by Robert Myler
An Olympic sized look at some classic sports films.
With the Olympics games due to begin in less than twenty days, what better way to get ready than indulge in some classic sports films before switching over to the opening ceremonies? If your able to venture outside your house, make sure you catch the timely re-release of CHARIOTS OF FIRE.
Alternatively, if your fundamentally adverse to physical and mental exercise, grab your DVDs and let the films compete amongst themselves in our Film Olympics, the events are as follows.
Lets face it, for some athletes, years of dedicated training just don’t add up. Sometimes competitors just need a little boost, a little competitive edge. No we’re not talking about performance enhancing drugs (naughty Dwain), we’re talking about…Magic!
If the recommendation were a solid dose of divine intervention, many would back the light that follows Robert Redford around in THE NATURAL Some will avoid any chance of disappointment and head for the safe zone with MIRACLE. It’ll be close but edging over the line, powered by an absolute abuse of the miraculous, is FIELD OF DREAMS. Review it and they will watch.
If the feel good syrup is just too sweet for you, why not try gargle some testosterone mixed with blood sweat and tears. The rings packed with competitors. RAGING BULL, THE HURRICANE, CINDERELLA MAN, THE FIGHTER, THE WRESTLER etc etc etc. It may be easier to do a ROCKY and think of yourself watching these films in a single montage to save time. Then look under the coach for that old PUMPING IRON VHS and recall the pure entertainment of seeing Arnie overdosing on serotonin and bravado.
Diving For Females
Where are all the girls? It’s a sad fact that 99% percent of sports films find a male in the central role. Of course Hollywood isn’t adverse to strong female characters but attempts such as BLUE CRUSH just don’t cut it. Listen to Gurinda Chadha talk about her struggle to get BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM of the ground and you’ll understand some of the problems female centric scripts have and why most non-formulaic output still requires independent backing.
In the end any good sports film should be about spirit rather than sex. That’s why my vote is for MILLION DOLLAR BABY. If you haven’t seen this film and your idea of woman in sport is BRING IT ON, be warned, you’re in for a necessary emotional shock.
Sport isn’t always so serious, take table tennis and curling for example. Why not try laughing with/at the underdog? You could play some fuseball with THE WATERBOY or chill out to COOL RUNNINGS. I find a strong drink with KINGPIN works best.
The Adversity Jump
The best quality of sport is it’s ability to inspire and lift those of us who haven’t been blessed with the best start in life, that is of course excepting the middle class events requiring thousands of pounds worth of equipment. Here it’s hard to pick a real winner or looser, so turn a cheek to racial discrimination with Sandra Bullock in THE BLIND SIDE or escape from New York in HOOP DREAMS.
Biopics tread in a dangerous territory and require all the detail, finesse and performance of a finely tuned gymnast, less they insult the memory of the legends they commemorate. Recent floor stealers are Michael Sheens portrayal of the genius Brian Clough in THE DAMNED UNITED and a look back at the high speed turns in the life and career of Ayrton Senna, a spirit stolen from F1 unfairly, in SENNA.
Just like the Olympics, there will be events many just won’t, can’t and shouldn’t watch. Third from last is WIMBELDON, a film that could have been set within any competitive sport as long as Kirsten Dunce didn’t have to sweat. Crawling back to the changing room head down is RUN FATBOY RUN, a film flat enough to bore your running pants off. Finally, although it’s a great film, a lifetime ban from the Film Olympics has been handed to Spielberg’s MUNICH. Enough said.