Thursday, May 30, 2019

"The Sisters Brothers" and "Deadwood" - Children in the Wild West

*As always, I write these articles as if you’ve seen the movie, so...SPOILERS.

I’ve slowly but surely developed a monthly plan for this site. I begin each month with a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, and this past month I wrote about a random comedy I own and decided to make that a monthly entry. Then, after thoroughly enjoying Powers Boothe’s performance in Sudden Death, I decided to look back at some westerns I own. (So for the next few months, expect at least these three types [Van Damme, comedy, and western], with other films peppered in here and there.) It would make the most sense to start with Tombstone, which featured a very fun Boothe performance. But it reminded me more to rewatch Deadwood since the movie is coming out this weekend. I didn’t want to write about an entire TV series (perhaps I will one day cover the entire series of Deadwood), so instead I watched The Sisters Brothers, a movie I recently added to my collection. As you’ll read, this choice makes more sense than you might think in regards to Deadwood.

The Sisters Brothers and Deadwood: Children in the Wild West

When I first watched The Sisters Brothers, I was a little disappointed. I was expecting something a little more traditional, but instead I got a very offbeat, surprisingly funny, modern western. Once I realized what the film was, I embraced, and it made my top ten list last year. I was mostly taken with the relationships in the film, mainly between the titular brothers but also between Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal’s characters. These were grown men engaged in typically serious adult things (murder, greed, gold mining, etc.), but they treated each other like children, often getting into petty spats and talking of their feelings being hurt.

I found it funny and touching, which is why I liked it so much. Funny and touching is a difficult combo to pull off. I started rewatching Deadwood recently because of the movie, and I remembered what I loved so much about that show. While it also dealt with similar adult things, many of its characters were very childlike. Most of them simply want to make friends. A. W. Merrick getting giddy when he is able to walk and talk with Bullock, Star, and Utter; Calamity Jane and Joanie Stubbs (and Mose) finding friendship. Blazanov finding joy in acceptance in the camp. There are also multiple instances of characters getting their feelings hurt, and letting people know about it. The obvious example is E. B., who spends much of the series angry at being left out. But there’s also Dan, presented as one of the toughest characters, who nearly breaks down in tears when rebuked by Swearengen. And then there’s the fascination the characters have with children in general. Tom Nuttall (tragically) showing William Bullock his new bike. Mose and Jane’s interest in the school children. There’s certainly a metaphor there about how young our country was, especially in that time and place. But I think David Milch was simply using the western as a backdrop to show that no matter how serious our business gets, we are all still children in many ways.

The Sisters Brothers wholly embraces this. Charlie and Eli are killers, but they are also children. The brother relationship is an easy set up for this: teasing, fighting, etc. But it goes beyond that. Charlie basically has temper tantrums and is prone to hitting someone if he gets upset. Eli is more gentle, forming a bond with his horse, and inquisitive, as he is always amazed at new technology such as the toothbrush. With Hermann and Morris, it’s more the Deadwood route, as they embrace friendship over greed, although greed is steal a big part of their plan.

So what is it that draws me to such stories? I suppose, especially now that I have children, I am fascinated with how long a person can hold onto the simple feelings of childhood. I myself have taken to embracing my childhood love of dorky things rather than feeling too old for them. I find it amusing when an adult embraces their inner child, and I always find it touching when someone can admit they are lonely or their feelings are hurt and want to make things better. So a big moment that won me over in this film was the dinner fight between Eli and Charlie, and Eli’s confrontation of Charlie the next day. He was upset because Charlie hit him in public. The scene is emotionally effective, and it ends very humorously when the tension is resolved by Charlie letting Eli hit him for payback. That is why I love this movie so much. It makes me feel something and think about humanity, then it turns things around and makes me laugh.

Much like Deadwood, I think one of the messages of The Sisters Brothers is that despite out deadly serious actions, we’re all just kids playing and being adults. Just look at the ending. The brothers return home to be taken care of by their mother, and the final shot is a visual metaphor for the perpetual children theme: a grown man lying in his childhood bed, his feet now hanging over the end. It’s a very poignant ending, and it makes this western stand apart in my collection.

