CATCH UP CAPSULE CRITIQUES
The following films were shuffled to the editing floor during awards season, but, as they are now resurfacing on PPV and HV, here are brief capsule critiques before you purchase or rent.
Sports movies saw a bit of a resurgence last year, especially in boxing. While CREED was garnering accolades for its stars and director, SOUTHPAW snuck in under the radar, and was actually the better film. To be sure, both movies followed a tried and true template, and the title of this film is an incongruity having no consequence in the plot, but if you must watch a formulaic film on boxing, it's better to watch Jake Gyllenhaal than Michael B. Jordan.
SOUTHPAW concerns Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal), a light heavyweight champion who is riding the crest of a wave suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The tragic death of his wife, played by Rachel McAdams causes his downfall, where he is taken from the limelight to the dregs of the city. He loses his title, his fortune and his daughter. What follows next is a page straight out of ROCKY II. Slowly, painfully, Hope works his way out of depression and despair and fights to win his past glories (at this point, cue Bruce Springsteen to sing “Glory Days”, unless of course he's upset about the bathroom policy).
SOUTHPAW is predictable and at times there are rather large gaps in the plotline, like the fight to win back his daughter, but the film contains a bit of grittiness that makes it watchable. Gyllenhaal’s transformation is akin to Michael Douglas' in Joel Schumacher's FALLING DOWN; and that one was fun to watch, too. Mauro Fiore, a top Cinematographer in Hollywood, gives SOUTHPAW a fantastic look. That look helps carry the film just as much as the story.
THE GRADE FOR SOUTHPAW = C
When you see the stars listed in this film, Martin Sheen, Rooney Mara, you should know they are in cameo roles only. The story centers around three youths who discover a wallet in the trash. The wallet contains information on corrupt politicians and gangsters bleeding the town of its limited resources. The boys, played by Rickson Tevez and Eduardo Luis, must fend off a bevy of nefarious no-goods who are seeking to recover the information.
The film is interesting in a mundane fashion. Several times during the script, it has the ability to take roads untraveled and become something memorable, but screenwriter Richard Curtis opts to play this one straight down the line and on the safe side. TRASH, therefore, never rises above mediocrity. The film's conclusion, is really out of texture with the characters and seems more a social commentary than a conclusion.
THE GRADE FOR TRASH = C