Anthem for the Olympics from Samsung

Posted on July 31, 2016 at 12:49 pm

When the world seems most divided, it is good to remember we can come together, as shown in this Samsung ad celebrating the Olympics and the anthems of the participating countries, all sharing the goals of peace, honor, freedom, unity, and patriotism.

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Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Eddie the Eagle

Posted on February 25, 2016 at 5:28 pm

Copyright 2016 20th Century Fox
Copyright 2016 20th Century Fox

There are heroes who inspire us because they win, showing indomitable determination and courage, like Jesse Owens in Race. And then there are heroes who inspire us when they lose. They also have indomitable determination and courage. They just do not have any talent. But they go farther than anyone thinks they can. Think of “Rudy,” or “Cool Runnings,” or even the original “Rocky” movie. And now add Eddie the Eagle. He was a sickly boy with a dream of competing in the Olympics. When he was bumped from the British ski team, partly for being clumsy and lower class (at least in this film), he switches to ski jumping. There is one advantage: Great Britain does not have a ski jump team and has not competed in the event in 60 years. The rules had not been updated since then, so, unbelievably, anyone who competed successfully (meaning jumped without falling) could qualify. And since no one else was trying, all Eddie had to do was enter one competition and land on his feet.

The bad news was that he had to land on his feet after skiing down a 70 meter slide.

The real Eddie won hearts with his unpretentiousness and enthusiasm, the nickname dubbed in response to his waving his arms in glee and relief after making it down from the jump in one piece. He was refreshing in an era of product-izd athletes groomed from elementary school for endorsement deals and “Up Close and Personal” segments. At the end of the Games, he was the only athlete mentioned in the final speach, singled out for “soaring like an eagle.”

So it is too bad that the movie does something the real Eddie never did — it cheats. It does not trust the real story or the audience. So with the excuse of an “inspired by” credit rather than a “based on” implication of sticking closer to reality, it insists on amping up the ante with schmaltzy/cutesy made-up characters and events. Hugh Jackman brings tons of charm to the fictitious character of an angry, bitter guy who was once on the American ski jump team but got booted for drinking, women, and a bad attitude. Of course he will be inspired by Eddie’s unsullied determination and good attitude. Taron Egerton (“Kingsman: The Secret Service” and the forthcoming “Robin Hood: Origins”) makes Eddie believably awkward, but the character is nearly infantilized, limited to such a narrow range of qualities and emotions. The big showpiece athletic feat is amped up as well, when just the actual fact of climbing up 30 stories and sliding down it on two little sticks should be plenty.

Parents should know that this film includes illness and sport-related peril and injury, some sexual references, brief non-sexual nudity, smoking, alcohol abuse, and some strong language.

Family discussion: What made Eddie’s goals for himself reasonable ones? Why did Bronson decide to help him? How did helping Eddie change the way Bronson thought about himself?

If you like this, try: “Cool Runnings” and “Rudy”

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Biography Inspired by a true story Sports

Family Movies for the Olympics

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 7:00 am

The First Olympics: Athens 1896, one of my very favorite sports movies ever, is a made-for-TV miniseries about the first modern-day Olympics. We take the Olympics as a given now, but there were 1500 years between the time of the ancient games and the establishment of the modern Olympics with countries from all over the world putting aside their political differences for athletic competition in the spirit of good sportsmanship and teamwork. Showing the origins of everything from the starting position for sprinters to the impulsive selection of the Star Spangled Banner as the U.S. national anthem, the story is filled with drama, wit, and unforgettable characters, sumptuously filmed and beautifully performed by a sensational cast that includes then-unknown David Caruso of “CSI,” one-time Bond Girl Honor Blackman, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, and Louis Jourdan. It was a Writer’s Guild and Casting Society award winner when it was first released. Though the events are summer games, it is a great introduction to the Olympics, a thrilling and inspiring story, and outstanding family entertainment.

The Cutting Edge A spoiled figure skater (named Kate as in “Taming of the Shrew”) and a working class hockey player team up in this romantic comedy on skates starring Moira Kelly and D.B. Sweeney. This was the first screenplay by “Michael Clayton’s” Tony Gilroy.

Miracle Sportscaster Al Michaels unforgettably called out “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” as the 1980 US Olympic hockey team beat the Russians. They then went on to win the gold medal. And so the team, the last group of amateurs sent by the US to play ice hockey, has been known ever after as the “Miracle on Ice.” Kurt Russell plays coach Herb Brooks and this movie shows us that the real story is better than a miracle because it is about a team that succeeded through heart and hard work and commitment. If it is a miracle, it is in the “God helps those who help themselves” category. Be sure to watch the documentary, “Do You Believe in Miracles?” as well.

Ice Castles A young figure skater on the brink of becoming a champion loses her sight in an accident and has to start all over. Melissa Manchester sings the hit theme song, “Through the Eyes of Love.”

Cool Runnings One of the biggest long shots in history was the Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 winter Olympics. Yes, Jamaica is a tropical country and no, Jamaica does not have any snow. But a fast start is important in bobsledding and it does have sprinters. The actual footage of the real team’s crash is featured in the film. And while a lot of it is fictional, the grace and panache of the team is based on the real story. And they will be back for the 2010 games.

Downhill Racer Robert Redford plays an arrogant skiier who clashes with his coach (Gene Hackman) in this film, which captures the focus of the athletes and the exhilaration of the sport, filmed on location in the Alps.

Sonja Henie: Queen Of The Ice and It’s a Pleasure Real-life gold medalist Sonja Henie went on to become the highest-paid performer (we won’t say “actress”) in Hollywood for her very successful series of skating films. No one paid any attention to the plots even then, but the skating scenes hold up well and the documentary about her life as an athlete and performer is worth seeing.

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