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+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies and Instagram: peggyatthemovies

 

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

 

 

COUNTDOWN: 7 DAYS OF OSCAR ~ DAY 1 ~ BEST SCREENPLAYS: ADAPTED & ORIGINAL

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Well here we are! The ‘SEVEN DAYS OF OSCARS’ are back. You know that magical time of year where once again, I give a countdown of my top Oscar categories- who I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ. This year I’m starting off gently with the writing categories or “Best Adapted Screenplay” & “Best Original Screenplay”

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
NOMINEES

CALL ME BY YOUR NAMEWINNER
Screenplay by James Ivory
I think I would be best served by reading the book on this one, as I didn’t love the film.

THE DISASTER ARTIST
Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
A fun romp this was, but not a winner for me.

LOGAN
Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold
I really enjoyed this movie and it would be very nice to see the last film of this franchise win something like this. But it won’t.

MOLLY’S GAMEMY PICK
Written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin
We all know Aaron Sorkin can write TV – and now I know he can write a film also.

MUDBOUND
Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees
Not my favourite film nor can I imagine if it follows suit of the book, would I care for it either. The parts about the U.S = real, the parts about Europe = not so much.

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
NOMINEES

THE BIG SICK
Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Cute script/movie

GET OUT
Written by Jordan Peele
While I commend this first write of a decent film, it just wouldn’t be my pick, but it’s a very possible winner.

LADY BIRD
Written by Greta Gerwig
Another decently done script. But I can only give it a like.

THE SHAPE OF WATER
Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro
Completely stunning story. Where these ideas come from is from a truly brilliant mind.

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI ~ MY PICK//WINNER
Written by Martin McDonagh
McDonagh said in his interview that years ago, was driving somewhere in rural US and saw a billboard that while he can’t remember what it said, noted that it stuck in his mind to the point where he wrote a story about it.