This is a weird western, but most are these days.

Once I accepted this as a modern, weird western, I enjoyed it very much. I love traditional westerns, but I’m also a big fan of films like this, which take expectations or tropes and shake things up.

The main aspect I like about The Sisters Brothers is how it shows elements of daily life not always shown in westerns. (Deadwood was pretty good about this, as well.) Some things I noticed included showing them cut their own hair, Eli’s aforementioned discovery of a toothbrush and his struggle to figure out how to use it, Charlie actually being hungover from drinking whiskey nonstop, how long it takes to travel from place to place, the dangers of sleeping outside (no scene made me cringe as much as when that spider crawled in Eli’s mouth), experiencing plumbing for the first time, and actually dealing with horses.

The Sisters Brothers isn’t the first movie to acknowledge these things, but there does seem to be a focus on them. Too often, westerns present this fantasy world, so I like it when one takes the time to show the mundane aspects of life at the time.

On top of that, this movie went in a direction I was not anticipating at all when the gold-finding chemical was introduced. The fact that it worked was one off part, but when Charlie dumped it all in at once and nearly killed everyone, the film took quite the turn. That is, in essence, what impresses me the most with films these days: the ability to surprise. More than that, the ability to surprise me without cheating. The Sisters Brothers is able to exist as a traditional western while also naturally going in a new direction with each scene. This is why I hold it in the same regard as Deadwood.

Why do I own this?

I consider this a companion piece to Deadwood, so in the future when I inevitably Deadwood again and again, I will also revisit this movie, so I should own it.

Random thoughts

Okay, the amount of production companies listed at the beginning is insane. Thankfully it's just on a single screen. If they each got their own title sequence the movie would be five minutes longer.

This movie made me wonder: would I instinctively know how to brush my teeth, or would I try it as John C. Reilly does?

I love how Phoenix keeps talking shit about the pretentious (and Western cliche) language of the letters they read.

"We can kill anyone we want here!"

I like how Phoenix announces that they are the Sisters Brothers when they go from place to place to see if anyone has heard of them. It plays on the Western trope of all these gunslingers being famous and known in each town they go to when the reality was most likely that a lot of hired guns and whatnot were never known.

I love the bluntness of Phoenix throughout the movie.

John C. Reilly and Gyllenhaal are toothbrushing buddies!

Jake Gyllenhaal is doing this faux fancy accent, and it works since Charlie constantly complains about how fake and pretentious he is.

This movie is darkly comedic to me because every time it seems like things are going to calmly, some violence ensues, usually instigated by Charlie. His dumping of the chemical that eventually kills Ahmed and Gyllenhaal is the most tragic example. That moment, among many others, shows how unpredictable this movie is.

Richard Brake is given about as much to do as Rutger Hauer.

"Have you noticed how long it's been since anyone's tried to kill us?"

And the most unpredictable showdown with the bad guy: stopping by his funeral to punch his dead body to make sure he's dead.

John C. Reilly punching the Commodore's dead  body is what really put me over the top with this movie. It just caught me off guard and made me laugh. The whole movie is so random, and that's why I love it.

That has to be the ancestor of Carol Kane's character from Kimmy Schmidt.

"With the participation of Rutger Hauer" That is the most accurate credit I've ever seen.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

"Nothing to Lose" - Does Anyone Remember this Tim Robbins / Martin Lawrence Buddy Comedy?

*I write these articles under the assumption that you’ve seen the movie, so...SPOILERS.

There’s little rhyme or reason to the movies I’ve chosen to watch lately (though I plan on making more timely picks in the future, picking movies that have something to do with current releases or events or holidays, etc.), and this week is no different. I simply realized it had been a while since I wrote about one of the comedies I own. Nothing to Lose seemed like a good choice because it had been a while since I had watched it, and I wanted to see if it held up for me. While watching it, I realized something about the main character, and I wondered what happened to the writer/director Steve Oedekerk (whose other two movies that I own, Kung Pow: Enter the Fist and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, I’ll write about in the future). Let’s start with the main character of Nothing to Lose: Nick Beam.

