And, finally, the final of the Play To The Whistle Blogathon!

Over the past month, myself and Josh from Reffing Movies have been hosting our little Play To The Whistle Blogathon. We wanted our blogathon to stand out from all the others that have taken place, and so we introduced a slightly competitive element after Josh had a wonderful idea (really, I can take no credit for it!). 

Well, after numerous Twitter polls, we have a winner. I am delighted to say that Robb from Red Bezzle Brand has come out on top as the victor in this blogathon with his glorious review of The Wrestler. It was touch and go for a while as to who of the four finalists would reign victorious, but in the end, he won fair and square. Robb’ review of The Wrestler was fantastic, and if you haven’t already, I’d suggest you check out more of his work over at his site.

Many thanks as well to everyone else who took part in the blogathon. You all know who you are and I am not lying when I say that the whole thing would not have been possible without you. I am so happy you all took part and I hope that if ever host something like this again, you’d all rejoin me (I won’t speak on Josh’s behalf but I think he’d *hopefully* say the same thing).

And finally, I would like to thank my co-host/creative director in this project, the Movie Referee himself. Josh, I was thrilled to find a fellow rugby fan in the film reviewing world, and it was this that had me think you would be the ideal partner in crime for this venture as I’d planned to tie it in with the Lions Tour. Thanks for helping out, and going along with whatever mad plans got made right at the very beginning that never quite materialised. As Vinnie Jones once said, it’s been emotional.

Right, I think I’ve dragged this thing out long enough now, don’t you? Until the next blogathon, folks, take care!

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Andrew’s Entry For The Play To The Whistle Blogathon


This post comes from Andrew of The Stop Button blog. Thank you so much Andrew for getting involved!

Million Dollar Baby


Million Dollar Baby has a somewhat significant plot twist.
Well, it actually has a couple of them. And neither comes with much
foreshadowing. A little in Paul Haggis’s script, which director
Eastwood visualizes appropriately, but they’re in the
background. The film has its larger than life story to worry
about–Clint Eastwood as a stogy old boxing trainer taking on a
female boxer, played by Hilary Swank. Except she’s not a kid.
She’s a grown woman.

The film opens without cast title cards. Immediately, it’s
very smooth. Eastwood has a gym, Morgan Freeman runs it for him. There
are assorted goings-on at the gym involving the guys training there.
It’s a great supporting cast at the gym–Jay Baruchel, Mike
Colter, Anthony Mackie–but the gym is initially just where
Eastwood hangs out, not where he interacts. So instead Freeman is
telling him the goings-on, which does fantastic setup for their
relationship throughout the film. Only when Swank arrives does
Eastwood get forced to participate and only after prodding from
Freeman.

It’s great character development, funny, sweet, sincere.
Eastwood’s very careful not to push too hard on any emotional
buttons. He makes sure the actors’ emotions are authentic and
doesn’t lay it on with the filmmaking. Tom Stern shoots
Million Dollar Baby with crispness for the daytime scenes and
sharpness with the nighttime. It works as to how the performances come
across, how Joel Cox edits them. If it weren’t for how well
Haggis’s script works, especially how it integrates
Freeman’s narration, Million Dollar Baby might just be
one of film’s finest melodramas. Well, if Eastwood–who
does a lot in Million Dollar Baby as an actor and a
director–wanted to make a melodrama.

He doesn’t though. Instead, he makes this strangely small,
while still big, character study of three people and a location and
shared experiences. Most of the film takes place in the gym.
It’s the touchstone for the characters and the audience.
Eastwood and Haggis never wax on about the hopes and dreams of the
boxers at the gym–or even Swank’s. It’s not a
meditation on the sport of boxing. It’s this devastating human
condition piece, with characters revealing depths the entire length of
the film, both through scripted dialogue and the actors’
performances. All of the acting is great; Swank is the best, but
Eastwood’s the most surprising. You never once get the feeling
Eastwood ever has an idea of what he’s going to say to
Swank.

Freeman is great too, in the film’s most “of
course” sort of way. He gets to be a bit of a mystery and has
some fun with it. He narrates and he’s never untrustworthy or
anything, he just isn’t telling his own story and it turns
out–thanks to Freeman and Haggis–it adds to the film.

Eastwood also did the music, which is sort of unsurprising and also
fantastic. The music is perfect. It’s such a strange film, this
gentle American Dream rumination, celebration, and condemnation.
It’s always sincere, never cynical, never defeatist, but never
hopeful either. Eastwood’s filmmaking is focused character
study. The music is restrained and minimal.

So many different things are going on in the film at any
moment–whether it’s Swank’s Rocky story,
Eastwood’s aging one, Freeman’s supporting mostly wry one,
Eastwood and Haggis rely heavily on that Freeman narration. He never
disappoints. Million Dollar Baby is kind of a love letter;
all of a sudden I’m wondering how the script was written with
the narration or if it was cut together later.

