SEPTEMBER 2ND, 2014
DRAFT DAY // Before watching “Draft Day”, an exert from a David Denby, New Yorker review resonated in my mind: “Ivan Reitman’s dull-witted movie about the flurries of player trading on N.F.L. draft day might be a commercial for professional football.” Now, I did not find the film as “dull-witted” as David found it to be, but the fact that it “might be a commercial for professional football” definitely rings true. With the N.F.L. logo brandished everywhere including the poster of the film, one never forgets that this is professional football. By the end of the film, there was an excitement to watch some actual football, even though the most I follow the sport is during the Super Bowl. Props must also be given to the studio for the timing of the home video release of this film, as is coincides perfectly with the start of the 2014-2015 football season.
With plenty of sports films under his belt, like “Bull Durham” and “Field Of Dreams”, Kevin Costner takes the reigns of “Draft Day” as Sonny Weaver Jr., the general manage of the Cleveland Browns. Another review comes to mind with the perfect notion, this one from Reggie Hayes of The News-Sentinel, in which he proclaims “I’m glad to see Kevin Costner move up and into the front office.” He does realize his age stops him from being the guy out on the field, but in doing so, brings a big star dynamic to the inner workings of the game instead.
Beginning on the morning of the N.F.L. draft day and leading up to the first picks of the draft, there is an excitement built around the premise, as you get to know the players in contention, including Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) as a defensive player who wants desperately to be drafted by the Browns. You also get to know the behind-the-scenes management, including the Browns coach, Vince Penn, played aggressively by Denis Leary, the salary cap lawyer Ali Parker (Jennifer Garner) who is also dating Weaver, and Weaver’s mother, Barb (Ellen Burstyn) who guilts her son like the best of them. Reitman expertly weaves together an entire roster of characters in order to add a sense of mystery to the pending draft picks and to allow the audience different people to root for.
Most of the film is a series of phone calls and debating about what deals to make and what players to get, with the conflict arising from differing points of view. Some of the sideline stories include a pregnancy within the office, the recent death of Weaver’s father, and the future of the Browns franchise being on the line. As exciting as the film gets while building around the draft, the pool of characters is still so small that many of the twists and one-two punches are telegraphed by lingering on small supporting characters that will become more active in some of the revelations of the film.
Where the audience eventually feels cheated is at the end of the film. Imagine getting to know this stellar cast of characters, who represent the best in football as well as all the tough decisions Weaver must make for the future of his franchise. Next, imagine him putting together his “dream team” and watching them all gear up, ready to show what they are made of out on the field. Now, imagine everything ending abruptly. Credits roll. Although there is a definite climax to the film, there is something about a sports film that never steps out on the astroturf that feels like a cop out, offering what feels like a zero payoff.
For those that follow the N.F.L. closely, the actual draft probably produces the same entertainment value that the film “Draft Day” offers to non-fans or dabblers. In creating that excitement, Reitman’s film really is like a 110 minute commercial for the N.F.L., telling those casual watchers what they could be experiencing if they gave themselves over. And honestly, it is successful, allowing that payoff that I was missing from the film because at the end of the real N.F.L. draft, you actually get to see the teams step out on the field and play an entire season, with the true climax coming six months later in the form of the Super Bowl. Although I am not quite a football fan yet, because of “Draft Day” I might just well be on my way.
NIGHT MOVES // Released almost exactly a year apart, the May 2013 release “The East” and the May 2014 release “Night Moves” are both films about activists fighting the law in an almost terroristic fashion. Both containing well-known faces as well as eerie, unsettling natures, they both also draw heavy differences from one another. Whereas “The East” sees Brit Marling’s character infiltrating a large group of activists including Alexander Skarsgård and Ellen Page, “Night Moves” sticks with three small-time activists who are well integrated into that particular lifestyle well before we meet them. Teaming Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg, and Peter Sarsgard in the least dynamic performances you have ever seen them in (which is actually saying something as far as Eisenberg is concerned), the group finds themselves preparing to blow up a hydroelectric dam as part of their eco-terrorism movement in attempt to bring change. As much as Marling’s character is simply along for the ride throughout several terrorist acts in “The East”, the main characters in “Night Moves” are fully engulfed and preparing for only one major event.
The preparations leading up to the violent statement is straight out of a psychological thriller, with emotionless faces and a dread hovering over the actions, despite any actual capitalizing off of the impending doom. Just as the actor’s expressions are emotionless, so are the relationships in the film, with sex becoming this act done out of boredom and an emotion of jealously that is never actually epitomized or acted upon.
One of the most memorable scenes and also the only source of humor, is when a hiker stumbles upon this scheming group in the woods. Like a deer in the headlights, what should be a casual conversation between strangers is this awkward and almost terrifying exchange, where one party has no idea what they happened across. Following the major event of the film (whether they succeed or not I shall leave up to your viewing) is a character study on what happens after a major life event, where even more tension is created. With paranoia in the forefront of the second half of the film, the audience is privy to an entirely different shade on each of the characters, all dealing with the fallout in their own ways.
Apparently known for her homegrown, gritty-natured film-making, director Kelly Reichardt offers a completely different take on the eco-terrorism movement than last year’s Zal Batmanglij endeavor. Continuing her positive contribution to the independent film world, Kelly really succeeds in creating a mood and molding her characters to fit that tone. Polarizing audiences as this purposely drab statement piece, Reichardt’s film may not be as lively as last year’s “The East”, which paces at more of a sprint, but with strong actors rooting down their characters and a plot that ensnares interest, “Night Moves” resembles a thoughtful and peaceful stroll through the woods.
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TV Box Set
- Beast Machines Transformers: The Complete Series
- Bonanza: Season Seven
- Chicago Fire: Season Two
- Chicago PD: Season One
- Crossbones: Season One
- Doctor Who: Series Four – Part Two
- Grey’s Anatomy: Season Ten
- Homeland: Season Three
- It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia: Season 9
- The League: Season Five
- New Girl: Season Three
- The Originals: Season One
- Person of Interest: Season Three
- Special Editions/Other Releases
- 14 Blades
- Amazon Jack
- Baby Blues
- Big Foot Wars
- Citizen Koch
- The Corrupted: The Lovecraftian Horror
- Creature from the Black Lagoon: Complete Legacy Collection
- Crossbow: The Movie
- Devil’s Mile
- Dracula: Complete Legacy Collection
- Dracula: The Impaler
- Eternal Damn Nation
- For No Good Reason
- Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection
- From the Rough
- Girls Gone Wild: Anytime Anywhere 2
- Glimpses Beyond Death’s Door
- The Heart Of Bruno Wizard
- Heavenly Sword (2014)
- Horses of God
- The Invisible Man: Complete Legacy Collection
- Life Fine Tuned
- The Little Riders
- Love Will Find A Way
- The Mummy: Complete Legacy Collection
- The Mystery of the Carpathian Sphinx
- Out of the Clear Blue Sky
- Phantom of the Opera (1943)
- R.L. Stine’s Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend?
- Richard Lewis: Bundle of Nerves
- Rocky Road (2013)
- Space Raiders
- Starship Rising
- Two: The Story of Roman & Nyro
- Under The Electric Sky
- The Wolf Man: Complete Legacy Collection
- Yangsi: Reincarnation is Just the Beginning