Nick is a dick.

So the entire plot of this movie is based on the fact that Nick thinks his wife is cheating on him. In his slight defense, he does come home to find his boss’s cuff links on the counter, and then sees what appears to be his naked wife having sex with (presumably) his boss in their marital bed. It’s a devastating betrayal, made that much worse because the film has established Nick’s boss as an unfuckable dildo at this point, and the film began with Nick and his wife fake divorcing each other. So Nick ends up having a wild weekend of crime and zany antics with his carjacker/new best friend Martin Lawrence.

I’m not one to dwell on little details that would make a film cease to exist (like Nick immediately confronting his wife, revealing it to actually be his sister-in-law instead or Nick calling his wife at least later that day instead of waiting for all of his horrible deeds to have been done), but I have to point out, at least, that Nick is a dick, and he gets off way too easy by the end of the film. So I can accept the necessary details of the film, even if they are a bit unbelievable. But I do not accept Nick getting off so easy.

First off, he’s an asshole to Martin Lawrence. Yes, Martin tried to carjack him, but even after they develop a slight friendship, he still belittles Martin every chance he gets. Martin can handle it, so that makes it less of a problem. And yeah, being a dick to a guy who tried to rob you at gunpoint is understandable. Still, he definitely uses Martin when convenient and only has a change of heart after he meets Martin’s family. It’s like Martin wasn’t a human until that point. But Nick does get Martin a job at the end, so that’s something. And it’s a hell of a lot better than how Nick treats his wife.

Nick’s wife lets him off the hook at end by replying, “No, you dick!” when Nick asks, “So you weren’t cheating on me?” Sure, she rightfully calls him a dick, but that’s it? Your husband disappears for an entire weekend, you find out he did so because he thought you were having an affair with his boss, and you just want him to come home, end of story? She should be so much more pissed off with him. And it’s the cheating accusation that should bother her the most. For Nick to believe that her cheating is a possibility is a huge issue for their relationship. Sure, it’s a bit messed up that her sister thought it was cool to bang her boyfriend in their bed, but still, Nick should have thought, “That can’t be her,” instead of immediately believing it was and going off on a zany adventure. Nick’s wife should at least confront him in a more significant way about this. But it is a comedy, so I assume that’s why she’s so forgiving. But did she get all the details?

This is an odd comparison, but this movie is similar to Eyes Wide Shut. The main character questions the strength of his relationship, and he goes off on a wild night of temptation and danger before returning home, eventually revealing all to his wife to rebuild their marriage. The main issue with the comparison is that we don’t know what Nick tells his wife whereas Tom Cruise says to Nicole Kidman, “I’ll tell you everything.”

Does Nick’s wife know about all the crimes he committed? More importantly, does she know he was seconds away from cheating on her? Something tells me he left that part of his night out of the story. At least it’s that moment that seems to make him realize he needs to talk to his wife because he’s incapable of cheating himself. That doesn’t change the fact that he made out and got into bed with another woman, and his wife did nothing at all.

Because of this, I believe resentment is bound to build up in their marriage. And Nick’s wife will finally reach a breaking point and end their marriage. And I hope she does it by fucking his boss for real.

What happened to Steve Oedekerk?

I love movies of all kind, but there will always be a special place in my heart for stupid comedies that I can watch as pure escapism from time to time. Nothing to Lose is one of those movies. I know that I can put this movie on at the end of the night, and I can fall asleep while watching it. That sounds like a dig on the film, but it’s not. I enjoy movies that are interesting and funny to me while also being silly enough to ignore and lose consciousness while watching. Whereas, if I put on There Will Be Blood or something at the end of the night, it might hook me in and keep me up for two and a half hours. (I am proud of myself for finding a way to mention There Will Be Blood and Eyes Wide Shut in an article about Nothing to Lose.)

