The story of Jackie Robinson, and the integration of baseball, is undeniably important and inspiring and all the things we want a sports movie to be. And yet, when 42 hit theaters this spring, didn’t it seem like no one was really that excited about it? Even with a Jay Z song in the trailer!
Part of the problem may be … you know, the details of the actual story. As Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), a Dodgers executive, tells Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) in the trailer, the only way this experiment is going to work is if Robinson refuses to take any of the bait being thrown at him by, apparently, every baseball-loving bigot in America. A portrait of quiet dignity eventually triumphing over ignorance may feel anachronistic, particularly as the news, many decades after Robinson’s efforts, keeps reminding us that ignorance hasn’t really been defeated at all.
WELL, THIS TOOK A TURN. Anyway, I guess this movie about desegregating baseball will have to do until someone makes one about the first female player in the major leagues, if that ever happens.
New and Notable
Bullet to the Head
A renegade cop (Sylvester Stallone) joins forces with a by-the-book cop (Sung Kang) to find their partners’ killers.
Missing for five years, Josh (Liam Aiken) returns home … but won’t talk about what happened.
The Soul of Flies
Two brothers share a unique journey on the way to their estranged father’s funeral.
The founder of Subaru of America, now at retirement age, attempts to get another big deal off the ground in this documentary.
Hecho En México
Documenting the artistic landscape of contemporary Mexico.
The We and the I
Michel Gondry’s latest covers a group of New York City kids riding the bus on the last day of school.
The late New York City mayor is profiled in this documentary.
The Punk Syndrome
This documentary follows Finnish punk band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät — the members of which are all mentally handicapped — on tour.
The Good Son
Not to be confused with the Macaulay Culkin/Elijah Wood vehicle, this is a documentary about boxer Ray Mancini.
Lake monster eats dumb teenagers.
“In Theaters” VOD Picks
Only God Forgives
Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling reunite for this film in which a drug kingpin tries to avenge his brother’s murder while staying ahead of a police investigation.
This might be the first found-footage police-investigation movie.
The only way to survive attacks by aliens is to stay drunk. Set in Ireland, obviously.
Opportunistic Backlist Revival Themes of the Week
1. “Baseball Fever”
In case 42 has whetted your appetite for baseball movies, here are a bunch: Hardball, The Sandlot, Eight Men Out, the original Bad News Bears, The Rookie, Major League, and For Love of the Game. Since TWC hasn’t seen fit to include A League of Their Own, I’ll recommend the second-best baseball movie of all time: Bull Durham.
2. Ryan Gosling
Pegged to the on demand/theatrical release of Only God Forgives, here’s a collection of older Ryan Gosling movies, including Blue Valentine, Murder By Numbers, Fracture, Lars and the Real Girl (but not Drive, the previous collaboration between Gosling and Refn). Anyway, it’s summer, so I recommend the light romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love. Save Blue Valentine for dusk on a depressing winter day.
3. “Summer Sci-Fi”
How is this collection different from the “Comic-Con” collection of last week? I mean, there’s a lot of crossover. But new to On Demand this week are Predator, Predators, Terminator and its first sequel, the second and third Transformers movies, Escape From New York, Inception, Independence Day, Jurassic Park, Blade Runner, Alien, Aliens, I Am Legend, a couple of Star Treks, Minority Report, and all three Matrix movies, though you only need ever watch the first.
Weird Indie of the Week
An Italian man auditions for Big Brother and becomes convinced that he’s still being secretly tested by producers in his day-to-day life.
Greedy Lying Bastards
This documentary about climate change deniers looks very well-made … but very depressing.