Against Type

Elisabeth Bumiller reports in the New York Times on the movie-viewing habits of the president, whose home theater surpasses anything on offer at Bang & Olufson. (The White House screening room was built during Ronald Reagan's presidency, with $150,000 donated by a group of disinterested citizens who just happened to work for Disney, Universal, Fox, Paramount, Columbia, MGM, and Warner Brothers.)

Unlike LBJ, who slept through movies (a presidential trait found also in my spouse), and unlike Nixon, who watched the same movie over and over (yes, it was "Patton"), Bush seems to appreciate movies, as evidenced by his choice for best film of 2004: "Friday Night Lights," a sleeper about high school football in Odessa, Texas.

If you like movies but don't like Bush, then this is a good time not to indulge in stereotypes. Because "Friday Night Lights" is not your typical sports movie, and its portrait of football mania in the sovereign state of Texas is not painted with red-white-and-blue triumphalism.

Based on a book by H.G. Bissinger, "Friday Night Lights" is pretty formulaic on the surface: a team with one star player (Derek Luke) and a crusty coach (Billy Bob Thornton) passes through trials and tribulations, including losing the star to injury, then pulls together and heads for the state championship.

The first fifteen minutes are so fast-paced, it makes your average hip-hop video look sleepy. But then, mercifully, the pace slows, and the film begins to breathe a wonderful, subtle life. It is not triumphalist - indeed, it shows lucidly what happens to people (and towns) when they become too obsessed with winning.

But neither does "Friday Night Lights" take the easy path of ridiculing the narrow horizon of its characters. Instead, it treats them as full human beings and explores the hard realities behind their passionate compulsion to win. And without giving away the ending, I can say that by the time the team hits the boards for the Big Game, this movie has given new vitality to old cliche about sports being more about honor than victory.

March 9, 2005 10:45 AM |

Categories:

Soundtrax

PRC Pop 

The Chinese pop music scene is like no other ...

Remembering Elvis 

The best part of him will never leave the building ...

Beyond Country 

Like all chart categories, "country" is an arbitrary heading under which one finds the ridiculous, the sublime, and everything in between. On the sublime end, a track that I have been listening to over and over for the last six months: Wynnona Judd's version of "She Is His Only Need." The way she sings it, irony is not a color or even a set of contrasting colors; it is iridescence.

Miles the Rock Star? 

Does Miles Davis belong in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame? Here's my take on his career ...

Essay Contest 

Attention, high school jazz listeners ...

more trax

Me Elsewhere

Edward Hopper 

Painter of light (and darkness) ...

Dissed in Translation 

Here's my best shot at taking Scorcese down a few pegs ...

Henri Rousseau Revisited 

"Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris" appeared at the National Gallery of Art in Washington this fall ...

Paul Klee's Art 

Paul Klee was not childish, despite frequent comparisons between his art and that of children...

Our Art Belongs to Dada 

Rent my "Dadioguide" tour of the Dada show (before it moves to MoMA) ...

more picks

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This page contains a single entry by published on March 9, 2005 10:45 AM.

Berlin Film Festival was the previous entry in this blog.

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