Women Talking: It is trite to say that “women have it hard” and always have. We men find ways, and impose structures around them, which making getting through this life very challenging. Case in point is the particular situation that the women in this isolated religious community are experiencing from the director Sarah Polley. It is based on the book by Miriam Towes, which was based upon true events. On its face it would appear to be similar to an Amish community, with horses used for transportation and seemingly no electricity. A group of women have gathered to discuss a situation where one of their group has been drugged and raped. The dilemma is that the men run the community and won’t be doing anything about the situation. To add further uncertainty, these women have been told that their doorway to everlasting life with God, is by remaining in the church and within the community. They have met to decide the merits of leaving or staying.
The assembled cast is an impressive one with Frances McDormand, Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley and Ben Whishaw who has been asked to be a scribe for the women as they cannot read nor write. The performances are all excellent, and I think notably Foy, of The Crown fame, and Mara, who was the victim in the event and pregnant as a result, provide really insightful descriptions of their conflicted feelings. Having said that, the older women in telling her horse story near the end uses the word “frenetic” for which I can’t imagine that one who isn’t educated in reading or writing would ever hear or use. As much as this is obviously a movie, it is directed and set as if it is a play. Much taking place inside the barn as they women discuss issues and options. Not many men are involved as the title suggests. In many ways I see parallels with the classic Henry Fonda film 12 Angry Men. One room with a great deal of dialog and many dissenting opinions. Women who would seemingly have the same common issue to deal with, but in practice each has their own challenges and reality to overcome.
This was the last Best Picture nominee that I needed to see. I think that some of the performances are Oscar worthy and the nominations for just Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay are not reflective of the work of Foy in particular. I am glad to have seen it. I think that it is a small screen film, addressing some overall issues with women and how they are treated. Sadly the acting did not garner any nominations. I don’t feel that this was the best film of the year. But as with each year, it is difficult to measure this film from many of the others that are nominated as Best Picture.
American Underdog: I have to admit that I was not looking to rush out and see a movie about football QB Kurt Warner. It just didn’t interest me. I am not a Rams fan, and I wasn’t particularly fond of Warner himself from very little that I knew about him. However on a late Sunday afternoon this movie came out on Crave and I decided to check it out. The movie is really a relationship movie and a story about Warner and his wife Brenda; how they met, her background, how he wooed her and his journey with her.
Having been in the hockey agency business, this is a movie too about the business of sports, and particularly football obviously. What separates football and the NFL from other sports is that in hockey and baseball there are minor leagues where players can continue to play and hone their skills. In football, there isn’t anywhere else to go, and the released football player has to go and find a job outside the sport. The NFL also allows players to be released and there is no guaranteed contract, unless stipulated in the agreement itself with that particualr team. What you see as the movie progresses is how the QB Warner who had talent was prevented from given the opportunity to show what he could do on his way up. He was at a smaller Iowa college with a coach that demanded a QB “remain in the pocket” and take the hits when an offensive line breaks down. Warner didn’t play much and he was never drafted into the NFL. So he was stocking shelves at a grocery store at one point in his life after college.
With his relationship, Brenda was a woman with two young kids from a previous failed marriage and a healthy skepticism of all men. Her trust was very low and he expected the worst from men in a relationship. However much she tried to push Kurt away, he refused to do so. His love and devotion to her at an early stage, despite her protests, is a testament to who he is. Anna Paquin plays Brenda, and I found the hairstyle on her didn’t work. I would like to have thought that she would be more supportive for this man who was showing time and again his commitment to her. But everyone has their own reasons to hesitate. Kurt played by Zachary Levi is a determined and respectful man living life on his terms and looking to comply, for the most part, with those who have power over him, even if he disagrees. His choice ultimately to pursue the arena football league was a good development strategy, which kept him playing but importantly working on a quicker release for passes.
Overall this was okay. I cannot recommend, but it provided to me some more insight into this one football player and struggles that I didn’t know were there. Any athlete in any sport can take solace that an undrafted player becomes the MVP and Superbowl MVP of that sport. Warner won the Superbowl twice. Pretty impressive for a young man who idolized Joe Montana from his days with the 49ers and winning Superbowls there.