Currently browsing the "based on true story" tag.

Reflections, Ruminations and Review: Richard Jewell

This movie hits close to home on so many levels. I was living in Atlanta in 1996, freelancing in news, and was even supposed to be volunteering as a pseudo security guard at Centennial Park on the night of the bombing. I still have the uniform, though I never “served” – opting instead for a paid gig with NBC NewsChannel, helping local affiliates cover the Olympics from a rooftop about a half-mile away from the park. I remember getting home from work after midnight, turning on the TV and a short time later, hearing about the bombing. I remember transitioning from NBC to CNN when the Games ended. I remember the media frenzy surrounding Richard Jewell, who lived with his mother in an apartment complex off Buford Highway, close to my favorite bowling alley. I don’t remember to what extent I believed or shared the details about Richard Jewell’s alleged role in the bombing. But I do recall having great faith in our sources at the FBI and ATF, and in the reporting of our hometown paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They all said he did it. He didn’t.

Oops doesn’t quite cut it.

Review: The Rider

The Rider is an arthouse lover’s dream – quiet, authentic, raw, visually captivating with minimal dialogue. It’s the kind of indie that mainstream chicks like me can express a certain appreciation for, while still cautioning the masses that its greatest appeal will surely lie almost exclusively with the arty crowd. The film is a hybrid – part western, part docudrama, part biopic about a young cowboy whose days on the rodeo circuit come to a crashing halt when he suffers a devastating injury.

Review: 12 Strong

It’s Thor! As a soldier! On a horse! That got my attention. And it helped hold my attention while 12 Strong delivered some fairly standard war drama stuff. It’s a middle of the road war movie with a western vibe that draws its strength from the fact that it’s based on a wild declassified true story revealed in the 2009 book, “Horse Soldiers” by Doug Stanton.

Review: Stronger

Stronger starts off strong, falters a bit in the middle, and regains its footing towards the end, making for an inconsistent though still compelling drama. The movie tells the true story of 27-year-old Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal), a regular guy who became a symbol of hope and inspiration following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Bauman was waiting at the finish line in a bid to cheer on – and win back – his ex-girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black) when the blast occurred. He lost both legs. Bauman is the guy being helped by a stranger in a cowboy hat in one of the most iconic photos from that day. Boston Strong personified. Stronger isn’t so much about the terrorist bombing or the manhunt that followed (Patriots Day covered that territory). It’s about Bauman’s struggle to recover, physically and emotionally, often in the uncomfortable glare of the public spotlight.

Patriots Day

The Boston Marathon bombing is like so many of our recent tragedies. We remember where we were when it happened and were glued to the news, trying to come to terms with the horrifying display of carnage born from hatred. Then over the following days we watched and waited as the perpetrators were identified, killed, and captured. Patriots Day is essentially this story told through one Boston cop’s eyes. Mark Wallberg is Sgt. Tommy Saunders, a cop who’s made some mistakes and has been forced to be a Marathon traffic cop, so he just happens to be there when the bombs go off, which throws him into the middle of the hunt for the perps who may be planning more attacks. You know what’s going to happen, so there aren’t many surprises, but the film is fast paced with enough detail to make it extremely absorbing, and it works!

The 33

Hard to believe it’s already been – and only been – five years since the internationally-televised live dramatic rescue of 33 miners outside Copiapó, Chile. It’s a story that was ready-made for Hollywood, so it’s no surprise that Hollywood jumped on having it made into a major motion picture (starring Antonio Banderas as the miners’ de facto leader, super ‘Mario’). The problem is, The 33 doesn’t quite rise to the level of major motion picture, despite the very real and captivating narrative and characters in play. It’s ultimately a feel-good, but fleeting account of what was happening above ground, and below, after a massive explosion at a 100-year-old gold and copper mine left 33 men trapped 20,000 feet below the surface. The ordeal lasted for 69 days. And rescue was never a sure thing.

When the Game Stands Tall

We sent ‘Guest High School Chick’ Gabby Rhoades to a screening of When the Game Stands Tall, figuring she was better qualified to speak to its potential appeal to High Schoolers in particular – and the broader audience in general. The screening itself was flawed by technical difficulties (sorry ’bout that!), but we appreciate her sticking it out and offering up this review:

When The Game Stands Tall is a great and inspiring end-of-summer movie to get the public ready for football in the fall. Inspired by a true story, the De La Salle High School Football team, the Spartans, hold the nation’s highest winning streak of high school football games in all of history. This movie is not just another cliché plot where the football coach tries to change the lives of boys learning to become men and them trying to find clarity on the field. It’s a story of one of the nation’s most talented football teams losing for the first time in many aspects of life, and learning to pick themselves back up as a team.

The Conjuring

Okay, kids. Gather around the campfire and settle in for a treat. No campfire? Then the movie theater should do. Oh, The Conjuring is rated ‘R’?! That’s kind of ridiculous. I’d rather let the (older) kids pick this movie over a PG-13 offering like Grown Ups 2. Let’s call it PG-15. There’s no sex, gratuitous or graphic violence, or foul language. Just good ol’ fashioned suspense, creepiness, and scare tactics – elevated by some fine acting. It’s definitely too scary for the wee ones and the faint of heart (of any age), but fans of the traditional, touchstone horror movies (Amityville Horror, Psycho, The Exorcist, Poltergeist, etc.) will likely find The Conjuring to be among the best the genre has had to offer in recent years. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t particularly like horror movies.

Pain & Gain

Usually, when a movie is based on a true story, it’s inspirational, dramatic, transformational, or heartwarming… or some combination thereof. This one is just plain absurd. And tragic. And gross. And yes, pretty darn funny in a “You can’t be serious. That did not just happen!” sort of way. And did I mention it stars a very buff and often shirtless Mark Wahlberg? Just throwin’ that out there, so you have all the facts at hand when weighing your cinematic options.

The Sessions

I’ll make this quick, because it’s an indie best reviewed by the indie-minded among us (note to Arty Chick – the screener is headed your way). I watched The Sessions for the same reason I watched Shame last year. I’d heard that the story was interesting and the performances excellent. And it’s true. It’s just not my cup of tea. And let’s just say it could make for one awkward date movie, unless you’re both heavy into psychology, therapy and the like. The film is based on the true story of Mark O’Brien, a poet who contracted polio as a child and became paralyzed from the neck down. He depends on an iron lung to survive and though smart and funny (in a dry, sarcastic kind of way), his situation does not exactly attract the ladies.