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Archive for the ‘Harrison Ford’ Category

42

17 Apr

42 –– directed by Brian Helgeland. Sports Docudrama. In 1947, Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team ushers the first negro player into major league baseball, Jackie Robinson, and it aint easy. 129 minutes Color 2013.

★★★★★

I wanted this film to last forever. Is that true, I asked myself, and the answer was, Well, maybe as long as a baseball game.

It has a terrible musical score, full of triumphals and emotional sofas, whereas the material speaks for itself without outside assistance. But you just have to set this torture aside the same way as Jackie Robinson had to set aside the taunts and meanness and murder threats which dogged him as he underwent the ordeal.

What a valiant human being!

What a thing to do!

I lived in Queens when it went on, and my brother was a Dodgers fan with the radio on. It was happening five miles away. It was happening right there. The radio being a more intimate medium than TV, it was happening right in the bedroom I shared with him.

It was a scandal.

It was a scandal because no one much thought about blacks not playing on baseball teams in those days. Only a few black families lived where I lived, but Freddy Perkins was always first choice on the schoolyard team, so in a way it was a scandal also because so much was being made of it. And because we said to ourselves, Oh, right, I never thought of it in major league baseball. How odd of me!

But it was a big deal, and this film realizes that it is still a big deal. The human suffering hidden in black faces is of vast importance.

And that’s what we see in Chadwick Boseman who plays Robinson. I can’t imagine how anyone could be better or more right. While he does not have the monolithic aspect of Robinson, he certainly has the finesse for Robinson’s skills stealing bases and holding his ground while being heckled by crowds and boycotted even by his own team members. And he certainly is a gentleman.

As Branch Rickey, his sponsor in the endeavor, Harrison Ford gives a big hammy performance, which, from this actor, at least is something. The part is very well written, and Ford is quite stirring and entertaining in it.

There isn’t much more to say about the film.

Except that you owe it to yourself to see it. You owe it to your heart to be filled with compassion and gratitude for the valor it took for these two men, these two and no other, to do this for us. You just do.

 

The Devil’s Own

05 Feb

The Devil’s Own — Directed by Alan J. Pakula. Thriller. A young man on a revenge mission boards with the family of a cop, who has to choose between his friendship with the lad and his hatred of what the lad stands for. 111 minutes Color 1997.

★★★★

I don’t know if Harrison Ford ever knew how to act, but he certainly has forgotten how by the time he plays this character. He “acts” by “playing stern”. He does this by scowling and drawing down the sides of his lips and staring. That is to say, he makes faces. Too bad, because the result is that his vis à vis, given nothing to play with, takes every trick. The vis à vis in this case is the brilliant Brad Pitt, an actor whose every response seems right. As opposed to Ford whose every response seems righteous. We are presented thereby not with Ford’s character being tortured by his own perfection and the lack of it in others, but by an actor who never questions the foundation of and impossibility of such a rock-faced contrast. Harrison Ford has no way through his own fixed method, and no suggestion of one. We are faced with thickness. Brad Pitt, however, is all wit, susceptibility, openness, and so he makes the most unlikely situations plausible, although in this he is certainly helped by the editor. After all, it is a story with guns going off and no one getting hit. So with no one for Pitt to play against the film lies flat, save when we see him. We side with him wholly and throughout, which is not what we are supposed to do. At first it seemed that the film was set in Ireland, since the opening has everyone speaking the tongue; it was only with forced effort that I understood it to be taking place in Brooklyn. Pitt is running guns to Ireland and is lodged in Harrison Ford’s home. When Ford finds out what he is up to, oh dear! Because of Ford’s acting choice, the wrap-up goes for naught. The supporting people, particularly Treat Williams as the gun middleman, are excellent, and, this being Pakula, the production values are first rate. See it for Pitt – always worth our appreciation in lower-class roles.

 
 
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