As soon as the movie was done, all I wanted to do was find someone who grew up in the 1940’s and plead with them to tell me all they knew about baseball player Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. I wanted to hear about the times, the games and the attitudes that were prevalent among the people and players. Physical strength can be measured by endurance, power or weight. I think mental strength is actually tougher to achieve. Watching the mental strength Jackie Robinson had to have every single moment was infinitely more compelling than anything I have seen from the recently released action movies. Chadwick Boseman (Persons Unknown-TV, The Express) did a solid performance as Jackie Robinson. The verbal cruelty he endured was unbelievable. Harrison Ford (Cowboys & Aliens, Firewall) as Brooklyn Dodgers’ owner Branch Rickey, despite his extra padding, was okay; but I was still reminded that he was Harrison. His character, who came across larger than life, left me wanting to know more about Branch and his motivations. I just could not get over this man’s drive, determination and foresight by bringing in a black baseball player into an all white baseball world at a time when discrimination was the norm in society. The acting from Christopher Meloni (Oz-TV, Runaway Bride) as Leo Durocher, Nicole Beharie (Shame, The Express) as Rachel Robinson and Lucas Black (Jarhead, Get Low) as Pee Wee Reese was strong. Based on a true story, this inspirational dramatic film was geared to wring out the maximum from each heartfelt scene. The music was written to push at the viewer’s heart and I have to tell you I was teary eyed through over 1/2 of the movie. One did not have to have a knowledge of baseball to enjoy this movie; the story was more about civil rights. If for no other reason, it is worth seeing this drama just to see what the ugliness of ignorance looks like; not that we have stamped out ignorance yet. This movie did what I believe a movie should do: take the viewer away to a different time and place and experience the world through someone else’s eyes.
3 1/3 stars
Sudden death is easier than a lingering one. As I get older I have started thinking about death; but not too often. Most people consider death to be a sad occasion; I on the other hand, want my death to be looked at as a cause for celebration. I would want a big party where people could have some of my favorite foods. My cream cheese pound cake was my calling card when I was invited to someone’s house for dinner. It would be a hoot if I could arrange to have a couple of cakes on hand in the freezer for my funeral. Since picture taking has been a big portion of my life, there would be pictures everywhere; from my old photo albums (before there were digital cameras) to framed pictures hanging on the walls of the funeral home. Recently I have toyed around with the idea of leaving a video recording of me talking to my friends and family. In this lush, dramatic mystery; the main character had a better idea than me. Feared hermit Felix Bush, played by Robert Duvall (Deep Impact, Secondhand Lions), wanted to be at his own funeral while he was still alive. Holed up in the backwoods for 40 years; the town folk feared Felix, believing the numerous stories they had heard about him. Felix wanted to hear the stories and set them straight; not only for himself, but for the woman that was in the photograph he had kept close at hand for all these years. Speaking of photographs; this film had such a visual warmth to it, I felt I was looking through an album filled with deep, dark rich photos. It was a joy to watch the cast. Besides Robert’s excellent acting, Sissy Spacek (Carrie, The Help) as the woman Mattie who had a history with Felix and Bill Murray (Moonrise Kingdom, Hyde Park on Hudson) as funeral director Frank Quinn were both wonderful. There were a couple of places where the story was predictable but I enjoyed the mix of folklore, mystery, humor and redemption. I felt a kinship to Felix because when the time should come I only hope I do not have any unfinished business.
3 1/4 stars — DVD