June 10 - 16, 2005• Vol. 26 - No. 23

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Cinderella Man Will Knock You Out
from the Very First Punch

 by The Maven and The Blonde
Film Columnists

There has not been a greater fight than the fight between Max Baer and James J. Braddock, with the exception of The Blonde and The Maven fighting over who gets Brad Pitt after his separation from Jennifer!
Whether you are reliving this story or visiting it for the first time, knowing the ending doesn't spoil the drama. Ron Howard (AGAIN) brings another rousing HIT to the silver screen with this story of Depression-era boxer who is given a second chance at his profession (Damon Runyon named Braddock the “Cinderella Man” for that reason). Russell Crowe (Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind) plays James J. Braddock, a decent, conscientious family man who is on his way up in the boxing world when the Depression hits and he suffers a broken right hand. He loses his fabulous house, all his investments, but not his integrity. James' tough, devoted wife Mae, played by Renée Zellweger (Cold Mountain and Bridget Jones' Diary), manages to keep the home fire burning (literally) while trying to hang on to her dignity throughout her family’s hardships. Renée takes what could have been a thankless role and gives it life, showing Mae as MORE than just a supporting wife. The pivotal role in this film is Paul Giamatti (Sideways and Private Parts) as Braddock's fight manager, Joe Gould. He's a bundle of brash humor and scrappiness, with tenderness and a big heart thrown in. Joe's loyalty to Braddock enables the fighter to return to the ring. The standout of this film is the Depression. Cinematographer Salvatore Totino's camera-eye showed the grittiness of this era. As in Apollo 13, even though you know the facts, Howard's directing of Akiva Goldman and Cliff Hollingsworth's screenplay and some fabulous acting enable you to be drawn into these characters and care for their stories. Prepare yourselves to enjoy every PUNCH!

The Blonde: Cinderella Man was like Rocky (all of them) meets Million Dollar Baby, meets Raging Bull. Okay, okay, okay … I have to begin by stating that I don't even like boxing and, before this film, I wasn't too fond of Russell Crowe. Furthermore, I am totally fed up with Renée and how she can gain 50 pounds for a film and seem to loose it all in two weeks. NOW, that said, this BRILLIANT film—in the words of Renée in the film Jerry Maguire—“had me at hello!” By the by, they gave her another 'all time classic line' to say in this film, (which almost mad me gag on my popcorn, it was so SWEET): “You are the champion of my heart.” OH MAVEN, HOLD ME UP! It even topped “You complete me,” also from Jerry Maguire. Renée played a “stand by your man” character in this film. I must say, though, this film was over the top fantastic in every way a film should be.

The Maven: Ron Howard is a most amazing director. He managed to bring this story to the screen without too much sappiness, and I think that showed admirable restraint. Not since Rocky have I felt the urge to stand up and cheer, it's such a feel-good movie.

The Blonde: I too cannot rave enough about Ron Howard's extraordinary talent and sensitivity as a director. Cinderella Man is up there with his finest, if not his best work to date. I loved how he interjected x-rays, as bones were being broken during a fight. Very effective and clever. I also must give it up for Paul Giamatti! I wasn't too happy (as you readers well know) with all the undeserved Oscar hype his film Sideways got. However, he WAS stupendous in this film. All the characters were perfectly cast and delivered superb acting performances. I SMELL MANY WELL-DESERVED OSCAR NOMINATIONS HERE! O- for outstanding, S- for stunning, C- for creative, A- for amazing and R- for riveting! By the way, Mav, don't you think Renée has a Shirley Temple (the woman) smile?

The Maven: NO… I DON"T! Moving on, I felt the editing was superb. Switching camera angles from fighter to third person kept the action level high. Can you imagine how much more of the fight scenes are on the cutting room floor? I smell a special edition DVD in the works for the Oscar-winning film.
The Blonde: Well, at least an Oscar-winning hopeful! We are doing a lot of smelling; I think we might be hungry or something. Speaking of hopeful, I just love nepotism! Ron finds a role for his brother in every film he has ever made!  I wish Ron was MY brother! Continuing on, I thought the line in the movie, “Our country is dropping its care of the middle class,” is so ironic in today's world.

