Friday, February 02, 2007
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Just watched The Greatest Game Ever Played, a film directed by the actor Bill Paxton. Like Mel Gibson he doesn't direct often, but whenever he does people pay some attention. Though this film didn't earn a huge amount of money and by and large remained below the radar, it is a very well-made film, the unique choices Paxton took with the way the golfing scenes were filmed worked because it was fun, and the most important litmus test -
It didn't feel like an unnecessary sports movie. (The last two I remember in this category are Cinderella Man and Remember The Titans.)
Which got me thinking - I would like to make a sports movie some day. But that doesn't make sense, coz I don't like sports. They often bore me. But of course, sports movie is not purely about the sports. It's about the tension in the game, about believing in one's abilities, about the mother and father standing behind (or not standing behind) the protagonist, the sidekick and/or the mentor, the obstacles and hardship ... and the miracle at the end. Ultimately that makes sports movies as predictable as romantic comedies - but as I said about The Holiday, if you manage to make unpredictable fun and enjoyable and engaging, the audience will not be ungrateful about it. (Critics will, however.)
Another thing about the film is that the casting choices were great. I first noticed Stephen Dillane in The Hours, and thoroughly enjoyed the scene where he and Nicole Kidman argued at the train station - it was well-written in the first place, of course, but the expressions, everything, was very British and yet explosive at the same time. Here, he was casted as the British golf player Harry Vardon because Paxton needed someone who can fill the screen with one look (asides from being a good golf player = less takes), and that is definitely the case here. It's rare to find actors who can give the camera a steely look and not have the audience laugh and command their attention.
Shia LaBeouf. I really paid attention to this movie because of his performance - at least, whatever I managed to see in the two-minute trailer. (In fact, the movie was released a couple of years back. For whatever reason, I continued to keep the movie in my mind, even though I never came across any time and place when it was playing in the cinema. That's how limited its release was.) Most people (above the age of 18) would probably remember Shia, if at all, from the bit part he did at Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Point is, I've always placed him in the same category as Frankie Muniz. But here he is in a serious, non-cheeky role that isn't made just for tweens to swoon over - and he looks the part (meaning he looked like he could belong in the ealry 20th century era the film is portraying), has charisma, is expressive (showing all different modes in the trailer alone). And in the film itself he certainly delivered the expectations set by the trailer. That pushes him into the actors I might like to work with category.
As for the music, well, what can I say, Brian Tyler did it again. Except that for whatever reason, A Beautiful Mind is playing in some of the cues - though I daresay it's a better rendition of the theme ... more inspiring and uplifting.