So dumb comedies are special to me, and write/director Steve Oedekerk made three of these movies in a row. It began with Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, which came out in 1995; I was 11, which made it perfect for my sense of humor at the time (who am I kidding, it’s still a good fit for my current sense of humor). Even at 11, I noticed that this sequel to the Jim Carrey animal detective movie was dumber than the original, but I didn’t care. In fact, even though I consider the first movie much better, the sequel still has a lot of moments that I find to be the funniest of the two films (I’ll go into much more detail with a whole post about this movie in the future).

When Nature Calls was pretty successful ($108 million), which allowed Oedekerk to make Nothing to Lose, which made $44 million on a $25 million budget. That’s not a runaway hit, but pretty decent for an R-rated comedy. And that allowed Oedekerk to make Kung Pow, which ended up getting some terrible reviews (less than 20% on RT), and only making $17 million on a $10 million dollar budget. I loved Kung Pow when it came out (and will write a full article about it in the future as well), but I can see why people did not care for it. It is as silly and dumb as movies get.

Then Oedekerk made a bunch of parody shorts with thumbs? Oh, and he made an animated movie, Barnyard, that didn’t have much of an impact. And since then...nothing. I’m sure he still punches up comedy scripts and whatnot, but he hasn’t had a produced credit since 2011. I just wonder what happened to him. Sure, his movies weren’t critical darlings, and they only turned modest profits, but is this enough to warrant this complete shutdown in production?

I still think there’s a place for Oedkerk’s brand of comedy. I enjoyed the R-rated comedy of Nothing to Lose (mainly because it allowed Martin Lawrence to cuss a lot), but When Nature Calls and Kung Pow are both PG-13, and I find them very funny. That takes a special kind of talent, and that seems to be missing in comedy today. Things are either super R-rated or super childish. Oedekerk found a middle ground.

Maybe the Oedekerk type of comedy is just a thing of the past. I hope not. But until (or if) he gets another chance to make another movie, I’ll just have to enjoy the dumb trilogy he gave us in the late 90s/early 2000s.

Why do I own this?

I own a lot of random comedies from this era, and this one definitely got watched a ton of times by me and my friends years ago. I like having these movies on hand for multiple reasons. First, I like the nostalgia I feel when I rewatch a comedy that I haven’t seen in years. Second, I enjoy having these movies on hand that allow me to shut off my brain and just watch them. Finally, it’s interesting to see what jokes I missed years ago and what I find funny today compared to back then.

Random Thoughts

I wonder how often people confuse this with Nothing but Trouble?

Main characters working at ad agencies seems to be a very '90s trope.

I'm basically obsessed with movie music at this point, but the music in this film also screams '90s comedy. I kind of miss music like that.

So the two people banging at the house are his sister-in-law and her fiance. Fine, but why were they in their bed? They don't have a guest room? What a couple of dicks!

It's a bit racist that as soon as he drives into the "bad part" of town, rap music starts playing, and he's carjacked immediately.

God, I love Martin Lawrence in this movie: "Welcome to hell, biiiiiiiiiiiiiiitch!"

"Helen Keller, I'm talkin' to you!"

"Hey, please don't kill me, freaky Jason."

"I'm gonna 'one time' yo ass."

"That's what I'da told the bitch."

"Persistent hillbilly motherfucker!"

This movie makes Arizona seem like Alabama with that cop and persistent hillbilly motherfucker.

Seeing Gus Fring play such an unhinged character is funny now that he's known for playing one of the most calculating characters in TV history.

Why does Martin Lawrence only notice the gas smell after hours in the car?

"I am not up on all this jive-talkin', homeboy lingo. What's that supposed to mean, 'There's s spider on your head'?"
"It means there's a spider on your motherfuckin' head."

"Yo, that's a big fuckin' spider!"

John C. McGinley wastes two cigarettes in five minutes. As a former smoker, I find that unacceptable.

I love Martin Lawrence's crab walk as he goes to shoot out Fring and McGinley's tire.

Blue! I didn't know he was in this. This must be the first time I've watched this since Old School came out.

