REVIEW: “FORD v. FERRARI (2019) 20th Century Fox

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Biopics can be a hard sell at times. “FORD v FERRARI” is one of the latest true stories out of Hollywood that will be hitting the big screen, and here’s why this one deserves to be seen whether you are a racing fan or not, it absolutely deserves your attention.

In the mid-’60s, Ford and Ferrari fought it out for real at most brutal of all car races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a road race that lasts almost as long as this film. At a whopping 152 minutes, director James Mangold’s biopic is no quick win, but buckle up and sit back for the duration and you will be rewarded with a film that delivers great performances, a gripping tale of determination and courage, and some truly spectacular racing scenes (real or CGI? I couldn’t tell).

This could’ve simply been just a car movie. Instead, “Ford v Ferrari” delves into taking us in glorious detail, thru the true story rivalry between Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) and Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts), which sparked after the former refused to include his iconic racing team, Scuderia Ferrari, in a buyout of the Italian car company to Ford. Angered not only by this, but by a stinging comment Enzo makes to the effect that Ford is not credible with enough to be any part of a legendary firm like Ferrari with Henry Ford II at the helm because the real legend is Henry Ford himself, not his son.  Ford II then calls on legendary car maker Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) to design a car that can beat Ferrari at Le Mans, leading Shelby to create the iconic GT40 with the help of championship driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), even though he is deemed by Ford’s second in command, Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas) as a ‘loose cannon’.

Herein lies the classic underdog story, as the film follows the team as they design and test the new race-car, experiencing various setbacks along the way (some of which are orchestrated by Beebe, who wants to see Mills fail), before finally making it to France. Following all these multiple characters throughout, Ford v Ferrari focuses on the fact that Henry Ford II was given a challenge to create the fastest race car in the world and thereby improve the company’s image in the eyes of young Americans and putting the Italians in their place at the same time.

If you’re a fan of racing or cars in general, this movie will have you over the moon as it takes you thru the paces of the racing sequences, all which take up a good chunk of the film. Luckily, they are intense, well shot, with a fantastic score to back it up and sound effects to get your heart pumping. Everything about the exciting aspects of this film was top notch. But even if you aren’t a racing enthusiast, this movie doesn’t bore you with minutia, but instead gives you the necessary overview of the needed context so that every viewer understands what’s on the line here.  But secondary to the racing we have backstory about Miles and his family including what it’s like for his wife Mollie (Caitronia Balfe), and his son Peter (Noah Jupe), as they watch in trepidation as Ken goes about not only his racing with a few terrifying crashes that they are witness to, but also the fact that Ken puts racing above just about everything in his life, including his family business of an auto repair garage i.e., food on the table.  While Shelby’s character doesn’t have the struggle of a family life, he has the struggle with the Ford executives over every single aspect of how to build the car that can win Le Mans with Miles at the driving helm.  Until one wonderful moment when he takes Ford II himself out for a spin on the track and thereby ensures himself a blank check much to the angst of Beebe.

Christian Bale and Matt Damon give stellar performances here as the two leading men in the film and you totally buy their rigid friendship that slowly develops based on a mutual respect. Bale seems to disappear into his character especially noting he can ‘speak’ as himself here – accent and all. Damon as well, has the opportunity here to show quite a range from confident showman to a vulnerability we rarely get to see. The supporting cast is flawlessly put together as a well-oiled pit crew with notables such as Jon Berenthal playing Lee Iacocca (yes, THAT Lee Iacocca – who not only developed the Mustang itself, but the Pinto as well and went on to revive the Chrysler Corp.). Tracy Letts layers his performance here with strength and flair as Ford II, Ray McKinnon does top-notch mechanic Phil Remington true to form, and Josh Lucas is the perfect fodder of ‘bad guy executive’ of the bunch.

In the end, Ford v Ferrari is engaging, emotional, and downright thrilling when it wants to be. You find yourself invested in these characters and on the edge of your seat during the climactic races. The only small flaw is some missed opportunity in terms of emotion during certain scenes but all is forgiven in that, seeing as the rest of the movie is so impressive. Ford v Ferrari is one of the definitely one of the most exciting movies so far this year and is sure-fire to be crossing the finish line in first place come opening weekend.

