Jerry Maguire (1996, Directed by Cameron Crowe) English 7

Starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger, Regina King, Kelly Preston, Jonathan Lipnicki, Jay Mohr

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(7-Very Good Film)

Funny. Fresh. Winning.

Hip is something that doesn’t last, and if hip is all a film has going for it, it won’t last either. Jerry Maguire, though I might question its more schmaltzy moments, or its would-be profound scenes (Tom Cruise’s symbolic swimming for example seems rather silly), remains a fantastic romantic comedy with great writing and over the top performances that work. Maguire (Cruise) is a ruthless sports agent who has a change of heart costing him his job. Forced to strike out on his own, plus the help of a loyal assistant, single mother Dorothy (Zellweger), and his one lone client, diva-esque but endearing, Rod Tidwell (Gooding Jr. in an Oscar winning role), a wide-out for the Arizona Cardinals. Crowe’s hyper-kinetic style matches well with his fast-paced, smart, funny script. I don’t even mind some of Jerry Maguire’s cornier scenes.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Dangal (2016, Directed by Nitesh Tiwari) Hindi 8

Starring Aamir Khan, Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Sakshi Tanwar

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Feel good story about a disappointed former wrestler, Mahavir Phogat (Khan), who shifts his dreams from winning gold for India to having a son who wins gold. After trying for a son for years, Mahavir and his wife end up with four daughters, and his dreams seem to over. Years later, with his peers calling him crazy, he instead trains his two oldest daughters in wrestling. It’s a great story told exceptionally with Aamir Khan going to great lengths and succeeding in making his appearance authentic. Even more difficult is his ability to make this harsh, deeply flawed father sympathetic, and the actresses that play his daughters are excellent as well. The wrestling sequences are exhilarating. Much credit to the filmmakers and performers who made these scenes incredibly realistic.

Grand Prix (1966, Directed John Frankenheimer) English 7

Starring James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand, Francoise Hardy, Brian Bedford, Jessica Walter, Toshiro Mifune

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Follows the lives of four Formula One drivers through the 1966 racing season as they compete to be world champions. There’s Pete Aron (Garner). A stoic, but somewhat reckless American driver who’s blamed for his teammate’s wreck. Sarti (Montand), a Frenchman. The best in the sport, but starting to grow weary of it. He starts an affair with an American journalist (Saint). Scott Stoddard (Bedford), an Englishman recovering from a major wreck and his wife leaving him. And Barlini (Sabato), an arrogant and carefree Italian racer. The women, though certainly beautiful, are completely short-changed in this picture. As a result, the surrounding drama around the stunning race sequences do not measure up. Yves Montand’s character is the only one with any real depth. That being said, the racing scenes truly are special. John Frankenheimer is an amazing craftsmen, and the film’s nearly three hour running time fly by thanks to his vision.

Cool Runnings (1993, Directed by Jon Turteltaub) English 6

Starring Leon, Doug E. Doug, John Candy, Malik Yoba, Rawle D. Lewis

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After his chances at running in the Olympics are dashed, Jamaican Derice Bannock (Leon) sees potential in bobsledding as a way to compete. He enlists a disgraced former champion (Candy) living on the island to help train him and the Jamaican team. Disney consistently finds gold when they mix the familiar sports genre with colorful cultural settings (Queen of Katwe, McFarland U.S.A, Million Dollar Arm). Well acted, though light. Winning.

Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks (2009, Directed by Dan Klores) English 7

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Another fascinating entry in ESPN’s running 30 for 30 series, this one follows the early to mid-’90s  NBA rivalry between the Reggie Miller led Indiana Pacers and the Patrick Ewing led New York Knicks. The story is set with the retirement of Michael Jordan, who, with the Chicago Bulls, dominated the Eastern Conference as well as the rest of the NBA. With MJ gone, the rest of the league felt stronger than ever that their time was now, and the pressure was higher than ever. Two of the biggest contenders are chronicled in this funny and illuminating documentary, highlighting the teams’ similarities, Reggie Miller’s antagonistic persona, and Spike Lee’s passionate courtside fandom. The film is a lightweight compared to some of the other more substantial 30 for 30s, but it still demonstrates the power of sports, which I believe is the key to the series greatness. It answers the question of why we love sports.

Early Man (2018, Directed by Nick Park) English 6

Voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, Richard Ayoade, Rob Brydon, Miriam Margolyes

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Set during the Stone Age, a close-knit, primitive tribe are overtaken by a more advanced community of bronze age warriors. Dug, a brave member of the Stone Age tribe, challenges the imperialists to match of their favorite sport (football or soccer), in a wager to regain the group’s land. Nick Park, creator of Wallace and Gromit and director of Chicken Run, is brilliant in my eyes. However, this film is mostly a series of gags. That’s not entirely a negative as the gags are very good, and, of course, the animation is first rate, but the story isn’t as fully developed as his best work.

The Karate Kid part III (1989, Directed by John G. Avildsen) English 4

Starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Robyn Lively, Thomas Ian Griffith, Sean Kanan

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Daniel and Mr. Miyagi return to California and open a store selling bonsai trees. There enterprise is interrupted by Terry Silver (Ian Griffith), a member of the Cobra Kai who were humiliated by the protagonists a year earlier at the Karate tournament. Silver vows revenge and enlists a superstar hotshot to compete against Daniel to reclaim the title. Utterly unnecessary first and foremost. Completely devoid of fun or humor. Daniel is too manic in this entry. The villains are way over the top; in their actions and in their acting. And the love interest, if she can be called that, is more like a friend zone relationship. Over the top. Rehash. Drudgery.