"Freeze, sucker-bitch!"

Not all of Lawrence's adlibs work: "You win at what? Climbing stairs? I guess we'll call you the step king."

You can see why Oedekerk starred in his next movie. He devotes a lot of screen time to himself in this as the dancing, lip-syncing security guard.

That hotel bartender has an all time great disgusted look.

I guess Nick needs to find a new flower shop. It would be pretty damn awkward to go back to Gayheart after their almost hookup.

McGinley's celebration is great: have your partner smell money while you yell, "Hookers!"

That ending is like the ending of an SNL skit. It's just random and clear they couldn't think of a good way to wrap things up. Why not bookend the movie and end with another scene of Nick and his wife "divorcing" each other, especially now that she has more material to use against him?

That scene after the credits makes up for it, though. Seeing a letter addressed to "Hillbilly Motherfucker" makes it one of the better end credits scenes.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"Cobb" - It's Almost All a Lie, but Does That Matter?

*I write these articles under the assumption that you’ve seen the movie, so...SPOILERS.

**Blogger sucks sometimes and makes things bold randomly. So some of this article is in bold, but that is not my choice. The only things I intended to be in bold are the section titles.

I guess I’m a sports kick now, moving from hockey (Sudden Death) to baseball. That was not intentional. It’s mainly because I listened to a podcast about Field of Dreams, and the line about none of the players liking Ty Cobb came up, and it reminded me of this movie. I always liked this movie for Jones’s batshit performance as the crazed, drunken, dying Cobb. I still like it for that, but I also used to like it because I felt like I was in the know about something. Ty Cobb, a baseball player I only knew of because of all his records, was actually a crazy, racist asshole! But a few years ago, the primary source for this movie, Al Stump, was exposed as a fraud. So it turns out Cobb may have been a dick, but probably wasn’t the psycho we see in this film. So what does that mean for this movie?

The rare underseen movie that should stay that way.

I used to consider Cobb a hidden gem among baseball movies. Hardly anyone saw it in the theaters (it made $1 million total at the box office), and it wasn’t a critical darling (65% on Rotten Tomatoes is okay, but certainly not great). I felt like I was one of the only people who knew about this movie. As it turns out, that may have been a good thing.

Here’s a little background to explain the factual issues with this movie. Al Stump was a popular sports writer in the late ‘50s/early ‘60s that was tasked with ghost-writing Ty Cobb’s autobiography. Cobb wanted a very dry book devoted to baseball. Stump produced this. Then a few weeks later, he had an article published about how crazy Cobb was while he worked with him. Then, in the early ‘90s, Stump wrote an entire book about how crazy Cobb was: Cobb is shown to be constantly drunk, disgustingly racist, quick to fire a gun in public and in his home, a wife beater, a terrible father, a murderer, etc. Then Ron Shelton makes the movie adaptation. Years later, Stump is exposed as a fraud when he tries to sell a shotgun he claims was used to kill Cobb’s father. The coroner’s report stated that a pistol had been used, not a shotgun. And then the rest of the dominoes fell. Stump had been selling Cobb memorabilia for years, most of it most likely fake. And then people started looking into the claims made in the book, and most of them could not be backed up. And now his entire book, and the movie, can be called into question. Here's an article that goes into more detail about it all.

Now there are entire books and a number of articles devoted to clearing Cobb’s name, but the damage is done. Most people think of Cobb as a racist maniac. Now, obviously Cobb wasn’t a saint. He was a product of the deep South from the late 1800s; the guy was probably a racist. But there are quotes from him supporting the inclusion of black players in baseball, and he made a comment about Willie Mays being the only player he’d pay money to watch. Also, Cobb was very competitive, so plenty of people probably disliked him. And he was divorced a couple times and apparently didn’t have the best relationship with his children. He was probably someone you wouldn’t want to hang out with, but does that make him a gun-toting racist real-life Yosemite Sam?  