Grade: B+

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Media Review Screening: Wednesday, November 6, 2019 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

“FORD v. FERRARI”  WILL BE OUT IN THEATERS WORLDWIDE FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2019

 

 

7 DAYS OF OSCARS: DAY THREE ~ “BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR”

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Here we are at Day 3 of my “7 Days of Oscar” ~ probably for me at least, the hardest category besides Best Picture to judge. The category is just filled to the brim of fantastic performances and I wish they could all win..well..minus one. ha!
Reminder: I’m giving who I think the winner will be and what would be my pick – because they aren’t always necessarily the same!! 😀

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christian Bale, The Big Short
Absolutely Christian Bale in one of his best career performances. While it was a complete ensemble cast, he stood out head and shoulders above the rest.

Tom Hardy, The Revenant
How do you explain Tom Hardy – he’s been full of acting surprises for some years now and while I would’ve thought him to have a nomination before this one (think ‘Locke’ from 2014), he is deservedly here.

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Ruffalo with his oddly thrown in facial & body tics/expressions that are reminiscent of a bad Jimmy Olsen caricature, annoyed the daylights out of me, to a point for me so I can’t even remotely vote for him here and was the only drawback to an otherwise really good film.

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Lucky for me, I’ve known about Rylance’s talent for a bit now. For me, there was only one person that truly stood out for me performance-wise in this film and that person was Mark Rylance.

Sylvester Stallone, Creed MY PICK/WINNER
Yep I’m going ‘Old School’ on this one. because Sly, Sly, Sly – I’ve seen all your stuff, whether good or bad. But I remember how no one thought you could act.. I kept telling them you could, and then came ‘Copland’ where you proved them all wrong and me right. Has there been more misses than hits…sure there has, but damn you were so good here. He will pull at everyone’s heartstrings like he did mine and take this.

**Come back tomorrow for Day 4 of the “7 Days of Oscar” and see my picks/winners for Best Director.**

REVIEW: “THE BIG SHORT” (2015) Paramount Pictures

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the big short
When Ryan Gosling’s character Jared Vennett asks the question to a room full of brokers.. “What’s that smell?” and answers it with “Opportunity” you know then and there to prepare yourself for a very different type of ride.

The film’s narrative is driven by four cynical, fringe Wall Streeter’s disgusted with the large banking institutions’ overriding greed for profits. Separately, but yet oddly together, they make the decision to capitalize on the ensuing housing market catastrophe and the financial meltdown of 2008 upon discovering the market frenzy is being driven by worthless collateral debt obligations.
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While I might never figure out how Director Adam McKay made deplorable humans, blinding fear, gut-wrentching outrage and delightful shaming so much fun to watch ~ He most definitely brought along his dark bag of laughs here, but planted them in such a way as to where we actually understood what was happening thanks to fun cameo explanations from the likes of Margot Robbie in a bubble bath, Anthony Bourdain cooking it right up, and even Selena Gomez gambling though her little monologue.

After a rather lengthy dizzying, yet delightful, character introduction, the film picks up pace as the drama begins to unfold. Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale), an eccentric financial analyst, with complete autonomy of an investment fund, uncovers variables in his economic forecast indicating a massive housing market collapse. He informs his higher up, Lawrence Fields (Tracy Letts), of his discovery and creates a financial prospectus. In essence, he creates a commodity of selling short on bundled mortgages.
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The bankers laugh themselves silly as they willingly sell Burry all the “insurance” he wants. Word quickly spreads of Burry’s perceived madness in a after-work cocktail scene. With interest piqued upon overhearing the Wall Street gossip of the day, Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), scoops up the aspects of Burry’s move. Soon, he sells it to a group led by Steve Carell’s real-life character, Mark Baum and convinces them to buy in.