Review continued on bottom


The Blonde: WHATEVER!!! FINE!!

The Maven: NOW, speaking of nepotism, the ring announcer at the end of the Baer/Braddock fight, was Rance Howard…Ron's father!

The Blonde: I wish Ron was MY son! Howard's stellar directing puts you inside of the story. You feel the pain, the emotions, the drama, the characters’ passions, hopes and fears. He uses amazing filming techniques, unique close-ups, segueways, fitting emotional music, a Depression-esque coloring of the film, right on sound effects, and period costumes. Speaking of which, Mav, what do you think about all this talk regarding Deep Throat? I don't think porno films should be discussed on prime time television? I think it is SO TOTALLY wrong!

The Maven: Deep Throat refers to the voice of THE whistleblower who wanted to be anonymous during the Watergate debacle, not an ADULT FILM!

The Blonde: Oh, then never mind! But Mav, it's always been common knowledge that Deep Throat is Hal Hollbrook.  

The Maven: He was the ACTOR who portrayed Deep Throat in All the President’s Men. It’s scary that you can't tell anymore which is real life or the movies! I have to KVELL ON RUSSELL! He is able to change his very look as well as his style to play these men's-men roles. He has done it as the whistleblower in The Insider, a British captain in Master and Commander, Maximus in Gladiator, and a mathematician in A Beautiful Mind. His performances are always top-notch.
The Blonde: Maven, It would be better if you kvelled ABOUT Russell instead of ON Russell! YOU COULD HURT THE POOR MAN! Ya know, this film really teaches us all a wonderful lesson about survival. No matter how bad things are, how lost and alone you might feel, no matter how desperate you are, no matter how starving you and your family are, no matter how much of a struggle you are going through living in poverty, if you believe with all of your heart that you can become the Heavyweight Champion of the World, then you can be! I am going out now to train!

The Maven: You are starting to sound like a Disney movie!

The Blonde: Maven, I was so embarrassed the other day. I went on a date wearing a new shirt from Bebe and I forgot to remove the price tag. No one said anything the whole night. I wanted to die when I got home and realized it. Thank heaven, I paid retail and didn't get it on sale or it would have made it even worse!

The Maven: Gee Blondie, I don't think that was nearly as bad as when you came out of the bathroom at the movie theater with half of your skirt up in the back, leaving your butt exposed!

The Blonde: Oh yeah, that wasn't good either! ANYWAY, I think this is a film that everyone can enjoy. It's truly not just a guy film. It will cheer you up and give you hope, especially for us underdogs!

The Maven: Not only is this movie for everyone, it's a great comment on society! Only a fool thinks that a DEPRESSION could never happen again in this country!


The Maven: I heartily recommend this film. It has heart, grit, determination, and is what movies are all about…ENTERTAINMENT! This gets an A from me for its Artistic integrity and Realism!

The Blonde: Cinderella Man is a winning film! This is what going to the movies USED to be like and as the Mav said, SHOULD be all about! You forget everything and all your problems (well at least most of them) the minute it starts. Even though you probably know how it ends, you will be rooting and cheering, and even crying the whole time. Let me put it this way, I bit off two fingernails, AND IT WAS A BRAND NEW SET!! I loved this film and rate it an A!  For your movie snacks, I suggest peanut brittle, some chocolate Turtles (the movie will explain why) and punch to wash it all down with. ENJOY!!!

P.S.: Another fantastic movie released this week is Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Folks, this is a must, must see film, especially for the girls. It brings you back in time or helps you with your teenage problems of today. As you watch you will find that, no matter what your age, there is much to identify with and learn from. Laughter, joy and tears are all a part of the emotions this film takes you through. We simply loved it. A record weekend for The Blonde and The Maven: TWO 'A' FILMS!

P.S.S.: For movies that look great coming in the future, look for Pride and Prejudice and War of the Worlds!

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