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I wasn't sure what to think about "Cobb" going into it: It was a box office flop, that was mildly acclaimed by critics, which is generally right up my alley; in this case, I think I knew *too* much about baseball to enjoy it as a "regular" film critic would - it was just not a good film. The film focuses on Ty Cobb's final year of life, during which a famous sportswriter (Al Stump) is writing a biography of him. After the film, I still don't know what to believe about Cobb: Was he *that* much of a hateful man, or was this overplayed? I don't know, but if this story was true, then Cobb was simply despicable. Nothing about "Cobb" moved me - I didn't like the interplay between Cobb and Stump, and that's pretty much all there was in the entire film. I'd be very curious to hear from some other film lovers and baseball fans, as to what this film meant to them. I didn't "hate" it so much as I didn't "like" it, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, not an art-house film lover, and not a baseball fanatic. What else is left? I *do* like the fact that they took a very small slice of Cobb's life (his final slice) and spent a great deal of time exploring this, rather than doing a "cradle-to-grave" biography of him. Is that a compliment? I think it is.
When I was young, I saw a film titled, "Man in the Wilderness" (1971), which I still remember. "The Revenant" is based upon the same story (also titled "The Revenant," but written nearly 30-years after "Man in the Wilderness" was filmed). Of the two, the latter is *way* more spectacular, and - from what I remember - just plain better: a lot, lot, lot better. Leonard DiCaprio's performance won him an Academy Award for Best Actor, and from the other performances I've seen in 2015, it is fully deserved. Both DiCaprio and Supporting Actor Tom Hardy give two of the greatest performances I've ever seen in a single film - off the top of my head, I can't think of one movie with two better performances. "Midnight Cowboy," maybe, or "Rush?" If you enjoy films dealing with the human struggle to survive against all odds (and don't mind a bit, okay, a *lot* of graphic oomph), you'll really like "The Revenant" - it's not condescending at all. It even mentions Pawnee! Is Emmanuel Lubezki the best Cinematographer in the world? Don't be so sure he's not. Unless you've seen the film, you'll have no idea what this is, but it's a clear homage to prehistoric cave art, and just a beautiful shot: How good is "The Revenant?" I'm going to try and find, and watch, "Man in the Wilderness" - right now, knowing full well that I'm going to be disappointed. And there's no way that "Spotlight" - good as it was - should have taken Best Picture honors from "The Revenant." --- ETA - Make sure to watch "Man in the Wilderness" *afterwards*, and don't make the mistake of assuming that "The Bear" scene will be any less troubling.
As I've been doing lately with these 2015 Academy Award nominees, I'm writing these posts as I watch the films on Amazon (using X-Ray to obtain some interesting trivia and factoids). So, as I write this about "The Big Short," I haven't even seen the opening credits. Note that Amazon gives you 30 days to begin watching your rental (which you can also cancel), but once you begin watching it, you only have 48 hours to finish - I guess this is reasonable to prevent multiple people from watching one film on one person's account, but sometimes I like to take a little longer - ah, well, compromises need to be made somewhere. Again, I recommend X-Ray for people interested in studying the film, but not for people who are easily distracted, as it could easily be a nuisance - you have your choice of pretending it's not there at all. *** SPOILERS ALERT *** You can probably assume that the rest of this post will contain various degrees of spoilers. I'll start by saying I *love* the film's opening quote by Mark Twain: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." While not entirely true, there is a ring of familiarity to it, I'm sure, affecting us all. Director Adam McKay was Head Writer for Saturday Night Live for two seasons, and has directed comedies in the past (e.g.. "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," which I'm ashamed to say I found to be quite amusing), but this is his first dramatic directorial debut. This is also the first movie of any kind that McKay has directed without Will Ferrell in the cast, which is surprising, but I really don't know much about McKay. Ferrell also co-wrote all but one of McKay's comedies, so there's definitely a close partnership here. When Dr. Burry went into Goldman Sachs and said he wanted to short the housing market, the song playing in the background was "Money Maker" by Ludacris. You will find multiple, almost random, cameos by some seriously famous people, including one very famous chef. The quote, "Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry," is great (and written just for this movie). Boy, if this film doesn't make you want to vote for Bernie Sanders, nothing will. Here are some stats flashed at the end: * 5 trillion dollars disappeared * 8 million jobs were lost * 6 million people lost their homes * And that's just in the United States * 1 person went to jail from Credit Suisse And look where we are today in 2016. I have very strong feelings about whether or not the economy should have "recovered" so quickly after "the worst financial disaster since The Great Depression," but that's for another time, another thread - I pretty much said all I have to say right here.