As the debacle is in full free-fall, Baum struggles with disbelief as he and his group have bet against their own umbrella entity, Morgan Stanley. The final team that has uncovered the impending financial crisis, made up of two Wall Street rookie wanna-be’s, Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) and Charlie Geller (John Magaro) who along with veteran trader turned-conspiracist Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), also struggle with the imploding financial system caused by corporate greed and indifference
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With a mammoth cast, the acting in this movie is pristine with the whole ensemble cast being in top form. With that said however there were three stand out performances that somewhat break this mold.
Ryan Gosling might be the funniest as he narrates and embodies the fact that he’s a scum bag and just rolls with it, offering an entertainingly slick performance. Christian Bale let us feel his pain and lonely genius, stole the show in every scene he was in. The only genuinely relate able character in the lot, Bale conveys a great deal of sensitivity, making it one of his best performances to date. Steve Carell dug deep and came up with a persona that brings Baum to life, even if he does over act at times which I guess is how he really is in true-life form.
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It was also nice to see Marisa Tomei, Hamish Linklater, Billy Magnussen, Rafe Spall, Max Greenfield and talented others working at a solid supporting level.

With all the ‘truth’ films out there this year, “The Big Short” is one of the more important ones of this group and also one of the best. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time as the film warns us in a way, who knows what will be the next basic human necessity to be denied by those few who hold power.

Grade: B+
@pegsatthemovies

Review Screening: Arclight Hollywood ~ Tuesday, December 8, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
In Select Theaters: Friday, December 11, 2015
NATIONWIDE RELEASE: Wednesday, December 23, 2015

COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ IT’S NITTY GRITTY TIME ~ BEST ACTOR

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aahhh Christian..loved you in this movie..No one can do a combover better than you! ha! And while you winning would totally be deserved, I just don’t think it’s going to happen this time around. 

While I think Bruce has had many good acting turns over his storied career, and this is a decent movie, this was a pretty basic performance of his for me.  Like he could have done it eyes-closed and for me, he doesn’t really deserve to be in this category with this movie up against some really stellar performances. Both June Squibb & Will Arnett out-acted him in this one. So no win here from me. 

Leo..damn you Leo!! You were quite simply put ‘fucking fantastic’ in this role. It was all yours and yours alone. You were just so good that it made the movie all the better and yes, I know you’ve been nominated 5 times and haven’t won and that so sucks…and you are my total runner-up and if you win I will not be sad because damn it, it would be so deserved!!! 

Good performance..but for me, not in the caliber of Leo’s or Matthew’s just as the movie wasn’t in that caliber either.. I truly thought there were others that were markedly better performances, but then this movie seems to be one of the darlings of the Oscars and so the performance stands. 

Well..Allright, Allright, Allright… yeah..it’s hard not to start off a Matthew McConaughey review without that. But let’s regress for a second. There was a time about 15+ years ago when he came on the scene in ‘Dazed & Confused’. ‘A Time to Kill’ etc.. that we just all thought.’wow, love this guy and he can act’ Then sometime right after all that, there was a fork in the road and one side said ‘corny movies, but money’ the other side said ‘good movies but no money’ We all know which road he took as up until early 2013 I can’t remember anyone in many years saying..’oh let’s go see that McConaughey movie’ but I do remember many times saying ‘let’s go see the Leo or Christian movie’ I even remember when Matthew was balding..and badly..and then came on Letterman and said he found this new product..started with an ‘A’ can’t remember the name, and his hair came back nicely. So nicely that when he finally got a grip on his career and said let’s do a few actual good movies again where I show people that yes, I can still act..And ‘Mud’ was wonderful.. But ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ blew me away..I loved everything about this movie and this performance.. And while it’s been dubbed the year of the “McConaissance’ I truly hope it last for a very long time as if ‘True Detective’ is any indication of this..I’m all back in Matthew and I hope you win this award!!! 

“American Hustle”

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There are some movies that I am so dying to see that I MUST see them on the day of release 1st thing.. Only a few, but ‘American Hustle’ is one of those movies.. and WOW..am I glad I did. Not only was it a full showing for the 1st screening of the day, but the movie is probably the best dark comedy I’ve seen since ..well..’War of the Roses’ or something close to that. The most notable performances were by far Amy Adams ~ she is pure GOLD, Christian Bale & Bradley Cooper, but they are all good.. And if you only go to see the hairstyles and the fantastic soundtrack, you will be A-ok also!! It’s a fabulously woven plot line that is suspenseful enough to keep the movie rolling along, plus laugh along the way. I LOVED this movie and everything about it.. Deserving of every nomination it gets.. Grade: A #peggyatthemovies