That’s why I’m okay with people not watching this movie. Because Tommy Lee Jones goes all in with his performance. He’s a fucking maniac in this movie. His performance is by far the best part of the movie, but it’s now the most problematic as well. Perhaps future copies and streaming versions of the movie could include a disclaimer: “The work this film is based on has been discredited since the initial release, but please still enjoy Tommy Lee Jones going fucking nuts, even if it is not historically accurate.”

As a work of fiction, I think Cobb holds up. The overall points of the movie are still valid, even if the specifics are most likely exaggerated or made up. Do America’s children need heroes? If so, should we lie to keep them heroic? Or is it the adults that need these heroes?

With that written, the other main theme regarding a journalist’s responsibility to the truth goes right out the fucking window now, so I’ll ignore that one. Actually, now you can look at the movie as a cautionary tale of being too trusting of journalists. But in these dark days of “fake news” and people refusing to believe facts, that’s probably not a point that needs to be made anymore. Perhaps the film can serve as a historical object. Look at what used to happen before our skepticism became too strong: we used to take journalists at their word. We got burned so many times that now some dickheads out there don’t trust anything except their own opinions. Thanks, Al Stump! I’m glad Robert Wuhl portrayed you as an annoying fuckhead!

So I’ll ignore the journalistic theme and focus on that sports hero stuff...

Did we ever need sports heroes?

I love baseball and baseball movies, but one thing that always annoys me about the two is this reverence placed on the sport. It’s America’s pasttime and all that. Kids used to grow up idolizing their heroes at the ballpark. Now it’s all about the money! What happened to this perfect part of America?

I always chalk these feelings up to the idiotic idea that American life in the 1950s was perfect, and it’s all turned to shit since then. Maybe life was simpler and better for some people back then, but civil rights still had a long way to go, among other things. I think it’s a simple case of nostalgia for baby boomers. Things were better when they were kids. But that’s every generation! Shit gets worse as you get older because you know more about the world. It only seems especially bad now because as a species we’ve become more aware of how shitty we all are thanks to the internet. The ‘50s were only great for some people because it was easier to live in ignorance.

So what the fuck does that have to do with baseball? Well, baseball is just part of it. But some people, like director Ron Shelton, for instance, like to think that baseball was integral to American life back then. And I just don’t buy it. When I was a kid in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s I had favorite baseball players, but my life didn’t hinge upon their heroic image. They were just the players I rooted for and wanted to be like. When I found out Jose Canseco did steroids it didn’t cause some existential crisis within me, and it damn sure didn’t cause one for the country as a whole. Cobb would have you believe that Stump seriously worried about destroying Cobb’s image among the children of America. Thankfully, he realizes at the end that the children of America don’t need Cobb. But he claims he does. And that’s what it’s all about. Some people just want their own personal heroes to stay heroic. I think, as a culture, we’ve moved beyond that a bit, but there are still people out there that simply won’t believe bad things about people they idolize. I’m not one of those people. For instance, Louis C.K. used to be my favorite comedian, but after his fucked up behavior was exposed, I changed my opinion of him. Now I can’t watch his old stand-up material without thinking about what he was doing at the time. That’s a good thing, in my opinion. You should be able to change your mind about your heroes because heroes are people, and people fucking suck.

I guess that’s why the treatment of baseball annoys me. It’s just a game. And this is coming from someone who tries to go to an MLB game every year. I love going to baseball games. I still watch baseball on TV when I get chance. I even listen to it on the radio at times. But I don’t think of it as some sacred activity. It’s entertainment, plain and simple, and most people would disagree with even that.

Perhaps that’s why baseball movies tend to treat the sport with such reverence. It used to be more than just entertainment to them. It used to be pure, blah blah blah. The problem with that is that baseball, like every other sport, has always had scandals and awful policies. Let’s start with the big one: it was a whites only game until the 1950s. Is that what people are nostalgic about? Remember the good old days when baseball was a white sport? I hope that’s not the case. So maybe they long for the days before steroid use and other forms of cheating. Then explain the World Series being fixed in 1919. Was that back when the game was pure?