Eastwood, Swank, and Freeman don’t reinvent the melodrama;
they just perfect the melodramatic character study. Ably assisted by
Haggis, Stern, and Cox. Million Dollar Baby is
phenomenal.

Damien’s Entry For The Play To The Whistle Blogathon


And the final review from Damien at Riley On Film. Once again, a huge thank you for your posts and for your enthusiasm!

Breaking Away


Grazie for this film! In a raw spirit of the late 70’s this film inspires and entertains and brings out the humanity in me. This is a “go to” film and will be until the day I die. A masterpiece you might say.

“A small-town boy obsessed with the Italian cycling team vies for the affections of a college girl.” -IMDB

Cast
Dennis Christopher Dave
Dennis Quaid Mike
Daniel Stern Cyril
Jackie Earle Haley Moocher

Directed by
Peter Yates

Written by
Steve Tesich

Other Info
Comedy, Drama, Romance, Sport
PG
Fri 20 Jul 1979 UTC
101min
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Known for An Innocent Man, Krull and Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, Peter Yates is the accomplished director who brought this vision to life. It’s college/career coming of age film with a gritty passion not seen much in the genre.

Dennis Christopher is pure oxygen as “Dave.” His plight is the plight of every young man in American between the ages of 16 and 20. I was right there with him. Hormones make you want to hump every girl you see and explore a new universe apart from what your parents have made for you at home. He’s a guy who’s ready to take on the world but the world won’t let him yet. There is a cast of thousands besides him including: Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley, Jackie Earle Haley Barbara Barrie, and Paul Dooley. They are ALL in top form in telling this story and MY how young the all look in 1979.

This film is the story of Dave and his friends just out of high school with nowhere to go. Their dads were “cutters” of concrete. They feel trapped in the identity. The film is about Dave finding himself. He pretends to be Italian to get girls and portray a more preferable identity. He also races a bike. Two strategic races make a metaphor for the content the film seeks to get across. Who are you when you’re young and who can you be when you choose to break away from assigned identity.

The italian classical music in this is uplifting. Dave is one of my favorite young men filled with angst in film as well as all literature. He is remarkable to watch. I feel like he is me, at that age anyway. The bike racing, the gang of guy friends stuff, the tension from his father to get out of the house, it’s all beautiful like a rainbow landing on ones face. I can’t say enough good about this film.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This film transcends time. It’s principles and contexts are so primal and universal to growing up and finding ones way in the world that it is truly timeless. I recommend to any and all, this is a remarkable “perfect” film like only a few others I have run across.

MovieRob’s Entry For The Play To The Whistle Blogathon


Here’s another review from the one and only MovieRob. Once again, thank you for taking part in this blogathon, you have been an asset!

We Are Marshal


“One day, not today, not tomorrow, not this season, probably not next season either but one day, you and I are gonna wake up and suddenly we’re gonna be like every other team in every other sport where winning is everything and nothing else matters. And when that day comes, well thats, thats when we’ll honor them. ” – Jack
Number of Times Seen – 3 (25 Dec 2006, Sep 2009 and 23 May 2017)
Brief Synopsis – After a tragic airplane accident that claims the lives of the local University Football team, the members of the community and school must find a way to heal.
My Take on it – This is a movie that has moved me so much each time that I’ve seen it.
I’m personally not the biggest fan of sports, but they take the idea of a sports movie to a completely different level.
This is a story that shows how so many diverse people are affected in differing ways when their worlds are torn apart by tragedy.
The question that they all must deal with is “How can you move on after such an event.”
The why is quite clear yet I loved the way that they show us both individual and communal healing process at the same time.
They also got to show us how far reaching this event was when we got to see some distant people and places and how they deal with the idea from a respectful and mournful way.
The cast is superb and each of the stars give us a slightly different perspective to see this communal tragedy from; we get the new coach, the surviving coach, the grieving father of the star quarterback, the fiancee of a player, a surviving player and also a University official.
Each of their stories are compelling and cathartic to watch.
Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, Ian McShane, Kate Mara, Anthony Mackie and David Strathairn all are wonderful n this film.
The entire healing process of these characters (and others) is quite heartfelt mainly due to the fact that although none of the individuals are on their own in the process, each must deal with different issues and most of us can relate to at least one or more of the processes along the way.
This is truly a sports film with lots of heart and might even make you shed a tear or two.
Bottom Line – Amazingly emotional film that gives us a view of sport from the heart instead of just the plays on the field. The healing process described and shown here is truly heartfelt and there are numerous scenes that really wanna make you cry.  Loved the way that they focused on some of the individuals personally affected yet showed us how the whole event affected people and places away from the town and the respect they all gave while helping the healing process. Great cast led by McConaughy, Fox, McShane, Mara, Mackie and Strathairn who help represent the diverse types of people affected by this event. Highly Recommended!
MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – During training camp, coach Lengyl tells one player to “Head slap the shit out of him” if the opposing player goes for his knees. The NCAA and NFL banned the head slap in the mid 1970’s because of the head injuries it caused. (From IMDB)
Rating – Oscar Worthy

Gill’s Entry For The Play To The Whistle Blogathon


Here we have a review from Gill from Real Weegie Midget Reviews. She has recently taken on a new venture called 2 Quirky Cats with Catherine of Thoughts And All Sorts. I wish you the best of luck for that project, and thank you for sending this post my way.

