Wed July 23, 2003
See "Seabiscuit" if you want to see the best American movie this summer.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
Jockey Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire) quotes Shakespeare to describe his 1938 "Horse of the Year": "Though she be but little, she is fierce." Such is also the quality of a relatively "little" film, released in mid summer after larger disappointing films like "Hulk".
See "Seabiscuit" if you want to see the best American movie this summer. This is what American filmmakers do well--a rouser with messages, big-screen chases, sentimentality for the little guy, depression-era caring. "Seabiscuit is "Rocky" for horses.
Director Gary Ross ("Pleasantville") has written and directed a classic American film with stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, and Chris Cooper, and William H. Macy, all of whom contribute enough character and charm to overwhelm all other Hollywood films this summer and any shortcomings of this film itself. Chris Cooper ("Adaptation") is so believable as a horse whisperer that he may win another Oscar. When he says, "You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a little," the thought resonates for almost everyone in the film, a tribute to unity of theme and expression of actor.
The true story of Seabiscuit's triumphs reflects the spirit of the 20th-century depression, when people salvaged their lives and a government cared to help them (compassionate conservatism defined!). Though Bridges' auto tycoon and horse owner never really suffers the losses of the masses, he seems to represent President Roosevelt's beneficent stewardship by resisting layoffs in his factories and encouraging everyone to look to a brighter future. The death of his son, however, symbolizes his share in everyone's losses.
Today I also saw my favorite French film of the summer, "Swimming Pool," which lingers on the beautiful mind and body of a middle-aged woman (Charlotte Rampling) as it explores her as writer--that's what the French do well, subtle and sexy. America and France have bright futures separate and together, in film and the world.
Viva la difference!
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org on Thursdays at 8:01 pm and Fridays at 3:01 pm.