I’ve rambled all over this subject, so I’ll end with this: we’ve never needed sports heroes; we just need to take off the rose-colored glasses and realize that while the game looks different, it’s actually always been the flawed institution it is today. I just wish baseball movies would stop comparing going to a baseball stadium with going to church or something. Baseball is a great game, but it’s still just a game.

Why Do I Own This?

I own this because of Tommy Lee Jones’s performance. I’ve rewatched it plenty of times, and I’ll watch it again in the future. He’s just going for it in this movie. I sincerely believe this performance helped prepare him to play Two Face a year later in Batman Forever. In fact, Cobb and Batman Forever would be an odd, yet fitting double feature.

Random Thoughts

The opening credits music makes it seem like this is a movie about an evil dictator.

Stump and his writer buddies are annoying as fuck.

Cobb comes across as pretty damn cartoonish. I never thought that when I used to watch it, but now that I know it's mostly bullshit, it's hard to take him seriously. But now I wonder how I ever thought this was what this man was like.

I like when Cobb hurries to take a pill in the kitchen he pours some whiskey in a cup to wash it down instead of drinking straight from the bottle. Not to mention the insanity of taking the pills with whiskey in general.

So how much time has passed when they take off for Reno? It seems like it's simply the second day, but Stump's narration makes it seem like he's been there for days. But then they see Willie, who took off right when Stump showed up, and Willie says, "I told you you wouldn't last a day!" So Willie walked all a blizzard? How is he not dead?

"She married my father when she was 12, which is the way they used to do it."

With the historical aspect of the film along with the super serious score, this feels like Ron Shelton's attempt at an Oscar. Which is funny, because this film is tonally all over the place, but you could tell that Shelton thought he was making something very profound about sports heroism and truth in journalism.

"You're gonna get hurt today, you pecker-neck sumbitch!”

Tommy Lee Jones is great as usual, but he does not look like a baseball player, even an old-timey one. Perhaps it’s because Jones has always looked like a seventy-year-old man.

"It's kind of tough hitting from your back, ain't it, Cobb?"
"That's the way your mother always liked it."

I can't get over the music during the slow motion baseball scenes. It's the kind of music that would play during a death scene in a comic book movie or something. It doesn't help that when the scene goes back to normal speed, ragtime music is playing. It's just strange.

"Look! What is that? That's a man!"
"Fuck him."

This movie has my favorite quote about baseball: "Cool Papa Bell was so fast that one time he hit a line drive up the middle that hit himself in the head sliding in  to second base."

The whole ordeal with Ramona made me cringe when I first saw it, and it makes me cringe even more now, which is the point of the scene, by the way. But Stump comes off badly here too. He wants Ramona drunk, but not “too drunk to screw." What a great guy… And sure, he's drunk too, but it seems like he was orchestrating things.

I like Robert Wuhl, but I also find him very annoying in most films. I fucking hate him in this movie, especially now that I know his character is full of shit. Wait. Do I like Robert Wuhl?

Cobb's order for Mickey Cochrane still makes me laugh: "...and a bottle of cologne 'cause the sumbitch stinks!"

"I'd run you down if I was ten, fifteen, twenty years younger."

Bradley Whitford showing up as the unluckiest process server.

"Truth is a whore, just like you are, and just like my mother was."

"A Mr. Barton is here to see you. He says he's chairman of the board of Coca-Cola."
"Tell him to go downstairs and have a Pepsi."

"And we all know writers never lie."

The movie ends with the same musical issue earlier: intensely dramatic followed by old timey fun.

The credits end with two lines from Cobb. One is inexplicable: "I regret that I didn't go to college. I feel I should have been a doctor." The other is a little more fitting: "Baseball was 100% my life."

Man, that "The Real Al Stump" featurette on the DVD is crazy now that he's been exposed. He talks about how truthful the story is, and he even gives Ron Shelton a pipe he claims Cobb owned.

Shelton says early in his commentary, "Hopefully by the end of this introduction, you won't know what's real and what isn’t." He is talking about mixing images of the real Cobb and Jones, but in hindsight, it applies to the entire story.