Eddie The Eagle


A feel good biopic of Eddie Edwards, the beloved British Olympic ski jumper who reached the height of fame in the 1988 Olympics.
So Darlin’ husband raided the local DVD hire shop and came back with a couple of Huge Hugh Jackman movies. One was a major disappointment, the other was a surprising delight. The former film being a Superhero movie, X-Men Apocalypse (2016) which was yet another of their origin films (yawn) which lasted hours but felt like days. Luckily my perceptive husband realised that I too was flagging after the first two hours and riffed the rest of the movie. This made it much more bearable, as did spotting Jackman and Stan Lee in their appearances, which have to be their least fun ever. The established cast also seemed to be getting lethargic too. Michael Fassbender appeared to resort to hamming it up Shakespearean style and Jennifer Lawrence looked like she was pissed off with everyone. All the time. Period. The younger cast were more enthusiastic but maybe its just because they were cast in a Marvel movie. Yay! (?)
The latter film was the now reviewed sports biopic, Eddie the Eagle (2016) which to my relief was labelled a comedy-drama. This film starts in 1973, with young 10-year-old Eddie Edwards telling his mum (Jo Hartley) he’s made his best time ever in holding his breath underwater. He then says he’s going to represent this skill in the Olympics. His mother (Jo Hartley) is happy for him and encourages him in his dream. Conversely, his dad Terry (Keith Allen) is more cynical dismissing it as an Olympic obsession and not a real career. It is revealed that young Edwards has a physical disability in his knees which he slowly recovers from over the next five years. After attempting a variety of sports as a teenager, the hapless clumsy kid fails in all. Then after spying an outdoor ski ramp, Edwards changes his goal to appear in the winter Olympics. His dad wants him to give up his dream and be a plasterer.
Then flashforward to 1987, Edwards changes into Taron Egerton and is one of several hopefuls for the downhill Olympic ski team. He doesn’t qualify due to the snobbish Olympic selector holding Edwards’ working class upbringing against him over his obvious talent. So the determined Edwards leaves for Germany to further his goal, which now is to better the British record made 60 years previously for ski jumping. There he is given free bed in lodging by the kindly bar lady of the ski centre but is mocked by the other professional skiers including his Finnish idol. He meets the snow groomer, Bronson Peary who is played – in a delightful slow panning up shot – is revealed as Hugh Jackman. It is revealed that Peary was an Olympian ski jumper and the protegé of a famous skier, Warren Sharp (a clue to this actor’s identity later). Peary is now bitter having left this sport after a disagreement with Sharp, with a drinking problem but a sardonic sense of humour luckily lost on Eddie. However a lovely bromance between the two develop after a bar fight, Peary reluctantly coaches Eddie with the aim to help him qualify for the Olympics in an upcoming qualifying session…
The reminder of the film can be revealed in the usual ways but I would certainly recommend it. Watching this feel good movie, with Jackman taking a well deserved break from being Wolverine and the infectious enthusiasm of him and his co-star Egerton this was like a breath of fresh air. Egerton – who I last saw in Legend (2015) as Ronnie Kray’s pretty boy boyfriend – was unrecognisable. He totally transformed himself from boy band extra into Edwards by almost gurning throughout and with Edward’s 1980s spectacles propped annoyingly on his nose. Jackman had some delightful dry comic lines and quips which made his Peary character more and more endearing as the film progressed. There was also a lovely scene with both these actors where on coaching Edwards, Peary explains the technique as making love to his favourite actress with an indirect reference to a some movies from the 1980s. This leads to Peary demonstrating his pre and post orgasmic technique – waiting for the mash-up of this and the famous When Harry Met Sally (1989)’s scene – and catching Edwards in a jump – reminiscent of Dirty Dancing (1987). It was nice to see a few nods to other movies such as Cool Runnings (1993) and movies of the Northern working class boy wins parental pride ilk in namely Billy Elliot (2000).
The more awful fashions of the 1980s were evident, until this film I’d forgotten about the garish jumpers and their colours from this time, Jo Hartley’s wardrobe was exceptionally tastlessly 1980s but with her enthusiastic performance as his supportive mother even outshone them. The fashions were accompanied by a feel good 1980s soundtrack with new and old songs from many 1980s acts. The film surprises you from all angles – and that doesn’t just include the terrific camera shots as you see the view from some bloody high ski jumps – with a couple of cameos, a Flying Finn and a Norwegian coach ably played by Rune Temt. However, Darlin’ husband felt in line with the more bizarre casting choice not mentioned, he should have been played Will Ferrell who this Norwegian coincidentally resembled.  The film engages you from the start – despite the familiarity of the story – as young Eddie aims to reach the heights of Olympic glory until reaches the pinnacle of his success. His enthusiasm and determination for a British Record as to him it truly was the taking part in the Olympics more than the Gold medal that he was interested in. It is important to remember, this is another film based on a true story with a couple of fictional characters with one being a Huge, Hugh part and one a Walken cameo.

