Wednesday, May 13, 2009


While everyone else was out seeing the Star Trek movie, I was seeing something else at the local theater. But first, an admission: I love sports movies. I rarely watch sporting events, let alone follow them, but put a formula will-they-pull-off-the-victory screenplay in front of me, I will root tirelessly. So I can happily report that Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is nothing short of supremely entertaining. There's not much to the film: clips of the game interspersed with reminiscing interviews with the members of each team. But amongst the name dropping and bizarre facts comes little snatches of the political and social upheavals (or not) from that time. And not least, the game itself: WOW!

In other cinema news, I can recommend Adventureland and I Love You Man if they're still playing. The former (from the director of Superbad) is another entry in the coming-of-age-post-college film, dropping the bizarre humor of the Superbad and opting for sincerity. Sometimes, the earnestness and quirky atmosphere becomes sort of suffocating, but the lead actors sell it well enough. And I Love You Man is another study in male relationships, and whatever it lacks in insight, it makes up for in Paul Rudd's incredibly funny and appealing naturalism.

Finally, I'll put in a plug for Hunger, one of the grimmest and yet most strikingly beautiful films I've ever seen. It tells the story of Bobby Sands and the hunger strike in Northern Ireland but avoids any clear political lines or easy sympathies. Rather than a sweeping epic, chock-full of social meaning, we have a carefully detailed, claustrophobic, and ultimately immensely personal study of violence. If the first third is stomach-churning in its violent, shit-smearing realism, the final third is equally disturbing in its austerity as the hunger strike wears on. Dividing these bookends is a lengthy discussion of morals between prisoner and priest that strikes the perfect tone and weight, intense and vital, the center around which the swirling events are anchored. The movie is directed by the video artist Steve McQueen, and shows in its aestheticism and asceticism. Beauty has never been so viscerally haunting.


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