[VIDEO REVIEWS]Movies That Deserve a Sporting ChanceSports has long been a useful theme or subplot in the movies, with their ability to generate laughter and tears, and the effects conflict has on the human spirit. Two September releases involve sports, one as the main theme and one as a riff.
REMEMBER THE TITANS
Directed by Boaz Yakin. Starring Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Donald Faison, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst
For the people of Alexandria, Virginia, football is a religion. In 1971, when the local white high school, T. C. Williams integrated with two black schools, the effects shook the football team, the Titans.
Racial tempers flare when the popular coach, Bill Yoast (Patton), is demoted to assistant head coach and a black coach, Herman Boone (Washington), is brought on as head coach to oversee the transition.
Against all odds, Boone must overcome racial tensions among the teammates, deal with Yoast and lead the team to a winning season. His position as coach is precarious, and he knows that a single loss could put him out of a job.
The plot is predictable, but as the team struggles to unity and victory, the movie builds into an inspirational story. The scenes are filled with racial conflict, amazing football plays, drama and comedy.
The team serves as a microscopic view of racial integration in the larger Southern community 15 years after the birth of the civil rights movement. Boone forces teammates to pair up. As teammates become friends, they leave the field only to find themselves fighting bigotry in the community.
Washington and Patton's solid performances help elevate the movie above a cookie-cutter sports film.
Directed by Gus Van Sant. Starring Sean Connery, Rob Brown, Anna Paquin and F. Murray Abraham.
Gus Van Sant remade Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" in 1998. Then with "Finding Forrester," Van Sant remade his own "Good Will Hunting." He was far more successful with that one.
The brilliant underdog here is Jamal Wallace (Brown), a high school student who lives in the black ghetto of the South Bronx. On a dare, he breaks into the apartment of a recluse who often watches him and his friends play basketball. The recluse turns out to be William Forrester (Connery), a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who wrote one novel, then disappeared from the publishing scene.
The two develop a friendship that transcends racial and generational boundaries. Wallace draws Forrester out of his shell, while Forrester nurtures Wallace's writing talent in this sometimes slow but touching tale.
The mentoring relationship happens just in time, because Wallace receives a scholarship to an upscale private school in Manhattan, and a chance to play on its basketball team. Wallace meets new friends (Paquin), becomes estranged from his old friends and has to defend his integrity when a bitter English teacher (Abraham) questions the originality of his writing.
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