Weeper Rating:  /10
Handsqueeze Rating:            /10
Hulk Rating:      /10
Bonus Trailer:  Yes

Drew’s Entry For The Play To The Whistle Blogathon


This review comes from Drew of Drew’s Movie Reviews. Drew has a number of different features on his site – check it out when you get the chance. His weekly rounds of ‘Whose Movie Line’ are a favourite of mine.

Goal! The Dream Begins


Synopsis
Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) is an illegal immigrant in Los Angeles working multiple jobs to support his family. However, his passion is to play football professionally. When Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane), a retired Newcastle United player, notices Munez talents, Foy sets him up with a try out with Newcastle United. In hopes of making his dreams a reality , Munez travels to England.

Review
As a football player and cinefile, it can be difficult to find a movie about the sport, let alone a decent one.  Thankfully, Danny Cannon realized this and worked with FIFA, the international football organization, to create Goal! The Dream Begins. What makes this a good football movie is that it gives a down and dirty look into the sport. The camera angles are low and near the ground during the action, not up high like a commentator’s booth like you would see on television. You feel every hit, clearly see every move, and feel like you are on the field with the players. What makes this a good movie is the sincerity and heart it brings. From the beginning, Santiago Munez’s (Kuno Becker) love for his family and humility are felt very clearly.  This gives the audience a connection with Munez and a reason to want to see him to succeed. It is nothing new to films, let alone a sports film, but it is used effectively.  Becker brings an innocence that makes it that much easier to connect with and relate to.

I thought Goal! The Dream Begins was GOOD :-). It is very much like many other underdog, rags-to-riches sports films, such as Rocky, but that isn’t really a bad thing. There is a lot of heart to the story and Santiago Munez is the type of character you can relate with and can’t help but root for.  Goal! is a football movie that fans and players of the sport alike can enjoy.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Danny Cannon – Director
Mike Jefferies – Story / Screenplay
Adrian Butchart – Screenplay
Dick Clement – Screenplay
Ian La Frenais – Screenplay
Graeme Revell – Composer

Kuno Becker – Santiago Munez
Cassandra Bell – Christina
Alessandro Nivola – Gavin Harris
Stephen Dillane – Glen Foy
Sean Pertwee – Barry Rankin
Marcel Iures – Erik Dornhelm
Tony Plana – Hernan Munez
Miriam Colon – Mercedes
Jorge Ververa – Cesar

Anand’s Second Cap For The Play To The Whistle Blogathon


Anand from For The Love Of Movies sent in two reviews for this blogathon. Here is the second. Thank you again for your contributions Anand.

Hoop Dreams


Hoop Dreams is one of the great cinematic experiences of my lifetime. Its length gives a good sense of the passing time and lets us feel an intimacy towards the hopes and aspirations of its characters. Although a documentary, Hoop Reams has more of a cinematic appeal because of the intrigue factor missing in most of the documentaries.

The tale is of two African-Americans William Gates and Arthur Agee who aspire to become NBA champions. As the tale progresses, the two tales oscillate between being poles apart and morphing into one another. This is a classic underdog story which hasn’t lost its appeal since it was released in 1994. It may be because of the gritty realism in Steve James’ storytelling. He doesn’t shoot with any preconceived ideas, as if to project it as an emotional drama or underdog story, he just lets wheels of fate work its motions and captures it unadulterated. Hoop Dreams is more of two characters realizing how easy it is to dream and how distant the dreams actually are.

The underlying theme also explores the American education system and its flaws and how its structure forces poverty-ridden kids to continue to live in the rut and monotony of life. The coaches and relatives win our hearts with their pragmatic testimonies, where they express their insecurities about the dreams of William and Arthur, yet never let these insecurities transpire before them.

Both William and Arthur never became NBA champions. William became a pastor while Arthur started his own clothing line. The movie, therefore misses the third act, where the character finally tastes sweet success. And good for the viewers too, for it gives a message that most sports movies seem to skip out on, that just because someone doesn’t make it to the top, it doesn’t give us an excuse to not remember them. It is broken dreams and aspirations that make a sport rather than the success stories.