Tuesday, September 1, 2009

One Slow Week For The Blog, One Big Week For Movie Trailers

This has been, and will continue to be, a light blogging week, because I'm moving and don't have internet set up in my new place yet Common Sense Dancing is relocating its headquarters to a baller new pad with marble floors, mahogany paneling, brass fixtures, walk-in humidors, and in-wall shelving to hold our many leather bound books.

So, I won't be writing this week, but a couple of recently-released movie trailers have piqued our interest. and deserve comment:

The Blind Side - the best book I have ever read about football - is being turned into a movie with Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. Based on the trailer, I would say that it looks good, if a little overly manipulative. Clearly, Warner Brothers has decided to emphasize the familial and racial themes over the football (which doesn't make an appearance until the very end of the trailer.) The story of Michael Oher and the Tuohys is a true one - Oher was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft - and if they make too many factual errors in the film, critics and football fans will be quick to point them out. Then again, if the movie is marketed to the You've Got Mail set, then the factual erros in the football half of the story won't make much of a difference to the bottom line. When studios make kind-hearted white people the heroes in stories about racial progress, or exaggerate the athletic success of a player in order to make him seem more admirable for dramatic purposes, studios take the easy way out, and, based on the trailer, both appear to be true about The Blind Side. But the book was so good that I am willing to give the movie a chance, even if it prominently features a song by The Fray in its promotional trailers:

The Road - Cormac McCarthy fans may debate whether The Road is the author's best novel, but there can be little doubt that it is one of the most significant novels of the past 30 years, and the cinematic adaptation appears to be equally ambitious. From the top down, the casting appears to be brilliant, and the cinematography elegant and depressing, which is the way that it should be. This film was originally scheduled to be released last winter, in time to qualify for the 2008 Oscars, and such long delays in post-production almost never bode well, but it has too much going for it - pedigree, cast, budget, Oprah - to fail completely. Right? Worst case scenario, it is one of those botched literary adaptations (like The Bonfire of the Vanities) that people debate and discuss for years.

Brooklyn - An NYU film student has remade Woody Allen's Manhattan - long a CSD favorite - as Brooklyn. The concept is perhaps a little too cute for its own good, but, once again, the source material is fantastic, and the imitation of Gordon Willis' cinematography is uncanny. Willis was one of the all-time greats (The Godfather trilogy, all of Woody Allen's classics from Annie Hall to The Purple Rose of Cairo, All the President's Men, The Paper Chase), so, in this case, the film's derivitive nature is no drawback. Odds are, nobody west of the Hudson will care, but I am fascinated.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to see the film adaptation of "The Blind Side" actually admit the Tuhoy's used Oher because they are gigantic Ole Miss boosters. Lewis goes so far as to castigate the NCAA for even investigating this as a possibility (presumably becuse he personally knows Sean Tuhoy, and nobody from the deep South ever exploits black people) and, oops, the theme of the unreliable narrator is introduced.

Cormac McCarthy sucks balls.

Nobody West of the East River will care about the remake of Manhattan, as Manhattanites don't care about Brooklyn.

Paul Smecker said...

marble floors and brass fixtures, freesh!
/freshman quarters actually nicer

Wade Garrett said...

Anonymous - doesn't your boyfriend just hate it when you get all bitchy like this?

Wade Garrett said...

The Tuohys adopted Michael Oher early in his junior year of high school, when he was seen as an overweight, 6'5" basketball player, and had just joined the football team, for which he didn't play every down, did not have a set position, and did not receive any accolades. It wasn't until the school's new offensive line coach taught him how to block properly that he became a force during his senior year. He was named a pre-season all-american based almost solely on his size and agility; he hadn't yet done anything on the field to earn that accolade. Anyway, even if you believe that the whole thing - adopted a kid for two years in the longshot hopes that he ends up at your alma mater - was a tactic to improve Old Miss' football team, it was still an extraordinarily generous act on the Tuohy's behalf, and I don't really see how you can keep a straight face while saying otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Wade, you know Michael Oher was getting it on with the daughter, like Paul Rudd and Alicia Silverstone in "Clueless."

The book also makes clear that the Tuhoys sent their kids to some Christian school that basically set out to recreate segregation in Memphis. This "extraordinary act of genorosity" is at least in a little bit of tension with the way the Tuhoy's otherwise led their lives, completely indifferent to poverty in East Memphis.

At minimum, we can't expect to get the full story from Michael Lewis because his entire account is so obviously biased, it's difficult to trust his narration. Lewis has been a very good journalist for a long time, so he should know better. Certainly, the NCAA had every right to investigate (and be concerned that less "generous" college football boosters than the Tuhoys would go out and "adopt" inner city kids in the future), and you are out of your mind if you think once he was established as a potential I-A player, it was even possible that Oher would go anyplace other than Misssissippi. The bits with the other SEC coaches were entertaining in their way, but Lewis was jerking us around with a fierceness on that.

I enjoyed his analysis of the importance of the NFL left tackle more than the treacly family bullshit, and that is certainly not going to be in the movie.

As for Mr. McCarthy, the ability to deconstruct a literary genre that nobody but post-modernists write in anyway these days hardly makes for significant literature.