, gives us a film about a man whose wife mysteriously disappears while on honeymoon, starring Ben Affleck. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, Gone Girl could become this year’s Girl With The Dragon Tatoo. In theaters October 8.

3 – Noah

Yes, you are familiar with the biblical story, but director Darren Aronofsky is sure to put a new spin on the tale. Staring Russel Crowe, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins, and supposedly boasting some of the best digital effects ever to be done by Industrial Light and Magic, Noah arrives March 28.

2 – Interstellar

Christopher Nolan is back in action with a story about wormholes, space travel, and corn shortages. Yup. Staring Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, and Ellen Burstyn, the film is out November 7.

1 – Inherent Vice

My most anticipated film of 2014 brings back Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson into a thriller/comedy/crime story about a detective investigating the disappearance of an ex-lover.  Jena Malone, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, and Maya Rudolph star. No release date yet.